As we count down to the Winter Solstice release of ONCE UPON A CURSE anthology, we are thrilled to host a post from one of the anthology authors, Siobhan Carroll.
We live in a culture that likes to strip the cruelty from our myths. Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid is betrayed by love. Little Red Riding Hood is killed by the wolf. Stoker’s vampires are monstrous child-eaters who take over your beloved’s body and turn it against you.
To live, myths need to be retold. But in 2012, our most popular retellings often leave out the raw edge of fairy tales. They tell children that the monsters under the bed aren’t real; that true evil doesn’t exist in the world, or if it does, it will be swiftly defeated.
Do we really believe this?
“Once Upon a Curse” promises a different set of stories. Its title invokes a familiar story pattern, the tale re-told., But “Once Upon” is followed by a reminder of that bitter fairy-tale cruelty, the “Curse.” The evil that lingers. The part of the story you’d rather forget.
“Remains” – my contribution to this anthology — is my response to the Twilightification of vampires. No longer the soulless monsters depicted by Stoker, vampires have become the walking embodiment of People magazine covers. The Sexiest Man alive: glossy, photoshopped, immortal. A celebrity for the ages. Who wouldn’t want someone like that? Who wouldn’t want to be someone like that?
And the price is so small. Your life. Your humanity. Your soul.
The first item doesn’t really matter -you get eternal un-life, after all. As for the rest of it – who really prizes humanity anymore? Do we still believe in souls?
When I first encountered vampire stories, it wasn’t the blood drinking that horrified me. It was the vampire’s soullessness. Everything reflects in the mirror but the vampire, because it has no soul left to reflect. The beautiful face you see? Is a shell. Inside, the vampire is empty. The person who used to be there is gone.
I can imagine nothing more horrifying than being turned into a vampire. And in my story I try to recover this horror, by asking the question that Twlightesque stories don’t seem to consider. What happens to the people who get left behind?
Stoker’s vampires, those hollow doll-people, hurt their families in very direct ways. By luring children to their deaths. By attacking the people they used to love. My vampires are less direct in the damage they inflict. But the damage is there, and it is horrifying.
Curses don’t always take magical form. Sometimes the damage they do looks very ordinary. But don’t be fooled. Immortality isn’t the only curse a vampire’s bite leaves behind.
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