About responsibility

September 15, 2008 at 5:55 am (General)

Recently I had a discussion with another author about responsibility.  I was surprised to find this particular person felt it was wrong to use Vampires and “other monsters” of history as romantic figures.  She felt by doing this we are taking away the monsters from our youth, forcing them to create their own – ie.,, decaying morale society.  She felt the monsters were “created” for a reason, and therefore should remain as they were.  (In all honesty this woman was speaking mostly about vampires, not shifters)

I of course think differently.  But why were these “monsters” created?  In some cases we know the vampire revolves around real life events where normal people perpetrated the most horrific crimes which included of course the destruction of virgins to bathe in their blood and the staking of humans out in the fields to frighten others.  Stories were told and handed down, creating larger than life creatures who lived off blood and remained forever young.

The werewolf and shapeshifter stories have murkier beginnings.  There are stories of shifters in all cultures however, which date back to long before medieval times, when they were associated with witches.  In most cases the shifters were not evil.  In some of course, as in the case of skinwalkers and other more frightening creatures yes they were very frightening.  But not always.  The Beserkers of old were said to be shifters, and that was how they survived to fight and protect Odin’s people.  In many cases the cat shifters were believed to be protectors and were worshipped as much as feared.  But as time has moved forward, society came to fear the “werewolf’, which to this day has never been proven to exist.  These fears have led to the near destruction of one of the most beautiful animals there is – the wolf.

In most cases the stories were handed down from generation to generation, as a way to frighten children to stay out of the woods, or even to frighten adults to keep the uneducated as they were, afraid to revolt from oppression for fears of the creatures surround them.  Do we really need to keep the monsters because of those reasons? Have we not stepped beyond the need to frighten people into submission?

But the real question is about responsibility and moral decay.  Does romanticizing these creatures truly encourage morale decay?  For me, they teach openness and caring.  They teach that just because someone is different does not mean they are evil.  That is pretty good for me.

Do shapeshifter books affect the morality of our young people?  Or is it a matter of degrees?  Another interesting thought I’ve had recently is – how does it affect the conservation of the creatures we use in our stories?  For instance, the Tiger, or the Wolf, both on the endangered lists in most areas.  Almost every predator used by authors is on, or close to, the endangered lists.  Do our stories help or hinder the efforts to save these wonderful animals?  Are we perpetrating the fear of these creatures and damaging the efforts of those who work so hard to save them?

So tell me what you think.  I’m really curious to see what you, the reader, has to say!



  1. Jackie (Literary Escapism) said,

    I love that first werewolf shot….who did it?

    I have yet to read a shapeshifter story that makes me fear any animal in real life. I would also find it hard to believe that anyone else could become scared of something based on known fiction. Yeah, wolves and tigers are animals you have to be careful around if you come across them in the wild, but I don’t think my perception of them has changed. Now if they suddenly changed into a man in front of me, then I might feel differently. However the chances of that happening…

  2. Teresa D'Amario said,

    Hi Jackie,

    Not sure. I found it over on photobucket. 🙂

    Thanks for your comment. 🙂 So do you think we’re helping or hurting the conservation efforts for these creatures?

  3. Michele Hauf said,

    Well look at all the Disney-fied versions of the old Grimm’s classic and other faery tales. They’ve taken bloody good tales and made them shiny and happy. So you could question your friend if she enjoys her Disney cartoons while shunning the romantic vampires. 🙂
    I think we’ll always try to ‘soften’ the horror stories, and while we’re making vampires and werewolves more interesting and less bloody someone else is creating a new myth.

  4. Teresa D'Amario said,

    You bring up a good point Michele. When I was in High School I read the REAL Grimm’s fairy tales. Yikes, those were scary and there were no happily ever afters. There were no handsome princes saving the damsel in distress, and those that tried, well, they didn’t last very long.

    I found it interesting this author thought those who changed the old scary stories into fun and romantic tales were being irresponsible. It is possible to be irresponsible in your writing. Often I see an action movie, and in it something will strike me enough to say “Oh joy, another way people can kill each other,” and sure enough, someone will do it within a year of the movie coming out. But I tend to think this is more of a movie issue anyway – children seem much heavier affected by movies than books. When a person’s imagination runs with a story as it’s written, we tend to soften what we read (Ok, horror folks step up and tell me if that happens with horror). But on the big screen it’s hard to avoid the blood and gore. It has a stronger effect. You can’t skip a few pages if it bothers you, though I guess you could have a strategic bathroom break if you knew what was coming.

