November’s giveaway starts today! Get entering to win a $50 Amazon gift card, 5 signed papebacks and 5 digital books! TATB has teamed up with 10 excellent dystopian authors in an awesome variety of sub-genres for our Dystopian Novels Giveaway. There’s truly something for every dystopian fan in this lot, which contains zombies, aliens, clones, superheroes, mutants, and more! The total prize value is $120. Get your entries in by 30th November for a chance at this amazing bundle…
Today we have one of October’s giveaway authors guest posting on the TATB blog. Please welcome horror author,
Vampires—ruthless and deadly. Born from the depraved desires of a bloodthirsty Romanian warlord early in the seventh century, vampires evolved quickly into the hellish nightmares that mortal perceived them to be. But they became more than that, reproducing and establishing thriving communities not only in Eastern Europe but across the entire continent. Yet they kept to the shadows, hidden from mankind’s gaze, only entering their world to feed. And they were not alone in the supernatural world, sharing their existence with werewolves. Nothing lasts; before long hatred and bloodlust consumed all, and war raged in the darkness.
During the brief standoff a knowing passed between the two preternatural beings: recognition formed centuries in the past, yet one fueled by abhorrence born a mere one hundred years ago. In one fluid movement he flipped his coat-tails to one side and unsheathed the steel blade. He held the weapon back behind his head, feet splayed as he awaited the creature’s onslaught. He had done it many times in the past, and knew if he angled his strike correctly he could behead the hellish creature in one graceful arc.
As war spread and diversified, so did the vampire coven, each member becoming expert swordsmen and relying on agility and cunning in battle against ferocious lycanthropes. Elite battalions, called Enforcers, tackled packs of werewolves in open conflict in the expansive countryside of Europe, fighting tooth and claw with their immortal enemy. In the growing cities of an advancing world, through the Middle Ages and into the Edwardian and Victorian eras, vampires developed a complex civilization, a hierarchy of Elders governing a coven equipped with soldiers and loyal subjects.
Beginning his existence as an Enforcer fighting the war against werewolves, Markus took control of the coven with the death of his grandfather. Using ruthless determination to ensure his race survives, he’s a warrior at heart who gives no quarter and accepts no prisoners. Born nine hundred years ago, Markus now lords over a coven in change.
Mortal life—nothing but fleeting time; as insignificant as a grain of sand in an hour glass. The lifetime of a human did not compare to the experiences Markus had suffered through. He’d been embroiled in a brutal war filled with carnage and bloodshed for the better part of six centuries. He’d slaughtered lycanthropes and hybrid soldiers with a ruthless determination; had borne tragic witness to the massacre and torture of his brethren.
Their war has changed too. Four hundred years previously the bloodlines were crossed, vampire and werewolf copulating to produce a grotesque mix of both races: hybrids. Enforcers became Eliminators, their sole responsibility to hunt down the perpetrators of this heinous breeding and slaughter every last one—before turning their attention to the hybrids, and massacring each of them in turn. Now, there comes a time for vampires to dilute their hatred of their lycanthropic cousins, to put aside six hundred years of conflict and bloodshed in a combined effort to extinguish that which should never have been born.
Now that the offer had been put on the werewolves’ table he hoped there’d be no turning back. Counsel would have to support him. Besides, the truce wouldn’t remain in effect for long; only until such time as those hybrids were no longer a threat to his coven. Then the lycanthropes would discover just how treacherous he could be.
For the vampire race it’s a dangerous time. The supernatural world is filled with treachery, lies, betrayal, and a fragile truce about to be shattered by the most shocking secret of them all.
Book excerpts reproduced with kind permission from the author.
Today we have one of October’s giveaway authors guest posting on the TATB blog. Please welcome paranormal author,
In Darkly Dreaming, Book 1 of the Darkly Vampire Trilogy I wanted to create vampires that might actually exist. These are not the undead, or supernatural, they have been infected by an ancient virus, originating from Egyptian times when there were cults that used group blood-letting as part of their worship. To me it is all too easy to imagine a mutation, an infection, a virus that changes the human DNA resulting from these dangerous practices. The resulting evolutionary leap is then worshipped as a God…..
Humans have been through so many evolutionary processes, from fish, to reptiles, to mammals, and finally, to humans. We have sectors of our brains and DNA, still shaped and functioning from these times. Our DNA can be changed by our life experiences, emotions we do not express form proteins on our DNA, changing us forever.
Is it so hard to imagine a vicious virus that can rip through your DNA? Reawakening evolutionary pathways that have been closed down, causing a complete metamorphosis while the victim is in a coma, so that many die, but those that awake are as completely transformed as a butterfly? A butterfly does not just grow wings while it is in the cocoon, its insides turn to mush, and it completely changes all of its organs, limbs, everything. My vampires do the same.
