Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause v. Twilight

This post is inspired by “My Top Ten Vampire Rules” by Rhiannon Mills.

In a comment, Rhiannon wrote, “Erin, you should read a book called The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause. I'm quite convinced that Stephenie Meyer very well might have ganked MOST of her books and the characters from the character, Simon, in The Silver Kiss :) AND after Googling, I found out that I'm actually not the only person with this theory.”

The Silver Kiss, it appears from the copy I read, was first published in October 1990. I did not do the Google search or read any more about the subject. I simply read The Silver Kiss (a compact single volume rather than an epic) and came to my own conclusions. Here’s what I think.

Similarities

The main character is Zoe Sutcliff, age sixteen. Zoe’s mother, Anne, is dying of cancer. Anne is confined to a hospital bed, and Zoe’s often left alone while her dad, Harry, stays with her mom. Harry has essentially been left to be a single parent, and he struggles to communicate with Zoe and understand how her mother’s illness affects his daughter. Zoe has more household responsibilities than she did before her mother got ill. The Zoe-Harry relationship resembles the Bella and Charlie Swan relationship in its awkwardness. Bella Swan’s mother is also absent, and rather helpless when Bella is with her.

In the first chapter, Zoe’s best friend, Lorraine, announces she, with her father and stepmother, are moving to Oregon. It’s unclear where Zoe lives, but Klause mentions that Oregon is not far, so Zoe might live in Washington state, or perhaps in northern California. In the beginning of Twilight, Bella herself decides to leave her mother and stepfather in Phoenix (as they prepare to move to Florida) for her childhood home in Washington state.

Still within the first chapter, Zoe goes out for a walk. Klause writes, “The night was crisp and sweet like apples. A gibbous moon hung plump and bright.” The first book in Meyer’s series features an apple on the cover, and the moon inspired the titles of books two and three, New Moon and Eclipse.


Zoe walks to a park with a gazebo. (The gazebo is featured prominently in the film version of Twilight, in the prom scene in which Bella and Edward contemplate Bella’s mortality.) There, she sees a teenage boy with silver hair.

Said teenage boy takes over the narrative in the second chapter. He is the vampire Simon, no last name. His business in the park is killing and drinking blood - not from people, but from an animal, a rat in this case. He has killed people before, but his innate sense of morality told him it was wrong. In this way, he is like the Cullen clan of Twilight. Simon’s skin is pale, and does not sparkle. His hair, however, is distinctively silver and shiny.

Simon thinks Zoe is rather reckless to be alone in the park so late at night; Bella has a similar carelessness about her personal safety. He also calls her “pale as the milk of death.” Bella is notoriously pale for a person who lived in Arizona (although Klause tells us that Zoe is capable of tanning, something Bella never seems to do). Simon is attracted to Zoe’s beauty and vulnerability, as well as the smell of her blood. (Unlike Edward, Simon allows himself to take a taste.)

Zoe should be afraid of Simon, but isn’t. “Would he have hurt her? No. He looked like an angel in a Renaissance painting. Could beauty hurt?” Likewise, Bella is attracted to Edward’s outward beauty and tells him, “You won’t hurt me,” even when he confesses to being a killer.

Simon visits Zoe’s house without her knowing it, although he can’t come in unless she invites him. Edward, with no such restriction, comes into Bella’s room and watches her sleep at night. Like Simon, Edward himself never sleeps. Unlike Bella, Zoe feels violated and angry when she realizes Simon has been at her house, watching her.

Twilight and The Silver Kiss both feature a small group of young males who fight with the vampire. The men in The Silver Kiss never threaten Zoe directly, though she is somewhat offended when they “take over” her park. Simon doesn’t drive, but a Volvo does merit a mention:

“He crouched by a parked Volvo. Around the bumper he could see the park across the street. Two boys passed, smoking cigarettes and punching each other with the blows of comrades. They disappeared around the corner. He had gotten ahead of Zoe, but he could see her coming up the other side of the street.”

Stephenie Meyer's official Cullen Cars page is located HERE.

Simon has a vampire rival (his brother, Christopher, who appears to be a boy of about six) who threatens to kill Zoe and drink her blood. Simon kills his rival as Edward kills James.

Finally, The Silver Kiss is dedicated to Larry Callen. Could the name Callen have inspired the name Cullen?

Similarities to other books

In many ways, Simon and his brother Christopher resemble Dracula from Bram Stoker’s original novel. They need the soil of their homeland to sustain them. They’re capable of turning into bats, wolves and, apparently, also pigs. They can be killed with stakes or with sunlight.

The rivalry between older brother Christopher and younger brother Simon reminded me of Damon and Stefan Salvatore – who, in L.J. Smith’s novels, were also Europeans several hundred years old. The Salvatores are Italian, though, while Simon and his brother are English. (The TV Salvatores are Virginians from the 1800s.)

Armand in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles is described as looking like a cherub in a Botticelli painting. The child-vampire Christopher is reminiscent of Anne Rice’s Claudia, introduced in Interview With the Vampire in 1976.

Stephenie Meyer is apparently an Anne Rice fan also - recall that her vampires have different "gifts" like the ones in Twilight. Interview reveals that Lestat can read minds, but Louis can't. Edward is the Cullen clan's mind-reader.

We know that Anne Rice is a Stephenie Meyer supporter:



Differences

At its core, The Silver Kiss uses vampirism as an extended metaphor for death itself. Zoe is forced to come to terms with death because her mother is dying, and Simon eases her into the belief that death is a natural and necessary part of life. As part of this metaphor, Simon has to die. He and Zoe were never destined to be together eternally – exactly the opposite of Edward and Bella. Bella becomes immortal at eighteen, never having to face aging or death.

There are enough similarities that one could imagine that Stephenie Meyer read The Silver Kiss, kept it in the back of her mind for a number of years and was eventually inspired to write Twilight. To her credit, Meyer invented a much wider world for her vampire characters, including a rival clan of werewolves and the possibility that vampires could reproduce in ways other than biting.

The evolution of vampiric children:



From Claudia to Renesmee



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3 comments:

Shah Wharton said...

Oh how interesting. I love this article. Thanks for all the research. It is interesting to see how authors inform authors. Apparently Stephanie Meyer began the novel because she wanted to capture a dream she loved so much she didn't want to forget it. Its highly likely that unconsciously her dream was informed by the Silver Kiss. There are enough similarities to see where too. But I read lots of vampires books and there is no doubt in my mind that my writing is heavily influenced by what I read, consciously or not.

Great post Erin X

Sheila Deeth said...

There's always the argument that there's nothing new under the sun (or the moon I suppose). I suspect similarities could be found for most books, some deliberate, some accidental, and some just inherent in the genre. The Silver Kiss sounds worth a read, so thank you for the introduction.

BURIED IN BOOKS said...

This is so interesting! So many books are compared to Twilight, it's nice to see Twilight compared to another book for a change. Don't get me wrong, I loved Twilight, but I also loved Klause's Blood and Chocolate which is about werewolves.

Heather