Let’s give a warm welcome to Denise Verrico. She is the author of the Immortyl Revolution. She is here today to discuss the biology aspect of vampires and to give away a collection of short stories.
Vampires as Biological Creatures
by Denise Verrico
When I set out some fifteen years ago to write a vampire novel, I did a lot of research into vampire lore and read some of the classic stories. I found that almost every culture has some form of vampire legend. At that time, there weren’t nearly as many novels about vampires. Now they have their own sub genres in urban fantasy, romance and horror.
I wanted my vampires to be different from other writers’, but still be recognizable as vampires. I don’t mind vampires as sympathetic leading men and women. My vamps are very human in many aspects. They have hopes, dreams and aspirations. They fall in love. However, I want them to be somewhat alien creatures.
Everyone knows about old vampire legends and the movie and pop culture clichés. Fantasy is the realm of make-believe, and there is much room for interpretation. The idea of “science fiction” vampires appealed to me. Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend is the classic example of these. Graphic novels like Ultra Violet and Aeon Flux have also explored this idea. My series plot, the race to capture the secrets of immortality, was inspired by articles I’ve read on biotechnology.
However, Immortyl Revolution is focused on the adventure, intrigue and relationships between characters. The premise behind the series is that vampires are human beings with a unique mutation. Immortyls are biologically altered men and women, so they behave a lot like mortals in many respects.
I hit upon the idea of a symbiotic organism passed through blood. This organism, like a virus would rip apart DNA and bond with it, but instead of destroying cells, it would allow them to replicate perfect copies of themselves forever, preventing aging and death. Human DNA is programmed to only produce so many copies and these grown less perfect as we age.
Immortyls have enhanced physical abilities, can’t go out in the sun, and can drink only human blood. Why do vampires usually choose to operate in the dark? There is really no reason I could find in folklore, other than it’s easier to sneak into peoples’ houses and drink their blood when they are sleeping. Some contemporary stories don’t follow this convention and in fact, this is something that started in the movies. Dracula went out in the daylight, but he was weaker. Vampires didn’t destruct in the sun until the silent film, Nosferatu, but I wanted my supermen to have their “kryptonite”, so I created a biological reason to keep them out of the sun, more in keeping with my set of rules. In a biological “world”, they wouldn’t burst into flame or dissolve into dust. This set me to thinking. Cancers are cells that grow unchecked to the point where they destroy neighboring structures in the body. I remembered seeing a program about flesh eating bacteria, (necrotizing strep). In a matter of hours this virulent bacteria can devour body parts. I thought this might be a way to describe the effect the sun has on a vampire’s body. Perhaps the ultra violet light could mutate the DNA and cause the cells to grow erratically.
Although some of my vampires are sympathetic, like Mia, Kurt and Cedric, my heroine and heroes, I still wanted them to be dangerous, because they obey a biological imperative. They still have a human psyche, but the mutation causes them to behave like a predatory animal and turns on their senses. This, of course, messes with their brains and many of them have difficulty dealing with their condition. I looked into psychological studies on violent behavior in human beings. Sociopaths lack empathy, which allows them to objectify others. Certainly some of my vampires fall into this category and don’t agonize over killing human beings. Most of them compartmentalize their emotions. Human beings under duress or expediency will treat others abysmally or even violently if the behavior is “permitted”. They begin to categorize people as “others” or less than human, therefore their violent behavior is acceptable to them under the circumstances. However, there are those individuals for whom this is unacceptable or who can’t successfully make this disconnect who will rebel against the idea that violence is okay. I try not to write characters that are just plain evil. Usually his or her agenda conflicts with the heroine and hero.
My vampires eat and drink like other people, but they take small, frequent meals because they metabolize energy faster. However, the symbiote depletes compounds in the blood, which must be replenished. My vampires couldn’t survive on animal blood, only human, but they can live on the donated variety and many do.
It’s fun to play around with myths and legends and come up with reasons behind them or find
alternatives to them. Creating the world of Immortyl Revolution was a lot of fun for me. I hope you’ll find it fun to read.
From the ashes of the first battle of the Immortyl Revolution, vampires Mia Disantini and Kurt Eisen set out to build a new Immortyl society. Trouble arrives in the person of Cedric MacKinnon, a runaway adept of the ancient arts, who brings tidings of upheaval at the chief elder’s court that threatens everything Mia and Kurt have accomplished. Mia finds it hard to resist when Cedric pledges his service and tempts her with the legendary skills he learned as an Immortyl courtesan. Facing opposition from both within and out, Mia begins to doubt Kurt is up to the task of leading their followers to his vision of an Immortyl Utopia. Torn between her loyalty to Kurt and Cedric’s insistence that she is the earthly manifestation of the Goddess Durga and destined to lead, Mia confronts the greatest challenge of her life.
Denise is going to give away a collection of short stores. It is called Annals of The Immortyls.
Mia Disantini thought she found the man of her dreams, but is trapped in a nightmare from which she can’t wake up.
Kurt Eisen makes a monstrous bargain to survive a Nazi concentration camp and begins to understand what a monster truly is.
Cedric MacKinnon was once a celebrated vampire courtesan. Now he’s a deadly assassin, who has cheated death too many times.
GIVEAWAY TIME: Just leave a comment along with your e-mail. Everyone who leaves their e-mail will receive the book.