Happy 4th of July to all my fellow American peeps! I’m guessing very few of you will be reading this post today due to the usual outdoor festivities, but this is my day to blog, even if I will end up mostly talking to myself, lol. I was going to do a post talking about holidays and the choice to include them in novels, but I just didn’t have too many thoughts about that, as it turned out. So, if you don’t happen to be outside at a barbeque like most of the US today, consider yourself invited to pull up a chair and weigh in on your thoughts about faith in fantasy.
As a paranormal writer, I’ve often been asked how my supernatural creatures differ from others. Take my vampires. One of the things they can do that many others in fiction can’t is walk around in the daylight. Yes, just like in the original Dracula by Bram Stoker, my vampires have no lethal aversion to sunlight. Something else that repels many vampires in modern fiction, but also has no effect on mine, is crosses. I originally decided on that because I couldn't come up with an answer to the question of how a vampire who pre-dated Christianity would cringe away from a cross, and I have some vampires in my novel who are much older than two thousand years.* Therefore, religious objects in my books don’t have any effect on vampires.
That doesn’t mean faith is absent in my stories. In fact, my idea for the origin of vampires came from the Biblical story of Cain. In my retelling of it, God’s “mark” was making Cain into the first vampire, cursed to forever drink blood as punishment for spilling his brother Abel’s (or so the vampires claim. Ghouls in my books have a different version of what Cain was turned into, heh). So right from the beginning, I knew I’d have to deal with the element of faith in my supernatural world.
Still, the idea than an entire species would agree about spiritual beliefs seemed an impossible notion even for a work of supernatural fiction. Therefore, even though I made up a fictitious creationist history for the undead based on the biblical character of Cain, this doesn't make the vampires or ghouls in my book automatically Judeo-Christian. Instead, they represent a wide range of beliefs, including atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, pagans, voodoo, and more. Mencheres, the hero in my upcoming novel, Eternal Kiss of Darkness, still believes in the ancient Egyptian gods (which gave me an excuse to indulge my love of Egyptology with more research about them!)
Paranormal writers, in the process of selecting a species, plotting, and otherwise breathing life into your book, did the question of faith play into your world building? Or did you have to remove all beliefs to make your particular world work, and was that easier or harder to do?
Readers, what’s your take on books that add the element of faith into a supernatural world? Do you prefer paranormal novels to have no belief system in place? Or prefer novels where beliefs are based on dieties the author has made up (like a god named Rawr for shapeshifters, for example ;-) instead of beliefs from any actual faiths?
Friendly reminder: I’m only asking for comments on the presence/absence of faith in paranormal novels because I’m curious how readers and writers think it impacts a story (or doesn’t). Please refrain from any comments espousing the presence/absence of faith in the real world. This isn’t the place for a debate on anyone’s personal spiritual beliefs or lack thereof.
* Note: I've seen authors come up with a perfectly reasonable explanation for this in their novels, even with vampires who predated Christianity. The great thing about paranormal fiction is you can make up your own rules, so there is no one "right way" to write a particular creature.