Wednesday, October 6, 2010


What is it about immortality that fascinates us so much?

Paranormal romances are full of immortal characters, be they vampires who ‘live’ on after death, demons, angels, and other beings from spiritual dimensions who take human form, or other characters who gain immortality during a story from touching artifacts, spells, or other different intriguing ways.

For me, part of the appeal is that these characters have lived through experiences that we can hardly begin to imagine. They have seen great moments in history, suffered through the brutality of past ages, and in the process may have gained insight and knowledge we, in our short human lives, can only aspire to. Many have also undergone great suffering that has shaped them into tormented souls. And I love a wounded hero.

One of the biggest issues of course is the immortal character who falls in love with a short-lived human. That provides wonderful relationship conflict to overcome.

I have a few immortal characters in my Magic Knot series and I love the extra dimension of conflict they bring to the series.

What do you think about immortal characters? Appealing or not?


Terry Spear/Terry Lee Wilde said...

My werewolves have longer lives. I love time travels so it's a way for me to incorporate the distant past with my characters of today. The same with my vampires. I think it's also a way to reach for a little immortality ourselves when we read about characters who can outlive all the diseases that plague mankind and be them for a spell. :)

Joan Leacott said...

I had a dream once that a 3000-year-old woman was found. All the media, historians, scientists etc were gathered around waiting for her to spill the wisdom of the ages. The woman began to speak... and all that came out of her was "He said this" and "She said that" and "That bitch did so-and-so and I'm never talking to her again". Are wisdom and angst a stereotype for immortals?

Cai said...

I enjoy reading about immortal characters because I've always been fascinated by history...and imagine having a living(okay, in a sense) breathing part of history right in front of you!

You could get all kinds of insight from that person from a personal perspective that history books and "official" historians won't tell you!

I haven't written a vampire...yet...but would definitely incorporate some of that into his/her story! :)


Mona Risk said...

My latest WIP is set in Egyptian Mythology where all the charaters are gods. They are immortal but can be killed like Osiris, deprived of entering the Afterlife and brought back for a second life. The mortal Egyptians who lived in the Pharaonic time believed in the Afterlife and spent their life on earth building pyramids and tombs they stuffed with food, plants and favorite things for their eternal afterlife.

In a Christian way, I believe that my Mom who died last week is in a better world where she is enjoying eternal rest and serenity.

Lee Lopez said...

It's a fascinating subject, and I think it has taken hold over the ages, not just recently due to the fear of death. We all want to live on, to out live history. In most cases though our immortal hero and heroine don't have family to out live. For that reason I'd never want to be immortal, because of my family. But on the other hand taking that out, the idea of it, is fascinating, fun reading.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

This subject certainly seems to be popular these days. I think good old Dracula seems to have been the start of them. I may be wrong, but it is interesting how the vampires are dealt with. I don't usually read stories about them, but when my penpal who lives in the village in Romania where the farmers fed the real Count Dracula's castle is, we did get into lots of conversations about the myth. Very interesting!

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Hi Terry, I think you are right. Reading about immortal or long-lived characters allowes us to live that life vicariously during the book. Interesting.

Hi Joan, I think anyone who has lived 3000 years would have tremendous wisdom by virtue of their long experience of life and also have experienced much to give them angst. Think of all those they must have loved and lost. For me, that internal conflict is what makes the immortal character so interesting.

Hi Cai, it would be great to hear accounts of history from an eyewitness. I bet much of it isn't nearly as glamorous as it is in books.

Hi Mona, living on in an afterlife is another sort of immortality and equally as fascinating. Not something I've read so much in fiction.

Hi Lee, I agree. For me loving and losing family, often many times over, must be heartbreaking. But great for internal conflict for characters.

Hi Paisley, I guess vampires are what brings the subject of immortality to most people's minds these days. I tend to associate it more with ancient gods. Probably because I'm more into fantasy. How fascinating to have a penpal in Romania!

Jill James said...

To have a heroine who has had people 'leave' her, either leave through death or desert her, the idea of an immortal hero who can never die, never leave is very appealing.

Joanne said...

I am late posting, but immortal characters are some of my favorites. As Jill said, an immortal hero who can never die is a wonderful concept.