Saturday, September 14, 2013

Book Feature: Death in the Blood

You’ve come a long way, baby!

First, he was ruthless, “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” walking the corridors of centuries and loving every minute of it…

Then the “penitent vampire” raised his handsome head. Suddenly immortality is no longer a blessing. He broadcasts his angst, lamenting his ability to live forever, hating the fact that he’s forced to kill others to continue his own survival, while he searches the world for someone brave enough to accompany him on his Undead travels.

After that, he became sensitive, hiding his immortality, getting a night job, making human friends, actually coming to their rescue when needed and protecting them from his fellow Undead, the so-called “predators”…

and now, he sparkles

Quite frankly, the only time a vampire should sparkle is just before he bursts into flame, and with that statement, I say, Bring back the Old Time vamps!

And I’m going to try, if I have to do it singlehandedly. With a little individual tweaking here and there, they stick to the rules set down long ago by Bram Stoker:

avoid sunlight,
no garlic allowed,
easy on the crosses and holy water,
keep plenty of native soil around,
bring on the virgins!

Christopher Landless is my latest Undead creation and he follows the lead set by Damien laCroix, Vlad Chemare, the Andriescus, and Karel Novotny. Oh, Kit has a bit more conscience than his nosferatu brethren. He still remembers what it was to be human, but when it gets right down to the nitty and the gritty, he fights to save those like himself and not humans. In spite of that, I believe I’ve still managed to make him someone the readers will like.

Kit’s story stretches from 1794 to the year 2580. For a while, Man and Vampire managed to live side-by-side peacefully, then a terrible event occurs making humans decide vampires are too dangerous to be allowed to go free. They’re imprisoned in concentration camps, on islands surrounded by moats of blessed water.

It was a challenge to fall back on the expected way of containing and fighting vampires while transforming them into futuristic forms. Staying true to the original genre while updating it to near-science fiction f was a definite test of originality and writing skills. I hope, I believe, I managed it adequately.

Who’s killing the vampires of Albidon-7?

In 2392, the Vampire Census and Treatment Bill not only acknowledges that vampires exist but enables anyone under “hemoglobin addiction” to be registered and supplied with the substance of his addiction without reprimand or retribution. Then the Bethel Bloodbath occurs in 2495, and vampires are considered too dangerous to roam free. They’re contained in concentration camps on various worlds. When several inmates are destroyed by someone injecting silver nitrate into their blood transfusions, Lieutenant Katherine Dalia enlists vampire leader Christopher Landless to help her investigate.

