Once upon a time, genre fiction only used a single trope. You could count on Bram Stoker not adding werewolves to his Dracula book. Mary Shelly stuck to her Frankenstein. But as long as you stay within the rules of the world you create, mixing up tropes can add to the experience, as well as give us authors more room to play. It’s fun creating a magical underworld filled with vampires, deities, trolls and other creatures within cities like Seattle.
One big advantage to mixing tropes is when thinking long term. A single story can get away with a single idea or thread, but a series needed to be broad enough that the action doesn’t become stale. Some of the great urban fantasy series have shown that you need to introduce new tropes as you write, or else it becomes the same rehash over and over again. Boring. Patricia Briggs mixed werewolves and fae in her Mercy Thompson series. (If you haven’t read her series yet, we highly recommend it.)
The basic premise for the Sundancer series is simple. What if the supernatural entities of the world changed based on their belief? A vampire one decade could be like the Dracula of old, while a modern day vampire would resemble something different, all based on popular belief. Because of this premise, we’re able to delve not only into popular mythology, like vampires, but we also have the deep well of ancient mythology to pull from as well. Demon Dance deals with angels and demons, while Mind of the Beast deals with everything from ancient Celtic forest gods to voodoo, to even what it means to be the precursor to the ancient gods.
One of the characters in our story, Felix is a nice guy who has an affliction; he’s a vampire. He is limited by popular belief but doesn’t have as many constraints as Dracula. For starters, he drinks bagged blood, and he can even go into the sun for a few minutes without turning into a human shaped tiki torch. He also likes to play role playing games. He does have the job you would expect necessary for a vampire though, an assistant to the Medical Examiner. What better place for a vampire to work than the morgue?
However, there is a minefield you need to be wary of. While it’s great to think “I can put anything I want in here! Woo-hoo! Bring on the cowboys and aliens!” you need to be careful. The world you are creating still needs rules. Most people in the real world live by rules, even if those rules only reside in the deepest depths of their subconscious. A world of random tropes and occurrences becomes a big mess, and the reader suddenly cannot grasp what you’re trying to say. (With the exception of the master, Douglas Adams. He gets away with it just fine).
For the Sundancer Series, even though we deal with different tropes from fantasy, mythology and religions, there are still rules to how the world works. There is a system on how magic works. There are rules on belief that affect the supernatural. Our world has groups like the Watchers, who protect society from knowing about the supernatural side of things. They don’t take sides; only make sure that the public remains ignorant. All these help make our world relatable to our readers.
It all comes down to building your world and making sure it’s believable. As long as you make your tropes consistent within the world and part of the larger story, you can give your readers an experience filled with all the advantages of each trope, mixed with adventure and wonder.
More about the novel:
When a vampire asks Nick St. James to investigate his friend’s murder, the answer should have been easy, right? NO. Okay, not so easy. How do you say no to a friend like Felix?
Besides, with Thelma by his side, what could go wrong? She’s got that, umm … cute pink backpack of Voodoo magic. Of course it hurts that she manages to look good even when she accidentally conjures and gets possessed by a drunk loa. No, it won’t be at all distracting to have her along.
Since no good deed goes unpunished, a crazy man with starry eyes jumps out of the shadows at the victim’s apartment and pummels them. Their attacker doesn’t just beat them up but also infects them with some bad mojo that’s killing Thelma and making Nick angry … angrier.
If the trail to the suspect—the Green Man—is any indication, they’ll be killed before the poison finishes the job. The old gods are more dangerous than helpful. The Watchers—even the one who seems to have a brain—are always a hazard. And what’s with the all the minions? Who has minions anymore? Not to mention the rapid progression of the infection that quickly upgrades Nick’s condition to ‘blind-rage-filled.’
Why couldn’t Felix have just asked Nick to help him move?
She shot him again, but he continued toward her. Two bloodstains formed on his ratty shirt. He swung at her, but she quickly shifted to the left.
It was my turn. I punched him from the side and sent him flying into the desk across the room. Sounds of the monitor shattering and wood splintering filled the air as I rushed toward him.
Another sound of gunfire rang out but didn’t stop him from getting to his feet. He barreled toward me like a freight train. The gunshots slowed him considerably, but it didn’t stop him. Pain radiated through my chest as his fist made contact, sending me into the wall between the two rooms. A crack traveled up the wall to the ceiling, and plaster rained down around us.
More shots sounded as I got back to my feet. Two more holes opened in the man’s shirt. He was almost to Thelma when I grabbed him from behind. I used all my enhanced strength to lift him and toss him toward the kitchen. His body flew through the open door, smashing the wood of the frame in the process.
On the counter was the third gnome, his hands covering his speak-no-evil lips. I grabbed it and swung for the man’s head. It contacted with a sick thunk, and blood splashed across the gnome’s face. The bastard wouldn’t go down! I snarled and swung again, but this time he grabbed my wrist in midair and twisted it before tossing me to the ground.
After 18 years of marriage, Brian and Juliet Freyermuth decided to try something crazy: write a book together.
Brian’s writing is not limited to print. For twenty years, he wrote and designed games such as Fallout, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, Epic Mickey 2 and Lichdom: Battlemage.
Juliet’s love for writing began with a fourth grade assignment. She has been writing ever since. Her writing took a new direction when she enrolled in journalism and met amazing people. Whether it is an article about anthropology or a hero’s journey in a magical world, she hopes to inspire readers to new possibilities.
When Brian and Juliet aren’t writing, they enjoy reading, watching shows like Persons of Interest and going on road trips with their son, Kyle. For more about their work, visit their website.
Both are on Twitter: Brian ~ Juliet
You can also find them on Facebook: Brian~ Juliet
Demon Dance (Sundancer, Book 1) and Mind of the Beast (Sundancer, Book 2) are both available through Amazon.