What does a grandfather do when his young granddaughter asks him to tell her a spooky story after watching a popular “Goosebumps” show together on television?
Duane Porter, author of eight published books, told himself: “Well, I am an author. I should be able to write a story for her.”
And he did: “The Vampire Who Had No Fangs.”
“I was trying to think of a catchy title people would be interested in reading immediately,” the Blue Springs author says, noting the title sounds oppositional at the outset. “How could a vampire have no fangs? That defines a vampire. That's what they do. That's how they exist. So I was thinking of this story with a twist at the end.”
Duane recalled in a recent interview discovering a theme he could draw upon when starting his vampire story. He names the vampire girl Olivia after his granddaughter, who wasn't like any of the other little vampire kids.
“No one knew why her fangs never grew in,” Duane notes in his synopsis. “She always felt different and left out. One day, she decides to do something she has never done before. When she does, she finds that her life will never be the same again. Sometimes being different isn't a bad thing. Maybe you're just special.”
What the story does, Duane says, is to set up the stage where there is a major problem with the little girl.
“She can't drink the blood. She can't participate in activities with the other vampire kids, and she can't sleep in a coffin like the other kids,” he says, adding, “Most readers are going to say she is not really a vampire. I bet she is just a little girl.”
The sun is another major problem for vampires. Whenever Olivia goes outside in the sunlight, her skin burns. Also, she frightens the townspeople, and they run when she goes outside to smell the air and finds herself all alone, which is a crushing experience for a little girl.
Then, there is the couple Olivia confronts, informing them she's living a “horrible” life.
“I can't drink blood. I have no fangs. I am not fine,” she emphatically tells the concerned couple, who reply, “You are fine. You are our daughter. We are your parents and we want to love and take care of you; we want you to feel safe.”
But there is a twist to that.
“The final conclusion is Olivia gets her happy ending and all her wishes come true, but not in the way she expects. There is a surprise awaiting her,” Duane says, “and Olivia finds out how special she is.”
Writing the book wasn't Duane's biggest literary challenge to date. However, illustrating the book was, he says, since he had to provide all 24 pieces of artwork because he couldn't find an artist to draw them. Though not an artist, he was up to the task.
“I went on the internet and found all kinds of video on how to use tools to sketch and draw human bodies and proportions,” he says. “What I did though was to find a picture I wanted to use as a base and then I would trace that out and the images over the photograph,” he continues, explaining the picture taking the most time and patience was that of a town. “I had a picture of a town and traced over all the buildings. It was very detailed and took several weeks to finish that one drawing.”
Published by Buried Treasure Publishing of Blue Springs, Duane's latest children's book is available from Amazon for $11 and from the author for $10. For more information, visit BuriedTreasurePublishing.com.
Other books by Porter: “The Best Ride,” “Charlie and the Chess Set,” “The Seirawan Factor,” “Molly O'Malley and the Leprechaun,” “Molly O'Malley: Rise of the Changeling” “Molly O'Malley and the Pirate Queen” and “Werewolf for Hire: The Ghost of Goresthorpe Grange."
Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.