When thinking about a topic for Julie Kagawa to write for us, I was wondering what it was like to switch from one type of fantasy to something completely different. Julie has done them both very well, with both series as bestsellers, and I thought she’d have some interesting things to say on switching gears. Without further ado, take it away Julie!
From the Fey to the Vamps
People often ask me if it was difficult to switch from writing about faeries to writing about vampires. While it wasn’t exactly hard, it was very different, as these are two very different creatures with very different flavors, if you will. In the Faery world of the Nevernever, the setting and characters were almost surreal, or that’s how I tried to portray it. In building the Nevernever, I had this mental image of a vibrant, dreamlike place where everything was bright and vivid, but there would be something slightly off about it. I wanted the Nevernever to be a place where you weren’t sure if you were dreaming or not; it was a haunting, dangerous place, and its inhabitants were just as beautiful and deadly.
On creating the denizens of Faery, I tried to remain true to the old tales, where the Good Neighbors were not happy, glittery sprites, but creatures who stole children and sickened livestock and lured mortals away into the forest, never to be seen again. These were not the fairies of children’s books and Disney tales. These were the faeries of Shakespeare’s ballads; Oberon, Titania, Mab, and Puck. Powerful, eternal, and as fickle as the weather. They cared little for human life, because they were not human. They were ancient, alien beings with no concept of right or wrong, no conscience to govern their actions. Faeries were feared in ancient times, for good reason. I wanted to bring a little of that fear, wonder, and surrealism back.
And then, we have vampires.
Even more then faeries, the vampire myth has changed tremendously in these modern times. Where vampires used to be terrible, night-walking monsters, creatures you would never want to meet in a dark alley, they are now tortured souls who hate what they are and drink animal blood so they don’t have to prey on humans. They can walk in the sunlight, eat normal food, and blend perfectly into human society. They are sexy and romantic and beautiful, and would do anything to protect the human female they inevitably fall in love with.
There is nothing wrong with this type of vampire. It just wasn’t the creature I wanted to write about.
I wanted my vamps to be monsters. The vampires of old, much like the faeries of old, were feared and respected, creatures that people took seriously. A creature that would rip your throat out before it ever kissed you. They may remember their human life, they might even feel human emotion at times, but these vampires are predators, and the Hunger for human blood overpowers everything else. Their world is dark, filled with blood and violence, and that was my inspiration when I created the post-apocalyptic setting of the Blood of Eden. It was very different then writing the dreamlike world of the Nevernever; this was the real world, where everything had to make sense. There was no magic or glamour here, this world was bleak and stark and desolate, a perfect fit for the vampires who ruled as monsters.
So, there you have it. Two very different settings and two very different otherworldly creatures. And just like the characters of any given series, the places they inhabit must be as vibrant and alive as their population, or risk feeling flat and shallow, underdeveloped. Setting, in fact, the biggest character of a novel. And writing it with its own traits and flaws it will make the world seem real and larger than life, which is
Thanks Julie! Want more? Be sure to check her out on twitter and her website. And don’t forget to enter for a chance to win one of three sets of her Blood of Eden series!