Posted by: Alastair Rosie | June 3, 2014

The Vampire – Hero or Villain?

Angel of Mercy Graphic

Some people will always live in hope…

 

Tonight I wanted to write another interview with a vampire or with one of the mortal characters in Angel of Mercy but instead I’m writing off the top of my head, always a dangerous thing because I never know what will come out. I’m thinking back to my initial short story that drew me into writing a vampire story, which was by the way, a genre I was never going to touch. It was a rather gloomy Gothic horror that had vampires, werewolves and other dark creatures in it. The story was quietly shelved and I kept one of the characters, Amalthea and started a new story about a vampire queen awakened from a two thousand year sleep. At first she was very much like the old Amalthea, evil, sinister and deadly, but when I let my characters go both Amalthea and her next victim, Wendy surprised me when they made a connection.

That of course led me through a series of half completed novels to Angel of Mercy, which does reference Amalthea but you won’t get to meet her just yet. Along the way my vampires have grown and evolved. Influenced at first by the Underworld series, then Twilight, the short-lived Moonlight series and the Anne Rice books, they’ve shaken off most of those influences to become something entirely different.
The inspiration behind these vampires, who I’ve called the Children of the Raven, goes far deeper than I had previously envisaged. I imagined a race of people who rather than feed upon us or seduce us, actually reached out to help guide us. Imagine if you will, a single mother whose child suddenly needs glasses but the medical insurance won’t cover it. Now imagine a colleague or neighbour slipping an envelope under the door with enough money to cover it. Perhaps a homeless man down on his luck who is taken in by a man for no apparent reason and put back on his feet. The girl working a nine to five job for minimum wage, who after serving a wealthy woman in the store, is offered a dream job or at least a better job.
This imbues my vampires with the status of guardian angels, immortals who look out for our needs and sometimes they put out their hand to stop us falling and other times they hold out a hand and help us up. That simple concept of the vampire as hero/heroine has provided me with a wealth of inspiration. The vampires who rescued a five year old girl whose parents had been arrested by the Gestapo, the boy who was ransomed from a Victorian workhouse and adopted by a vampire and her mortal husband, who in turn owed his fortune to her keen business acumen. The Danish slave rescued from a Saxon pimp Alfred’s England becomes a member of the clan in her own time and rescues others from slavery and oppression.
The vampires in Angel of Mercy are members of an elite club of immortals and while they are still vampires, they are very much members of the human race, interested in our day to day troubles and above all not afraid to tell the truth as they see it. And it’s that aspect that has intrigued me, the idea that if we could stand back and see the grand sweep of history then the sound bites put out by politicians would seem tawdry and ephemeral by comparison because there is nothing new under the sun. History repeats because we do not want to believe that we would be so stupid as to repeat the mistakes of our parents and grandparents. The rise of the far right in Europe, Britain, America and Australia is proof that people don’t read history, they reinvent a history that doesn’t threaten them. The Abbott government’s war on refugees, the sick, the poor and the disenfranchised has made me ashamed to be Australian because I know we Aussies are better than the Abbott government and their backers in the Murdoch press.
Ultimately I hope that those who do read Angel of Mercy are able to view the world around them through new eyes, to reach out to those less fortunate or to those leading as Thoreau put it, ‘lives of quiet desperation.’ We may not be able to change the world and I’m sure my fictional vampires can’t change the world either, but they can change their little corner of it and when all is said and done that is a world of change.
It’s been a long road from that first Gothic horror to Angel of Mercy but I’m glad it’s taken so long because I was a different person back then, a little more naive, more cocksure and blinkered. Along the way I’ve learned that letting go of our characters is scary but it’s often the only way we can move forward. I’m not sure where it’s all going to end up after book two, which has already been through one draft but I’m quietly hopeful my vampires lead me to explore history and open my eyes to the world around me in a new and better way.
Angel of Mercy comes out at the end of June on Smashwords and Amazon shortly afterwards. If you would like an advance review copy please drop me an email and I’ll send you a copy. Reviews are always welcome.

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