Oct 4, 2012

Who Was Nathan Shepherd?

Last time I spoke about my initial decision to become a writer.

Funnily, when I created the character who would eventually become Nathan Shepherd, I didn't have any idea that such a thing as urban fantasy existed. I was certain that what I wanted to write was horror, because, in my innocence, I thought horror needed to have better-written characters than any other genre, otherwise you wouldn't be afraid for them.

But one of the things that always bugged me about horror was how weak the main character often was. If you saw the hero in a horror movie start to really fight back, it wasn't until the very end, and even then they were always afraid. Maybe if the character returned in later sequels, they eventually became stronger, but this was rare. All too often the bravest character, the mentor or the monster-hunter (usually my favorite character) would be killed off before the end.

I knew that I wanted to write stories where monsters got killed. My favourite horror movies as a child were vampire movies like Fright Night and The Lost Boys. So I settled on a vampire novel to start. But I still needed a central character who was different from all the scared, weak protagonists I was used to seeing.

I needed a hero.

His name was not Nathan Shepherd.

Back in those days, he was Nicholas St.Claire, a man who had watched a vampire murder his parents as a child, and now hunted any monster he found. He owned an apartment building in New York, which meant he didn't need to work and could spend his time hunting vampires. 

This would introduce the supporting cast, when the girlfriend of one of his tenants was targeted by a vampire. He would help them, teach them how to fight, and lead them against the vampire, killing it in a dramatic showdown.

The apartment building had a bar on the ground floor where a band would play and patrons could get up to sing. At the end of every book, one of the characters would get up and sing to one of the others.

At the end of the first, the vampire's victim was to get up and sing "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me," to her boyfriend.

At the end of the last book in the series, after Nicholas had finally killed the vampire which murdered his parents, his love interest Linda was going to get up and sing "Simply The Best." 

I was 14. I thought this was ground-breaking stuff.

Thankfully, as time has passed I've matured (honest) and so has my writing. No longer do I want to end my books with cheesy karaoke acts, and I don't want to give them cringe-worthy  trademark-infringing titles like "Bat Out Of Hell." 

Nicholas became Nathan. The apartment building was forgotten. The traumatic past was removed. In fact, little of that character remains. But I have to acknowledge that the hero of Locked Within started out as a 14 year-old's fantasy for the kind of hero he wanted to see, even if he wouldn't have been a very interesting character to read about.

Next week I'll look at reincarnation, how it fits in the world of Locked Within, and how I chose New York as my setting.

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