Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The “Dearg-Dubh” and Other Irish Vampires by Colleen Halverson

When Roxanne asked me to write a guest post for Fangtastic Books, I knew I needed to tell you all about one of my most beloved characters, Malachy Moray. Malachy is a “dearg-dubh,” (pronounced DYE-rig DOO), a vampire-like figure from Irish folklore. The name itself derives from a local Sligo legend, and Bram Stoker used this story for the inspiration behind the fate of Lady Westenra in Dracula and her transformation into a vampire, aka the “Bloofer Lady.”

While I may have borrowed the name from Stoker and the good people of Sligo, my inspiration for Malachy actually comes from a story I heard when I was traveling through the west of Ireland on the Dingle peninsula. The tale is long and rambling (in the absolutely best way), but it involves a priest who was on his way to give the last rites to a dying man. Years later, I would find a version of the story in the book, Meeting the Other Crowd, which is a collection of tales from the legendary Seanachaí, Eddie Lenihan. In the story, the priest meets a mysterious figure on the road playing the violin, and the music was so sweet and beautiful, the priest realized right away it was one of the Good People, or the Fae. The Fae demands the priest ask the dying man, “What will happen to the Good People on the last day of judgment?”

When the priest returns to the Faerie, he says,

            “I got an answer all right, but I don’t know if ‘tis the one you want. It didn’t make much   sense to me.”
The Faerie is desperate and begs for an answer.
            “Tell me!”
 “He said…if one drop o’ blood could be found in their veins on the Day o’ Judgment, they’d [the Good People] see the face o’ God. Does that make any kind of sense to you?”
“One drop o’ blood,” says the lad. “Only one drop?”

In a rage, the Faerie throws his fiddle to the ground and takes out a dagger. The priest backs away, terrified out of his mind and fearful that the Fae man is going to attack him.

In the version I heard, he stretched out his arm and without flinching, slashed a great rent into his pale flesh. Nothing but ash poured out. The Faerie then declared:

“For the last five thousand years and more, I and my people are traveling the roads of Ireland, and in all that time we never did harm to man, woman, child, or any living creature, only playing sweet music for all of ‘em in the dark, hurting no one. But from this time on, Father, there’ll be no music.”

From that moment forward, that road the priest had traveled was known as an evil, haunted place. Farmers picked up and moved, shopkeepers closed up, pub owners begged people to take their property off their hands. Travel only returned in the late ‘50s when more of the Irish started driving cars, but as Lenihan states, “You can believe it or not, whatever you like: That road isn’t right.”

My character Malachy is complex, mysterious. His deeper motivations remain an enigma throughout most of CHILDREN OF THE VEIL, but one thing is true. He, like the Good People from Lenihan’s stories, belong to a cursed race of beings. Malachy is seeking out power, but also, somewhere in his pale, immortal body, he is looking for redemption. 

Children of the Veil
The Aisling Chronicles
Book 2
Colleen Halverson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Entangled

Date of Publication: October 26, 2016

ISBN: 9781633757738

Number of pages: 400
Word Count: 120K

Book Description:

Elizabeth Tanner has one goal: to find her mother in whatever dimension she’s imprisoned. But to do that, she has to face her estranged father, and to do that, she needs a shot of whiskey…or seven. But after an attempt on her life and the return of her lost love, she wakes up with one hell of a hangover and a whole barrage of questions.

Finn O’Connell doesn’t know why the Fianna want him to aid Elizabeth in her search, but he’ll take any excuse to be near her again. Together, they dive headlong into the shadows of her mother’s secrets and find themselves embroiled in a Fae rebellion that will test Finn’s loyalties and their love.

With the Faerie realm verging on chaos, Elizabeth and Finn will embark on a quest that will lead them from the streets of Chicago to London’s seedy Fae underground. But rescuing Elizabeth’s mother means journeying to a place Finn can’t follow, and Elizabeth is forced to make a choice between finding her at last or saving her own soul.

Excerpt 1

            My legs buckled and he snatched me into his arms, my head lolling against his chest. I breathed in the smell of leather, fresh folded laundry, and that pure, manly scent of Finn-ness. God, I had missed him.
            “Who…?” I managed to say, the words feeling like caked mud in my mouth.
            He didn’t answer, but slipped me into his car and I sank into the leather seat, darkness eating at the edge of my sight. The purring engine lulled me into a daze, and I must have passed out because the next thing I knew, we were stumbling up the stairs to my apartment.
            “I live here,” I slurred.
            “I know,” Finn mumbled, his muscled arm propping me up. “Where are your keys?”
            Snowflakes collected on the crown of his head, his eyebrows knitting together. The curve of his mouth filled my vision, and my fingers slipped over the soft skin, tracing the delicate cupid bow on his top lip. His face softened, multiple Finns swimming through the muted streetlight.
            “Mmmmm…” I murmured, running my hand against the side of his face, trying to keep from seeing double. “Stay still.”
            He placed a gentle hand over my hand. “Elizabeth, your keys. It’s freezing out here.”
            I brought his palm next to my face, brushing my lips against his callused fingers. Need burned through my body, and I fell against his broad chest, covering his mouth with mine with a moan. For a moment, he kissed me back, his hands pressing firm against my shoulders. The falling snow tickled my neck, sending icy trails down my spine, and I pressed into him seeking his warmth. He made a low sound in his throat.
            “You’re drunk,” he whispered.
            “I don’t care.” I whispered into his ear.
            Finn disentangled himself from my arms, and I slipped on a patch of ice, falling on my ass with a giggle. He leaned over me, patting my jeans in search for my keys. His hands strayed to my waist, tickling my side, and I laughed, grabbing his hands.
            He hovered over me, his hair grazing the firm line of his jaw. “Elizabeth, stop. I mean it. Where are your keys?”
            He rifled in my coat, and something landed on the balcony with a thud. The book of Yeats’ poetry lay in the snow, white powder quickly accumulating on its worn cover. Finn made to grab it, but I snatched it away, wiping it off and sticking it safe back inside my coat. He stared down at me and swallowed hard, the tinkling crystal of falling snow the only sound in the silent street.
            “Elizabeth…” He whispered, his hand brushing away a wet lock of hair plastered to my cheek.
            I shrugged away, rifling in my jeans pocket for my keys and threw them at him. A wave of dizziness washed over me and I curled up on the balcony, willing the snow to blanket over me, desiring nothing but to become the winter so I could sleep for four months and reemerge whole again. Stinging numbness gripped my fingers and toes, and I shivered, burying my head against my arm.
            “Let’s get you inside.” Finn’s arm slipped beneath my shoulders and under my knees.

About the Author:

As a child, Colleen Halverson used to play in the woods imagining worlds and telling stories to herself. Growing up on military bases, she found solace in her local library and later decided to make a living sharing the wonders of literature to poor, unsuspecting college freshmen. After backpacking through Ireland and singing in a traditional Irish music band, she earned a PhD in English with a specialization in Irish literature. When she’s not making up stories or teaching, she can be found hiking the rolling hills of the Driftless area of Wisconsin with her husband and two children. CHILDREN OF THE VEIL is the follow up to her debut urban fantasy novel, THROUGH THE VEIL.

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