This book came about because my HarperCollins editor asked me to write something paranormal and funny about Jane Austen. After some thought, I realized that Jane Austen knew quite a lot about vampires. Her books are peopled with beautiful, seductive, manipulative characters—Willoughby, Wickham, Henry and Mary Crawford, Frank Churchill—and the only conclusion I could come to was that Jane herself had first-hand knowledge of the Damned, the vampires of Georgian England.
The Damned, in 1797 when the book is set, are the darlings of the ton and the intimates of the Prince of Wales (later the Prince Regent). Later they fall out of favor, but at the time the gossip papers are full of their exploits and it is considered a high honor, not to mention very pleasurable, to be invited to their parties where mortals would be dinner.
I found I had to be very selective about vampire lore. The Damned can go out in daylight but since they’re up partying all night, they don’t want to. They employ gourmet chefs, so they wouldn’t care about garlic. You can’t see their reflections in mirrors, however, but that’s only because I use that in the plot a few times.
One of the really fun things for me was inventing vampire terms that sounded appropriate to the time. Vampires are created, not turned, and the Creator is generally, but not always, the Bearleader or mentor to the Fledgling (young vampire). The term Bearleader was in use to describe the tutors who led young gentlemen on the grand tour of Europe and tried to keep them out of trouble. These elegant and sophisticated vamps do not feed; they dine. I also needed a term to describe fangs, since that wasn’t a word in use at the time, and came up with some pseudo-French: en sanglant, appropriate for a time when the sophisticated peppered their conversation with French phrases or words.
What are your favorite vampire characteristics? Or what do you think are just silly?
There’s an excerpt, a contest, and more on my site janetmullany.com.