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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Amy Corwin

Myths and The Vampire

When a writer sits down to create a paranormal story, the first thing she has to do is research her intended story. How much research could a novel about vampires require? Well, more than you might think.
Believe it or not, there’s a long history related to the vampire myth. Every author who writes about vampires elaborates on the myths or uses them in one way or another.

For Vampire Protector, I took many of the traditional elements of the vampire myth and expanded them to include new ones. So, I thought it might be fun to explore the vampire myth, and how it has evolved into the man—and vampire—who became the hero in my novel, John Wright.

Bloodsucking demons have been around probably as long as humans, but the term “vampire” was not commonplace until the early 18th century after vampire legends from Eastern Europe and the Balkans became popular. These tales were joined by Greek tales of the vrykolakas and strigoi from Romania, and developed into the popular concept of the “vampire” as we know it, today.

Even ancient Babylon & Assyria had similar tales, including those describing Lilitu (later Lilith in Hebrew) and the Lilu, her daughters. Lilitu was a demon who feasted on blood—sound familiar? Indeed, Lilith was a prime source for our current form of the vampire.

In ancient times, tales of demons and spirits are considered the precursors of our modern vampires and ironically, the current trend moving from vampire back to stories of demons may be completing this circle. In old stories, vampires were considered the revenants of evil beings, including suicides or witches, or possession by an evil spirit. They are often simply a form of demon that drinks human blood for sustenance.
Greek and Roman mythology also contributed to the tradition. They had the Empusae, the lamia, and the striges who feasted on blood. And the Loogaroo was born from a mixture of French and African voodoo and may be considered the Louisiana form of the vampire.

As far as the etymology, the Oxford English Dictionary says the word “vampire” first appears in English in 1734, in Travels of Three English Gentlemen, published by Harleian Miscellany in 1745. Then, in 1819, John Polidori’s novella, The Vampyre, established the genre and inspired subsequent works including Varney the Vampire and Dracula.

Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, published in 1897 is probably the most well-known work. This is the work that most of the vampire fiction, as well as movies, use as the “reference” to how a vampire behaves.
When developing a story about vampires, writers must consider the following traits, handed down over generations about the lore and behavior of vampires.

General superstitions about vampires include:

·         Corpses that dogs or cats jump over could become a vampire
·         A virgin boy riding a virgin, black stallion can identify the graves of vampires because the stallion will balk at graves of vampires.
·         Finding a hole over the grave can indicate a vampire’s grave
·         Corpses of vampires look healthy, showing no signs of decomposition
·         Protection against vampires include:
o   Garlic
o   Branch of a wild rose
o   Branch of a hawthorn plant
o   Sprinkling mustard seeds on the roof of the house can also keep a vampire away
o   Sacred items, including a crucifix, rosary, or holy water
o   Vampires cannot walk on consecrated ground or temples or cross running water
o   Mirrors facing outwards on a door can ward off vampires
o   Vampires do not have reflections or cast a shadow (perhaps because they lack a soul)
o   Vampires cannot enter a house until invited.
o   Vampires are vulnerable to sunlight
·         Methods to destroy a vampire include:
o   Staking through the mouth or heart
o   Decapitation
o   A vampire’s body or clothing can also be staked or pinned to the ground to prevent rising
o   Gypsies used to drive steel or iron needles into the heart or mouth, or over the eyes at burial
o   Placing a brick in the mouth
o   Pouring boiling water over the grave
o   Placing a lemon in the mouth will keep a corpse from becoming a vampire
o   Incineration of the body

Each culture and each tale involving vampires expands and changes these traditional elements. I
I hope you found this brief discussion of the vampire myth interesting, and to complete this blog, I’m adding a very brief excerpt from Vampire Protector.

Book: Vampire Protector
Vampire Protector Trailer
Author: Amy Corwin
Author’s website:
Published: Nov 12, 2010, (e-book/paperback: Nov 12, 2010)
Publisher Line: Black Rose
The Wild Rose Press

Excerpt from Vampire Protector

In this excerpt, Gwen has asked John to accompany her to her deserted family home, despite knowing that he’s a vampire. At least he might be able to protect her from other things that go bump in the night. Maybe…

“Hold my hand if you’re afraid of ghosts,” John offered with a twisted smile. A flicker of sympathy grew in the depths of his eyes, revealing a sad recognition of the gulf between them: vampire and human.

With a sense of surprise, she felt his warm gaze tug her even closer to him. As if his awareness of the differences between them meant they shared similar core beliefs and that she could trust him because of that.

She shivered and thrust her thoughts away. “Hanging onto your cold, dead fingers is not going to make me feel any better.”

“I’ll warm them for you.” His dark eyes flickered. The corners crinkled with silent laughter.

“You can make me think they’re warm. But they’ll still be cold, dead fingers.” The hairs rose along her neck and arms. She glanced over her shoulder toward the graveyard across the street. “The remnants of the dead—those tatters—have probably drifted over from the graveyard. They’ll collect here. It’s not that I’m afraid of them. It’s not like they’d consciously attack me or anything, but they’ll be attracted to the body heat of anything living. Like me.”

She gestured toward one of the drifts of leaves in the farthest corner of the porch.

A few pitiful gray, black, and white feathers lay amidst the debris. At some point in the past, a mockingbird had tried to nest in the shelter of the porch. The bird had been sucked dry of energy and warmth before it realized what was happening and flew away. All that remained was a dry handful of feathers and bones.

The sight did not bode well for anything alive that entered the house.


1 comment:

Sherry Gloag said...

What an interesting post, and your excerpt is almost freeky. That poor little bird!
You know how to pack a lot of atmosphere into just a few worrds.