21 April 2011

Guest Blog - It’s the genre that makes the monster

Author Marc Vun Kannon takes over Vivid Sentiments with his guest blog: It’s the genre that makes the monster.
Over to you, Marc!

My latest novel, St. Martin’s Moon, is a werewolf adventure set on a lunar colony.
When I got the idea for St. Martin’s Moon I originally envisioned it as a horror/mystery novel, and started writing it as such. I was two chapters in before I realized something frightening: I could not write horror. Or mystery. The essence of horror is setting and tone, both of which are usually rendered with description, and I hate description. In my first book I discovered that I didn’t want to write it any more than I wanted to read it, so I didn’t. I created a style of writing which presents the setting as seen through some character’s eyes, a dynamic style better suited for Fantasy and SF than horror.
I continued writing St. Martin’s Moon as a paranormal instead, and a futuristic paranormal at that. It’s remarkable what changes can come over a creature when you shift genres on it.
I’ve never been a big fan of the transformation of the classic monsters—vampires, werewolves, zombies—into some sort of heroic paranormal characters. I see it as some sort of cheat, creating a creature that looks like a vampire superficially and calling it a vampire just to cash in on the name. Or perhaps taking a fairly standard vampire idea and changing it just a little, bending it to fill the needs of the story and not the other way around. It’s easier to respect a story that doesn’t have to play fast and loose with the rules, whether it’s horror, SF, or what have you. (And yes, I’m aware that genres don’t have ‘rules’ as such, but giving him some special ability/weakness just so he can use it to save/lose the day at the end is bad practice, in my book.) So why would I do it myself?
Simple answer is, I didn’t. I didn’t write a novel about the monster, I wrote a novel about the man. The man who bears the curse, and has to live with it because he cannot die with it. The man who has to kill them because he can’t save them. There’s more than one kind of curse. The werewolves stayed as close to the myth (well, the Universal myth anyway) as I could keep them: vicious, bestial, monstrous. No pack structure or alpha-male angstiness. Except that this was a paranormal, enough like Sci Fi that my publisher billed it that way to make readers and booksellers happy. If this had been a horror story I could have just taken the curse for granted. That’s what curses are, after all, unknown and therefore scary.
The unknown doesn’t fly so well in SF. I had to able to explain the monster, at least a little bit. Which meant they had to be explainable. I didn’t really want to explain them, if I didn’t have to, turn a grand horrific blood curse into a disease, or a neurosis. Where’s the poetry in that? Plus, if I could explain it, I’d have to cure it. Or something. What something? No clue.* This little problem held up the writing for quite some time, as you can imagine. Not to mention the fact that I wanted a happy ending for someone. I needed something with at least a possibility of poetry in it.
Then a miracle occurred. The story shifted sideways and became a paranormal romance, at least a little bit. Speaking of poetry…
*But I did explain it, eventually. The only book I know of that asks Why the Moon? and gets away with it.

St. Martin's Moon is coming 5/15/2011 from Echelon Press
The Moon is haunted, but the werewolves don't know that!

About Marc Vun Kannon:
Like many writers, I started when a story came along and decided that I should write it. Don't ask me why. Others followed, until now I'm afraid to go out of the house with a recorder or notebook in my hand. But I show them, I refuse to write the same story twice!