So much is revealed by what your character wears. In my book, Vampire Princess of New York, Donovan Dupre is seen wearing his jeans, t-shirt and leather jacket, as he parks his Harley outside an antique shop. Right away you get the impression that Donovan is a bit of a loner, definitely a tough guy that would do anything for the right woman, and a little set in his ways. When he goes in to see Noblesse Vander Meer, because she has asked him to be there, she is wearing a pencil shirt, blouse, her hair in a tight bun. She’s all business. But as the story progresses you see the change in clothing and hidden character traits reveal themselves.
In many ways, writing the clothing of your characters in their first scene gives the reader insight into their personal characteristics, quirks, beliefs, feelings about who they are or who they think they have to be.
In the first scene from Vampire of New York, you see the real Max Vander Meer, the vampire behind the name who has lived for over a thousand years and still believes in the old ways. He not only believes but deep down, he is still that Viking.
Maximillion Vander Meer stood in the jagged mouth of the ice cave with a wolf skin girding his loins and fur boots on his feet. A frigid breeze breathed its welcome over his bare chest, arms and legs.
He smiled and closed his eyes to step back into the Viking past he loved, where he was free. He threw back his head and howled in exuberant abandonment. Then he ripped off the wolf skin and kicked off his boots. Max ran to the shadowed alcove he knew so well. A flicker of the past sparked in his brain and Vikings filled the cave, their voices rich in the chant of a ritual forgotten in the modern age, invoking the protection and wisdom of Odin, Thor, and Freya. Then he blinked and they were gone. Their voices silenced by time.
Every time he entered this sacred place hollowed out by his ancestors, their presence worked magic and distracted his weary heart from the curse inhabiting his body. This power brought him back to the Viking warrior deep within him, as only here could he reconnect with his lost humanity. Every passing moment the curse pulled him further from whom and what he’d once been. That was the danger in being a vampire. It wasn’t the chill of his body, but the distance that crept into his heart. He was on the edge of forgetting how the laughter of his son warmed him to his toes. The memory of Svenna’s delicious heat as her soft skin lay against his flesh igniting the fire between them, slipped through his fingers like water. Inhaling the fragrance of flowers in her hair had made him feel powerful. Even the excitement of the next adventure filled with salt spray and swords clashing faded away. His heart no longer raced.
The dire flaw in immortality was the sameness. Centuries of monotony blurred into others. Few ancient ones survived the deadly soul-numbing tedium of every day being the same. Closing on a thousand years, too many chose to lie in the sun and burn in agony over the course of two days until they crisped away in the wind. When the true burning began, night, the blessed night, offered no reprieve. The recent “chosen” death of his friend Coelhus was etched in his memory, making Max’s need more urgent than it had ever been. Coelhus had given up. After centuries of dreaming of a woman named Celeste, he ceased to believe she could be real. Coelhus could no longer bear the loneliness and the endless searching. Consumed by his dashed dreams, he gave his body to the sun. Max stayed with him in his last moments, and while he couldn’t deter his friend, he resolved not to end in ashes himself.
Time had robbed him of love, but today, in this moment, Max meant to get it back. Right now! Only this sanctuary of ice and stone seemed real to him; the human world faded into insignificance. Even the responsibility he owed his own kind lost its meaning. He had come to make a last sacrifice. If it didn’t work, he didn’t know what he would do next. His belief, however antiquated when viewed by others, never failed him.
He had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Since the death of his wife many centuries before, nothing more could happen to his empty heart. The feeling of being human haunted him from time to time like an elusive fragrance or taste. Memories were a different matter. The curse, as he called it, made every memory eternal, the pain as raw and consuming as the day he’d lost her.
Squeezing the ancient dagger in his fist, Max stepped up to the frozen altar. The three carved stone figures stared blankly at him. Time, and a growing sophistication, taught him that they were nothing but stone, still the part of him that was Viking would always believe. Holding fast to that reverence of a bygone age, he stood before them.
“I do not call on you, Odin, Father to all, but I respect your wisdom.” He bowed. “I do not call on you, Thor, the strength of every warrior, but I respect your power.” He bowed again. “I call on Freya’s mercy to regain my house, to find the only woman who can heal my heart.” Kneeling with his gaze fixed to the ground, he then rose to stand over the frozen altar. Before the feminine carved figure, he sliced his forearm and let the blood drip onto the icy surface. “In the name of Freya, let me be worthy. Lead me to love. Help me find it or lock me in the ice forever. I can no longer bear the torment of life without true love.”
