I’ve been having some issues with my urban fantasy thing lately, besides writer’s block, and the most pressing one is that my characters are being slippery about divulging information about themselves. I have the basic concept: an apartment complex where the residents treat each other like a big extended family, as well as a particular niche each character fills. You have the one who flirts shamelessly with everyone, the geeky one, the one who likes baking cookies and drops in with a bowl of chicken soup when anyone gets sick, the recluse, the artist, parents, and those who can’t stand the sight of children, the list goes on, and characters can, of course, have multiple roles.
So, to make my job much easier, I decided to corner one of my characters and get them to answer some questions. I could have chose any of them, but I wanted to work on the resident vampire in the story. He was originally a young (late teens) sickly man in the process of Changing, treated as an invalid by his family, but then I started thinking about that a little more, and a different sort of character emerged, here is what I came up with:
[The character is a middle-aged man, I'm guessing he was in his late thirties when he died. His skin is the colour of chalk, his eyes are a pale blue, and his hair, likely once blond, is now as white as his skin. He's dressed in black from head to toe, his trench coat concealing a long-sleeved sweater and jeans. His boots are clean, but not polished.]
Me: Please state your name for the record. (I’ve always wanted to say that!)
Him: Weiss Blutmann
[He glares at me.]
Me: Okay then….[It's probably not his real name, but I write it down anyways. He's not the only character in this who goes by a pseudonym.]
Weiss: Is there a problem?
Me: Of course not! Why would there be a problem? Species?
Weiss: [rolling his eyes] Really?
Me: For the record.
Weiss: Fine, vampire, bloodsucker, however it is that you classify my kind these days. “My kind”, ha! I suppose no human ever imagines that they will someday have to say such a thing.
Me: So, Vampire, currently a citizen of the city-state of St. Cyprian. Before that, you were living in the U.S., correct?
Weiss: [impatiently] That is not the question you wanted to ask.
Me: Fine, where were you born?
Weiss: Berlin, Germany, October 21st, 1920
Me: I see, and were you in Germany when the Na–
Weiss: [starts swearing profusely in German. It's a good thing I only know a couple words of German, or my ears would probably be traumatized for life.]
Me: O_o Okay, that particular subject is a touchy one, I see, no surprise there. So, how did you come to the U.S.
Weiss: I emigrated there, of course.
Me: Fleeing the country before all Hell broke loose?
Weiss: Chasing a lover.
Me: Are they still…[I make a vague gesture with one hand] you know, alive?
Me: Did they Turn you?
Weiss: [rolls his eyes again] Honestly! Does everyone believe that every vampire is Turned by their paramours? No, he did not Turn me, disagreements and debts owed, that is all….
[I get the sense that he isn't in the mood to talk about his past much, likely because he wants to spring it on me when I'm trying to write a different scene, but okay, I'll let it go....for now.]
Me: Is there anything you miss about being human?
Weiss: [his lips quirk up in what might be a smile, the first time that expression's been on his face since we started the interview] You are expecting me to say sex, yes?
Weiss: Hmph, there are plenty of other ways to achieve….gratification…than intercourse, but the thing I miss most….[he pauses]
Me: [waiting patiently]
Me: Okay….[that makes sense, vampires' bodies are naturally dry, any sort of flame--even a stray spark from a ciggy, can potentially be fatal] Is there anything else you would like to tell me, Mr. Blutmann?
Weiss: When are you leaving?
Me: [sighs] Fine, I’m leaving….
So, I guess what I learned from this is that I have a middle-aged (when he died, at least) German vampire who has been in at least one serious relationship with a man, really misses cigarettes, and…doesn’t really emote much (or at least, that he likes his privacy).
Also, do not mention the ‘N’ word, ever.
I suppose I could have asked him about his family and such, but now that I have at least some sort of handle on him, the rest will come.
I would also like to reiterate that he chose that corny name for himself, I’m clear on that.
This was fun, I should do more of these things.