Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Guest Post: Katie Salidas - Combining Old Mythology and Imagination

Vampires have been legend since the dawn of time. Stories and myths can be found in the most ancient of civilizations. They have proven time and time again that they a have sticking power.  They go through cycles of hot and cold but over the centuries, they’ve never gone away.

I think one of the things that keeps the vampire genre so popular, is the fact that they grow with the times. The vampire is so versatile. They can be both good and evil and on many occasions, some shade of grey in-between. They can be a sexy heartthrob or a ghoulish monster. It all depends on what the author decides to do with them.

Of course, with the recent surge in vampire popularity, it’s not enough to just write a vampire story. You have to give a little oomph to it. Lots of people make fun of the “sparkly vampires in Twilight. Like them or not, they’re a perfect example of this concept. Mrs. Meyers did something different. She took an old idea and added a fresh twist, something no one had seen before. And for her, it worked!

Point being, the market is hugely competitive at the moment; so, to stand out, you have to have something to give your audience that they might not get with another story. And that was what I tried to do in my own subtle way.

To do this, I needed to take a step back and look at some of the origins of vampires. Look at the legends that have already been used and see if I could come up with something a little different.

The word “vampire” is a relatively new term (circa 1800’s), the idea of bloodsucking undead has been around since the dawn of time. Some legends state that simply being buried improperly can cause a human to reanimate as a vampire, Slavic legends for example.  Other legends stat that one must have committed a heinous crime to become the undead. There are other legends about animals jumping over a corpse. Some popular ideas that have been adapted to fiction, have vampires as the children of Cain or Lilith. Still more involve demonic spirits and possessions.   If we seek far back into mythology you’ll find the Greeks and Romans believed in demonic spirits themselves and in many ways they were the prototype of the common vampire of today.

That hooked me! I love ancient mythology and happened across some very interesting similarities between creatures of the ancient Greek world and the vampires I wanted to create. The Keres, in fact were dead ringers for what I had in mind. Daughters of Nyx, goddess of the night, these creatures are described as winged female death spirits with an insatiable lust for human blood. Perfect!

According to my research they were also one of the evils released when Pandora opened the fabled box. While they sound fearsome and probably would be, they weren’t exactly evil. They existed in a murky gray area of morality. They survived off of blood and they had to get it from somewhere. They were agents of the fates, also known as Death Fates.  They did not attack people openly or without reason. They did however; hang around battles waiting for someone to fall. That’s when they swarmed, finishing the poor dying man off, savoring their blood as they sent his soul to Hades. They essentially sped a person’s fate on to its course. If you were going to die, they’d be there to do it and drink your blood at the same time.

I fell in love, not literally of course, with the creature and knew I just had to base my vampire legend off of them somehow. So I created a union between human and Keres. The child from that union was the first vampire in history (in the Immortalis world).

Once I had a basis, a history for my vampires, I continued to flesh out what I thought those creatures should be like. They’re cursed beings, part demigod (at least in the Immortalis world) and part human, but belonging to neither world entirely. That brought up so many questions that would need answers. The answers of course, helped to shape the story.

What is blood lust like? The simple answer is, it’s a basic need like hunger or thirst, but because these creatures are different from humans, it needed to be taken to a different level. For that, I explored addiction and how addicts “need” their fix. Combining the two gave me a way to explain how important the blood was and how it would feel to need it.

What happens when the vampires are exposed to sunlight? In my vampire mythology, I use Nyx (goddess of the night) as a parental figure to my new creatures. She curses them to avoid light so she could always watch over them. That gave me a new angle to work with. Instead of it being simply deadly, it is more unpleasant. My vampires lack the melanin in their skin and eyes to protect them from the sun. This makes them extremely photosensitive. Rather than bursting into flames, the sun acts as more of a painful reminder of the curse. They are light-blinded and their skin begins to sunburn immediately.

Another question I wanted to challenge with my new take was the age old fear of holy relics. Since my vampires are not based in Christian mythology, these things would have no effect on them.

As I came up with the answers to the standard vampire tropes I saw a story forming around them. What would it be like to go from human to vampire? Most books gloss over the actual transition from human to vampire, but I wanted to really focus on that change. I wanted to try and depict the actual hardship involved in the transition. And that is where Immortalis was born. Through this series, you get a firsthand account of what it’s like for a normal human being to change and learn to adapt to this new way of life.

Buy Immortalis 1: Carpe Noctem at:
Amazon: Kindle and Paper
B&N: Nook and Paper

But Immortalis 2: Hunters & Prey at:
Amazon: Kindle and Paper
B&N: Nook and Paper

Katie Salidas is a Super Woman! Endowed with special powers and abilities, beyond those of mortal women, She can get the munchkin off to gymnastics, cheerleading, Girl Scouts, and swim lessons.  She can put hot food on the table for dinner while assisting with homework, baths, and bedtime… And, She still finds the time to keep the hubby happy (nudge nudge wink wink). She can do all of this and still have time to write. 

And if you can believe all of those lies, there is some beautiful swamp land in Florida for sale…

Katie Salidas resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mother, wife, and author, she does try to do it all, often causing sleep deprivation and many nights passed out at the computer. Writing books is her passion, and she hopes that her passion will bring you hours of entertainment.

Get in touch with Katie at her Blog | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter

5 comments:

  1. *claps* Magnificent post, Katie! I've retweeted it. :)

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  2. Marvelous examination of the myths behind vampires, and I love that you explained the origins of your own twist. Very cool!

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  3. One of our cats is named Nyx, the all black one. The black and white one is named Circe. :-)

    Lovely post Katie. I too like the Greek versions of the mythology - living blood as payment to dead things to draw them to you.

    Like yours, mine are photosensitive, and this isn't much of an issue in a world with sun block... ;-)

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  4. Thanks for taking a look at the mythology behind my vampires. I had so much fun forming my vampires from the Ancient Greek myths. I also use them for werewolves as well. I'm glad you are all enjoying it!

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  5. An interesting take on vampire origins. I love when authors find new ways to stir up old myths. :)

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