Let Me Explain

One of the greatest compliments I ever received was from one of my high school teachers who said he thought it was great that I took it upon myself to stand up for the unpopular opinions, even when I didn’t believe in them myself.

-Dare to Say No-

At my school there once was a local essay writing contest that a teacher made everyone in my class submit an entry for.  The prompt was “Does your generation have a role in America’s future?”

Well, you see, their mistake is that they phrased that as a question.  And me, being the cynical person I was, I dared to answer the question with “No, they do not,” if only for the reason that I knew nobody else would. 

What resulted was a fabulous essay with colorful metaphors and quotes by Homer to prove my point that my generation were like encroaching vines that couldn’t survive in the real world except by tearing down those above them.  As one such victim who got torn down by peers with years of bullying, I had plenty of ammunition to fire at this essay.  I was the only one arguing the opposing side, and the teacher even pulled me aside to say that my essay had a very slim chance of winning despite it being the only unique answer.  But I wasn’t in it to win, I was in it make a point. 

Needless to say, my pessimistic viewpoint did not win the contest or the meager gift card prize, but I enjoyed the challenge.  To dare to say no to a question that should be yes, to go against the grain, to take the path less traveled by.  Even when I knew I wouldn’t sway the opinion of the people that asked the question.  And I’ve kept it in mind ever since:  to always try and reach out for that unpopular or unheard of side and find something worth bringing to light.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
-Robert Frost

 -I'm Cynical and Subtle-

Which leads me to my writing style.  In some small way, I like to think that I dabble in satire.  Nothing as beautiful as Candide or as obvious as Mel Brooks, mind you.  My satire is so subtle it could probably be mistaken for something taken seriously. 

For example, I got it in my head one day to make fun of stereotypical goo-goo “girl next door” love stories by writing one.  I exaggerated how fluffy and happy-go-lucky the girl was despite all of her bumbling faults.  The guy only has thoughts and sights on her to the point of worshiping her cons as much as her pros.  The whole story is like downing multiple spoonfuls of sugar.  It’s way too sweet that it’s almost toxic.  But in a lot of ways, I probably didn’t make it satirical enough, and 99% of people reading it would likely pass it off as a yucky love story like any other.

-Getting to the Point- 

Which is why I want to step back and explain myself with my upcoming novel, The Un-Life of William Moore.  In a way, I want to call it my unique brand of satire.  I don’t want to give away everything because, as a writer, more than anything I want my stories to provoke deep thoughts in people on their own accord, but I do want to tell you why this story exists despite how quickly someone could dismiss it because of one detail:

Yes, William Moore is a vampire.  You’re going to have to get over it now.  Roll yours eyes and groan a little if you need to.  Let go of all that oversaturation and bias.  Feel better?  Then let’s continue.

This book is my response to the supernatural romance genre that started with vampires and is now leeching into every other cool monster, whether it’s in print or on TV.  Even I want to gag when I read the Netflix description of Bitten – “She’s blonde, gorgeous, smart – and a werewolf.”  Like, wow, is her name Mary Sue, and can she fly too?  (But is Bitten totally in my future watch list? Heck yeah!  Werewolves are awesome.  I wouldn’t believe you if you said they weren’t).

I wrote and mostly finished The Un-Life about 7 or so years ago during the height of vampire obsession.  I was tired of the constant bombardment of hot, indestructible, brooding vampires falling in love with humans they’re afraid to bite despite how much they want to turn them into their eternal partners.  Vampirism basically turned into a sexy STD that everyone is dying to die for.

-The Cure-

So here came my answer:  Billy.  A weak, plain, poor excuse of a vampire.  He’s not a lover, he’s not a fighter; he’s not even nice to look at.  He’s a night owl with a weird diet and no clue how to be social.  And he’s also about as human as you can get.  I wanted to tell the story of a person struggling to overcome real obstacles like homelessness, hunger, and loneliness - a person who just so happens to also be a vampire.  Do you know how hard it is to make friends when you sleep all day and outlive everyone around you?  Billy doesn’t brood because he’s a “monster,” he broods because he’s an outsider.

Again, it’s a subtle thing.  So subtle that you might not have been able to notice it without me pointing it out to you.  And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  There’s so much more to The Un-Life than meets the eye.  A good story shouldn’t just wrap up at the end with one universal lesson to learn.  It should be laced with multiple meanings throughout.  

-I Challenge You-

So now I challenge you, future reader, to keep looking for the things I’m not telling you about The Un-Life of William Moore.  Look into the depths where others only find shallows.  Don’t take anything at face value.  Theorize, debate, question everything. 

And I also challenge you to do the same thing to anything you see or hear.  Even when the meaning of a story is more or less spelled out for you, dig deeper!  Have the audacity to say “no” and uncover the diamonds in the rough. 

-Dana Lockhart


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