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JSF's Vampires

Vampires with a New Attitude

Reading any book by Jane Fancher is like sitting down to a cup of really good hot cocoa—rich with just the right touch of darkness to make it interesting. Her science fiction balances cutting-edge, hard science with character-driven plotting.  Her fantasy is multilayered, intricate, and unusual. Her characters walk out of the pages, grab you by the throat, and don’t let go. —Patricia Briggs #1 New York Times Bestselling Author.

Urban Fantasy with a sting and a twist.

When my agent suggested I try writing my own kind of contemporary vampire novel, I wasn’t quite sure where to start. There are reasons I write SF and Fantasy. Not only do I love technology and the whole optimistic feeling that there’s going to be a future, but SF/F, with their created worlds, gives a writer a unique opportunity to examine what it means to be human—without the baggage of contemporary politics and attitudes. You can hold up a mirror to society without pointing specific fingers.

Historicals and contemporary settings are, by their very nature, restricted by the realities of the Real World. I was very much afraid I’d get bogged down in trying to get the details “right” and never be able to settle into the sheer fun of writing.

An eye-opening experience.

Boy, was I wrong. I started out slow on the project, re-reading Dracula and looking for seminal concepts I could adapt to my own kind of story.  I really liked the whole notion of relocating an ancient force to a new land . . . and opted for a nice traditional Transylvanian start. Rather than London, however, for which research would be ruinously expensive, my home stomping grounds of Seattle seemed to me a perfectly adequate location for the vampire landing zone.

I’ve always known Washington was a magical area. Mt. Rainier is an obvious source of enormous power, spiritually and geologically. (In fact, those familiar with my RingDancers books will note a geological  similarity of the Rhomatum Web to Western Washington State.) So when it came time for my antagonist to find a territory rich in power-possibilities, Seattle was a natural. Besides…research for details is a few hours’ drive away!

The parallels to the original Dracula are deliberate. I’d never written a novel to any sort of preconceived pattern and at first I found it limiting and awkward, but as the characters took shape and took over, and when I finally gave way to the book’s own magic, I forgot about its origins and just enjoyed the ride.

The joy of intriguing characters.

I found in Sergei what I think is a fun twist on the whole vampire mythos. It’s vampirism for the 21st Century. It’s highly proactive. You’ve got to want to become immortal. It’s hard work. Transformation is really hard. Become mist and walk through walls? No way. But entering the mind of a mouse on the far side of that same wall can be very useful. Of course, then you’re restricted to the physical abilities of a mouse.

Which is where Cat comes in. But I digress.

I found in Peter a delightful contrast with Sergei’s absolute confidence and self-awareness. A 21st Century dreamer trying to keep his head above water. Going with the flow, focusing on the need of the moment. Allowing others’ opinions to sway his own. Oblivious to and even denying the abilities which make him unique. For Peter, BRM is a journey to self awareness and self determination. Whether it’s his psychic inheritance from his Japanese/Irish ancestors, or the gift of song inherited from his mother, his hidden secrets become, through the course of the book, his greatest assets.

I found a great antagonist while researching Romania and the original Vlad Dracul. I mean, Sergei’s been in the neighborhood a long time. Considering what Sergei is and what Vlad has come to represent, naturally he’s not indifferent to local wannabes. It’s not Vlad, but Vlad’s handsome younger brother Radu who catches Sergei’s attention, and becomes his on-going problem. A problem that erupts in Blood Red Moon.

I found in the Roma (the original Dracula’s local gypsy minions) not only a great character and Sergei’s human conscience, Nandru, but a social issue to, er, sink my teeth into.  The Roma are a proud and fascinating people with a turbulent history and doubtful future. Their story provides some of the texture that gives the milieu depth.

All in all, despite my reservations at the beginning, I’ve had a great time writing this book and look forward to revisiting the characters and milieu. It’s a format that will lend itself very well to exploring the vampires of various cultures. If BRM does well, I’m looking toward South America for a different inspiration.

Mostly, I hope that Peter and Sergei and Nandru—not to mention Cat. Never to forget Cat—and all the rest are people you enjoy spending time with as much as I have.

 

The parallels to the original novel are deliberate. I’d never written a novel to any sort of preconceived pattern and at first I found it limiting and awkward, but as the characters took shape and took over,