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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

ARE VAMPIRES DEAD?

Actually, they are considered Undead, but I'm not arguing the point today. The the word I’ve been hearing around the water cooler lately is they are--Dead in the book world that is. Yes, there are some who love their vampires and will never tire of them, but in the publishing world where the next popular genre is important to sales. Contemporary and even erotica due in thanks to 50 Shades of Grey pushes us lovers and writers of the paranormal take a backseat to the latest rage. Me, I think what falls out of favor now eventually comes back again. Vampires and the lore surrounding the creatures will be here for a long time. Yes, the market is saturated not only in literature, but in the television and motion pictures. I for one won’t stop writing about my “guys” of the night. I love them enough I’ve created two different worlds and will be debuting another one this December. The first two have been out since last year and are continuing into this year with more planned for 2013. They are more traditional types of vampires. One world is darker and edgier with the other with vampire warriors who are more “business-like.” Yeah, I know that sounds strange, but it works. Each series currently has two books released each and others are in the works, a minimum of four each.

When I created the two different worlds, I started with an idea about the women, the heroines. The story/plot came next with the Heroes, the vampires, created to compliment the women.

For the research in the Born Vampire series, I had the hero as a 500 year old Romanian vampire and not the leader of the local family of vampires; he is the “Enforcer” or Sergeant Palatine of the group. The hierarchy of this “blood family’ is based loosely on the Knights Templar. The head of the family (read as a clan, nest or coven) is called the Master and Commander with other members as Sergeant Palatine, Knights, and the supreme commander of all is a Grand Master of North America, Europe, or Asia.

From the beginning, I wrote the first story adding in some of the vampire folklore, but not the typical types. Researching the many myths and legends, I picked those that would fit into each world and had the stories revolve around BDSM in the Born Vampire series with added elements that weave through each successive story, and in the Forces of Beauty series, different “powers”.

As I mentioned before, the Forces of Beauty series has the vampires as businessmen. The hero of the first book owns a hospitality and entertainment company who meets his lady in Crete at one of his resorts. (BTW, hubby and I stayed at this particular resort and I had it in mind when I wrote the location.) In the most recent release, A Vampire in Paris, the hero was in the first book as a secondary character and I had to give him his own love story. The company he works for is also owned by an ancient vampire who just might show up in a future book and he is one of the company’s best security investigators. You never know where the inspiration comes from! The heroines in both are “older” women, quite accomplished in their own professions but doubt their attractiveness to the “younger” men, until they find out who these men really are.

As a fun project for an escape from the serious story-lines, I have recently begun a vampire comedy series of short stories put together as an anthology. The first short releases December 2012 and will have a total of five shorts releasing around holidays in 2013.
In closing, I’d like to share a few vampire traits, myths and folklore that may or may not be widely known. I love research and you never know what you find.

·        CLOCKS:  According to European folklore, a person’s house can be protected from a vampire attack by stopping the clocks at the time of death. Stopping a clock is said to put the corpse into a sort of suspended animation, preventing demonic forces from entering the body until it is ready for burial and therefore not becoming a vampire.

·       COUNTING:  In Chinese narratives about vampires, they state that if a vampire comes across a sack of rice it will have to stop and count all the grains. These are similar myths recorded on the Indian continent and even in South America. The vampire isn’t repelled or pierced by the objects, rather the creature is compelled to eat them or count them one at a time, thereby slowing them down and away from the living. (I used a variation of this in the Born Vampire series. The vampires have OCD, I explained.)

·       INCENSE:  Composed of grains of resins and spices that are burned or sprinkled on lighted charcoal to create a sweet or pungent odor, incense has been used in many religions over the centuries to drive out evil entities from a person or a place. In fighting vampires, it ranks alongside garlic as a preventative measure and as a way to counteract the stench of death. In some regions of Romania, it was often pushed into the ears, eyes, and nostrils of a corpse to stop an evil spirit from entering and reanimating the body.

·       SECONDARY POWERS:  Folklore, not of the fictional types created today which have variations ~

o   The ability to cause impotence ~ This surely wouldn’t work with any of my vampires.

o   The ability to cause plagues, epidemics, crop failures and the deaths of livestock.

