Jul 14, 2008
Guest Blogger J. F. Lewis
I am very excited to introduce today's guest blogger J. F. Lewis author of Staked (Pocket, 2008). Jeremy gives us insights into his main character - the zany, forgetful Eric.
MEMORY IS A FUNNY THING
Could one of you call my cell phone? I can’t remember where I put it. My number? Um… wait a minute.
Oh c’mon. I know what it is… Oh, this is silly. It has a four in it… I’ll think of it in a minute or two. Now… what was I saying?
Memory. It affects everything from our ability to find the way home at the end of the day to the way we experience the world around us... which is exactly why memory is such a fun little tool for a writer to play with. In Staked, Eric is the obvious example: a vampire who doesn’t typically remember how he became a vampire, whose blood he ate for breakfast, or what day (month? year?) it is. He’s been embalmed, he has rage blackouts, and he also participates in the same sort of selective memory of which we are all guilty. We all edit our recollection of events to some degree (guys in particular). Eric simply takes things one step further, choosing when possible to forget as much of the bad stuff as he can.
Being embalmed really messed with his memory, though, so one can’t put all the blame on Eric. I had to be careful throughout the novel to make Eric’s memory issues a fun quirk more than a get-out-of-plot-hole-fast card… though he does forget a clue here and there (rarely), he mainly forgets little things like his home phone number, how to check his voice mail, and what he was just talking about, along with other scarier things, like his father’s real name. (You mean it wasn’t just Dad?) And my personal favorite: forgetting when the sun will come up.
Staked begins just as Eric comes out of one of his rage blackouts. “Somewhere in the middle of my rant it occurred to me that I'd killed whoever it was I'd been yelling at, so arguing was no longer important.” He never recalls what happened in those minutes and must piece together who he killed and why over the next couple of chapters.
Like any character trait, Eric’s memory issues serve a purpose. He’s a powerful vampire and in order keep to him believable, he needed his kryptonite, but that’s not all there is to it either. Giving Eric the ability to forget the things that bother him the most also accentuates the things he can’t forget. Marilyn, his fiancée in life, is still alive and near him every day. Though she’s in her eighties now and more like his nanny than his lover, he’s glad to have her around. It’s bittersweet, though, because she serves as a constant reminder of the life he lost when he died. She keeps his memory of her alive by her constant presence. Marilyn runs Eric’s strip club, cleans up his messes, works out rotations for whose turn it is to give blood, and generally helps keep him on track. She also gave him a watch that shows military time along with the day, month, and year. True love? Not if you ask Eric’s current girlfriend, Tabitha.
Marilyn’s not the only relic of Eric’s former life. He’s also very attached to his car, a 1964 ½ Mustang that he bought new. Funny how he can remember all the details about that car and not which alley, exactly, he was in when he killed that werewolf. Then again, it’s not funny at all… it’s natural. Often the things that Eric forgets are symptoms of the same kind of everyday forgetfulness we all experience. How do you take a powerful supernatural being and make him someone we can all identify with? Easy. You… you… Oh, now wait a minute. What was this blog about again?
J.F. Lewis lives in Birmingham, Alabama and is older than is necessary. He decided that he wanted to be a writer when a supposed creative writing teacher questioned his sanity and suggested therapy. He abides with his patient wife, two adorable sons, and an ornery Akita. An avid reader, J also enjoys sushi, popcorn, lukewarm sodas, and old black and white movies. His two favorite activities are singing lullabies to his kids at bedtime and typing into the wee hours of the morning. Fortunately, like the protagonist of his first novel STAKED, the author takes very little sleep.
ReVamped, the sequel to Staked is scheduled to be released in March, 2009.