Hey darklings, I’ve got a fantastic treat for you today! A guest post from Jinn Nation author Caroline Barnard-Smith on the inspiration behind her naughty character Dylan. Check it out:
I never wanted to write about vampires. Well, I wanted to, I love vampire literature (proper vampire literature, anyway; not this toned down, castrated fan fiction that passes itself off as vampire fiction these days), but I believed everything that could be written about a vampire had already been written. It was with some surprise, therefore, that I noticed vampires creeping into my first novel, Dunraven Road. Dylan started life as a character in that novel, saved from a messy fate along with the rest of his undead companions because I’d fallen a little bit in love with him. My new novel, Jinn Nation, is essentially the story of what Dylan did next. He needed his own novel, he doesn’t play well with others.
I was never a ‘goody-goody’. I wasn’t evil, but I wasn’t always well behaved, either. I left my homework to the last minute, I wrote rude things on the white boards, I burned various items found in the bottom of my pencil case in the Bunsen burners. Now that I’m a (non-pyromaniac) adult I appreciate the same basic characteristics in my vampires. Dylan isn’t a cardboard villain complete with cape and lacquered hair, but he definitely isn’t a shiny eunuch either. He’s the same kind of vampire that I would want to read about, an anti-hero who doesn’t apologise for his debilitating blood addiction and the loss of human life that entails. I drew from my favourite fictional vampires, vampires who revel in their own vicious immortality in a way you see less and less these days: the decadent monster, Lestat, star of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, remorseless, magnetic Zillah from Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls and even Spike, the chain smoking Billy Idol wannabe from the dearly departed Buffy the Vampire Slayer who (before having a chip implanted in his head and falling in love with the Slayer) once famously called humans “Happy Meals with legs”. I missed those types of vampires, I wanted more of them, so I decided to create my own.
I’ve been told by some readers that Dylan and Christa, the secretive, seemingly fragile girl with devastating and unique mental powers he meets in a jinn bar in the Arizona desert, have no redemptive qualities. I disagree, but they both have their reasons for mistrusting or abusing the human race. Dylan is a vampire and therefore resides one step above humanity on the food chain. He can appreciate the beauty of humanity’s wondrous creations and will often enjoy an evening in the company of humans, but he will always see them as potential snacks because he is basically a predator, defined by his need to drink blood. That’s not non-redemptive, that’s just a fact. Christa is a whole different kettle of piranhas. Her shunning of humanity in favour of the darker jinn stems from the abuse she suffered as an adolescent. She views humans as ignorant fools, sleepwalking through a world filled with vicious night time creatures they have no knowledge of.
Of course, Dylan grew from being simply my idea of what a good literary vampire should be into his own person. He’s drawn to strong females such as fearless Christa and later, the slightly unhinged jinn goddess, Bredia. He’s loyal to his own kind, even when they annoy the hell out of him (after believing he is the last vampire in existence, Dylan is overjoyed to find one of his own kind living it up in a small town in Missouri; sadly his joy is soon overshadowed when the vampire in question insists on hugging him and calling him his ‘father’) and he hates to be alone in the world, a trait that led him to the dubious decision to have jinn stones sewn into his stomach, effectively making him a vampire/jinn hybrid.
I wanted Dylan to be really cool without being arrogant or ridiculous. Hopefully I’ve achieved that. Most of all, Dylan was fun to write. I don’t understand how a character can be enjoyable and entertaining if they’re constantly worrying about their own dubious morality. And vampires should be fun. They have fangs, look great and live forever, what’s not to love about that?
– Caroline Barnard-Smith
And if you haven’t already, check out the interview we did with Caroline on her new vamptastic book HERE.