Mixing Austen and Vampires…
In 2010, I wrote a vampire version of Pride and Prejudice entitled Vampire Darcy’s Desire. I know some of you do not like the idea of mixing Austen with paranormal elements. In truth, I was one of you at the time. When Ulysses Press “suggested” I write a vampiric adaptation, I freaked out and denied the possibility. My friends were the ones who persuaded me. They convinced me the publisher would find another author to do the book, and that person may not treat Pride and Prejudice kindly. So I reluctantly accepted the assignment.
Unlike many books of the recent “vampire” craze, my book is set in Regency England (1800-1820). Even the legend of Dracula could not serve as a basis because Bram Stoker’s classic was not released until 1897. Therefore, it took me some time to sort out how I wanted to handle the “vampirism” in the book. I admit to being influenced by several other vampire stories over the years.
As a teacher of English for many years, I know that in Dracula, Stoker really is using Count Dracula as a combined symbol of Old World superstitions and modern economic improvements. It was the Victorian era, and the people had many fears, among them the fear of sexuality and the British fear of being conquered by an “outsider.” Both are evident in the Stoker classic.
Dracula is a member of the noble class who must mingle with those of a lower class to survive. As far as feminism is concerned, please recall that in Dracula, all vampires are female (except Count Dracula). Vampirism gives them the male trait of being the perpetrator. However, Stoker’s vampires bear little resemblance to humans. Dracula, for example, has an insatiable thirst for blood. When he kills, he does so purely to sustain his own existence. He has no guilt or moral qualms about killing. Dracula’s immortality imprisons him; he has no companions except those he captures and entraps in his home. A stake or a crucifix or clove garlic are the weapons of choice to be rid of the Count, where fire does not affect him.
At one time, I read Anne Rice regularly. Many of us remember Lestat De Lioncourt, Rice’s main character in her Vampire Chronicles. With Lestat, the reader had a different type of vampire. Lestat possessed the human qualities of having a mind and a spirit. We found in him a vampire who did not kill just to kill. The “hunt” was part of the experience. One might find Lestat discussing philosophy or politics. In fact, he has an unusual collection of talents, and we discovered him to be very passionate. He makes his “lovers” people we might never associate with vampirism (a nun, for example). He seeks friendship from the mortals he turns. Lestat has an eternal soul. Unlike Count Dracula, Lestat cannot be killed by a stake or a crucifix. Lestat even slept in a church in one of the books. Rice has her vampires killed by fire or by being placed in sunlight, where they ignite into flames.
Vampire legends say that the vampire must be an animated corpse, who claws out of his grave to feed upon human blood. He is dirty and foul-smelling. Yet, the modern vampire is an immortal creature, who retains his youth and lives forever, something very appealing to our youth and sex obsessed modern culture. He is the eternal bad boy, forever able to indulge in dark desires and sexual urges.
The vampire who exhibits self-control is a new phenomenon. Add a bit of compassion, and one has Twilight (which we must remember is a vampiric Pride and Prejudice). The post 9/11 world does not look favorably on people or beings who hide in plain sight, yet, have the ability to kill us. Therefore, our recent vampires are less likely to be portrayed as monsters. I, seriously, believe that the paranormal literature we are currently experiencing is an aftermath of our youth growing up reading the Harry Potter series. Paranormal books are a more sophisticated fantasy.
The Baobhan Sith, pronounced Baa’-van shee, are one of the oldest forms of vampirism in Scotland. Mostly found within the Highland regions, the Baobhan Sith invariably take the form of a beautiful woman. The vampire is customarily dressed in green, the colour of magic and the fairies.
This ghost-vampire was always deemed to be very dangerous to humans. They also have a number of things in common with the classic vampire:
They are creatures of the night.
They drink human blood.
They sometimes have fangs like the classic vampire.
They are seductive.
They cannot tolerate daylight.
At will, they can shape-shift into another animal form.
**They are telepathic and can read thoughts.
However, there are some interesting differences:
The baobhan sith only rises once a year from their graves.
Other names include ‘The White Woman.’
These vampires are all female.
They stalk their prey in forests and other natural locations.
They shun society, keeping to rural areas.
They stalk and hunt in groups.
They invite men to dance with them, before attacking.
Their sharp fingernails draw blood from the victim rather than fangs. These nails turn into talons when they attack.
They reportedly have cloven hooves for feet that their long dresses hide.
A man bitten by a baobhan sith will not turn into a vampire.
Any woman who is attacked and killed by a baobhan sith will return as one of them.
Building a stone cairn over their grave was thought to stop them from rising.
Iron is one of the main weapons used against these vampires.
They are afraid of horses, particularly if the horses are shod with iron shoes. So anyone who remained sitting on his horse while confronting the baobhan sith would be safe.
