Posts Tagged ‘determinism’

One strategy during revision is to write the scenes that take place outside of the narrator’s experience. What happened before he entered the room?

Those scenes can help me imagine everything from the posture to the motivation of the various characters when our narrator does arrive.

So here’s a scene that drives action in the vampire novel but cannot be in the novel, because the first person narrator, Blue, is not there.

Byron tells Asta that Blue is a vampire

She hadn’t decided to go to bed with Blue yet but she was having a hard time resisting him. When Byron came into her room she expected to surrender to him, use him as a diversion to avoid thinking of Blue, but instead she felt repulsed.

“Leave me be,” she said. He had her pressed against the wardrobe, his body the length of hers, the evidence of his desire pressing against her.

“Darling, sister,” Byron cooed, his cheek against hers, his breath hot on her ear. “Why don’t you want me anymore?”

“You stink of Polidori. You’ve already been satisfied tonight. Why are you after me?”

His forehead fell into the slope of her neck and he sighed heavily. The heat of his breath moistened her collarbone and the cut of cleavage exposed by her nightgown. He raised his hand and traced the laced edge of the gown running his fingertip over the curve of her breast.

Asta raised her hands, pressed them to his chest, and shoved him away. He staggered a bit and grinned at her.

“You’re drunk,” she accused.

“Very,” he agreed. “And enamored of you as always, dear sister.”

“Enough,” Asta said coldly. “We’ve had enough. I’m no longer yours to command.”

Byron sneered. “No, you’ll be whore to the demon instead.”

Asta raised an eyebrow. “You’ll know a whore when you see one,” she said, “in your mirror.”

Byron laughed then, a harsh sound that filled the room and raised goosebumps on Asta’s arm.

“You’ll not see him in yours,” he said in a kind of singsong voice. “Or any mirror for that matter. It’s a thing about them.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Asta said, pushing past him and circling the large bed in the center of the room. She lifted her discarded dress and carried it further away from him to the chair near the window.

“He’s a vampire,” Byron said. “A blood sucking demon who can’t be seen in mirrors, who will never age and never die. Who would as soon tear into your throat as shove his cock in you.”

“Stop this instant!” Asta said, whirling to face him and glaring at him. “Why are you trying to hurt me?”

“I’m not trying to hurt you,” Byron muttered bitterly. “You want him and you should know he wants you, too. But not how you think.” He flopped onto the bed, laying supine, his head sinking into her pillow.

Asta turned back to the window, laid her dress across the chair, positioning it to avoid wrinkling.

“You’re jealous,” she said. “And so you demonize him.”

Byron laughed, “Figuratively, of course.”

“Of course. You’re drunk. You’re mad. You’re hateful. You should leave me be.”

Byron propped himself up on his elbows and looked across the bed at her. “I’m telling the truth, Augusta,” he said. “He is not a man. He is a vampire.”

She turned to face him then. Her glance showed the slightest doubt but it was quickly replaced with what looked like irritation.

“You’re fanciful,” she said. “You always have been.”

“It’s true!” he insisted, climbing up to his knees and crawling across the bed.

“Really, Georgie, a vampire? You could say he’s a rogue, that he’s already married, that he’s seeking a fortune and will blackmail me for it.” She named these accusations like tabloid headlines, flipping her wrist with each one as if showing them to Byron.

“That he’s my lover?” Byron asked.

She shook her head. “That I wouldn’t believe. He’s already told me it isn’t so.”

Byron laughed again. “You’ll believe him; but I’m lying.”

“You’re telling fantasy. A demon? A vampire? They are not real. He cannot be.”

Byron climbed down from the bed then and tugged his sleeve up, baring his elbow. A long pale scar stretched across it and the remains of a bite mark. It was swollen as if it had only just healed.

“Evidence,” he said, baring his wound for her.

Asta stepped nearer, laid her fingers on the broken skin.

“What did this?”

“He did this.”


“Raven. But they are the same.” He stared at her as she examined the wound. Her fingers traced the length of the scar and pressed into the scab of the bite. Byron winced.

“What is this?” Asta asked.

