Halloween Spotlight: Vampires
Vampires are legendary. It’s that simple. There are tales throughout the ages of these creatures that have many different approaches to the lore. When I was halfway finished writing my zombie novel, I decided to slowly tie in the vampire aspect. I wanted something else to tackle. As I consulted Dan again with my ideas to expand the novels and a topic for our second comic book collaborative, I decided on a new approach.
Everything from vampire lore needed to exist in the same universe. Their weaknesses and strengths may not be universal among all blood suckers, but I didn’t want to discredit the varying kinds. And so, “Blood, The Second Helping” the novel was born, as well as its graphic spinoff “Legends of Vampire.” The characters involved in the first book needed to deal with something more dangerous than zombies this time, and vampires were the next logical choice. They are faster, smarter, and have abilities and influence throughout the ages, making them a powerful ally or lethal foe. Here’s a brief view of how it works in my created universe.
1) Silver weakness – The reason for this vulnerability goes back to the dawn of man. When Cain, the first vampire, murdered his brother Abel, the rock that he used kill his kin contained high amounts of silver. Forever, Cain would be damned to walk with a blood thirst and weakened by the element he used for murder.
2) Sunlight weakness – Not all vampires are harmed by the sun’s rays. Upon being locked in a room void of any sunlight for thousands of years, and surviving on only insects and small rodents, a vampire will become harmed by the sun’s rays. The lack of nutrition and fresh blood causes their skin to develop a lupus like disease. Immediate exposure to sunlight will either severly burn their flesh or cause them to turn to ash.
3) Generational differences: Cain, being the first vampire, is immortal. Even being stabbed through the heart with silver will not keep him at bay forever. Even if his body were to be destroyed entirely, his soul would reside somewhere until it returns to life. The twelve that he turned into his first generation vampires can die much easier. They each have their own abilities based on their talents in life. With each generation down the line, vampires progressively get weaker as the cursed blood slowly phases out through genetics. It is when the sixth generation comes that these creatures no longer require blood. They have become mindless zombies at this point and need flesh to survive.
4) Crucifix deterrant: Do crucifixes actually harm a vampire? The answer is no. There are certain sects of vampires who may believe in darkness. The sight of a cross literally enrages or repulses them. This is not the case with all vampires though.
5) Memory: Vampires remember and gain knowledge of everyone they’ve ever consumed the blood of. One vampire in particular, Kristoff, has the ability to learn everything and recall that knowledge at will. His photographic mind is of genius level proportions, enabling him to go as far as researching an injectible cure for his bloodlust… a cure for the vampire curse.
6) Garlic weakness: Garlic is like any other food. Its powerful scent and taste does not actually repel a vampire. It does have an effect on one vampire however. Evelyn, is a wine connoseur. She has found that the effects of wine on the blood are beneficial to the amounts of times she needs to feed. Unfortunately for her, she had a severe allergy to garlic when she was once human. That allergy remains in her vampire years and will cause her airways to close or for her skin to break out in a rash if exposed to enough of it.
7) Mind Control: Two vampires have exhibited mental abilities beyond normal means. One of these vampires has the ability to control anyone’s mind, while the other can communicate with animals and insects. Either one of these abilities makes them a more deadly foe than the normal vampire.
8) Healing: Vampires heal at a much more rapid rate than usual. If they lose a limb it will grow back eventually, unless that limb was severed with something made of silver. Silver hinders their ability to heal wounds. Drinking fresh blood will cause them to heal even more rapidly. In the case of the vampire, Evelyn, she has an even greater gift of healing. She can cure the wounds and ailments of others by absorbing them into her by a mere touch. The downside is that for a time, these afflictions are fully experienced by her until her vampire DNA forces it out.
9) Disease: There are many blood diseases and ailments out there. If you think that these abnormalities don’t affect vampires, then you are wrong. The effects of drinking the blood of someone who may have H.I.V. for example, are just as deadly for a blood sucker as they are for a human.
