Vampires in Space!

Vampires of the Scarlet Order was, in effect, a fix-up novel. The first half was composed of short stories that had been previously published and the second half was new material written specifically for the novel. However, the first time I put the stories together and composed the second half, I came up with something very different than the novel that was published in 2005 and it was all because of one story.

In 2001, my wife, daughter, and I made a trip to Carlsbad Caverns followed by a short jaunt to Roswell, to check out the UFO museum there. We had a lot of fun, and I came away with a story idea. It really started at the UFO museum and thinking about accounts of alien abduction and how similar they were to the way vampire attacks are often described. The aliens come into your bedroom and there’s a good chance they’ll violate you in some way. Of course, at Carlsbad, we also had the opportunity to watch the bats leave the caverns at night and I had thoughts about a vampire who decided to hide among the caverns during the day and fly out to hunt her prey at night. What if a vampire was abducted by a UFO? This whole line of thought led me to a story called “Bat Flight South of Roswell” which was published as a standalone chapbook by Anxiety Publications in 2002.

When I assembled Vampires of the Scarlet Order, I realized I had three story arcs that all pointed to some big mystery happening. I also realized the biggest mystery of all happened in the story “Bat Flight South of Roswell.” What were the aliens doing? Were they about to do something bigger? So when I first wrote the ending of the book, I set out to resolve that issue. The vampires find they have some latent ability to move between universes and can use that as a way to travel great distances. The vampires gather and travel to the aliens’ home world and stopped the threat.

I read it and I mostly liked it and I even mostly believed what I wrote could have happened in the context of the story. The problem was “mostly.” I didn’t quite believe it all the way. I wasn’t quite pulled fully into the story. A little voice in the back of my mind kept saying “this is silly.” One of the challenges as authors is knowing when to listen to that voice and when to tell it to shut up. This time I listened.

For the novel, I rewrote the alien abduction chapter. Instead of aliens abducting the vampire, it’s the military for a secret operation. It made a much stronger novel and much of that is because the settings involved were places I’d been and worked at. Much of the action is actually the same as it would have been, but it’s set at Los Alamos National Laboratory where my graduate advisor worked. There’s still some alien tech so advanced it’s almost magic, but instead of being wielded by aliens, it’s being wielded by humans who don’t fully understand it. Not only was I able to willingly suspend my disbelief, I found a way to give the book a stronger theme, and I could write about places I knew.

I also left in a hint that perhaps vampires might one day travel to the stars. After all, if vampires with all their strength and abilities would make good mercenaries, wouldn’t they make awesome astronauts? Just gotta make sure they’re well stocked with blood for the journey!

As it turns out, I ultimately wrote a story about a member of the Scarlet Order investigating a mystery in deep space in the distant future. It was called “Dark Matter” and it was published in Hungur Magazine in 2012. Unfortunately, the story is no longer in print, but I do plan to share the story with my Patreon subscribers later this week. What’s more, subscribers can go to an earlier post and get a copy of Vampires of the Scarlet Order. If that isn’t incentive enough, I’ll mention that subscribing to my Patreon helps support this blog. So what are you waiting for? Click the button below to visit the site and learn more.

2 comments on “Vampires in Space!

  1. I’ll check *Vampires of the Scarlet Order*. If I haven’t already ordered it, I will. (I don’t remember because I have some large writing projects I’m finishing, and when I finish them my reward is reading books I want to read. Until then, I’m trying to avoid temptation.)

    In your case as a writer, it’s a voice in your head that tells you, “this is silly.” In my case, it’s a voice of one of my characters asking me, “Why would I do that?” or even telling me, “I wouldn’t do that.”

    By the way, the vampires and aliens coming into your bedroom and violating you in some way, and also possibly abducting you, both go back to something else: elves. In the modern day, we’re used to elves either roaming Tolkien’s Middle Earth or something similar, or helping Santa Claus make toys. Most of us don’t know or forgot their roots. But many of the things now attributed to vampires or greys, including seduction and abduction, were earlier applied to elves.

    • Thank you, Alden. I hope you enjoy Vampires of the Scarlet Order when you get a chance to read it.

      Actually my characters also say things like “Why would I do that?” or “I wouldn’t do that.” However, I see this as a somewhat different kind of situation. In this case, the characters were all true to themselves and did exactly what they would have done in the situation I gave them. They “saw” what they needed to see in order to convince themselves of the scenario’s reality.

      The problem was that when I stepped back and viewed it as a reader, I didn’t see everything I needed to convince me of the reality. Effectively, that meant I hadn’t communicated everything to the reader that I should have about what my characters were seeing and feeling, nor did I set up the situation as well as I could have. I could have chosen to better communicate why the characters believed the situation and I could have layered in some better foreshadowing. The problem there is that none of that made a better book. None of it expanded on themes that were already there. None of it made the story more fun or more cool. So, the other choice was to scale things back so it better fit what was already explained and foreshadowed.

      You’re absolutely right about elves being a predecessor to both vampires and aliens. There is something in our psyche that wants to believe there are “others” who will invade our most private spaces for purposes we don’t understand.

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