Blurb for Vampire Darcy’s Desire
Vampire Darcy’s Desire presents Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as a heart-pounding vampire romance filled with passion and danger. Tormented by a 200-year-old curse and his fate as a half-human/half-vampire dhampir, Mr. Darcy vows to live forever alone rather than inflict the horrors of life as a vampire on an innocent wife. But when he comes to Netherfield Park, he meets the captivating Elizabeth Bennet.
As a man, Darcy yearns for Elizabeth, but as a vampire, he is also driven to possess her. Uncontrollably drawn to each other, they are forced to confront a “pride and prejudice” never before imagined–while wrestling with the seductive power of forbidden love. Meanwhile, dark forces are at work all around them. Most ominous is the threat from George Wickham, the purveyor of the curse, a demon who vows to destroy each generation of Darcys.
She was beautiful in all her innocence, much more beautiful than the infamous Mrs. Younge, his latest minion, who arranged this encounter and waited for him in the adjoining woods. Long, thick lashes rested on the rise of her high cheekbones, and although a bit mussed, the golden tresses spread out across her pillow like the sun’s rays. A deep sigh brought his attention to her lips, and for a moment he thought her awake, but Georgiana Darcy slept soundly thanks to his spellbinding charm. She was the embodiment of his beloved Ellender.
One candle lit the room, casting shadows, which danced in the corners. There was nothing mediocre about her chamber–rich tapestries and elegant sculpting.
“Only the best for the Darcys,” he mumbled as he moved to stand over her.
With a unique swagger not found in many of his kind, he glided to the bed’s edge. Unable to hide his anger and his contempt, a frown furrowed his brow, and a flash of fire transformed his vision. A torrent of images racked his soul–pictures of blood–of betrayal–of revenge.
“You will do quite well, my dear,” he whispered. “I will enjoy spending an eternity with you.”
He lightly twisted one of her curls around his finger.
“This is for the suffering I endured at the Darcys’ hands.”
Slowly, he leaned over her, feeling the blood rush through her veins–hard, dark eyes, seeking the indentation of her neck–relishing a feeling of expectancy–ringing silence broken only by his breathing.
Fully engulfed in his desire, when the door swung open, it took several seconds before he realized an intruder discovered his inexplicable need for her.
“Move away from her, Wickham,” the tall, dark figure ordered as he stepped carefully into the room. “You will not bring your death and decay into my household.”
“Your family brought it into mine, Darcy.”
Wickham stood to judge his next move. He knew in an out-and-out fight to the end, the man before him stood no chance of survival, but sensing no supernatural fear from the intruder, Wickham questioned what else this confrontation held. Absent of all volition, he hesitated only a moment before moving in a swirling whirlwind to an advantageous point, but the man framed in the doorway’s light did not move.
A dramatic black eyebrow lifted quizzically.
“You forget, Wickham, you and I share some of the same characteristics. You cannot infect what is already infected. I will not follow you into the darkness nor will I permit you to convert my sister. This madness ends–the curse–the wicked allure will die with us.
“Your protestations will not prevent me from having my fill of beautiful young ladies.”
A squall-like eruption pushed Wickham forward, arms extended to the side, sending Darcy rolling along the floor, scrambling to avoid the chasm of death’s abhorrent shudder.
“I come for you, Darcy,” the voice boomed through the room as cold blasts, reminiscent of the grave, flew from sinewy hands.
Sucking noises filled Fitzwilliam Darcy’s senses, and he realized the tall, pale form loomed over him in an infuriating counterattack. Sliding against the far wall, it was all Darcy could do to bite back a scream, but he ducked first and came up, arms flung overhead, preparing for a counterattack.
“Now, Wickham,” he hissed, and then he released it.
A vial, carrying clear liquid, tumbled end-over-end, splitting the silence surrounding them–each figure moving in slow motion, playing out their parts in a swirling tableau.
And then the stopper exploded, and the transparent fluid rained down on George Wickham’s apparition. An agonized scream–full of old blood and dark radiance–filled the room. The shadow hissed in the moonlight, and the odor of burning flesh wafted over them.
Fitzwilliam Darcy’s smile turned up the corners of his mouth.
“Holy water,” he whispered in affirmation.
“You will rot in hell!” Wickham threatened. “I will see those you love ruined–see them lick the blood from your body. Sharp fangs jutting from their mouths–smelling of death and decay–ghoulish nightmares!”
He started forward again, but Darcy anticipated the move. Pulling the double crucifixes from his pocket, he met Wickham’s intent with one of his own.
“Iron,” he mocked, unfurling the chain and reaching out to his enemy.
