Best book title ever, wasted: The Traveling Vampire Show.
Since I had my dream, about a hypnotist clown working in a traveling haunted house, I’ve repeatedly caught myself outlining a new novel inside my head.
This is not a good thing. I was warned that this would happen:
From Chapter After Chapter by Heather Sellers, Chapter 20 –
”When you’re working on your book, you will undoubtedly be tempted by Fresh Start Sirens. Gorgeous, tantalizing new book ideas will arrive, making juicy promises. These new ideas are going to pop up, assuring you a baggage-free new beginning. They want to lure you away from your existing project, those boring bad days of writing month after month, no end in sight. The Sexy New Book idea always promises it will never be difficult; it will never be a burden. It says it’s way, way more publishable, plus more fun. It whispers, Take me now. I’m all yours.
When this happens: Run. Run as fast as you can in the other direction. Do no get involved with this book!”
I remember reading those words, many months ago, and thinking there was no way I would ever feel the urge to cheat on my beloved baby-witch, Lizzy.
Lately though, Lizzy has been a bitch.
This clown on the other hand – with his smeared greasepaint and his insecurities – is seductive. I’ve been imagining a world in which he could live – a world populated by tattooed, pierced prop artist / roadies, and an acting troupe made up from self-identified vampires, their consenting blood dolls, militant pagans, and other societal drop-outs. There’s a middle-aged, asexual couple with fluid gender-identities too – I think they design the special effects, create the makeups and manage the books. I am in love with them all.
I never have trouble coming up with characters. When it comes to plot, though, it’s a different story. Where’s the conflict? What’s the story arch?
Which brings me to The Traveling Vampire Show. I am pissed off by it’s very existence. The title suggests a brilliant premise – one that encapsulates conflict. We all know carnivals and traveling troupes are creepy. The idea that such a show could conceal real monsters behind nothing more than gel lights and face powder is stunning. The book should write itself.
Years ago, I bought the promisingly titled paperback, rushed home, slipped into a hot bath, and started reading. I vividly remember throwing the damn thing across the bathroom an hour later, thinking: “I could write a better book than THAT!” (‘Turns out that doing so is harder than I thought it would be. I should take this opportunity to offer up a sincere apology to Mr. Laymon, may he rest in peace.)
Even then, I knew I was furious because Richard Laymon didn’t allow the book to write itself. Instead he imposed a graphically violent, verging-on-pornographic, coming-of-age story on it, forever ruining the best title ever conceived.
So now I have my hypnotist clown, and I know he is perfectly suited to being a monster keeper, but his story is stillborn. It doesn’t matter that I want to write The Traveling Vampire Show. It’s been done. And done well enough, by an author famous enough, to win a Bram Stoker award. (How that happened is beyond my ken.) Oh, and it looks like there’s a movie version in production too.
But, I guess, that is a good thing. Because I have to put aside my brown-eyed hypnotist anyway, so that I can crawl back to Lizzy, with declarations of faithfulness on my fingertips.
Maybe I could give him a cameo.