Note from VBC: Today we have Tracey Sinclair on the blog, author of the Cassandra Bick Chronicles, to talk about the genre TV shows that inspire her work. Read on, and feel free to comment with your favorite genre-defining shows! Let’s turn it over to Tracey:
“So, we’ve all seen Buffy, right? I mean, you didn’t pick this up because the shop was out of Jane Austen and this looked like the next best thing. It’s just that this story will go a whole lot faster if I don’t have to spend too much time convincing you of the whole ‘they walk among us’ scenario, and we can all just accept it and move on.” – Dark Dates
Buffy, Supernatural and heroes that watch TV
The Dark Dates books wear their influences plainly, and that’s deliberate. I’ve long been a fan of the paranormal genre, and have an abiding affection for the early Anne Rice books and writers like Poppy Z. Brite, but my love truly flourished when the genre became properly self-aware, in film back in the ‘80s (you could argue The Lost Boys is the first truly pop culture savvy vampire film) then cemented on TV with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a show so influential it’s easy to forget how ground-breaking it was at the time; where the characters were as steeped in the tropes of the paranormal as the viewer—they watched The X-Files as much as we did.
“You don’t hunt the bad guys. You hunt a very specific set of bad guys, because you’ve decided their very nature makes them ‘evil’, so you’re going all Winchester on their arses.”
He looked at me blankly. “I don’t carry a Winchester. I carry a Glock.”
I sighed. Honestly, this is the problem with the supernatural crowd: they never watch TV. If they did they might not so readily turn into such bloody clichés” – Dark Dates
I’ve written a lot about TV and film, so when I came to write genre fiction, it made sense to set it in a context that was familiar to me. This wasn’t some world where no one knew what a vampire was. This was a post-Twilight/True Blood landscape, where everyone—the real vampires included—was familiar with the clichés. If the vampire Laclos acts like a character from an Anita Blake novel—and he often does—it’s because he’s read the books too, he knows you expect it.
This deliberately reflected shows like The Vampire Diaries (remember the early, fun episodes, when Damon was all snark?) and Supernatural (one of the shows I reference most, simply because I bloody love it—Cass, the main character, conveniently—ahem—shares my obsession, which leaves plenty of scope for geeky jokes). (I must admit to a frisson of amusement and chagrin when the TV show introduced the character Cain—I keep feeling the need to point out he wasn’t in the show when the books started!)
If you’re an alien, how come you sound like you’re from the North?
Lots of planets have a North! – Doctor Who
One of the things I was keen to capture was what it might be like being the ordinary person in an extraordinary world. I wanted to reflect a certain type of British (particularly Northern) pragmatism and humor. If there’s one thing Britain does better than anyone, it’s catalogue (and, let’s face it, complain about) day-to-day grumbles. US TV might be glossy, Scandinavian might be gritty, but no one wrings more mileage from the mundane than the Brits (if you don’t believe me, compare the average British soap with its US equivalent!).
“While this drama and destruction was keeping life interesting, it was playing merry hell with my insurance premiums. Plus, you try making a claim when the cause is ‘trashed by a vampire’.” – Angel Falls
Some of my country’s most beloved writers—‘national treasures’ like Alan Bennett and Victoria Wood—specialize in the minor keys of life. Doctor Who was a British institution for decades, and when they tried to reboot it with a sheen of gloss for the international market, it bombed: the show only flourished when it returned featuring a leather jacketed, Northern accented Doctor whose companion was a shop assistant from a run-down London housing estate. We even like our alien adventures down to earth! Shows like Being Human were keen to dwell on the everyday inconveniences of the extraordinary—it’s tough being a werewolf and holding down a job, and even a vampire can’t afford London rent—and that was something I wanted to capture. Cass is in the thick of the action, but she also worries about paying her bills and annoying her neighbors, and no matter how involved she gets, she’s still a bit skeptical about this whole thing. In that, she’s how I imagine I would be—and maybe, how we all would.
ABOUT TRACEY SINCLAIR
Tracey Sinclair is an author and freelance editor and writer. Her books include the rom-com The Bridesmaid Blues and the Dark Dates/Cassandra Bick series, the latest of which, Angel Falls, is out now.