Reinventing the Vampire Genre – Sunlight and Silver

What’s it like to be a vampire? It all depends, I suppose, on the kind of vampire you’re looking at, and who developed his culture. After exploring a variety of opinions, myths and so forth, I considered each element and pondered its logic. There’s so much to consider, I’m afraid, that I’ll have to break it down into segments and call upon my friends for their help. Today I’ll ponder the effects of sunlight and silver, and correct a misconception concerning the properties of light.

Sunlight is the most common enemy of the vampire. Stars radiate a vast number of elements – radiation, heat, light. It is the UVA and UVB rays that cause human skin to burn and will, over time and exposure, lead to deeper damage. Therefore, it must be this radiation that more strongly affects the more vulnerable vampire. Like open flame, the sun causes severe and instant burning. As Joshua explained in Twilight Destiny

“Although I must avoid contact with the sun, I do not have to sleep when the sun rises. Most of us prefer to, because the nighttime suits us and it is more convenient. Older vampires are said to have the ability to resist the powers of the sun for short periods…

“Even momentary exposure to the sun causes severe burns. I’m extremely susceptible to the heat and radiation. Within minutes, I can become burned beyond the ability to protect myself. ‘Tis, as I understand it, a very painful death, lingering in the soul long after the body ceases to exist.”

In fact, Jason, being the oldest vampire in the Community, at least at the beginning of Haven’s Realm, can tolerate moderate sunlight exposure, as he reminded Mirissa in Haven’s King…

“You’ve only seen me in the early hours of morning. You noticed how I kept to the shadows inside Gale’s home. The older I become, the more sunlight I can tolerate.”

As I understand it, Bram Stoker agreed with this age v. tolerance issue, and I recall Mick St. John in Moonlight getting by with shadows and shields to avoid burns, although in one episode he was debilitated through prolonged exposure and needed an ice bath, and some blood, to recover.

Since we’re also talking about the element of light here, I’ll also address in this segment the problem of mirrors and cameras. I suppose it all springs from the core problem regarding the use of sliver. Since silver is supposed to be poisonous to vampires, it is probably assumed the element would resist all things vampire. Well, that’s just plain silly, isn’t it? I mean, how can silver possess the cognitive awareness necessary to recognize and reject the light bouncing off a vampire? My apologies and respects to those who’ve written before me, but I just can’t see it. What I can see, or could if he were present, is the light reflecting off the solid being that would be a vampire. If I can see this light directly, it only follows I’d see it bouncing off of any reflective surface, mirrors included. Since film, and now digital cameras, record only light wavelengths, well, there you go.

So what about silver? It’s a natural element, used as a catalyst for chemical reactions and in electrical contacts and conductors. It also has antimicrobial and disinfectant applications, which makes me wonder at the biology of the vampire. This fact does contain the possibility of chemical reaction to the negative elements present in a paranormal body. In Moonlight, silver bullets were used to incapacitate a vampire, while in Vampire Diaries, wooden bullets do the same trick. Since silver is more commonly associated with werewolves, probably because of their bondage to the moon and the cultural connection between the metal and our satellite, I decided to exclude this magic from my work.

Here, Cherished Readers, I’ll rest and allow you time to ponder. In my next article, I’ll take a closer look at vampire abilities and address the myth surrounding religious symbolism. Have a great weekend!

~Tamara Monteau


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

Tamara Monteau Presents – The Haven’s Realm Saga

How did I come up with my unique series of vampire romances? What inspired me to create such a diverse and enduring list of characters? I’m not sure there will ever be an answer. Was it an accident, or did I unwittingly open the door to my mental Pandora’s Box, and like the fabled one, set loose its magic forever into my mind? Whatever the cause, it has quite literally taken over my life.

I guess it all began in the middle of 1992, after the short-lived Dark Shadows revival aired. As a life-long fan of the series, I found myself revisiting my oldest friends and feeling once again the sympathy I had felt as a child for the unwilling and remorseful vampire. That fall, after months contemplating the problem of returning a vampire to mortality, I began writing. Little did I dream I would ever take it this far!

