May 15th, 2016
I’ve been reading a couple of series lately, one of which I’ll tell you about today and another I’ll talk about another day. However, first I’d like to talk about something that I was told years and years and years ago. There is no such thing as an original idea. I’ll be honest I didn’t always agree. Sure I understood that a storyline could be broken down to its base level of say Man vs Nature or Man vs Man or whatnot, and sure on that level there would be no storyline that hadn’t been done. But surely there were still original ideas, right? Sad truth is probably not. The real truth is that it’s not ideas that are original, merely the way in which the stories are told. I began to realize this when I would come up with what I thought were original ideas only to find out other authors had already written or were in the process of writing stories that had similar storylines.
I think the first time was when I had a wild idea for a story in which the main character suffered from the genetic disorder xeroderma pigmentosum (basically being allergic to light). Color me surprised when Dean Koontz came out with a book called Fear Nothing in which the main character Christopher Snow suffers from that very disease! While that’s the first time I can recall it happening, it was hardly the last time. It wasn’t long before I noticed book after book having storylines that I thought were my original ideas. How could this be possible? Were Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and others tapping into my brainwaves and stealing my ideas? Of course not, though at the time I did wonder. I’ve since come to realize that ideas are everywhere and it’s hardly surprising when multiple people have the same or similar thoughts. And when I read Dean’s book I saw that while the core kernel of the character suffering from xeroderma pigmentosum might be the same, my story (or at least the one I had in mind) was nothing like his. It did, however, finally prove to me that Mark Twain was right, ‘There is no such thing as a new idea.’ As I said, it’s not the idea that is original but the way in which the story gets told.
You give 10 writers the same writing prompt and you will get 10 wildly different stories. Why do I mention this? Because the book series I am about to talk about is an idea I had long ago. And after a bit of searching on Amazon I saw it was not even remotely close to being an original idea. However, as was the case with Koontz’s novel, I wasn’t too far into reading these books (say only the first or second page!) before I saw that my idea and the idea of this other author were quite different. Oh sure, perhaps at the core we had a similar notion, but his execution and the idea I had in mind were radically different.
What was the idea? Geeky guy gets turned into a vampire. Now you might be saying ‘vampires again?!’ Yes. I like vampires. I like scary ones—Salam’s Lot. I like funny ones—Love at first bite. Action ones—Blade. Teenage angst ones—Lost Boys. The only ones I don’t like … sparkly ones. Sorry. I tried, but I didn’t like them. And yes while I have Jonny in the Kat Parker books—who many of you have noted does not seem at all like your typical vampire—I have plenty of other vampire stories rattling around in my head. I wrote a serious vampire book long ago and then shelved it. This was before I got into self publishing. One of these days I intend to dig it out, polish it, and publish it. But I think I’m wandering here (as I am often wont to do), so let me get back to the matter at hand. The geeky vampire idea. An original idea? Not really. Once I began looking around I found out it had been done numerous times in the past. And once I began to read the first book in this series it didn’t take me long (as I said, within the first page or so) to see that this author’s take was completely different than the take I’d had in mind. Was there are point to all this? Probably not. This is more my internal thought process and my way of telling myself not to completely give up on my idea of some day perhaps writing that geeky vampire story just because someone else has already written one. Now onto the books.
The book series is known as The Tome of Bill by author Rick Gualteri. There are currently 9 books in the series, 7 main books and 2 side stories. I’m currently reading the 5th main book, having completed books 1-4 as well as the first of the side stories that takes place between books 4 and 5. I’m not going to go in depth on the plots of these books, you can check them out on Amazon, as I really don’t want to spoil anything.
However, let me warn you upfront that the humor in these books (and yes there is quite a bit of it) is a bit on the juvenile/frat boyish side. The books are loaded with F-bombs, crude humor, and are perhaps more than a bit misogynistic. That being said, I am enjoying the heck out of the series.
The first book—Bill the Vampire—tells the tale of Bill Ryder, a dorky game developer who gets turned into a vampire. We learn that Bill is a special type of vampire and see how his creation brings chaos into the vampire world in general. Bill is a snarky, trash talking, underdog, and as long as you aren’t offended by his total objectification of women, he and his friends are lovable losers. On a side note, as someone who was a teen in the 80’s I love all the pop references.
Even though many people feel they know what to expect from a vampire story, the author does a great job of putting his own unique spin on the supernatural world and we see even more of this in the continuing books. With each new volume the author has added new twists and turns to his vision of the supernatural world and we are introduced to some truly unique characters (which you know I love). One such spin? The age old enemy of the vampires is big foot and not werewolves as so many others, myself included, have used in the past.
Like almost everything out there, this won’t be for everyone. However, if you aren’t easily offended and can appreciate/laugh at some rather juvenile/crude humor you might just want to download a sample of Bill the Vampire and give it a go. I know I’m glad I did.
Have you tried these books? Love them? Hate them? Feel free to let me know below. And feel free to share what you’ve been reading lately. My backlog is already insane, but I’m always on the lookout for something new so let me know if you have any recommendations.