10) Youth vampire: Although he is not a vampire like the others, one man is still considered as much. This man is not a descendant of Cain’s curse. Instead, he had an accident that causes him to age exponentially faster than normal humans. He’s got no enhanced abilities like vampires do, but he can make himself younger by absorbing the youth of others. For example: If he were to breathe in the essence of a 12 year old, that child would become as old as he was at that moment of absorbing, while he’d gain the difference in years back to his youth. Theoretically, he could live forever this way.
11) Wannabe: There are some goth teens that have the desire to be something more. Believing that they are either vampires or will become vampires through their actions, they go on a string of murders, consuming some of the blood of their victims, including family members and friends. These are in fact NOT true vampires.
12) Historical influence: The following events are just some of the events directly related to vampires or their influence throughout human history: Cain and Abel, The Fountain of Youth, Excalibur, King Arthur, The Great Sphinx, Vlad Tepes, Sampson and Delilah, Lilith, CIA controversies, Kennedy Assassination, Elizabeth Bathory, and much more.
13) Mirrors: Vampires DO in fact cast reflections in mirrors. One vampire was not happy with their appearance however and decided to smash any mirror they’d come into contact with.
14) Foresight: One vampire has the ability to foresee events to come. Of course these visions could always change depending on actions taken in the present, but this one has the sole ability to see the future through dreams/visions.
Those are the vampires in our universe here. Notice there are no sparkles involved. Dan and I of course discussed the spinoff comic over another appropriate bottle of wine, pictured above. So what are our vampire influences? Below are just some of our favorites:
Rick’s favorite vampire Movie is Interview with The Vampire. His favorite Book on vampires is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The Video Game series Legacy of Kain remains at the top of his list. Rick’s pick for vampire of the year is Selene from the Underworld series.
Dan’s favorite vampire Movie is 30 Days of Night. His favorite Book involving vampires is What if…Wolverine was Lord Of The Vampires. The Video Game series Castlevania remains at the top of his list. Dan’s pick for vampire of the year is the classic Nosferatu creature.
What are your favorites? Are you a vampire fan? Grab yourself a copy of “Blood, The Second Helping” the novel. It is available at www.lulu.com in softback book and on www.amazon.com for the Kindle. Also, the spinoff comic book “Blood The Second Helping: Legends of Vampire” is available for purchase at www.indyplanet.com. Help support our blood curling madness.
“Blood, The Second Helping” and its spinoff are (C) 2011 by Rick Pipito. Stay tuned for our werewolf spotlight…
Interview with author Rick Pipito about Blood, The Second Helping
When interest in a second novel arose, I became dedicated to the fans. Of course there will always be questions that I am more than happy to answer. And so, here we are again with a second interview based on things people have asked me regarding this series of books. I hope you enjoy and find it informative, and if you haven’t purchased the novel yet, then I hope you consider that as well. Anonymity has been maintained, so I will not list anyone’s names with the questions or comments. Finally, if you have not read the book then I must warn you. There are slight spoilers, though I have kept it as small as possible. Enjoy and please continue to give me your feedback.
Q1: Is this book a stand alone sequel or do you need the first book to understand what’s going on?
A: This is one of the reasons I am doing each chapter of the books as a separate short story. You don’t need the first one to enjoy the second one by any means; however, for the underlying plot it would be best to read the first book because you may find yourself wondering about some of the characters and why they are the way they are.
Q2: Why vampires this time around and no zombies?
A: I feel I have done everything that I wanted to do with zombies. I don’t want to be perceived as the writer who only does one thing. I have many ideas and interpretations of things I want to bring to the table. There have been so many vampire stories and I feel each of them has something to contribute to the mythology of vampires. My book brings all of it and more to the table.
Q3: What makes your vampires different than all of the other stories out there?
