Have you noticed that not all vampires are created equal? The rules and worlds surrounding some of your favorite blood-sucking characters are not the same as described in other stories. And that’s one of the fun things about reading and writing about vampires. There are as many varieties as there are authors. More probably, since each character and each universe dreamt up by the writer has one other key ingredient – the knowledge and detail each individual reader brings to the page. Which is why Lestat can be a totally different creature from Blaylock, or from Edward, or Bill, or Dracula, or Deirdre. Some of these characters are so dissimilar, it’s hard to believe that they can all still bear the title of “vampire.” And yet they do. They’re all just one happy family.
Writing, or reading, a vampire novel involves an odd little dance of expectations and surprises. A writer has to decide which rules to break and which ones to ignore. There has always been a long list of what makes a vampire a vampire –a list built and added to over the years from myths and folklore, movies and books. Any vampire afficionado can rattle off this list by heart. And while it’s fairly important to know these rules, it’s not really necessary to use them all – an author can (and probably should) pick and choose. In my own Vampire Legacy world, I chose three key elements I deemed absolutely necessary for my characters to possess. One was that they had eternal life if left alone by outside elements. As long as the “villagers” don’t arrive with their torches and wooden stakes, as long as the vampires take care of their basic needs (food and shelter,) Deirdre and her ilk can live on. Forever. My second criteria for admittance into the vampire world was the existence and use of fangs to obtain sustenance. No knives or razors allowed. It’s fangs or nothing! And the final rule I adhered to was the inability of my vampires to live or walk in full sunlight. Even brief exposure would cause blisters and burns – and longer encounters could cause serious damage and eventually be fatal.
Keeping track of these rules is as important to the continuity of a series as keeping track of hair color, eye color and the basic physical components of each character. And breaking these laws is not something to be undertaken lightly. If you have something laid out as gospel in the first book of the series, then it needs to be gospel in the last book of the series. Exceptions can be made, but must also be explained.
When I started writing the Vampire Legacy series, I began building the world a little bit at a time. In a way, I was taking the same journey as my main character. In the first book of HUNGER, Deirdre Griffin is a rogue vampire. She has no one to teach her how to live, instead she learns everything she “knows” to be true from what few books are available to her and from her own daily/nightly trials and errors. She defines her existence from what she thinks is true or possible and carries on from there, stretching the truths as much as she can, and in some instances defying the rules to assert her own humanity . Unlike many vampires, she refuses to sleep in a coffin, finding that draping the windows with heavy curtains is sufficient to keep her safe. Her dietary tastes and needs are defined by her experiences and by the trust puts in herself and her developing super-human instincts. She is perhaps a little too stubborn for her own good, refusing to explore the mythical abilities she reads can be possessed by one of her kind. Deirdre doesn’t want to believe that shape-shifting is possible, because it’s so far out of her mind-set. She doesn’t want to experiment with strange or disturbing powers. Like most newborn creatures she is simply trying to survive.
And like most newborn authors, I was just trying to get to the end of the page, to the end of the chapter, to the end of the book. Rules helped me get there, helped me build a nice solid world that I and my characters could depend on.
Then with good cause and with deliberate intention, I kicked out a few of the foundation’s blocks. What good is a world that can’t sustain a disaster or two? I will leave the readers to decide whether Deirdre can do the same...
~Karen E. Taylor
From Book #1 of HUNGER:
After the kiss, I buried my face in his neck. Now, I thought as I heard the blood pulse in his veins, Oh, please, now.
I nipped him at first, savoring the moment, my low moans echoed by his. Then when my teeth grew longer and sharper, I could hold back no longer. I bit him brutally, tapping the artery and was rewarded by the flow of his blood: hot, salty and bitter. He shuddered violently and fought to push me away, but his resistance was futile. Finally his struggles ceased and his body grew limp as I continued to draw on him, gently now, almost tenderly. I drank a long time, slowly, relishing the feel of my own body being replenished, then I withdrew.
Arising from the couch, I caught sight of myself in the mirror. No longer pale and haggard, my skin glowed with life and my eyes shone, victorious and demonic. A few drops of blood were trickling down my chin; I wiped them away with the back of my hand and turned from my reflection in disgust...
From Book #2 of HUNGER:
He was trembling violently under my touch, but that merely encouraged me and I spoke his name again.
This time I connected. I knew he heard me and understood, his hands tightened on mine and he whispered my name. Then before I could react, he quickly dropped my hands, formed a fist and silently punched me on the jaw, striking me with such force that I fell to the floor.
As I pulled myself up, shaking my head and gingerly feeling my jaw, I saw him running from the room, pursued by a nurse and two orderlies.
I stood, swaying in the air slightly, oblivious to the uproar Mitch's action must have been causing around me. The noise level in the room rose, as if from a long distance. I could hear the laughing and crying and shouting of the rest of the patients in the room. But my eyes were fastened on the door through which he had disappeared.
What the hell did you expect, you fool, I thought, a passionate embrace, a warm welcome-back kiss? His eyes had been the eyes of one who looked on hell, and I had helped to put him there...
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