Panic crossed Wickham’s fever-filled eyes as he backed away from the Trinity’s symbol, stumbling–recoiling–and suddenly, he was gone, a grey shadow moving across the lawn, a highly combustible howl billowing upon the breeze in his retreat.
Darcy stood motionless for several long minutes, needing to clear his head. He took a slow breath to control his anger, and then he smelled it–smoke. Against his better judgment, he rushed to the bedchamber’s open door.
“Wickham!” he cursed.
The house he let in Ramsgate heated with a fiery blaze, started at three separate entry points on the bottom floor. Thick smoke, fueled by heavy draperies and fine upholstered furniture, rolled from the doorways of the lower rooms and rose in a black drape to cover the stairway. Acrid smoke drifted his way. Immediately, he turned toward the body still reclining on the bed where George Wickham left her.
“Georgiana!” Darcy called in a panic as he scooped her into his arms and pulled his sister tight to his chest. Darcy grabbed a towel on the washstand and dipped it into the tepid water she used earlier. He draped the wet towel over her hair and face, repeating the procedure for himself. Then he made his way to the top of the stairs. Thick smoke covered the lower half of the rise. He took a deep breath and lunged forward.
Surprisingly, a pocket of air existed once he stumbled his way to the bottom of the steps. He felt Georgiana slipping from his grip as Darcy fought his way past flaming lips, consuming doorways along the corridor. Using the last of his strength to lift her to him again, Darcy braced his shoulders along the wall leading to the servant’s entrance, the only door not blocked by flames. Forcibly, he shoved his way into the night–into the shelter of the open air. Heaving from the weight of his sister’s frail form–from the fear–from the effort–from the deadly murk filling the night sky, he staggered forward to reach safety.
When the explosion hit, he was far enough from the house to escape the brunt of the debris, but not far enough to go unscathed. Splintered doorways and shards of glass flew like deadly projectiles, many of them lodging in his arms and legs and back, but Darcy did not slow his step, attempting to carry his precious Georgiana to safety. At length, he collapsed to his knees, placing her gently on the dewy grass before uncovering her face.
“Georgie,” he pleaded as he patted her hands and face. Over a few elongated moments, he prayed, and then she caught a deep breath and began to cough uncontrollably. A soft moan told him she was well; only then did Fitzwilliam Darcy permit the exhaustion to overtake him, collapsing–face first–into the dirt.
“Mr. Darcy!” his valet, Henry Sheffield called as he rushed to his employer.
Covered with ashes, his clothes, torn and disheveled, Darcy lay in a defeated heap upon the soft earth.
Georgiana righted herself and crawled to where he lay.
“Fitzwilliam,” she begged between fits of coughing. “Oh, please…please…speak to me.”
“He is injured, Miss Darcy,” Sheffield told her as he worked the coat from his shoulders and wrapped it around her light muslin gown.
“Assist him,” she pressed.
Darcy could hear their pleas, but his body would not respond to the need to move.
Within seconds, footmen and neighbors rushed forward carrying lamps. Mr. Phelps, the owner of the house to the left, examined Darcy’s injuries.
“We should not turn him; he has several lacerations–no telling what might be in the wounds.”
As the man spoke, breath and reason returned to Darcy’s body, and he arched, seeking air before choking on the same gulping breath.
“Georgie,” he managed to say between barking gasps.
“I am here,” she assured him, draping her soot-covered arm over Darcy’s shoulder.
Mr. Phelps took charge.
“Lift him to his feet, and be careful about it,” he ordered. “Jemmy, go for the surgeon. You others carry Mr. Darcy to my house. You others tend to the fire.”
Two footmen shoved themselves under Darcy’s arms, arranging them about their shoulders and supporting his weight as they nearly dragged him towards Phelps’s open door. Townspeople scrambled to the bucket brigades to put out the fire. Darcy’s head hung low, as he recovered his senses. The servants struggled under his weight.
At length, he forced his gaze towards the gathering crowd across the open space. Instinctively, his eyes fell on George Wickham, a figure wrapped in a long, black cape and sporting a beaver. With a wry smile and a nearly imperceptible salute, the usurer disappeared into the crowd.
On this night, Darcy could do nothing more; he prevented Wickham’s manipulations this time; Darcy knew Fate’s favor. How would he prevent another attack? Wickham grew stronger. Could he kill the man who plagued his family?
“Come, Georgiana,” he urged, demanding his body to relax into his rescuers’ arms. Phelps’s house and momentary safety awaited.
Wish to read more? Leave a comment below for an opportunity to win an autographed copy of Vampire Darcy’s Desires. Tell me: What brings you to paranormal literature? Do you prefer werewolves to vampires? Or are zombies your “cup of tea”? The Giveaway ends at midnight October 14, 2015 EDST.