I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in his novel ‘Dracula’, Bram Stoker uses the word ‘voluptuous’ a lot. A LOT. If Lucy’s in the scene, she’s voluptuous. If the vampire brides appear, they’re all voluptuous. Even pure, sweet Mina, towards the end, gets the voluptuous treatment. There’s a whole undercurrent of purity versus sin in the novel, of course, and the Victorians loved to equate sexuality and sensuality with sin, so you can see what Bram was going for. And it’s a good, evocative word. But how many times have you ever considered yourself to be voluptuous?
If you have, all power to you. Personally, I have never once considered myself to be voluptuous. Nor have I considered myself to be a pure, sweet paragon of virtue like Mina. ‘Dracula’ is one of my all-time favourite works of horror fiction. But I am not in that book. Nor am I in Mary Shelley’s classic ‘Frankenstein’. I don’t see myself in these women. While this doesn’t take away from the power of these works, it would be nice to see myself in the story sometimes.
Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place? Let’s jump to more contemporary works of horror literature. Again, more often than not I don’t see myself. I’m not the dazzling Merrin in Joe Hill’s ‘Horns’. I’m not the enigmatic Eli in John Ajvide Lindquist’s ‘Let the Right One In’. I’m not Pandora or Gabrielle or Akasha in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Sometimes I’d like to be – these women are powerful and driven and have an eternity to meet their goals – and while it’s entertaining and absorbing to enter these women’s minds and travel with them – while I absolutely espouse fiction as a means of escapism – I cannot tell you how exciting I have found it when I find a character I can truly relate to.