In that moment, Max felt more Viking than he had in centuries. Every night since their parting, he had dreamt of his wife, Svenna. He remembered their wedding night. She was frightened, and he could not stand the idea of her fearing him.
“I will kiss you, Svenna, and I will keep kissing you until you tell me that you are ready to receive me.”
She stared at him with tears in her eyes and pressed her lips to his. He kissed her back and after tenderly ministering to her mouth with gentle nibbles and playfully entering her mouth with his tongue, he kissed every part of her face then her neck, then her shoulders. Each soft part of her surrendered beneath his kisses and caresses.
Finally with eyes partly closed and a smile of complete ecstasy on her lips, she whispered, “Take me, my love, and make me yours.”
Max lingered in those thoughts, replaying his favorite bits in his mind. Then the dream grew dark.
With one bad decision, Max lost his love forever when he left to pillage. That’s what Vikings did, but he shouldn’t have, not that one time. He should have stayed and respected the omen she received in a dream.
The village they came to looked like any other but it wasn’t. They attacked at night to gain surprise and they were.
The vampires showed no mercy, ripping their heads off and drinking down the blood. A few made a valiant last stand and were rewarded with slavery or a slow demise. The vampire queen drank from each of them until they shivered into death.
Max shuddered, remembering her black eyes unblinking staring into him. The moment she touched him, he wished for death. Her squealing laugh made his ears bleed. “I hear you, Viking. Death is a repose. You will never know rest.”
The vampire queen enslaved him. He could never figure out whether it was her making him a vampire that diminished his strength or if her magic made his chains unbreakable. She tormented him and demeaned him. It didn’t stop him from wishing for Svenna, for waiting for the moment when he could escape.
After seven years, something was different with one of the chains. The magic had weakened. Max didn’t know why but he tested it, and he felt stronger. The vampire queen was in the hall outside the room about to come in. There were voices and she left. This was his chance.
The imaginings of a desperate man makes hearth and home look better the closer you get to it. All the time and hardship seemed to disappear the closer he got to his home. By light of the moon, he looked through his window. Svenna was older but still beautiful. Instead of just his son, a boy and girl played before the hearth. Gordas, his friend, sat in his chair. Svenna bent to hold a lighted twig to his pipe. Then Gordas pulled her into his lap, and they laughed.
Svenna had remarried and had another child. She looked happy, and he would not take that happiness from her. Being a vampire meant he could not be what he was before. He was a monster that terrified others. Even though he traveled far to feed and took no one from their village, those who knew him would fear him. His beloved would fear him.
Filled with sadness, Max retreated to the forest. By day, the curse forced him to hide, but by night, he could gaze at her from the wooded fringe. The years passed, and Max watched her from a distance, never revealing who he was. He couldn’t, although in his mind, he devised a thousand different plans to win her back as he slept each day. When night came, he realized each plan would fail and only put his family in danger. So he watched as his beloved Svenna grew old and died. The girl and boy had grown and now had families of their own. Svenna had lived her life without him and that hurt more than any thrust of a blade. He made the decision to leave that day. Staying would only inflict more pain on his shattered heart.
Being a vampire also meant he was free. The world, his to wander and take as he pleased. What did that really mean? Loneliness. The centuries passed and women found their way to him for a brief time, but the fire he needed for life was not among any of them. Morning would come, and he’d retreat into the dark to dream of the one woman that could fulfill him. Only a lifemate could ignite the fierce passion that would turn a vampire’s eternity into paradise. The concept of lifemates was a mythology that Max did not believe. Then his friend David Hilliard found his beloved Laura among the humans. Their love and happiness filled Max with hope, a hope that inspired him to petition the goddess for one last chance at love. He would find his love, or die.