·       PROTECTION:  Methods of protection differ from region to region and country to country, but some of the most common means of securing safety are listed below:

o   Thorns:  Considered to be magical barriers against vampires and witches.

o   Calling three times:  In Romanian lore it was believed that one should never answer someone unless they call three times, because it was said that vampires can only ask a question twice. If someone answers a vampire, the vampire has the power to kill them.  (This sounds like a “Beetlejuice” variation!)

o   Lemon: In Saxony in Germany, a lemon was placed in the mouth of suspected vampires.

o   Bread and cheese:  Among some Slavic Gypsies, offerings of bread and cheese were made to appease vampires. In Transylvania wine was buried with bodies for the same purpose.

o   Holly, hawthorn, and wild rose are all said to harm vampires.

·       SNEEZING:  There are numerous widespread folk beliefs that the soul temporarily leaves the body through the mouth during a sneeze and is therefore vulnerable to the forces of evil. Sneezing creates an opportunity for evil entities to enter the body through the mouth and take possession of it. In the folklore of Romania, sneezing can attract or empower a vampire unless a blessing is given immediately after.

·       SOCK:  According the lore of the Gypsies from Eastern Europe, the left sock of a vampire can be used to drive it away or even kill it. Vampire hunters steal the sock from the grave, fill it with rocks, and throw it outside the village, preferably into a river or running water. The vampire will then wake up, miss its sock, and start searching for it, even if that means entering the water and drowning in an attempt to retrieve it. Like the use of seeds and grain to distract the vampire into counting for centuries, this is based on the widespread belief that vampires are obsessive creatures. (Why the hunters just didn’t stake the vampire instead of stealing its sock just doesn’t make sense, but this is all myth, right?)

 VISION:  The eyes of vampires are often described as hellish and hypnotic and able to paralyze victims. They may also turn blood red when the vampire begins to feed. The superb night vision of vampires isn’t explained or even mentioned in folklore but it is implied, as generally the vampire of folklore is a nocturnal creature. (My vampires’ eyes turn red not when they want to feed, but when their sexually aroused.)

And last, but not least, is this one!

WATERMELONS:  Among the Muslim Gypsies of Yugoslavia, watermelons like pumpkins, could become vampires, especially if they had teeth and had been kept for more than ten days or for too long after Christmas. Stained with drops of blood, these not very deadly or threatening vampires roll around making growling sounds, for no other reason than to irritate the living. (Yep, fanged watermelons rolling around the ground certainly would irritate me!)
 
All these interesting facts are from The Element Encyclopedia of Vampires by Theresa Cheung and I hope you have enjoyed learning a few new things about vampire folklore, myths and legends.

For more information, visit my Author Page on Romance Books ‘R Us Website. All my books are available from Secret CravingsPublishing and all retailers—Amazon, All Romance Ebooks, Barnes & Noble, and Bookstrand. For excerpts on all my books, visit my BLOG or WEBSITE.

Cynthia Arsuaga

7 comments:

Marie Rose Dufour said...

Great post Cynthia. I don't think the undead are really dead. Also, if the sneezing lore is true, boy am I in trouble, especially during allergy season! ;)

Tina Donahue said...

I learned a long time ago not to follow trends or the latest gossip about what's hot and what's not. If you write a great story and make your editor/fans/audience smile, cry, laugh and sigh, then you've written a good story. It could have vampires or purple Martians with pink polka dots. Doesn't matter. :)

Polly McCrillis said...

I attended the Missouri Writers' Guild annual conference last weekend. One of the workshops I went to was about writing YA mysteries. The presenter was adamant in her belief that the market for vampires and angels. "They're passe. No publisher is going to look at them." I disagree. Based on sales in my bookstore and requests for more books about vamps, demons, witches, faeries and every other paranormal being, I'd say they're all here to stay. Wonderful post!

Cara Marsi said...

Love the vampire myths you posted. I try not to follow trends. As Tina said, if you write a good story, you'll find readers. Editors are always saying this or that genre is dead and this or that genre is the next best thing. I don't listen to them. I love the concept of your books too. I don't read many vampire books because vamps scare me, but that's just me.

jean hart stewart said...

Loved all the supersittions about vampires....Very interesting....Great post...

Cynthia Arsuaga said...

Thanks ladies! I don't think they're dead either! In fact, I'm starting a new one totally off from the ones I've already written. I try to venture out and write other genres but I'm always drawn back to my vampies! The lore has been around for thousands of years in one form or another, so I don't think the concept is ever going to die!

Liz said...

I admire anyone who can create entirely new worlds...I am not that writer and so tip my hat to you Cynthia for coming up with yours and sharing these fun facts about vamps!

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