Friday, June 15, 2012

Mythical Extras: There were Giants in the Earth in those days...

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the
daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
-Genesis, 6:4
Choosing the right villain for a novel is never easy. Some folks pick a villain (the antagonist) first, then a hero (the protagonist) to counter it. Other writers have their hero in mind, then have to come up with a suitable villain for them to oppose. Such was my case with Mythical.
At it's core, the idea for Mythical was simple: the last of the previous generation's super soldiers is discovered by teenagers and with their help completes his last mission. It's an old-meets-new situation. And yes, it paves the way for a sequel where our hapless teen(s) become the next generation of super soldiers.
I had Antaean down- Colonel Mark Kenslir was a hero from a previous series of books I write in the 1980s and 90s, but never got published. Killing him off, then having him come back from the dead seemed a great way to symbolize how I took an old idea and resurrected it. But I couldn't make the whole book be about the mysteries of Kenslir's previous life.
I needed a villain.
My first idea was to make a super soldier fight a super vampire. But vampires have been done to super death lately, and I just didn't think slapping a "super" label on a vampire was all that interesting. Then a thought occured to me: giant-size a vampire.
It worked for countless monster movies as far back as the 1950s, like Tarantula (1954). So why not a giant vampire?
I began my research on giants- beginning with the earliest account I had heard of a giant: Goliath.
Turns out, the Bible is chock full of giants. And there are a number of internet sites that claim giants' remains abound on modern day Earth. They were a great starting point.
So what were giants? Well, the consensus is they were the offpsring of people and something more. Fallen angels, by Biblical accounts. Aliens by others. They were bigger versions of men, capable of amazing feats, and in most folklore not the friendliest of chaps.
One of my favorite websites claims giant skeletons were discovered in North America by early explorers- normally buried in Indian mounds. The Smithsonian rounded up all the skeletons and hid them though. Another website features a museum in South America where giant remains are on display- sowing the giants to be six-fingered, six-toed brutes with two row of teeth in their over-sized heads.
Now THAT sounds like a villain.
But a giant vampire...? I still wasn't sold. Then it hit me- there have been lots of variations on vampires. One of my favorites is from the 1985 movie "Lifeforce". In that film, the vampires just suck the energy right out of you. No neck biting needed. And being a giant, our antagonist would clealry need a LOT of victims.
From there the idea just evolved, into the heart-ripping, power-stealing super giant of Mythical. A very appropriate enemy for the last of the super soldiers to face. But to make it even more complicated, and give it that just-over-the-top feel, shapeshifting had to come in. That's right, a shapeshifting, lifeforce-devouring giant.
Vampires beware.

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