If asked my favorite creature the answer has been and will always be the Frankenstein Monster. Aside from the sheer brilliance of Mary Shelly’s writing, there is the beauty that is the monster himself. Monsters are like people, otherwise people wouldn’t be able to write them. They are the dark sides of us all and the things we fear the most. The Frankenstein Monster was brilliant. He ran faster. He jumped higher. He learned at an accelerated rate. He was, in most ways, better than the intense man that had created him in dark defiance of death itself.
My love for the monster started so long ago, I can’t really remember its beginning. In films, I always felt sorry for the big cumbersome thing that no one loved. In reading the book, I learned that the films (at least the early ones) had a lot of things wrong, like the look of the monster or the sheer neglect of his brilliance. However, the ‘unloved’ part was always the same—the pitiful rejection and the rage that comes with that kind of rejection intensified a thousand-fold by a creature that was very human on the inside.
My second favorites are Count Dracula (vampires) and the Wolfman (werewolves). Count Dracula had love taken away from him and raged against it to the point of changing himself into something else—something that could deal with that terrible loss. Dracula’s lust for timeless love is so sad, so huge, and so defiantly real, that it has kept us riveted, in one way or another, for decades. The Wolfman had a tendency to surrender to his baser self—which made him an outcast and unloved as well. While the Larry Talbot character is usually a pretty nice guy, you don’t want to be around him during the full moon. He is what we do when we can’t control ourselves, when our greed and lusts become too large to be contained.
And, finally, there is the zombie—any zombie. Whether created by voodoo ritual or bitten by a raging Infected, the zombie is the most loveless creature of all, and the least human. These walking, shambling corpses cannot even pretend to be anything other than the hungry empty shells that they are. While not the best fodder for a love story themselves, they can easily be the glue that either holds people together to fight them off, or the thing that sets people against one another in absolute inhuman savagery.
There is a beauty in our legendary monsters and their myriad spawn that makes writing paranormal both interesting and fun. Seeking out the humanity in these creatures—even the zombies depending on what you’re reading, watching, or writing—and teasing our own humanity with their darkness…with our darkness. Our greed. Our pain. Our fear.
Frankenstein is that bastard child, the unwanted, and the, oftentimes, abused. What started out as an empty slate learned, through constant rejection, to be the monster. If the brilliant Dr. Frankenstein had been kinder, what would have become of his monster then? Would his creation have turned on him? Would it have turned on other humans? Was the Frankenstein Monster a monster because of the strange way that he came into the world, or was he a monster because of the way the world viewed and treated him?
Dracula, at least in my opinion, wants a love that lasts forever, which is a very unrealistic, but not odd thing to want. Both he and Victor Frankenstein raged against death. They raged against loss. Dracula turned himself into something cold, something that did not need the love that he had lost—or so he thought. When that love came again, that cold vampire was a man trembling in the arms of that woman. He is merely the fear that something beautiful will be taken away from us too soon, and the frustrated rage that we can’t do anything about it. Most of his spawn (the countless vampire tales after him) talk about it in one way or another—even if it is only the mention that they miss the warmth and beauty of the sun—this is a love lost, and never to be regained, too.
The Wolfman is a venture into a loss of control so great, so very unmanageable, that it causes you to lose everything. Love. Respect. Humanity. He is the average man’s surrender to the most terrible desires. In a civilized world, the Wolfman just won’t do. He is the murderer that didn’t mean to. He is every excuse used in every court for every crime ever committed. He is: “The devil made me do it,” personified. He is the thing that walks amongst us, pretending. He is reviled and can’t be trusted, if you can spot him in those lovely sheep’s clothing.
The zombie is a basic fear of succumbing to conformity to such a great extent that all of you is lost and there is nothing left but a thing that consumes and consumes and consumes, bringing more into the fold of that conformity. Those few remaining individuals who manage not to be infected struggle to remain themselves. Even if it’s the voodoo zombie, it is still the absolute loss of self that drives the fear of these things, and the struggles of those who are pit against them.
Within all of that, are a billion, trillion stories that can be told about people—about their loves and their lives and their battles when facing these monsters and/or becoming them. Writing paranormal is writing people. It’s writing love, and fear and hope and happiness with a touch of the supernatural amplifying very human things.