Reinventing the Vampire Genre – Transformation

Many readers have asked me how I developed my vampire culture, where I did my research, and who’s works inspired me. While it’s true writers, at least this one, take inspiration from others’ writings, the challenge is to create something new and original in a genre that has been in existence for centuries.

Countless authors present their opinions on today’s marketplace, and there certainly is no right or wrong when developing a fictional culture. Some of my favorite authors in this genre are Maggie Shayne, Linda Lael Miller, and Cynthia Arsuaga. While I’ve never read the Twilight saga, I’ve seen the movies and enjoyed them. In the media, my favorite vampire television series are Forever Knight, The Vampire Diaries, Moonlight, and Angel. All of these creations vary dramatically, but each has an interesting approach to various points that I compared to the old legends before deciding on my “rules of engagement.” In this article, I’ll address the problem of transformation.

The most popular of the old assertions is that it takes three bites. This is close to Stephenie Meyer’s mention of vampire venom, for although she doesn’t require three bites, one can assume venom of some kind must exist for it to only take bites. I liked the concept when developing my killer clan, but stripped them of their basic humanity to make them more threatening. Rogues possess in their blood and saliva an agent that will turn a human, invading the body like a cancer, until that human dies. The soul goes into a tormented limbo while the practically mindless creature his body becomes carries out his instinctual acts.

When developing my more civilized clans, I realized I needed something a little different, and considered the works that had come before me. Shayne’s vampires spring from mortals she calls “the Chosen,” rare humans who possess the belladonna antigen in their blood that enables transformation. These few humans have a greatly reduced lifespan, and vampires are instinctual drawn to protect them. I had trouble with her restrictions, but liked the idea of the vampire taking life in the act.

In Vampire Diaries, one must have vampire blood in their systems when they die, and must feed on human blood within 24 hours of waking to complete their transference. I liked this idea, because it presents the mortal with one last point of no return. In Moonlight, I believe humans rise as vampires if they’re not killed, but drained to the point of death. In this case, they made it the moment they opened their eyes.

But I wanted something more than that, so put a bit of magic in with the ritual. In Haven’s King, Devon, a member of the Community’s Council of Elders, explained the process to Mirissa, the Carrington Police Agent in love with Jason, their king, in the following excerpt:

“In order for you to become a vampire, a vampire has to end your mortal life by draining you of your blood and binding your spirit before it has a chance to move on. Your body would begin a transformation that is completed the moment you rise and reclaim your blood from your master, inheriting his power and bloodline. It’s a tricky maneuver, requiring a great deal of concentration and skill. If your sire were, for example, to take you a little too far into death’s grasp, you’d simply die. Not quite far enough, and the transformation never takes place. Either way, your body would die of severe exsanguination.”

She stared at him for a few moments before she said softly, “That’s why Jason can’t turn me.”

He raised one eyebrow. The rest of his features were practically inscrutable. “You are correct, my dear. The moment he ends your mortal life, he condemns his own soul, even if his actions are meant to save you.”

She asked her next question in the hope his answer would quiet her sudden feeling of doom. “Could…could someone else do that first part for him? Does he absolutely need my blood in his system to finish the job?”

“Well, I don’t believe it’s ever been done before, but then, no other vampire I know of has this particular handicap hanging over his head. But if the person who drained you was close enough to Jason, say myself or Vincent, and shares your blood with him before you rose, it would probably work. Just a taste of your death would be sufficient. I honestly don’t think it would be a problem that cannot be overcome.”

She thought in silence for almost a minute before she asked, “So, what would happen to my spirit while my body does its thing?”

“I cannot give you a definitive answer to that one. Everyone I’ve spoken with on this subject has given me a different story. Some of them simply rested in peaceful oblivion until the time of awakening. Others remained awake and aware, though outside of their bodies, of course, and stayed with their masters during the entire process. Several visited with loved ones who’d passed on before them, or set out in search of loved ones they were about to leave behind, in a usually vain attempt at saying their goodbyes.

“In all cases, except for those who’ve failed to make the transition either by accident or choice, the fine tether keeping that spirit bound draws it back when the body nears wakefulness. If you did find yourself faced with a choice in that netherworld, you would have to be prepared to turn your back on Salvation if you are truly determined not to die.”

And that is, in my case, pretty much it, though I haven’t yet addressed exactly what happens to mortals in transition if they don’t retake their blood from their sires. I’ve mentioned in my writings thus far only that the consequences “didn’t bear thinking about.” After considering the alternatives, I’ve concluded that the hatchling, or freshly risen vampire, would fail to complete the transformation, much as it is in Vampire Diaries. Theoretically at least, within a few short hours, he or she would die of severe hunger, a rather painful way to go.

But the consequences run much deeper, because they need their sire’s power as well, and the vampire’s conservatorship of their souls. Without their sire’s support, they would be driven by instinct to feed on the first source available in order to survive. The moment they do, their link to the vampire that took their lives would be severed, and they’d lose a vital part of themselves. So I must conclude they would become more like Rogues, the true meaning in their spirits lost to them, but with enough rationality to understand and be tormented by what they’ve become.

In my next article, I’ll address what it’s like to be a vampire. If you would like to know more about the Community and Haven’s Realm, please visit my website.

See you next time!

Tamara Monteau

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One thought on “Reinventing the Vampire Genre – Transformation

  1. Great post Tamara! I always find it interesting how different authors address the “transformation” process. And BTW, thanks for the mention. I try to make my vampires a little different and I’m delighted someone else gets it. Cynthia Arsuaga

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