After finishing my first attempt and naming it Lost Hopes, I conceived the notion of a young girl and a Scottish vampire set in the rainforests of my native Washington. In the middle of 1993, I began playing with the concept in hopes of developing a continuing series a romance magazine might publish. I wrote a short introduction to Joshua’s story and tinkered with it for almost a year before my husband transferred to Korea, leaving me to move my four children, two cats and a parakeet from Bossier City to Warner Robins. Reality took over with uncommon force, and I didn’t pick up writing again until 2002.

By the time I was ready to resume work on Joshua’s story, Lost Hopes had been retired to the archives of my mind. I thought I might rewrite the story that was far too wordy and repetitive, but first I wanted to tackle the new project and explore the culture Joshua insistently whispered in my dreams and fantasies. I dove in head first, and when I came up for air, I’d written the prologue and three chapters, and realized with certainty I’d only just begun. There was no turning back – I was writing another novel. It took a year to produce my second work, which I named Dark Destiny and registered with the LOC in 2003. I loaned a copy to my boss, who loved it and gave me a commemorative plaque to celebrate my achievement. It took me five more years to decide to self-publish my work, and by then my chosen title had been used by another vampire author. I chose the title Twilight Destiny after an internet search revealed no other vampire novel shared the same name, and sent Joshua and Catherine out into the world.

I resumed my contemplation of Lost Hopes, recognized aspects of Twilight Destiny I could follow up on, and reworked my first story into the sequel, renaming it The Darker Path. It was as simple, and as complicated, as that. When I realized the potential Ki’ara, my extra-terrestrial visitor, possessed to influence the development of the Community, I picked up the loose ends left open in the first novel, and answered them in the second. Once I was finished, I had successfully ended the pain of my own reluctant vampire, and set the stage to tell Jason’s story. Ronan had other plans.

Dragon Lord came at me with such speed and ferocity that all the friends I had developed in the first two novels were forced to the wayside. Ronan monopolized my time for more than half of his adventure with Tyler, but I led them patiently, if perilously, to Haven and connected the stories in a way I didn’t expect until after it happened. I fell deeply for the dark and mysterious Dragon, and when his story was completed and published, I felt an insane sense of loss.

Jason’s story finally surfaced, and to tell it properly, I had to step back four years and explain how he was struck down and why it happened. Until now and from the beginning, readers of the series only knew he was a Council Elder, and had been poisoned. It was time I brought him at last from his coma. His was a fascinating tale, filled with angels, ancient gods, and, of course, my new Dragon clan. I took the greatest pleasure in writing it, even though I had to create his dearest friend and have him killed. At the very end, I forced Jason to accept his pivotal role in the Community, and Haven’s King was born.

As I contemplated self-publishing my fourth book, I came upon Secret Cravings Publishing, and after a lot of anxious self-doubt, submitted Haven’s King for consideration. By then, I had begun work on the fifth installment, as yet to be named but holding the potential to become a powerful story. When I received acceptance from the publisher, and the subsequent acceptance of my three previous works, the more creative, and enjoyable, aspects of writing fell away while I stepped back and worked on the official publishing of my existing works.

It was Beth Walker, my publishing contact, who suggested the series title, and after rolling it over in my mind, I decided it fit perfectly with what I had worked to develop. Publishing multiple titles at the same time is a lot of work, and it took almost year to bring them all to light. I have to say the ability to revisit my earlier works and massage them through the editing process gave me great satisfaction, because I was able to take all I had learned in subsequent novels about my characters and the Community, and inject it into each story to bring out much greater focus and overall connectivity. The stories became much richer in the process. Haven’s Realm became an entity all its own, and I was now officially a series novelist. Imagine that!

As I resumed work on the fifth novel, I decided to give my readers greater depth of understanding into the inner workings and culture I worked for years to develop. This resulted in seemingly endless research and soul-searching as I explored each member of my Council of Elders and brought their diverse histories together for the founding of the Community. Secrets & Promises took well over a year to write and polish, and is, by far, my most intense work. Vincent, the central character in this volume, waited a very long time for me to resolve his trauma and bring him peace. I’m sorry to say I couldn’t give it to him as quickly as he desired, but he held on with his usual stoic control right up to the very end.

