I sometimes get funny looks when I mention that Thystle Moran is a vampyre. The person probably thinks about Twilight or Interview with the Vampire, or the myriad vampire romance books from the last few years, and think I write that. I don't write "vampire" fiction. Period.
You won't find any moody, moping, supernaturally-sexy vampyres in my books. Thystle doesn't mope, for one thing. And, vampyres in the dark world Cathell are proud beings with a rich history, one they usually embrace, and gods all their own. So, let me tell you about them.
Vampyres are not undead.
I always wondered at shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and True Blood that feature an undead vampire love interest. In reality, the human character is having sex with a corpse.
How is that sexy?
In Cathell, vampyres are human or elven or dwarven or imp, or whatever race they were when they became vampyres. Thystle is human with a vampyre twist. She's not considered human anymore, of course, but this is the race she started out before the vampyre parasite was introduced to her blood.
She's still living and breathing. A little cooler to the touch perhaps than your average living being, but still warm and alive.
Vampyres are not made when someone is bitten by a vampyre.
The qualities of a vampyre are given by the parasite that lives in a vampyre's blood. It is only communicable by drinking the blood of a vampyre, also known as the Maker. "Sire" is an equally creepy term to me, so please don't ever call Thystle's Maker, Wiat, her sire.
And most vampyre's don't go around sharing their blood willy nilly. They tend to be insular and selective. Thystle chose to become vampyre, and she likes who she is, but she really had to make the case before Wiat agreed to help her turn.
There are some who turn people just for kicks (the vampyre who turned Jonathan Revner, for example), but overall, there are very few, "oops, I got turned into a vampyre" stories floating around Cathell.
How far back do vampyres go in Cathell's history?
It's hard to say for sure, but I would say at least the last thousand years or so. They've had an interesting effect on Cathell's history and path. Aeryn mentions in Into the Darkness the story of vampyres helping to push back Untok the Usurper and his armies of the undead.
So, despite the fact they usually stick with their own (Thystle being the outlier), they will come out to help the home team from time to time.
Is there such a thing as a half-vampyre?
Human males cannot get vampyre females pregnant. The parasite renders vampyre women incapable of getting pregnant at all.
Vampyre males can, in rare circumstances, get a human female pregnant, but the child that is born either carries the vampyre parasite and is vampyre, or they do not. Those that don't carry the parasite are called the Nameless. They aren't considered by either vampyres or humans to be part of them. They are, in essence, nothing.
What are the perks and drawbacks of being a vampyre?
Well, increased strength, speed, decreased aging, and resistance to injury certainly fit into the perks category. Don't think that they're leaping tall buildings in a single bound, able to toss wagons, or are immortal. They're a cut above a human for sure, but they're not superhuman, like we see in some vampire movies. If you shoot an arrow through Thystle, she's going to feel it and there's the possibility it could kill her, depending on where she's hit -- head, neck, heart, etc.
In the drawbacks category, of course, is the need to drink blood. Hand in hand with this is blood rage, or what happens to a vampyre if they deprive themselves, or someone purposefully deprives them, of blood for too long.
The vampyre parasite has a deeply ingrained survival mechanism. If it's threatened with death, the parasite will actually take over the vampyre and seek out blood wherever it can get it. That includes the vampyre's friends. The vampyre won't know what it's done until the parasite has fed enough and the vampyre "wakes" from its blood rage.
Fortunately, these incidences are rare and not without warning beforehand.
So, what's the difference between what I write and "vampire" fiction?
While vampire fiction writers often set out to write a story about vampires, I write stories about characters who happen to be vampyres. Thystle is a vampyre, and she embraces that part of her, but that doesn't make up her whole. Who she was before she turned and after are not that far apart. It's not what defines her life. It's just part of it.
Personally, I find most vampire fiction tiresome. I didn't want to write that. I wanted characters that were more than what floats through their blood.
If you want to get to know Thystle better, I recommend you read The Taming. It's book 2 of the series, but it functions as a standalone book. You won't feel like you're missing something if you didn't read book 1 yet.