WEEK THREE: 13 Weeks of Vampires
Spoiler warning: there will be many discussions of plot points and characters below, so if you haven't read these books yet, you may wish to give this section a pass. You have been warned.
Week Three brings us to book number four: EVEN VAMPIRES GET THE BLUES, which was the first book where the vamp had both parents living, and was happy as he was.
Or so he thought, muhahahah.
Paen Scott is a Dark One: a vampire without a soul. And his mother is about to lose hers too if Paen can’t repay a debt to a demon by finding a relic known as the Jilin God in five days.
Half-elf Samantha Cosse may have gotten kicked out of the Order of Diviners, but she’s still good at finding things, which is why she just opened her own private investigation agency.
Paen is one of Sam’s first clients and the only one to set her elf senses tingling, which makes it pretty much impossible to keep their relationship on a professional level. Sam is convinced that she is
Paen’s Beloved—the woman who can give him back his soul…whether he wants it or not.
HOW THE BOOK CAME TO BE
This was my first vampire book I'd written since I moved from Dorchester to NAL, and I was a bit worried how Then-Editor Laura would take to the vamps. I needn't have worried; she liked them just fine, and didn't demand that I suddenly start doing weird things to them (what can I say, we authors have odd worries sometimes).
How the story came around is a bit of a long tale. A few years before I wrote this book (which was in 2005), I had an idea for an homage to one of my most favorite novels/movies, The Maltese Falcon. My homage involved a monkey named Beppo, and bore the fabulous title, Tell Them Beppo Sent You. Alas, that story never really got off the ground, mostly because I realized it wasn't strong enough to stand on its own.
A few years later, when I sat down to think out a new vampire story, my mind kept going back to Beppo and the Falcon homage, and I wondered if I couldn't, at last, combine that story and the vampires. A bit more thinking, and voila! I had a story. Er...kind of. Let's see how that originally looked...
BEHIND THE SCENES STUFF: THE ORIGINAL OUTLINE
The original outline for Even Vamps has little to do with the actual book. Paen was present, as was Sam, and Paen was trying to find the Jilin statue...but there the similarity ends. Here's an excerpt of the original plot outline. The character named Nigel was evidently Paen's brother. I think. OK, I'm not exactly sure who he was. This was sixteen years ago, remember...
---------------Original Plotting Synopsis-----------------
Paen and Nigel learn from the demon lord’s agent (Caspar Green) that Owen Hall, a noted medieval scholar, is in town, and that he is also searching for the statue. Hall is also a mage, a man too powerful for the agent to attack, but no match for Paen.
Unhappy with the turn his life has taken, Paen agrees to let his unsavory younger brother teach him the way to trail a suspect. Accordingly, they follow Sam as she conducts her own investigation. Sam notices she’s being followed, and confronts Paen by trapping him in a sex shop. He claims that she is his Beloved.
Although sympathetic, and oddly touched that she could be the salvation of anyone’s soul, Sam isn't buying the story, so Paen elaborates a tale wherein he saw her in the hotel lobby but was afraid to approach. She doesn't entirely swallow it, but intrigued by Paen, plays along. Paen, trapped by his lies, is forced to ask Sam out to dinner. She has to turn him down because of her dinner engagement, but then decides to bring him along with her to see a friend and her husband (Joy and Raphael). She doesn't tell him that Raphael is with Scotland Yard. Paen agrees, telling himself it's just to maintain his cover.
Paen picks up Sam and they head off to the restaurant. As they leave the hotel, Sam sees Beppo, and insists on trying to catch the monkey, claiming he'd never survive in the city alone. Besides, she thinks he's got the key to her hotel that went missing, and she doesn't want anyone to have it because she's responsible for the antiquities Owen purchases. They go after Beppo and run into Caspar Green, who grabs Sam just as she's about to go over the edge of an embankment into the Thames.
Sam and Paen make their escape, and show up at the restaurant a bit dishevelled. Sam is a bit confused by Paen. He's drop-dead gorgeous, claims to have fallen in love with her at first sight, but is acting anything but like a man in love. The couple of times she has "accidentally" touched him, he recoils. He won't touch her, barely meets her eyes. He acts as if she has the plague, but when she offers him an easy out to the evening, he grimly states that the light has gone out of his life without her.