“He fed on me. He always does. I let him.” He paused then tugged his sleeve down. “I let him,” he said again, quietly.

“But why?” Asta asked, searching his face.

Byron stared directly into her eye then, his amber eyes full of hurt and sadness. “For the same reason you will,” he said. “Because I am broken and when he touches me, I feel whole again.”

Asta reached out and laid her hand on his cheek, first her left and then her right. She pulled his face in her hands toward her and kissed him. She could taste tears on his lips.

Lila-Asta“Oh, my Georgie, so tortured.” She kissed him again. “So very alone.”

“You don’t want me,” he said against her mouth.

She shook her head and then pressed her cheek to his.

“Give yourself to him, then,” Byron said, and pulled away. “Just know you must give all of yourself; he only knows how to take it all.”

“Like you,” she said.

He hardened and backed away. “You’ve been warned,” he said as he turned, dragging his bad foot, and headed for the door. “Good night, sister.”


How does Asta feel about the confession Byron makes? She is intrigued. She does not feel afraid. She hardly believes it and even if she did, Byron has survived what she imagines her own encounter will be like. She considers herself stronger than Byron.

When Asta comes to Blue, she knows what he is. She decides to give herself to him anyway. She trusts Blue not to hurt her. Trust that, as it turns out, is misplaced.


We have a guest post today, submitted by Blue Francis Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon and narrator of Seduction of an Innocent, my second novel. Leave comments and questions for Blue below.

I was restless in Vegas. That’s why I started reading. I lifted a worn copy of Atlas Shrugged from under the bar at Sabrina’s. One of the customers saw me reading it and brought in a collection of critical essays on it. I was hooked.

After that, the same customer brought me syllabi from various English courses at UNLV and I read through the required work and the criticism. In the seven years we were in Vegas, I completed about forty English classes.

My favorite work was American Literature. I especially liked the Realism era beginning with Henry James and bleeding over into Stephen Crane. I was drawn to determinism. Sister Carrie moved me in a way I couldn’t really understand.

I knew that destiny and fate were romantic ideas. I knew they were consolation for the seemingly random pain and suffering of the human experience. They worked like religion: the concept of Heaven is merely a draught to help those in pain look beyond their current strife. Like spiritual opium.

Destiny told believers that there was some master plan of which they were simply a part. That the outcomes of their struggles were predetermined.

I didn’t believe that.

I couldn’t.

How could any rational being suggest that my extraordinary existence had been mapped out by anything other than chance? Who could think this shit up?

Car accident, rescued by a vampire morgue employee.

Living in Vegas as a bartender and hired killer.

Guardian over my vampire best friend’s human wife.

Meeting my true love in fucking Kansas of all places.

No, there was no such thing as destiny. There couldn’t be. If there had been, then all of those contracts, the planned termination of other people’s lives, were foretold. And the events leading to that necessary act had been planned by some great puppeteer as well.

What kind of monstrous supernatural being would allow the possession and abuse of young girls?

I killed those men for hurting the girls. That did not make me a sword of justice. I am still only a predator myself. I am survival of the fittest.

There can be no being in charge of all this chaos. If there were, that being is most certainly not worthy of praise or commendation.

Still, fate is a cruel sprite. She encourages fantasy and romanticism. She teases with signs and coincidence.

I read Dreiser and thought about determinism as the sad sister of fate and destiny. While the latter encouraged hope and purpose, the former doomed all beings to clawing at the stone walls of our own dark wells.

To reject destiny and determinism, though, is to become comfortable with chaos. I was not only comfortable with chaos – I didn’t question it, didn’t wonder about it, didn’t reject it – I was an agent of chaos. I encouraged it and perpetuated it. Raven taught me how.

The only regret I have is that I didn’t know I was that – the catalyst for chaos – for a very long time. And that when I did learn, that I experienced for the first time the shame Sara had described to me. Not because of killing people, I’ve already explained that. This shame was over my intentional disruption of other people’s carefully organized lives.

Disruption of Asta’s life. Of Byron’s.

My influence was brutal and had I known, at the time, I might have held back. But I didn’t.