The Idea That Lived
I’m not a vampire writer. I write mostly fantasy and space opera and, oh, yeah, mystery. But my first-ever published fiction was a short story called Thirst. (It’s now available on its own, on Amazon, under Sarah A. Hoyt.) It is a vampire story set in second century Rome, and it poured out of me, more or less unwillingly, as I was recovering from almost dying while giving birth. I don’t think that’s coincidental. (More on that later.)
That story sold eight times before I sold anything else. I used to joke that was the only story I’d ever sell. And that the story would never see the light of day, since it killed magazines/and or editors. I finally sent it to Dreams of Decadence, told them the story’s history and asked "Do you feel lucky." They did, and they survived the curse of the story.
Meanwhile, I started selling historical fantasy novels, and, eventually, historical mystery novels and even space opera, and I told myself I was not a vampire writer.
Only the er... taste for the red stuff kept breaking out. I sold two more vampire stories for Dreams of Decadence and, recently, one to Naked Reader Press.
And then, during – arguably – the worst year of my professional life, when I thought I was so blocked I’d never write again, I started taking art classes to rest the mind from storytelling. And it was while coming out of a life drawing class, one fine August afternoon, that Sword and Blood was born.
You see, I’d parked half a mile from the class, because there was some sports event or what not. As I walked with my art bag, I felt myself not quite thinking, but sort of having disjointed impressions of the musketeers and their time. (Full disclosure, I was then in the middle of a mystery series involving the musketeers – written under Sarah D’Almeida.) And then I sat in my car, put the key in the ignition, and before I could turn it, I had three novels in my head.
It’s the most remarkable experience I’ve ever had. The novels just unfolded, as though they’d been downloaded (no, I don’t want to know from where. I’ll start wearing a tinfoil hat.) For the climatic scenes, including the final confrontation between Athos and Milady I had the entire WORDING in place. I came home, sat down, wrote the key scenes and then wondered what to do with it, since I was already doing the musketeer mysteries (which is on hiatus, but should continue this year.)
And then I sent the scenes I’d written down to my primary readers. The response, which threatened to kick me until I wrote the books, only surprised me mildly. There was that force, behind the books. It was – pardon me – like opening a vein and just letting the blood flow. I could NOT not write the novels. So I did. On spec, and on top of a very busy schedule, I wrote the first one, with no guarantee it would ever sell, and with the certainty my science fiction fans would hate it and that half the people in the world think "vampires are played out."
But I don’t think vampires are played out, and I think the reason they’re not is why I had to write these three novels, and also maybe the reason they "downloaded" directly from my subconscious in such an odd way.
Blood is linked very deeply in the human mind to life force. (Probably our ancestors figured that like the blue smoke in computers, when it leaks out, you’re not going to be alive anymore.) It’s an old, old linkage. Blood sacrifice and blood rituals are as human as walking on two legs.
More than that, Vampires touch on our fear of death, our concept of evil, our longing for immortality. Powerful stuff there. It’s like touching a live wire. No wonder one’s subconscious drifts to the theme.
Vampires will never be done. And I might as well stop being in denial. Yes, I write fantasy and science fiction, and mystery and the occasional historical novel. But as long as I write, I’ll write vampires now and then as well. The taste for the red stuff goes to deep to root out.
Visit Sarah at her website: www.sarahahoyt.com