A: I find that there are so many things associated with vampires, especially their weaknesses and strengths. Garlic, sunlight, silver, crosses, water, fire, and a stake through the heart have all been ways of killing them; while super speed, strength, different abilities of the mind, and shape shifting have been some of their powers in the past. I wanted to put it all in a more realistic setting, so maybe one vampire is allergic to garlic, but it typically isn’t the way a vampire gets sick or dies. Same goes with sunlight or any of the other weaknesses. I have also never seen or heard of a story where it explains what would happen if a vampire drank the blood of someone with a disease such as AIDS. These are all things I try to cover tastefully without overdoing it in this book.
Q4: What is your favorite vampire movie/story that is not one of your own?
A: The classic universal movie “Dracula” with Bella Legosi is probably my favorite, but I also enjoy the “Blade” movies as well as the “Underworld” series.
Q5: What made you do a story about King Arthur?
A: When I wrote the origin of zombies in the first book as being descendants of vampires, it took place in ancient times. I wanted to touch on that story more; as far as what happened between the war with the humans/vampires/zombies. Why does Cain hate the humans so much? King Arthur is the reason for that. I won’t spoil how, but I love the background of King Arthur and Excalibur. There is so much speculation as to whether he was a real person or not. He is a legend. It was the first logical choice for me to start at this point in the history of my books, and that is why the chapters are called “Legends” in this book, and not “Incidents” like in the first.
Q6: How extensive was the research for the Egypt story?
A: My God, I can’t even begin. As a kid, I played this game for the Atari 2600 called “Riddle of The Sphinx.” The mysteries behind Egypt have always fascinated me. I spent weeks reading the stories behind the sphinx and its temples; as well as trying to figure out a way to have the riddles incorporated. It wasn’t an easy task putting it to story either, because I had to study a great deal of Hieroglyphics to come up with my own accurate drawings for what was on the walls of the temples. It was a lot of hard work, but I learned a great deal more about the subject.
Q7: Are the stories about Vlad The Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory historically accurate?
A: For the most part yes. I took all of the key information on their biographies and madethem into new stories. Vlad and Bathory are two of the greatest influences for vampire stories. I wanted to tell why this is, but also wanted history books to reflect a lot of what my stories told. I added to the history and omitted some things, but yes, a great deal of it is absolutely true.
Q8: Were there any stories that were difficult to write?
A: Two of them actually. I love wine and it is beneficial to the blood, so I had to incorporate it somehow. The winery story was difficult because it is written from the character’s perspective in a diary form. So it is a journal and not really a story with a climax for the most part. It was a little tedious trying to make something like that interesting, but I am happy with the end result, and I think you will be too. The other story was the one about the Seducer. She has her place in history,l and vampires are very sensual, sometimes erotic creatures. I went all out. I didn’t want it to be a complete pornographic story, so it has its moments that are too much for some people. My mom is one of my biggest fans and critics. She wanted me to edit out most of the graphic details. I decided not to for this fact alone. I wanted it to be a little over the top. In the end, it was edited about thirty times, but finished tastefully and adrenaline pumping.
Q9: You did a sequel to a short story in the first book. Were M.U.T.S. a fan favorite?
A: The MUTS (Military Underground Tactical Specialists) story in the first book was one of the fan favorites, and a few people asked if I was going to bring them back. The humor between the characters and the conflicting personalities along with the seriousness of their missions make them an enjoyable special ops group. There is at least one character most people can relate to personally on the team. So, in this book I decided MUTS needed to pursue Darius Moon as their next mission. This is actually a sequel to three stories from the first book. I was able to tie up a few loose ends with this one and make them face something more threatening than just a bunch of slow zombies. This team is up against the impossible so fans tend to cheer for the underdog quite a bit.
Q10: Were the events of “Murray’s Massacre” inspired by any true stories?