Standing, bleeding on the altar, Max closed his eyes. He could picture his love’s face. During all the years without her, he dreamt of her, then a few years back the vision of her had changed. First she was a child, then a teen, and recently an adult. The Svenna he knew had a round face. This new Svenna had a more oval face. The nose was shorter. She wore her blonde hair in sweeping curls below her ears. The Svenna he had known wore her wavy hair long, very long by modern standards. He did not understand at first why the woman of his dreams had changed. Her eyes, however, never changed. They were still the summer sky blue he found so comforting, and for a warrior, whether in the modern day boardroom or on the battlefield of old, he wanted comfort to embrace him and ease his war-torn heart. He wanted it but could not believe it. Coelhus suffered the same illusionary dreams that promised love but delivered despair. The dreams foretold the rebirth of his Svenna. Perhaps it was part of Loki’s mischief to deceive him. Still there had to be a woman somewhere to heal him, and Freya was his only hope of finding her.
Being an outsider looking in went beyond hunger. That was why so many of their kind would lie out in the sun until it was over. Only one thing made eternity bearable—love.
Opening his eyes, blinding light threw him to his knees. When the brilliance dimmed, the Goddess Freya stood before him. Her blonde hair tumbled in waves over her full breasts. A golden necklace rested on her collarbone with white linen draping her hips. The cloak of raven feathers rested on her shoulders. Never in his many years of worship had Max seen a god. Never until this moment.
Not daring to gaze too long into her wondrous face, Max cast his eyes downward. “My Goddess, I pledge my sword to you.”
“I do not want your sword, Reynard, or Max, or whichever name you call yourself, Vampire. You have pledged to be encased in ice if you return without her.”
Max shuddered. He was foolish to make such a declaration.
“You have requested my help, and I will grant it. You travel to a city with a growing evil. Amidst the chaos, a heart that’s closed awaits you to awaken it. Tread carefully. She will fear you. Make the wrong move, and you will both be lost.” Light flared, filling the cave. Then the goddess was gone.
The slice on his arm was already healed. Stepping slowly backward, he bowed again before turning swiftly and heading for the mouth of the cave.
A symphony of bells drew his attention to the black case on the ice floor. He opened the briefcase and took out his BlackBerry.
“Your jet is ready per your instructions, sir. We need to submit a flight plan. May I ask the destination?”
“New York City.”
“Very good, sir. We await you at your convenience.”
“Thank you.” Max closed the phone. Quickly he opened the suitcase. He crouched, as one would by a fire.
The cold didn’t bother him, but he put on the dark blue Armani suit anyway. He donned socks and leather boots. Then he put on the heavy, hooded overcoat.
Transformed into the modern man, Max took a final look around his ice sanctuary and at the three figures on the altar. He had never made an offering to Freya before. There are moments when even a Viking is afraid. And this was one of them.
Now think about it? What makes a man? A wolf skin loincloth or an Armani suit? What does this scene tell your about who Max really is?
For those interested, Vampire Princess of New York is available in Amazon Kindle at https://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Princess-York-Arnhem-Knights-ebook/dp/B01LWXYX1G/ and Amazon Print at https://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Princess-Susan-Hanniford-Crowley/dp/1682913260/
It’s also in print and can be ordered online at Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vampire-princess-of-new-york-susan-hanniford-crowley/1125966996
(An interesting thing about Amazon is that if you click on a book, you will see the author’s name in small print. Click on the name and it will bring you to the author’s page which lists all the books and their formats that are available. Vampire King of New York and my other books will be there. They are also listed on the bottom of this blog post.)
If you have missed the other lessons in “How to Write a Fiction Novel,” here they are:
Happy Writing. Next week we will talk about “Love Scenes.” If you have any questions or comments, feel free to write them in the comments box.
Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!
NEW: Vampire Princess of New York, Arnhem Knights of New York, Book 2 available in Kindle! In Amazon Print! In Barnes and Noble Print!
Vampire King of New York, Arnhem Knights of New York, Book 1 available in Kindle and Print and Barnes and Noble Print
Vampire in the Basement, Vampires in Manhattan, Book 4 available in Kindle.
Poseidon’s Catch (mythology romance) available in Kindle.
Mrs. Bright’s Tea Room (steampunk romance) available in Kindle.
A Vampire for Christmas,Vampires in Manhattan, Book 3 available in Kindle.
The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais, Vampires in Manhattan, Book 2 available in Kindle and Print and Barnes and Noble Print
When Love Survives, Vampires in Manhattan Book 1 available in Kindle and Print, Nook, Kobo and Smashwords.