This is a very random blog, in that I don’t normally write out the floatsom and jetsom of my mind. But this is an idea that is becoming more rounded in my mind and it is an idea I will never write, so I’m going to write it out, send it on the sea and to have it made free to someone else out there.
Here is how I would write out the story of True Blood.
For those of you who don’t know the story, this series of books written by Charlaine Harris describes a society where vampires are shown to be real. The story focuses on the life of Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress, who forms a relationship with one of them, and who becomes aware of their lives and their battles. As the novels go on, she goes on to become aware of werewolves, other telepathic people like herself, and a whole host of strange characters. Sookie is regarded as an important character in the novels but her interaction is with most of them is usually sexual. She moves towards her lover in the first few novels, and then moves away from him towards other novels. She is a figure of desire for many vampires who hope to exploit her. She’s desired, but in many ways very unaware as a character.And here’s what I would do if I was given such a background story.
Firstly, there is no curiosity on the part of Sookie about life. She walks through the new society she has discovered but never asks herself about it. Why do vampires live so long? Why do they need blood to survive? Why is pushing a stake thorough their heart enough to see their body completely disintegrate? And why does silver stop them in their track, to the extend that they can’t move at all?
In my opinion, vampires, for Harris, seem very close to spiders.
They have only one major organ. If you fail to hurt them in their heart they can’t be killed. They move incredibly fast and mostly are very much predators. A body of a spider is mostly organs in blood, there is very little in the way of muscles other than those on the exoskeleton. Spiders are resistant to a great deal, can’t really be drowned, and can only be killed by destroying the organs, the limbs don’t affect mortality. Both of them are effected by light. And crucially, spiders are real, it is realistic (at least in fiction), to have a person change from one form of humanity to another if they follow this model. Vampires for Harris are not mythical, so creating a real reason for their existence would be important. That just leaves silver.
Silver, for one reason or another, is important here. Vampires are pinned down by it; if you put one on a vampire they have to lie there, prone, while it burns into their skin. Why silver? Well, look into it, and silver has some interesting qualities. It has the highest electrical conductivity of all metals, has the highest thermal conductivity and one of the highest optical reflectivities (thanks Wikipedia). So Harris is actually on to something here, there is more to think about here. But I got as far as book five and didn’t see anything about all this in it. So here is what I would do.
What if all this Vampire society was discovered, just like in Harris’ book? But instead, a scientist, an amateur scientist, reads all about this and starts looking into all this? Say, for example, they discover the dislike of silver, and manage to use it to create a way of protecting one’s skin from Vampire attack (they’re still predators, remember). What if they didn’t stop there, but instead managed to find out how vampires were created, a process that vampires themselves didn’t understand.
And then managed to figure out how to reverse it?
Think of what that would mean, especially when you consider that there is a fairly large metaphor in Harris’ books and in Alan Ball’s TV series of comparing Vampires to the homosexual community. What would it mean if you could reverse being a vampire? Think of those people who didn’t want to be vampires, they would now be free to reject the instincts they never wanted in the first place. But think of those who hated, and feared Vampires. They would want that ‘cure’ immediately, to ensure freedom from Vampires, to destroy that which they hate.
What would that discovery do to the life of our amateur scientist? He or she (and I’d prefer if it was a she) would almost be hunted, end up going on the run to preserve their life, and be at risk from almost everyone. I keep thinking of what they would end up saying or doing, of how they would be regarded by Vampires, by the religious right, by their old friends and neighbours? It seems to me to be an idea with more social and political comment than that the path taken by Harris. I also like the idea of it being an amateur, someone not protected by an institute, someone who is a bit of a laughing stock. Their stumbling on this idea means a huge shuddering quest being embarked on, the kind of story that could be really good.
There, that’s my idea. Commence your laughter.