Here the Pride leader tells the newly transformed friends what they have become:
‘You will heal quickly and are immune to all the diseases and illnesses humans suffer from. Although if someone you feed from is very ill, their blood will taste unpleasant,’ Guillaume continues. ‘You will not age. You will not die of old age, but you are not invincible. You are a lot more resilient than a human, but to kill you, someone only needs to separate your head and heart.’ He takes a breath and leans his head back with his eyes closed before he continues to relay his list of changes we need to understand about our new existence.
‘You can ignore the silly stories and films. You can be photographed, and will see your reflection in a mirror,’ he continues. ‘You can go out in the day light, but I recommend you don’t because you look very different now, and the only hope we have of remaining a legend is if the humans who see us up close die immediately. They must not be allowed to acquire photographic evidence. You are not ‘undead’ or ‘supernatural’. You have just been infected by a virus that has caused a physical transformation.’
I use the language of cats a lot while talking about my vampires, they live in a Pride like lions, and I use lots of feline analogies. The transformation has made the vampires strong, lethal, and lovers of hunting, they are beguiling and terrible, just like cats.
After transformation Rae explores her new vampire body in the mirror:
‘As I stand upright again, still a little unsteady as I learn to co-ordinate my newly extended body, I catch sight of myself in the mirror. I check the blind is down on the window, and the door is firmly closed, then I slowly undress and stand naked in front of the armoire and gaze at the transformation.
My brown hair tumbles past my waist in thick, shining pre-Raphaelite curls the colour of conkers. My eyes are huge and instead of their usual muddy hazel colour, they are the shocking yellow green of peridot crystal, and my eyelashes and eyebrows are thick, dark and long. My high colouring, wrinkles and freckles are gone and instead I have the perfect pink and white complexion of a Victorian doll. My lips, blushed a gothic burgundy, are curved in a perfect cupid’s bow, and look like I am about to smile when actually I want to scream. My teeth are new, smaller, whiter and sharper than I had before. I look ageless, inhuman, a beautiful freak
As Guillaume, the Pride Leader explained, vampires all have special powers, extra gifts which aren’t always apparent. The vampires do not know what influences these powers, or why some turn out the way they do. Rae and Layla both happen to be Pretty Ones, which means they can Glamour other vampires, this goes beyond the normal compelling that any vampire can exert over a human, like a weasel over a rabbit. Being a Pretty One means you can exert complete sexual control over another vampire, or a human.
Freshly turned vampires cannot always control their new powers with potentially embarrassing results:
‘Thank you for listening to me.’ As we stand up, my mind is already back up at the house, on Layla. Brian casually reaches his hand to my shoulder and leans forward to give me a friendly peck on the cheek. As he touches me, everything changes in an instant.
My head falls back as my back arches, and his friendly grasp on my shoulder becomes molten. He slides his hand up and cups the back of my head while he is kissing, and licking, and nipping, down my cheek, lingering on my mouth and then down onto my throat. Then back up to bite and tug my earlobe, and back down to the dip where my collarbone meets my neck. At the same time his other hand slides around my waist and down onto my arse, pushing me hard against him. The need in me is as instant and furious as a gas flame; it becomes me. Only where he touches me is the need sweetened and slaked.
Within seconds we are naked enough for him to be inside me, filling me, our eyes locked in the intensity of the moment, as almost instantly I am rocked by my climax, which tips him into his bliss. We are gasping and grasping and… and then as quickly as it all started, I see the need wane from his eyes as quickly as my own vanishes and we are just two embarrassed vampires who don’t know each other very well, stumbling around trying to put our clothes back on, hoping that no one can see us.
‘Well,’ I say sheepishly as I pull my clothes straight. ‘That’s new.’
There is also the Rage, when a vampire feels threatened or extremely angry they experience the Rage, a preparation for battle, which usually includes a swelling of muscles, a lengthening of the limbs, but some vampires, often those who were deeply unhappy when they were infected, develop extreme Rage symptoms:
‘Oh well, darling, if you’re going to be a rude little upstart, you can die first.’ Patrice’s face lengthens and distorts as she moves towards me. Suddenly, Layla is beside me, but I hardly recognise her. Her face is long and her mouth gapes nightmarishly open. Her teeth have become long slender spikes protruding diagonally from her mouth and meshing viciously as she gnashes.
Her steps are rigid and awkward, and her shoulders are wider and have risen unevenly to her ears. Her hands claw in front of her, grasping towards Patrice. Her fingers have extended, the bones protruding from the flesh with her nails long and sharp inches beyond where the flesh ends. Her back has arched like an angry cat’s and her ribs have dislocated so sharp bone spikes are sticking through her skin and clothes all down her sides. Her legs are longer, but not quite even, adding to her lopsided lurch as she lunges across the room towards Patrice, screaming an alien scream, like nothing I’ve ever heard before.’
