Elliott James Guest Post & Giveaway: Just Call Us Team Deadward


Charming by Elliott James Note from Chelsea/VBC: Today we have Elliott James on the blog. His book Charming just hit shelves and while it has plenty of fantasy fun, it does also have some vampires. Read on for Elliott’s take on the vamps and your chance to win a copy of Charming.

My book, Charming, is not really about vampires.  It is actually about John Charming, the modern day descendant of all those Prince Charming guys who were going around breaking enchantments and slaying monsters and chasing women in the old stories.  But my story certainly has vampires in it, and there seemed to be two very broad choices open to me – I could play up the danger or I could play up the inner conflict.  All vampire stories have both, but it’s a question of where the emphasis lies.  Is the vampire an amoral and savage parasite like in 30 Days of Night, or is the vampire going to be tormented by his or her nature and fight to retain some shred of humanity despite its savage instincts ala Twilight?  I call these choices fangs or angst.  You may call them whatever you like.

Or you may ignore both choices entirely and strike out into bold new narrative territory.  After all, it is entirely possible that you could write a story about a lovely old vampire man whose neighborhood voluntarily supports him by donating blood because he is so charming, gentle, wise, nurturing, and lovable.  But even as I write those words, aren’t you kind of picturing a twist ending where Grampa vampire – what the hell, let’s call him the grampire – kisses his grandchildren gently on the forehead and then goes down to a bomb shelter where he secretly keeps captives or something?  Because, really, if there’s not going to be some element of bloodlust and suspense, why write about a vampire at all?

At any rate, I decided to go fangs over angst.

The problem with writing about flat-out dangerous vampires though, is that you have to up your game if you want to make hunting them seem believable.  I came up with a few approaches to vampire hunting that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, and I don’t make that claim lightly.   I’m saving my favorites for the book, but I thought I might give a sense of what I’m talking  about and touch on some basics, such as:


In the war against vampires, I humbly submit that the shotgun is king.  You don’t have to be in the military or wealthy or have criminal connections to get one – all you have to have is a way to get to the nearest Walmart.   Also, vampires move fast, and a shotgun blast can cover a wide swath.  And most importantly, shotgun shells can be manually loaded with just about anything, and that gives the savvy monster hunter a lot of options.   Shotgun shells are sometimes filled with rock salt to make them non-lethal, for example, but what would the effect on vampires be if you loaded shotgun shells with blessed salt instead?  Blessed salt is every bit the sacrament that holy water is, it’s just used more rarely.  For that matter, what would happen if a shotgun load was made from silver prayer beads?  I’m thinking buh-boom and buh-bye Mr. Nastypants.


If blowing a vampire’s head off isn’t an option, burning is the next best thing.  A burning vampire can’t regenerate if the flames are destroying its body faster than its flesh can regrow.  I don’t think flamethrowers are very practical though.   They are hard to acquire, bulky, and not very team friendly.  There are very few environments where a non-sociopathic monster hunter could use a flame thrower safely or discreetly.

A more practical option would be a Molotov cocktail made out of moonshine.  Making moonshine is a fairly simple process, and you could use holy water to make the shine before distilling it down to the point where it is basically jet fuel.   That way you would have double the bang for your buck: combustible holy water!  You wouldn’t have to ignite it to use it as a weapon, but if you did….holy fire!

Fire is also highly symbolic, which brings me to…


 In Charming, all magic is symbolic.  Vampires are a product of death magic in particular, and what makes necromancy different from other types of magic is that it works against nature rather than with it.   This is why potent life symbols can cause the spell holding a vampire together to unravel; fighting against nature takes a lot of energy and is a full time job.

For example, a wooden stake comes from a tree.  A tree is a symbol of life.   A heart is also a symbol of life.  They both branch out into a network of roots and veins that carry life giving liquids throughout their respective bodies.  Every time someone plunges a stake into a heart, they are fusing two very powerful life symbols together in an act that’s a lot like planting a tree.  It is a crude but potent magical ceremony that attacks a vampire right where it lives.  Or unlives.

It doesn’t have to be stakes through the heart though.   Water is a symbol of life, and running water is a symbol of change.  Immersing vampires in running water is symbolic of birth or baptism and will destroy a vampire as surely as sunlight.

And, of course, there is sunlight, the most powerful symbol of life that there is.  Once you understand why these traditional methods of vampire slaying work, it should be possible to expand upon them.  Tattoos of life symbols would certainly be one avenue worth exploring.  Would pantomiming the act of sex be a life symbol?  It seems kind of silly to think of driving vampires off with some pelvic thrusts and enthusiastic moaning, but it’s kind of funny too.  For that matter, modern consumers seem to think cell phones represent life.  How long does it take an item to accrue the kind of symbolic status that is potent against vampires?  Is it a matter of time, intensity, or sheer volume?

I don’t know, but it’s the kind of thing I enjoy thinking about.  Go Team Deadward!


Fill out the form below for your chance at one copy of Elliott James’ Charming. Contest is open to U.S. and Canadian addresses only.

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4 Responses to “Elliott James Guest Post & Giveaway: Just Call Us Team Deadward”

  1. Liz S says:

    Looking forward to reading this book. Thanks for the contest!

  2. Teresa Kleeman says:

    I love the twist & concept on how you fight and dispose of Vampires. Love this different look into the world.
    Looking forward to reading this, and I wish you nothing but success.

    Teresa K.

  3. dr susan says:

    I have already bought and read the first 2 shorts, and loved them. Charming is next on my ‘to read’ list

  4. JenM says:

    Interesting post – I’ve never really thought about why the methods of killing vampires are what they are but this makes it seem like there is a real reason behind the popular killing methods.

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