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That Bites

I wasn't going to write a vampire character.

You can't go into a bookstore these days without seeing the plethora of vampires (and werewolves, zombies, and angels) on display. They're a hot topic, they sell well, and I couldn't help but feel like if I tried to write a vampire story, I'd just be trying to write what's hot. I also didn't have an inkling of an idea. I've always loved urban paranormal writing - I credit that all the way back to Roald Dahl and Christopher Pike - but my ideas tended to be magical or psychic, but not vampiric. For the three day novel writing contest many years ago, I wrote a story that involved were-creatures as the major plot point, but there wasn't a vampire in sight.

Now, this isn't to say I don't like vampires. I read Anne Rice in high school and adored Louis (and really adored disliking LeStat, if that makes sense). I liked the way her vampire characters were pieces of history who were adapting (or trying to adapt) to a modern world - as well as being predators and monsters with varying degrees of heart intact. I read Bram Stoker's DRACULA in high school as well and adored it - and liked the vampire as an evil monster.

The movie "Bram Stoker's Dracula" made me beyond angry, but that's a talk for another day, and I look back at my younger self and chuckle that I was already getting that irate over book-to-movie translations that failed to live to my expectations.

I read Laurel K. Hamilton's first five or six books in the Anita Blake series years ago, as well as all the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris that were out before the series began - and re-read them since. I love Sookie (and am firmly of the belief that she needs to get over Bill in both the books and the television show).

But I'd not written a vampire story, and had no intention.

Then I got a call for a vampire erotica anthology - BLOOD SACRAMENTS. This was my second attempt at erotica, so I was still very nervous - and TENTED hadn't come out yet, so it wasn't like I'd had a chance to see any feedback about my first attempt at an erotic short story.

I knew I wanted to try two things: One,  I wanted my vampire to be a predator at heart (indeed, "Three" was originally named "Prey"). Two, I wanted to turn things a little sideways.

Now, I didn't change the vampire mythology much. In "Three" my vampire Luc is indeed a typical vampire. He can't handle the sun, drinks blood, has a great sense of smell and nightvision (though he doesn't breathe, so I took a moment to explain that learning how to force air into his lungs to catch more of a prey's scent took him a while), has to be invited into a home - the usual stuff.

What I decided to do differently was to make grouping a requirement for the supernatural world. "Three" is the title of the story because of this - if you're a solo vampire, or even a pair of vampires, in the world I put together for "Three" this means you are in danger. Other vampires in groups of three or more form a "coterie" and that mesmerism/glamour thing that vampires can do to humans can be done to you. The basic idea was one of dominance - three vampires, no matter how powerful they are (or aren't) individually can force a single (or a double) of non-bonded vampires to do whatever the heck they please.

I wrote "Three" to mostly occur during the three nights of the full moon, when the vampires in these coteries get together to reinforce their bond with each other - and thus, it's safe for the solo vampires to go out and about and hopefully feed.

Luc, I decided from the start, was one of these solo vampires. I also decided to set it firmly in Ottawa, and make it Canadian. Why wouldn't vampires live in Canada? It's perfect - the winters are longer and darker than the U.S., and lord knows a pale skin doesn't attract any attention in Canada even in summer. Although I didn't have room to display it all in the story, I made Luc a French Canadian who pre-dated Canada, and had a couple of pages of back-story to his time period of "birth" as a vampire.

It's fun exploring history, and with a vampire, you get to do that and still write a contemporary piece. Win-win.

As I wrote the story, it occurred to me that I could take the "three" rule further, and apply it to pretty much the entire magical community in some way - it took there werecreatures to make a pack, or three demons, and wizards only considered three or more of their kind to be a coven. And all of them spent the full moon reinforcing and renewing their bonds with each other. This would lend some credence to how and why the crazy things seemed to happen on full moons - the organized and controlled magical folk were all busy, and it was the solo guys trying to cram it all in to three days that caused the lore about the full moon being so dangerous or strange.

"Three" was born from that idea - as Luc finds a very attractive prey for the evening, but bumps into a demon rival named Anders - who is also solo - and finds himself in competition for the young man they've both fixated upon for the evening.

And that, of course, was going to be that. I sent in the story, I hoped it was liked - it was, and the editing was a joy, as always - Todd Gregory made the story a world sharper, as had Jeffrey Ricker when we'd been swapping rough drafts to make our attempts tighter. I'd written a vampire story, it was accepted, and now I could go back to my usual writing.


Well, where I ended "Three" was sort of a beginning. And it turned out I liked Luc, and Anders, and Curtis - the third character in the story. Before I knew it, I was writing a second story for the trio, this time from Anders the demon's point of view, even though I didn't really have a reason to do it beyond my own satisfaction. Writing the scenes - especially the almost-bitchy scenes between Luc and Anders - made me grin.

I ended up getting a call that suited that story - with a major re-write - and then I got another that let me write the third story from the third character's point of view.

There, I thought. Now I'm done. No more vampires.

Except, I had this idea...

So I've pretty much resigned myself to the reality that vampire characters are appealing for a reason. Tossing in the demon and the wizard just made me all the more addicted to them, and I daresay I'll keep writing stories for them for as long as they'll keep speaking to me.

Which, it turns out, doesn't bite at all.