Who you calling old?

One of the characters in the novel I’m working on, Blood on the Water, (the sequel to Blood Justice) had herself turned into a vampire to seek revenge. That got me thinking…

If there are such things as vampires, I hope before one changes me into a ravaging blood-thirsty beast I have time to get hair plugs, a face lift, a tummy tuck, a bit-o-liposuction, and a little tightening of the neck. My nose is good. Even though I’ll be lurking in back alleys and dark parks looking for cute, blonde teenage girls (I didn’t add smart because a smart girl wouldn’t be in those places) to slake my maddening thirst for fresh young blood, I want to look good for the rest of my immortal life.

I just celebrated (?) one of those milestone birthdays no one looks forward to. If I’m destined to be changed into an immortal beast monster gentelman this isn’t the one I’d have chosen to be changed at.

What  would be the best age to be upgraded to immortal? “Go Young” you might say. But how young? Certainly not less than 18. It might sound fun to be a teenager for ever, but after 30 or 40 years you might want to go into a bar and have more than a Shirley Temple. They card vampires too, you know. Not to mention that as a teenager you might think you know it all, but you don’t. Unlike Rodney Dangerfield, if you want some respect, you should wait until at least 21 before allowing that charming bad boy/girl vamp to give you the bite that lasts. Even at 21 you’ll still get carded everywhere, and after 20 or 30 years nobody is going to look at your ID and believe you’re 40 or 50 years old. You don’t want people looking into your birth records then bugging you for the secret of how you’ve stayed so young looking, do you?

If you want to flow through the centuries with a certain level of gravitas, you might wait until 50, or even 60. Maybe 62 if you’re big on Senior Discounts. Who knows, if us mortals continue to live longer on our own 60 might be the perfect time to get that sporty convertible to scratch that mid-life crises itch. However, if you’re going to choose that option I suggest you go vegan and to the gym, starting now.

30ish would seem to be the ideal age to receive the gift, or curse, of immortality. Old enough to leave some, not all, of that youthful wildness behind you and still have your body, good looks, and hair.  If male pattern baldness is already creeping up on you, you might consider going younger, or learn how to shave your head. Bald is beautiful, Baby! You’ll also be young enough to be envied by all those old folks over 40. A plus for sure.  At 30, with experience and youthful indiscretions behind you, you’ll be ready to start building the fortune that will sustain you for the coming millennium or two; houses, cars, boats, travel, spouses.

Speaking of hair, make sure you have your hair cut in a classic style for the ages that you like. Because I’m not sure the hair of vampiric immortals will grow out to fix a bad haircut.


What if you were young and down on your luck, maybe living in your car, with few prospects, and a stranger, say 65-70 years old, offers you $100,000 dollars for your youth.  You would still be you, just 65-70 years old. Maybe some grey hair and some sagging here and there, but still you with the same mind as now, just older. You agree. Abra Cadabra you’re old, but not without some intelligence. You look into this age swap thing, find out the stranger’s secret, reverse engineer it, offer some not too bright drunk 25-year-old $5000 for his youth. “Sure. Why not?” he says. You swap, and then you find someone else with $100,000 and make them an offer. And you do this swap again and a again, a nice lucrative business. Except there are some bad guys who want a piece (all of it) of your action. And then there’s the father of a woman whose youth you sort of stole. And a cop who knows more about youth stealing than he should and he’s looking for you.

What if some kids are telling their Grandpa how proud they are of him that he’s such a hero, and he says, “Ain’t nothin’ to be proud of here.” And the kids say, “But everybody says you saved the town, village, city, country, world, galaxy.” “Humph,” he says. “Maybe at the end I did somethin’ good. But that ain’t how it started. They don’t tell ya that, do they?” “What do you mean, Grandpa?” He sips his whiskey and tells them, “Once upon a time….”

What if  you were a retired criminal well into your 60s, but still vital, living nicely with your wife on your ill-gotten gains. Then you had a visit from a some of your old crew. One of the old crew is dying of cancer, because a particular doctor misdiagnosed him, possibly on purpose. He has a family that depends on him. So you agree to look into it and find a criminal enterprise way beyond what you used to do. So you all decide to go against the doctor and all the other white collars who are letting people die for their own gain. The old street-smart tough guys against  the new ruthless, boardroom smart guys.

