Daniel Leland has been bebopping around in my head (and objects fiercely to the use of that phrase, as to bebop is thoroughly beneath his dignity) since early 2005, when I myself was bebopping around on Gaia and discovered vampires.
Now, I had some vague notion prior to that discovery that vampires showed up shortly before Halloween time and then retired into the dark recesses of holiday kitsch to wait out the rest of the year. Vampires were seasonal. Being a cinema buff, I also had some vague notion that vampires looked a bit like Bela Lugosi and a bit like Max Schreck and would pop up out of a coffin as though spring-loaded if you were dumb enough to let them out. (I confess that I took Nosferatu perfectly seriously until that one scene, in which Orlok does indeed lever up out of his box like he’s lying on a hinged board. Then I cracked up.)
Gaia’s forums introduced me to a different sort of vampire. Actually, several different sorts. The first sort was the twipire, and I do reluctantly admit that I did read the entire Twilight Saga. (Not a saga, by the way. Terminology is important.) I’m actually not sure why; while I did find it fascinating and hard to put down, I never did actually enjoy it. To this day, I cannot explain that phenomenon. The second sort was the ricepire, which still confuses me greatly. I had already familiarized myself with the parallels between vampires and sex, thanks to Google searches, but Rice left me flummoxed. (I love her writing, by the way. I just can’t stand her books, if that makes any sense.)
Unable to see any real connection between Dracula, Orlok, Edward, and Lestat, I turned to the old stuff, because clearly, the new stuff hadn’t gotten its act together yet. That brought me to Varney, Carmilla, and a variety of divergent mythologies that only seemed connected by the idea of something stealing something from a human being. It was usually blood, but even that wasn’t a given.
Somewhere in there, I decided I was going to try to write a book again. It was high school, and this seemed like a good idea, despite the fact that my last attempt at a fully-fledged novel had petered out some time in second grade and involved a main character with silver hair and colour-changing eyes who rode a dragon and could talk to animals and might possibly have been part fairy and had a hidden destiny and a magic ring that could change her beautiful flowing gowns into silver armour…
Why I thought vampires would fix this problem, I have no idea. At any rate, I decided to be ironic about it.
Male. Okay. That fixes at least part of the awful self-insert problem.
Silver hair. But this time, it’s because he’s freaking old.
Colour-changing eyes… Still tricky. I’ll give him cola-bottle glasses so I can keep that, but no one notices. Now he’s half-blind and nerdy.
It was high school, so obviously he couldn’t be a normal person. The colour-changing eyes would make that a bit goofy. So he’s a vampire.
And he’s cranky.
Cranky, myopic boffinpire stuck eternally just past his midlife crisis. Oh, and he’s Catholic. Bingo.
I stole “Daniel” from a Bible opened at random (because y’know, Victorians and their biblical names…) and “Leland” from a Leland Stanford Junior College mug I had sitting on my bedside table at the time. There’s a lot of complicated backstory to explain the inexplicable Scottish branch of the Leland family. Fortunately, history came through for me, and the way-back-when Leylands moved north to escape Elizabeth I’s persecution of Catholics. Win.
Daniel of 2005 was a lot more of a creeper than he is today. There was icky romance between him and a high school student, and he was sad and tortured and just needed someone to love. Fortunately, he and I both got over that, and now he’s just an angry, snide asshat who thinks he’s tortured but is really just a dripping ball of obnoxious self-pity. It’s more fun to torment him this way, because I know he can take it. And I just love good guys who aren’t good people.
His story is fleshing out nicely, now, with one volume published, a second undergoing formatting for publication, and a third in the first-draft stage. From that one character, I’ve managed to stretch out an entire mythology, and every secondary character who’s come along has insisted on a book of his or her own. Lenny, Sebastian, Jerzy, Aniela, Kim, Jadwiga, Aaron… I’ve expanded way past vampires, I’m pleased to say. There are many things mankind once knew, but has chosen to forget – volumes upon volumes of Lost Knowledge.