For me though, the most important thing for me about the Darkly vampire friends is their struggle to retain their humanity, to cling to what is important to them. I hope this is what will entice my readers to fall in love with the funny, feisty friends, and follow their adventures through the full trilogy.
Today we have one of October’s giveaway authors guest posting on the TATB blog. Please welcome horror and sci-fi author,
“My vampires are different, though!” It’s such an oft-repeated line, there’s an entire portal of pages for it on TV Tropes (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OurVampiresAreDifferent). It’s so common, that I consistently see reviewers say, “No vampires, and yes, I know yours are different.”
I guess the ubiquity of that phrase says one thing about vampire authors: at least we take our worldbuilding seriously. It’s a common lament that fantasy authors will say, “You know, they’re Tolkien- style elves” or, “You know, it’s a Warcraft-type orc” and call it a day. I guess because vampires are so common and come with so much baggage, vampire authors at least like to lay down the rules for their own work.
I find there are two basic methodologies for doing this. Authors will either treat their vampires like strangely exotic animals whose idiosyncrasies all have a scientific explanation (“The Strain” is a good recent example, or “Underworld” is a slightly older one) or they’ll treat them like nonsense magical creatures who can do whatever the author’s imagination likes (such as in “Buffy” or “True Blood”).
For myself, I mostly split the difference. I don’t hate the idea of trying to make vampires scientifically plausible, but folks like Guillermo del Toro have already taken a crack at that and I don’t feel like I have a whole lot to add. I do kind of dislike the whole “vampires can do whatever we say they can do because magic” method. Because I mean, how, physically how, would a two hundred pound man turn into a six ounce bat? Exactly how do fangs become hollow things you can suck blood through, and how do you retract them when you’re not aroused? Where do they go? Does anything in nature do these things? Snakes have fangs but they always have fangs, and they’re hollow for injecting venom, not for sucking blood. And tadpoles can gradually evolve into frogs, but they can’t turn back, and they certainly can’t go from tiny to giant and back again.
So I didn’t want to worry about every little aspect of my vampires having to jive with some kind of scientific principle, but I did want them to at least be reasonable physical beings. Which meant a couple of rules:
1.) Creating vampires is more like giving birth. You know the old math trick that if you take a penny and double it thirty times you’ll end up with ten million dollars? This is my problem with easy peasy siring, or bringing across, or turning, or the blood kiss or whatever you want to call it. In HUNTER OF THE DEAD only very powerful and ancient vampires can grant the Long Gift (hey, I had to come up with a new term, my vampires are different, after all) and they’re not always very good at it. Sometimes people have miscarriages or their children are born with deformities. It’s the same way with my vampires. Sometimes when trying to turn someone they simply die, other times they become subhuman ghouls. It’s not always just a bite and a turn.
2.) Ditch the fangs. As I said, fangs are cool, but they don’t make much sense and I feel like writers have come to rely on them as a crutch. If someone can give me a working explanation for retractable fangs, I will gladly rescind this statement. So my vampires have ordinary teeth, and when they need to drink blood, they use a razor blade.
3.) No mesmerism. Like fangs, I’ve come to think of mesmerism as a cheat. It’s a way to have humans witness a vampire story, then be able to erase their memories later. It’s a reset button, basically, and I think its crap. So my vampires do have humans working for them, but it’s not because they’re hypnotized. It’s because they’re convinced.
4.) Shapechanging is right out. I intend to at some point in the future tackle werewolves in a similarly reasonable-but-not-too-reasonable manner, and I will probably address the matter of a six-foot man bulking up into a nine-foot killing machine. But a man turning into a tiny little bat just does not work for me.
5.) Your humanity dies with you. After a century and a half of literature trying to humanize vampires, we’ve reached a point where vampires are basically just angsty regular people with special powers. I don’t like that and I’ve never liked that. I think a vampire should never be mistaken for a human, and vampires struggling to regain their souls constitute a trope so common it’s lost all merit. So my vampires lose their humanity and it stays lost. You can appeal to the better angels of their nature…except they haven’t got any.
And that, my friends, is just a few examples of how my vampires are…uh…dissimilar. 🙂
This month Totally Addicted to Books have teamed up with eight awesome fantasy and horror authors to bring vampire fans a giveaway with bite. Enter now to win a $40 Amazon gift card, 3 signed paperbacks and 5 digital books:
Remember to check your email to confirm your entry after you enter as any unconfirmed entries will be disregarded. Note: By entering the giveaway you’re signing up to the participating authors’ newsletters. Three of the authors have free digital content for sign ups so you’ll get some new reading material just for entering!