A: Sad to say, but absolutely. The main character, setting, and the crimes that are committed have all been changed into something original, but there are people out there like this. I remember seeing a Dateline show on NBC that talked about these goth kids who thought they were vampires. They were horrible people, and I did a search on the internet when I started writing this book. It turns out there were many other similar crimes throughout history. So it is not a vampire story, but it can definitely be classified well with what I was going for here.
Q11: Did you feel that doing a story about the 1920s Chicago mob would be difficult because of all of the mob movies out there?
A: I’m gonna catch hell for this one, but only because of the political correctness of today’s society was it challenging. Now I say the word “fucking” and it does not cause a stir with most people, but if someone says something like “retard” or “chink” then I’m suddenly insensitive or racist. Listen, I’m not insensitive or racist and I take offense to anyone who would claim otherwise. Mob stories and comic books have forever been entertaining to me, and I tried to combine both in a realistic setting with this story. The most realistic way is to make it so people ‘believe’ in what is happening. 1920s Chicago mobs were not politically correct, and everyone took jabs at every race verbally and sometimes physically. Sure there is racism present today, but we have come a long way since 100 years ago. I worried that my character of the don DiAmico, would offend people at first, but I bit the bullet and made him the man he would have been back then. I just hope that people realize the separation between the character’s perspectives and that of the author. I may have created the scenarios and characters, but that doesn’t mean I think that way.
Q12: Did your brother do the artwork again?
A: Yes. Dan did the art for the cover and kept to the same watercolor style he used for “Flesh,” but my cousin, Vince, also contributed with the hieroglyphic art for the interior. I had a few Egyptian writings I needed for the story, and I thought his different style would work well with that. I’m glad to have them both a part of the project.
Q13: Will the third book be about something else all together or are you going to do more zombie and vampire stories?
A: Did you read the book? Lol. I set it up well for the next novel at the end of this one. As I said before, I’m not going to repeat what I’ve already done, so yes something altogether new for me. I’ll give a hint: Full moon and fur. It is called “Bones At Breakfast”.
Q14: How are promotions going?
A: <long sigh> Everything is an out of pocket expense without an agent, so I’m not getting rich off of it. It is so hard getting the word out there and I appreciate everyone who has purchased a copy of my works. I really am trying to establish some sort of main stream publicity so that someone of “importance” in Hollywood or publishing finds it and kicks it up into overdrive. Even an agent would be nice to find, but like I said $$$$.
Q15: You have ten short stories in each book. Was it hard to keep to that number?
A: Everything is mapped out ahead of time, and I use all the ideas I come up with, but sometimes I struggle to find 10 interesting plots that will keep the reader on edge. There are also times when a story has to be cut or a concept because I want to stick to that amount of chapters. Fortunately those few ideas that have been cut are going to be used in a different setting. I put them into my graphic novels with sCrypt Comics.
Q16: How would you defend yourself if vampires were real?
A: That’s a scary thought. Zombies are one thing, but vampires scare the hell out of me. They are physically superior to us in a lot of ways. I’d probably try to outsmart them rather than using physical means. You know, lure them into a trap somehow.
Q17: Where do you want the series to progress from here on out?
A: I don’t want to give away any major plot things to come, but I have ten books planned in this series. I’ve separated it into three trilogies and then a final book that will wrap up the loose ends. Each trilogy deals with a different antagonist and direction for all the characters, but that is about all I can say right now.
Q18: What was the biggest challenge with writing this book?
A: I’d have to say editing. I want the stories to flow together, but still stand alone in their own plot. It all needs to make sense. For example: How can I have a story about King Arthur that involves vampires and one about a vampire in the 1980s existing in the same world, yet be totally separate from each other in every way possible. Then they still have to be tied together into the main plot. I aced English in high school, but I still find myself making stupid grammatical errors as well. I read each story a half a dozen times once they are complete before I even present it to my editors.
Q19: Where can I get the book?
A: It is available through my publisher in softback form at www.lulu.com as well as for the Kindle download at www.amazon.com .