Archive for September 9th, 2010

Behind the Music: A Whiter Shade of Pale

September 9, 2010

At some point fairly early on in the development of the White Album, thrall and I had a bit of an extraordinarily polite bicker (all our bickers are extraordinarily polite; I think we’re both deeply terrified of hurting the other’s feelings) about what to call the story. She wanted to call it “Love Like Winter”, whereas I was (as usual) stuck in the 80s and wanted to call it “A Hazy Shade of Winter”, after the Bangles song. Our compromise involved turning the single story into a trilogy, with “A Whiter Shade of Pale” coming in as the middle part. (Also amusing was the way she kept calling the individual sections “chapters”, and I kept calling them “stories”. This is because I am almost pathological about not posting multi-parters anymore.)

As a result of my pathological fear of multi-part stories, we designed each section of the White Album so that it would a) have enough exposition so that if someone read the story by itself, they’d at least be able to pick up on what was going on (although you do get more out of it if you read them in order) and b) have an ending that, while possibly open-ended, was at least an ending. So if you read “A Hazy Shade of Winter”, and then your Internet connection shut down forever, you would at least have the satisfaction of believing that Abby and Carly got happily drained and enslaved at the party. If you moved on to “A Whiter Shade of Pale” before the gremlins ate your wi-fi, you’d at least have the dubious pleasure of knowing that the story ended with Abby becoming a mindless slave, once and for all. (And “dubious” is the word for it…in retrospect, that ending might have been a bit too convincing, judging by the reviews. Oh, well. We’ll see who comes back next week.)

That’s the genesis of this story, in the loosest sense…let’s see, what else can I tell you that thrall hasn’t already mentioned in her own blog post about this story? I remember it as being much longer, originally; the outline had Abby going back for her clothes after being seduced the second time (the scene in the bathtub) with Carly watching for her and totally missing her because she was so pale as to be unrecognizable. The argument that was merely glossed over was going to be a full scene in its own right, as well. But we both felt, during the writing process, that the story was starting to turn into a slog, and there was only so many times we could play the “Abby goes back to Dalila against her will and gets drained a little further” card before it got old.

(Fun story: thrall came up with the name “Dalila”, insisting not just on that name but that particular spelling because she wanted the character to sound like a pretentious model. I hated the name, but acknowledged that its irritating obnoxiousness was exactly the effect that the character would be going for, and agreed to it. About halfway through this story, thrall stumbled on typing the name and grumbled, “God, I hate that name! Can’t we change it?” My revenge was making her stick to it.)

As to Geoff…I really could have written a lot more of Geoff’s “vampire-hunting” exploits, if there was time. Because one thing that gets clarified a lot in the next story is that Geoff is completely and totally wrong; Dalila is no more a vampire than she is a succubus, or any other specific monster from mythology. So all of his attempts to “slay” her and her minions started from a false premise and went spectacularly wrong. He’s tried spiking their food with garlic, splashing them with holy water, all sorts of classic methods from movies and books, and they’ve all failed completely. That’s why Dalila never killed him; she was too busy laughing her lily-white ass off. (Incidentally, one thing that Geoff never tried was sunlight, because while he was starting from a false premise, he did his homework; the “sunlight kills vampires” meme was invented for the movie ‘Nosferatu’ because it was more visual than “having to lay on a bed of soil from your native land at dawn”. It never appeared in Stoker’s book, or any vampire folklore prior to that.)

(Speaking of, and totally apropos of nothing, one of the best vampire tricks for hiding one’s coffin was in the movie “Son of Dracula”. Alucard floats his coffin in the Louisiana bayous, with an anchor to prevent it from drifting too far. As dawn approaches, he just turns into mist, seeps in through the cracks, and then resolidifies. His additional weight causes the coffin to sink. Try getting to that, vampire hunter!)

Anyhow, what’s there to say about next week? Lots of things happen. There’s a scene inspired by Steven Moffat (who is too brilliant–it makes the rest of us look bad.) There’s a hint to the final ending already in place, and a character who returns to tell Carly some of the things we already know…and others we don’t. Carly gets to put her bartending skills to good use, and how do things finally end? With “Love Like Winter”. See you there!