    But for me, tv/movies makes it harder for me to separate my emotions. I can’t put it down and come back after I have a grip. So for me, if anything is affecting morale decay, it would be on the silver screen.

    Just my opinion, of course. 😀

  5. Tigers | Literary Escapism said,

    […] Romance is having an interesting discussion today. Teresa D’Amario stated the topic of responsibility and how shapeshifters are […]

  6. Beth C. said,

    I don’t agree that making the monsters more friendly takes away from their intent. Stories and myths were made up to provide a moral or explain circumstances in life as they knew it at that time. As scientific advances so too must our monsters and morals change.

    Nuclear Holocaust is still a horror we can believe in that never would have been considered by someone in the 17th or 18th Century. Vampires came from several different things in our past such as premature burial and early explanations of body decomposition. In his time, Edgar Allen Poe wrote a short story called The Premature Burial and it has scientific explanations for the conditions leading to someone being buried alive. It has no supernatural implications and yet resonates with the vampire raising from the grave and is still one of the scariest stories I remember. Not because of a monster but because of the dry, life-like presentation.

    The Cocoon by John B. L. Goodwin (originally published in 1946) is another short story I remember from my youth that scared me to death. Here a boy suffers for his cruelty to animals. The reader is lead to believe the boy is terrorized and killed in revenge for his treatment of a moth he took gleeful delight in dissecting and pinning to his moth/butterfly collection.

    This has more of a supernatural flavor but still it is an innocuous animal (the moth) that features in this story. You remember the lessons more than the monster.

    As some monsters die out, others will come and replace them. King Kong and Godzilla were replaced by The Thing and the Blob. They in turn were replaced by Alien and Predator. Each generation will find its own heroes and monsters. It’s the Lessons and Morals that we should make sure are passed down to our children not the ‘Monster’ or ‘Wolf in Sheep’s clothing.’

  7. Teresa D'Amario said,

    I tend to agree with you Beth.

    So the remaining question is – are we helping or hurting conservation efforts? I was reviewing some videos on YouTube, and one video was accused of perpetrating the image of wolves being overly aggressive because he showed some of the animals growling and fighting. To me, this shows their nature. We don’t get upset with a tiger growling and snarling, so why wolves? And do the shifter books help that image? Since in most cases our hero’s are good guys – or guys who wanna be good, anyway. 😀

  8. Lou Gagliardi said,

    “The vampire’s power comes from the fact that no one believes in him.”
    –Abraham Van Helsing

    Helsing’s right. No one (well outside of this community 😛 ) truly believes in vampires, or werewolves for that matter. What romance authors do is take these “monsters” and make them into something believable. If that’s irresponsible, well then, I don’t want to be responsible.

    The authors on this site, and others, have taken a frightful creature and made them into a romantic hero vying for the maiden’s hand. Count Dracula, Larry Talbot, and others are all now the heroes of fiction instead of the villain.

    So to say that you, or any other author is irresponsible when doing this is just..wrong. I would tell that friend of yours to stick this up her nose. lol. She’s just jealous she didn’t think of it first.

  9. Savanna Kougar said,

    While I can understand your friend’s point of view, I feel it’s short-sited. Goodness, there are enough new monsters and real threats around to halt the moral decay of society. That is, if it can be halted in that manner. And, I believe, that is open to debate.
    Besides, when are we, as the human population, going to step up to the plate and take responsibility just because that is the moral thing to do. Why do we need monsters to make us behave?
    Anyhoo, I specifically write my shifter novels with the idea of helping to save endangered species, to offer a larger perspective of the animal’s nature and being. As well as how their nature works along with human nature, or can work together.
    I know you asked for readers opinions. But I couldn’t resist.

  10. Teresa D'Amario said,

    Hi Lou,

    I tend to agree with you. I’m not sure I agree with the fact she’s jealous, but I do think, like Savanna said, it’s a bit short sighted.

    And thanks Savannah, I do the same thing – the helping to save endangered species. When SheWolf came out, I purposely told people where my inspiration came from – which was a site called wolfpark.org, and with Tigress, I’ve donated to tiger welfare groups, in hopes of helping just a tad. When Tigress comes out in paperback (Next week), I’ll be running a very special event! Stay tuned. It will begin on 1 October!

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