Sunday, January 20, 2013

VampCon by Armand Inezian: Mama Let Your Children Grow Up to be Monster Slayers

Mama Let Your Children Grow Up to be Monster Slayers
Over the years, there has been a lot of discussion in the media about children and their relationship to play-fighting, whether it be watching pro wrestling, violent video games, or toy guns. Let me be upfront and say that I thinks it's important for all of us to engage in this discussion. I'm a dad myself, and I think our children's health is of vital interest to us all. We want to keep our kids safe, and a lot of us are considering how far we want to let fantasy violence go, and what kind of rules to apply.
So let me just start by saying that I've killed thousands. Possibly tens of thousands. I've killed robbers, murderers, Nazis, KKK members, Cobra soldiers, Decipticons, terrorists, skeletons, skeleton-kings, goblins, ghosts, dragons, giants and- well- the list goes on and on. It also started in fantasy play when I was six or seven. Gradually I moved from action figures, to board games, to role playing games (like Dungeons & Dragons) and video games. So yes, all my killing was fantasy-killing, but as fantasy killers go, I'm up there.
My parents were amazingly tolerant off all the fantasy violence, and as for myself,  I didn't even really think about it. It was just there, like air or water. Just there.
I can also tell you this: that I'm an amazingly gentle and easy-going adult. In my entire life (not including karate class) I've been in one angry fistfight and a few lamo shoving matches, and I've never seriously hurt anyone. I don't even like hurting tiny animals. I'm the kind of guy who will pick up a worm instead of stepping on it. (confession: I do kill mosquitos, spiders and centipedes in my house)
Anyway, I really didn't think much of any of this until I stumbled onto an interesting book called "Killing Monsters" by Gerald Jones.  The book took the conventional wisdom of banning toy guns and turned it on its head. Gerald Jones suggested that fantasy violence, the killing of monsters, is a coping mechanism for a cruel and difficult world.
We all know the real world can be a monster. Every day people die under terrible circumstances. Corrupt governments and terrorist groups murder helpless men, women, and children with near-impunity. Gang violence harms (and kills) innocent bystanders. Wars, food shortages, and corrupt regimes take far too many lives. The world is painfully unfair, and most children become aware of this at an early age.
One way that children can process this is through fantasy. In books and movies, heroes are permitted to exist, and the complex evils of the real world are simplified into monsters. In fantasy play and fantasy novels, good and evil are boiled down to their purest essence.
When many children use toys guns/ swords/ wands to kill monsters or aliens or even human villains, they are expressing a form a release, a  subconscious, mini-protest against the cruelty that exists in far too many corners of our world.
When it comes to our own kids, my wife and I have engaged in some deep discussions about fantasy violence. Generally we have arrived at the following conclusions: 1. We do not allow any realistic toy guns. 2. Fantasy guns (like orange "laser" guns) are okay. 3. It's generally okay to kill robots. 4. It is not okay to pretend to kill people that we know! 5. No fantasy killing in the kitchen! It seems to be working for now.
So moms and dads out there across the land, please do think about your children and fantasy violence. Please talk about it, and read about it, and debate it, but at the end of the day, remember that there are two sides to this issue, and that slaying monsters can sometimes be a cathartic activity.
~Armand Inezian is the author of VampCon, a dark fantasy thriller containing thousands of bullets, hundreds of vampires, two portals to damnation, and one bloody chance at redemption. Available now on Amazon, for Kindle, and for Nook.

Armand Inezian

Genre: Fantasy, Fantasy Thriller, or Dark Fantasy Thriller.

Publisher: Greyhart Press, Bromham UK.

ISBN: 978-1478279525

Number of pages: 310
Word Count: approximately 95,000

Cover Artist: Banchick Illustration.

Book Description:

Jonathan Stoker is a reluctant vampire who wants nothing to do with the dark world that turned him. He isolates himself, sucking nonlethal quantities of blood from helpless drunks and making a marginal living. However after he learns that someone he holds dear has been lured to the VampCon, a cut-throat vampire summit, Jonathan is forced to deal with his kind again.

But Jonathan and company quickly discover that the VampCon is much more than a meeting. It’s a conspiracy that holds the key to both the creation and possible extinction of all vampires.

Now Jonathan has no choice but to come to terms with his own dark side while working with a small band of troublemakers to stop a nightmare from coming true.

About the Author :

Armand Inezian resides in Boston with his wife, two children, and three cats. In addition to writing, he also works two day jobs, one in grants administration and the other in teaching English, and he is grateful for both. He graduated from Emerson College with an MFA in Creative Writing. His short stories have appeared in various literary journals including The Missouri Review and Glimmer Train. In 2003, his short story, Baer, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Another of his shorts, See Me, won the Glimmer Train Story Open in 2008. VampCon is his first completed novel.

give away is 1 print edition AND 1 eBook edition to randomly selected winners.

 Print editions ONLY available to winners in the Continental USA (aka “lower 48”). eBook editions available to winners anywhere. Print edition winners may substitute eBook versions. 

If you would like to enter to win please leave a comment with your email and preferred book format


Debby said...

Great cover and I love the concept. I really hope to win this book. PDF
debby236 at gmail dot com

Armand Inezian said...

Thanks so much for reading my guest post, and thanks for your comments. I really am interested in what others have to say about the issue of children and fantasy violence, and I will be following comments for the next few days!

misha said...

I totally agree with the idea that fantasy helps kids cope with the realities of the world. I too have killed. As a kid I used to go around with a plastic derringer in my bag. Why? Because I was in my own world where I was a strong warrior in charge of my own destiny, not a small girl with glasses with immigrant parents.

I'd love to win a copy of the book. PDF as I haven't worked out Kindle apps on my mac.

sunreel said...

This is a very good article and I completely agree: fantasy is where children get a chance to cope with the realities of the world, they learn to process stuff, play it out, but without it being real itself.
I don't agree when people say that children should not read books, watch movies etc. where any violence takes place. For one I think people should give children more credit - they're clever. They know the baddies from the good guys. And on another point as long as the parents are able to talk things through with their kids and don't avoid the theme, I think there's no harm in that (obviously I'm talking fantasy violence that's ok for the age of the children).
Plus there sure are more messages in a story than just the fighting. When I think of LOTR for example, where the little ones (among others) are the ones who show inner strength and growth the most, that's an important message. :)

I don't need to win the book as I already own it. ;)

bn100 said...

Nice post. The character sound intriguing.


G E Shutt said...

As someone who didn't really like the idea of buying guns for your first son I can tell you... he 'made them' out of lego, out of bits of stick, out of everything he could. I'm not sure if this increased his imagination abilities or not, all I know is... it didn't make a blind bit of difference. Kids will act out scenarios whatever we give them. And, in the same way some girls will cuddle a stick with a bit of cloth on it, boys, and tomboys I should add, will turn anything into a weapon and slay the monster.
The only difference between my eldest boy and my youngest, who was allowed guns etc, is that the eldest will put spiders out of the house for me... youngest is terrified and looking for a weapon!

Armand Inezian said...

thanks everyone for your contributions to this discussion. Misha- I love your story about the plastic derringer, and sunreel, I like your point about Lord of the Rings, and Gill, you are correct about little kids being able to turn anything into a "gun"