Paen is disgusted by himself. He has to pretend to be madly in love with a woman just to use her, to find out whether or not she has the statue the demon lord has demanded.
---------------END ORIGINAL SYNOPSIS
So let's go over some of the points in that extremely confusing blob o' text, shall we?
1. Nigel? Seriously? What was I thinking?
2. I have no idea what I was thinking with this plot. NO IDEA.
3. Paen would never do the things I had him doing in the outline. I think I may have been channeling someone else's muse when I wrote the plot outline. A really bad muse.
4. Where did Joy and Raphael come from? I totally forgot they were going to have a cameo role.
5. Notice there's no mention of Claire at all.
6. None of that plot makes any sort of sense. I can't even begin to unwind its convoluted lengths. No wonder I dumped it.
If you recall from a previous week, Claire's origins came from another story, and she got sucked into this one as Sam's perfect sidekick. The Maltese Falcon theme was carried through from the original plot, as were some of the character names (which were all based on Maltese Falcon peeps--even Sam's name is a variation on Sam Spade), but really, that's about it. And frankly, I think we're all grateful that's all that survived from the original vision of the book.
BEHIND THE SCENES STUFF: THE CHARACTERS
Paen was a direct result of the ladies who used to hang around my message forum. They asked me for a vampire who wore a kilt, and being a fan of kilt-wearing men, I agreed. His name (which is pronounced "pain") I found in a book of old English names. I liked it enough that I stuck the poor man with it, and then decided that rather than make him angsty and brooding because he didn't have a soul--and his brothers did--I'd make him just the opposite: quite happy with his life.
Sam was the result of much dwelling upon what kind of person would be the worst fit ever for a vampire--and thus the sun elves were born. I wanted someone who would not just emotionally and mentally challenge Paen, but who would also physically give him some grief...and let him show her that he would tolerate whatever he had to in order to be with her.
Together, Sam and Paen had a very modern sensibility, right down to their language, and attitude toward sex. There were parts of the book that took me out of my personal comfort zone in order to show that modernity, but I've always been a big believer in letting the characters decide some things, and this was one of the times when they had very strong opinions.
Paen's brothers were not originally intended to be fodder for other books, but one does show up in UNLEASHED. Also, I kicked myself after I had written EVEN VAMPS because I realized that my favorite of all the brothers' names, Finn, was now attached to the brother who had fallen in love with Claire, but by then, that name was his and I couldn't part him from it. It still annoys me, though.
BEHIND THE SCENES STUFF: THE ODDITIES
Paen was the first vampire I've ever given parents who were still alive (although conveniently out of the picture).
Pilar is normally a woman's name, but I decided that my character had to have that name despite that fact. It just fit him so very well.
The story of Sun Wukong and Yan Luowang is straight from Chinese mythology. I loved that the story of those two fit so well into my existing storyline, and made for some layers that I hadn't at first anticipated.
Caspar Green is probably the most deceptive character in the entire Dark Ones series. His name comes from Sydney Greenstreet, who was the actor who played the roll of Caspar Guttman in the Maltese Falcon movie. I honestly didn't realize that my Caspar was the one behind Paen's mission until the middle of the book, and then all of his layers of deception--alastor, Yan Luowang, Oriens--fell into place. Serendipity can be an awesome thing.
Butterflies really are quite aggressive with each other. I did some research on how they frequently fought, which I will admit amused me to no end. The thought of listening to butterflies argue and insult each other still makes me giggle.
The butterfly house in Scotland is based on a real place.
Diviners, Oracles, and Guardians...yup, the first two came over directly from Aisling's books. The origins of Guardians we've already gone into in Week 1.
This was the first time polters made their appearance, and more specifically, some of the mythos behind them, including apports, and their language. I was so fascinated by them while writing this book, I made a promise that I'd write a book surrounding their culture. Yes, that was Ghost of a Chance.
This is the only of my books where the heroine is turned into a Moravian.
The location of that turning was also based on a real place: Mary King's Close.
None, believe it or not.