Even as I wrote Secrets, the sixth story awoke within me. As I wrote the epilogue, events unfolded that led the way to even greater peril for the Community and all who follow them. An ancient enemy has returned, and the only man who knows their plans has been locked in a coffin for nearly a century. Christian, my French Councilman, is dispatched to uncover the mystery of his cousin’s disappearance. When he discovers vampire novelist Skye Renault in his cousin’s estate, the three of them become locked in a triangle that might lead them all to destruction. Lucien hasn’t told me yet everything he knows, but I dread the moment, because I have a feeling things are going to get ugly.

I can’t tell you yet how far I will take Haven’s Realm. Until I reach the end of Midnight Skye, I won’t know which of my remaining characters will step forward. Three have given me glimpses, but nothing solid has struck. A lot depends upon what Lucien chooses to do, and that part hasn’t been written yet. I’ll keep you informed of his progress.

Where to find Tamara:


John Austin Interviews for Secrets & Promises on The Book Club!

JohnAustinMy long anticipated interview with John Austin is live and waiting for you to hear! John and I worked together for months to schedule this interview close to the release of Secrets & Promises, but I’m afraid Vincent was a bit more stubborn than I expected. It took a long time, and an exceptional amount of work, to bring Secrets & Promises to life. It is apparent, judging by John’s comments and observations in the interview, that I’ve done Vincent’s story justice.

Secrets & Promises is the fifth in my Haven’s Realm series, and as its title suggests, the book contains information about my enduring list of characters that I’ve never released before. Promises both known and kept are revealed and fulfilled. There are many facets to this complex story, and John and I discussed quite a few.

As promised, I’m giving away a copy of Secrets & Promises as part of this interview event. Listen to the interview, then comment for your chance to win. I’ll be answering questions as well, so feel free to chime in. Make sure you add contact information, so I can notify you if you win!

Where else can you find Tamara?


Why Do I Write?

Tam1You’d be amazed at how many time’s I’ve been asked that question, or one of its many variants, such as, “Why do you write about vampires?”

My answer to the title question is probably the same as most of my fellow authors. I write because I have to, because if I don’t express on paper the ideas running through my mind, they’ll stay there and fester, unresolved and unsatisfied. My need to create is the driving force of my life, and my greatest satisfaction comes from watching others enjoy my work. That applies not only to my writing, but in the many other creative endeavors I’ve dabbled in throughout my life.

But why vampires? I was raised by a devotedly spiritual family, and have very strong beliefs. Most of them don’t understand why I have such a fascination with romance and the macabre. What would possess me? How can I turn my back on Faith to write such questionable material? My reason for writing about vampires is simple, though understandably curious. I write about them because it’s what I do. As for my family, if they read my work, they’d understand.

In truth, I had a hard time in the beginning reconciling my beliefs with my fascination with all things vampire. It wasn’t until Jason, one of my lead characters, whispered the answers in my ear that I understood. He told me of the Community and how it was formed, and when I understood the connection, it filled me with peaceful acceptance. My stories are not about vampires and sex. There is a lot more written in the plots. I finally revealed the truth to my readers in Haven’s King, Haven’s Realm’s fourth story.

I was able to blend Christianity and Greek Mythology in my modern vampire culture, bring the Powers together in a way that defined the Community in a way unheard of until now. I keep vulgarity and harsh language out of the prose, leaving behind the beauty and poetry that has had many of my readers sighing in reflection. I’ve created a series of works you can curl up with and get lost in, a set of enduring characters you’ll come to care for, and enough suspense and drama to keep you turning pages.

Why do I write? Because it is my gift. My talent. I write in hopes of bringing others joy, of providing them with the perfect escape when reality hits too hard. Reading has been my lifelong joy. Being able to write, and to pass my work on to you, my cherished readers, has turned that joy into a passion that I sometimes have no control over.

How long will this last? How many books will there be in the Haven’s Realm saga? I’m afraid only time will tell. With book five in the home stretch and six already clamoring for attention, I can promise only that it will not end soon.

Respectfully submitted,

Tamara Monteau