What if there was a planet where the sentient inhabitants grew old in the usual way, but at a certain time they grew younger, Benjamin Button style. As the unaged they brought all their experience of growing and being old to their government, business and culture. How would that make said government, business and culture different from ours?

What ever your age, be nice to the oldsters. Because sooner than you think you’ll be one of them bitchin that them youngsters don’t give any respect, just like you.


Who are You?

I’m working, if I may use the term “working” very loosely,  on the sequel to my novel Blood Justice which I know you all loved when you read it. A character in the sequel is a magician. Not a Ricky Jay, D Copperfield or Houdini illusion/escapist type. A Sorcerer using real magic power. He was born with the power, brought up to use it, to wield it with precision and skill.  A Sorcerer was what he was. Unfortunately, he wanted to be the most powerful Sorcerer/Witch. So he went up against The most powerful Witch, and lost. As punishment for going against her, and all the bad things he did to get to go against her, she took away his Magic. She reached inside him, literally, and took all but a tiny fraction of his magical power.

So without Magic, who was he? Born and raised with it, Magic was all he knew. He was a Sorcerer, suddenly deprived of what made him a Sorcerer. What if a life long writer lost his/her ability to write, a sailor to sail, an accountant his ability to count, a politician his ability to…(oh, do politicians have  abilities?) a plumber his ability to plumb, an electrician his ability to spark – what would they do to reinvent themselves?

I’m not talking about their jobs, millions are going through that right now, but their identities, how they see themselves when looking in the mirror, their talent, gift, mind-set. How would you cope with this loss? Would it devastate you with no possibility of recovery? Would you turn to booze, drugs, domestic abuse, staring out a window in a depressed stupor, suicide?  If someone called your name would you answer, “He doesn’t live here anymore. No forwarding address.”

As everyone has a different version of their identity,  as opposed to everybody else’s version, they would also have different ways of coping with its loss. Some would take it badly, some sadly, some might relish the chance to forge a new identity. Especially if they didn’t like the one they had. A second chance. Are you what you do, or what you are? How many of you might go for a chance to change that? Would you really? Do you have friends who would help you through the transition? Would they still be your friends after you sprouted those shiny new butterfly wings? Who would you rather be if you aren’t one of the few who are happy, “just the way they are?” You might ask that person in the mirror what they think. If you’re not afraid to talk to strangers.


What if you were my sorcerer? In my story the Sorcerer is a passing character probably not seen again until the next sequel. But what if you were writing his story? How would he react? Slink away to obscurity? Become a kid’s birthday party magician? A used car salesman? Or get mad? Maybe go to the new second wand in the real magic world and make a deal.  Maybe go to the bad guys (Vampires) he worked with and make some kind of deal. Or maybe he would slink off, but not to oblivion –  To some of the magical characters and/or entities and/or friends he met on his journey up the sorcery power ladder to plan his triumphant revenge.

There are plenty of stories about people losing their memories. What if it was an alien on a raw colony world. The Humans take it in and treat it as human until it believes it’s one of them, until others of his kind come looking for him. Who would it chose – his human family or his kind who are alien to him?

What if it was a human taken in by aliens?

What if you were hit man on the run? New life, new family, new identity. A well-worn story line. But what if the ghosts of his or her victims took over his body and made him discover how his murders affected certain survivors.  Then made him take care of his victims’ unfinished business, including making sure loved ones were taken care of with money obtained from  sometimes (well, mostly) unsavory sources or murderous revenge, or….

A few places that have dealt with this theme: Quantum Leap TV show, the novel Memory by Donald Westlake. ( A fairly depressing book, but it deals with the identity issue straight on.)  A novel by (I think)  David Morell about a spy who had so many identities he didn’t know which one was real. In my novel Fear Killer, ( see sidebar)Emily Perrit is definitly having an identity crisis.

So how does the identity you have in your head stack up to the one everyone else sees? And what are you going to do about it? Who ever you are.