Kit wants nothing to do with a Breather but Katherine persists and soon they’re not only involved in the crime but with each other. Risking the loss of his vampire lover as well as the scorn of fellow Undead as he embarks on a love affair with a mortal, Kit may discover who wants imprisoned vampires dead but he’s also going to learn a shocking truth…old crimes never go unpunished.
Have your attention yet?  Read below for an excerpt.
Kit's attention was distracted as he heard someone call his name, turned and saw Antony coming toward him.
Antony Burgess was tall and blond also, four years younger than Kit when they'd been alive, ten years his junior as an Undead.
He smiled a greeting as the younger man raised one hand.
Kit and Antony were contemporaries; they'd been robbers together, shared adventures, many noggins of ale, and assorted women during their brief lifespans, and Kit considered Tony his best friend.
He reached Kit's side. "Well, another week, another pint! Not like the ones we slugged down in the Coachman, but ’twill suffice, I suppose!" As Kit made an agreeing sound, he turned to Honor, seized her hand and planted a quick kiss upon it. "Good even, my Lady! Awaiting yon delectable feast?"
Antony always assumed that pseudo-eighteenth century manner when around Honor. He knew it amused her.
Her smile matched his. "Aye, Tony—such as ’twill be!"
That brought a loud sigh. "Oh, damn, it does leave a lot to be desired, doesn't it?"
"Do I detect a note of dissatisfaction?" Kit asked. Antony, he'd found, had always been adaptable to whatever came along, accepting it in the best humor possible.
"Blast it, Kit—you know I always try to see the bright side, but—" The blond head shook, pale brows scowling downward, mouth following; whenever Antony was negative, so was his entire body. "I miss it—the stalking, the thrill of the hunt...." he sighed again, "...fresh blood, hot from...." Honor made a slight sound and he stopped apologetically, "Sorry, Honor—that wasn't very gallant of me, was it—reminding us of what we've lost?"
She put a hand on his arm, "It's all right, Tony, we all—" and broke off as he gasped slightly and jerked away from her grasp. "What is it?"
"I—" He shook his head, brushing one hand across his eyes, "I don't know.... Suddenly I feel dizzy...."
Once more, Honor touched his arm only to have him again move away.
"Don't! That hurts!"
"Tony, what—" Kit began, sharply cutting off the rest of the sentence as his friend turned a stricken face toward him.
"Kit—" Abruptly, he doubled over, Kit catching him as he fell, hearing him gasp, "Dear God, Kit, my veins are on fire!" and nearly dropping him in the shock of hearing Antony actually speaking the Name.
He slid to the ground, was on his knees, vainly attempting to stand, the pain keeping him bent over. One hand clawed at Kit's arm and he seized his friend by the shoulder, trying to haul him upright, seeing something that stopped the movement.
There was blood on his sleeve.
For a moment, he thought the scrabbling fingers had scratched him, then realized with a jolt of absolute fear that the blood was coming from Antony, seeping from under the short, perfectly manicured nails of the pale hand clutching his forearm.
Others were noticing now, beginning to hover around, a murmur floating through them.
"What's happened?"
"What's wrong?"
Kit was still attempting to lift him bodily, surprised at how heavy the younger man suddenly became, at how weak he abruptly was.
Antony raised his head, face contorted in pain, mouth opening to scream. The veins in his neck were swelling, filling like pipes with no outlet for their flow, vessels in his eyes shredding, the conjunctiva suffused with blood, and Kit's own startled eyes met the suffering blue ones awash in that sea of red.
"Kit...." A single strangled sound of anguish.
Antony's body exploded.
Kit staggered backward under the blast of blood washing over him, clutching a moment at the hand before it slid from his grasp. Then, he simply stood there, stunned and silent, staring down at the ruptured mass of flesh that had been his friend.
Honor touched his shoulder and he turned toward her slightly, started to take her in his arms, then realized he was covered with Antony's blood and pushed her away.
Behind him, one of the females began to sob quietly, pressing her face against a male's shoulder.
By this time, a Med-tech and one of the guards, hearing the commotion, had arrived. The sentry, taking a brief, face-blanching look at the body, was kneeling a few feet away, vomiting loudly into the Compound dirt, while the other vainly followed his training and attempted to find a pulse.
Kit had an almost overwhelming desire to laugh at the absurdity of his actions and wondered if he were about to succumb to hysteria.
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  1. Yikes! What a fantastic scene! I love the idea of an ambivalent vampire. Great job, Tony-Paul. I tweeted this.

  2. Merci, Jane. Most of my vampires are ambivalent to a degree, but when it comes down to it, they're all looking out for #1.

  3. Awesome excerpt! Enjoy your writing style, Tony-Paul. Good luck with the blog tour!

  4. Going to give it my best, Gemma...or is it Juliana?

  5. I'm sorry, but you lost me at "avoid sunlight." While I despise Twilight (and sparlking vamps) with a passion, Dracula was known to go out in the day time. I know I'm being a bit of a pedant here, but it drives me crazy when "avoiding sunlight" is treated as a defining feature of old school vamps.

  6. Yes, he went out in daylight but, if you'll check the passage, you'll see that it was at high noon and no other time. I believe somewhere he even states that he can go out at noon. In the Frank Langella film version of the story, Dracula states, "It's always noon somewhere in the world," and justifies that as how he can walk about in daylight.

    In my novel, the vampires also go outside in the sunshine but they're heavily shielded by fabric embedded with ultraviolet-repellant embedded in the cloth. In my series The Second Species which is scheduled for later this year, they're victims of XP, a genetic disability in which DNA can't repair UV damage, a malady which unfortunately runs in my family.

    Sorry...getting into another blog here. :)