Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a guest post by Seth Skorkowsky. This guest post is part of Ragnarok Holiday Grand Tour (Ragnarok Publications).
Seth Skorkowsky is the author of the fantasy novel Dämoren (Book 1 of the Valducan series).
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Information about Dämoren:
'IN THE SAME VEIN AS SUPERNATURAL, HELLBOY, AND BLADE'
A secret society of monster hunters.
A holy revolver forged to eradicate demons.
A possessed man with a tragic past.
A rising evil bent on destroying them all.
Matt Hollis is the current wielder of the holy weapon, DÄMOREN. With it, he stalks and destroys demons. A secret society called the VALDUCANS has taken an interest in Matt’s activities. They see him as a reckless rogue — little more than a ‘cowboy’ corrupted by a monster — and a potential threat to their ancient order.
As knights and their sentient weapons begin dying, Matt teams up with other hunters of his kind such as LUIZA, a woman with a conquistador blade; ALLAN, an Englishman with an Egyptian khopesh; MALCOLM, a voodoo priest with a sanctified machete; and TAKAIRA, a naginata-swinging Samurai. As the hunters become the hunted, they must learn to trust one another before a powerful demonic entity thrusts the world into a terrible and ageless darkness.
GUEST POST: Ragnarok Holiday Grand Tour Guest Post by Seth Skorkowsky
I’m a huge fan of monster stories (obviously, since I write them). Every culture has always had its share of beasties living in the shadows since the first story teller gathered people beside a fire. Among the most frightening of these creatures, are the ones that pose as humans, or even worse, were once the people we know.
These include the classic vampires, werewolves, pod-people, or zombies. We find a special sense of terror in thinking that the people we love and trust might warp into something evil or inhuman. The method of the transformation from upstanding citizen or loving friend to a cold-blooded monster is one of the things I find the most interesting.
Werewolves, for example, are easy to grasp. A werewolf bites a victim and that victim them turns into a monster when the moon is full. They lose control and often wake up the next day, completely horrified at what they might have done. Werewolves are often tragic characters, people held hostage to a curse that they can’t control and they live in fear of who they may hurt next.
Vampires, on the other hand, are not as distinct in when the change to evil happens. Older folklore shows them rising from the grave as evil blood-drinking corpses, their humanity completely lost. Newer mythologies in movies and books, blurred the line. Some have the victim be just like they were in life and they’re morally torn about what they’ve become (Anne Rice). Others have them become instantly evil (Fright Night, Dracula). The latter ones have always bothered me. Why do they become instantly evil? They remember who their friends and loved ones are, but now they just want to murder and eat them. (I was also going to ask why Dracula’s Brides always suddenly change into slinky clothes they didn’t have before, and if that means Dracula has a giant closet stocked with women’s night gowns in various sizes, but I’ll save that for another day.)
The other big question I always have, is why these monsters don’t overrun the world. They are faster, tougher, and blend in with normal humans. They can propagate their ranks with a simple bite or taste of their blood, so why are they always so scarce? There are some exceptions, of course, world domination is what pod-people want, and Day Breakers follows a world where humans are near extinct, but 99% of the monster stories still show these monsters as being rare.
When writing Dämoren, I wanted to address both of these questions. What causes our loved ones to become evil when they transform, and why have these monsters not overrun us? The answer I came up with was simple. Demonic possession.
In Dämoren, monsters such as vampires, werewolves, oni, and wendigos are not a different race or a viral infection. They’re physical manifestations of a demonic possession. These demons can mark victims in the same manner that a werewolf does, but instead of making new werewolves, they are simply creating links to new potential hosts. The demonic spirit moves between these hosts, taking control of them when they want. So shooting a werewolf with a silver bullet might kill the monster, but only the host (who is an unwilling victim) dies. The demon itself simply skips over to a new body, learns all their memories, and continues on like nothing happened.
First, this explains why someone being turned into a monster suddenly makes them evil, but it also shows why a vampire infecting thirty people does not make thirty new vampires that can quickly overrun the world. It also gives all of the creatures that same beautiful tragedy as werewolves. Even when you kill it, an innocent victim dies.
Adding my unique spin to these monsters was fun, but there’s always the risk when tinkering with creatures that people have loved for centuries. Most readers are fine with, and even encourage, a little creative license and spin, but there’s still a line. Authors can play with the details, but they can never strip these monsters of their essence. That must always be respected. I hope my readers enjoy my spin on our classic monsters and maybe weave a bit of my new mythology into their own nightmares.