Guest Post by Julia Smith, author of Vampires, Saints and Lovers.
The British Isles have long been home to a host of mythological creatures. The tales about fairies, the Green Man, black dogs and selkies, once told around Iron Age fires, continue to be downloaded by today’s e-reading public.
Aside from the Irish Dearg-Due, or red blood-sucking demon who rises from her grave to seduce men and drain them of their blood — her retaliation for having been forced to give up her beloved in favor of an arranged marriage — Britain isn’t known for its vampires.
Being a lifelong fan of all things British, as well as a fan of Dracula and his kin since childhood, it’s not a stretch that my novel takes place in Dark Age Wales and features a vampire hero. What was strange was how well-suited my tale became to its time and setting, the more I researched for the book.
Aside from the granddaddy character of Dracula himself, created by Irishman Bram Stoker who was likely familiar with the Dearg-Due demon, vampires as fictional characters or even as legends didn’t really gain a foothold in Britain until the 19th century.
In an area of the world so richly laden with figures such as sprites, still given offerings by rural communities into the 21st century, it seemed odd to me that a character like the vampire managed to steer clear of Britain for so long.
The vampires I write about are a select group of specialized vampires, an elite brotherhood made up of warriors. Their purpose is to ensure that the vampire clans in their area do not turn too many humans into vampires, while preventing humans in turn from hunting down and destroying all of the vampires.
Of course, this brotherhood must keep their activities secret or be at risk of the true death. The vampire clans they monitor also need to keep a low profile. One could argue that all vampires in any country would have to do the same — and yet the folklore of vampires in Eastern Europe has been part of those cultures for centuries.
In researching day-to-day life for my Dark Age villagers, I was forced to turn to Iron Age information. The ‘dark’ part of the Dark Ages refers to a dearth of information on the time period between the Iron Age (from 800 BC to 100 AD) and the Middle Ages (400s to the 1400s.) My story Vampires Saints and Lovers is set in the 6th century.
The timing of the witch hunts that gained momentum in the Middle Ages really played into plot developments for my book. This led to my feeling that I couldn’t have chosen a better place and time for my Welsh vampire tale. Fictionally speaking, of course, what better reason for the rise in witch hunts following the Dark Ages, but a crisis of paranormal origin so great that its very darkness gave its name to the time period itself?
Perhaps my Welsh-based brotherhood of warrior vampires did their jobs so well that the whispers of vampires in the Britain of those Dark Ages will never be more than whispers.
Vampires Saints and Lovers
It is a time when only an elite brotherhood of immortal warriors stands between humans and vampires, preventing the complete annihilation of the human race. Who are called to this service? Only those warriors who curse God with their dying breath….
Bold and courageous Welsh warrior Peredur is one such man. He falls to a spear on a raging battlefield before he can claim his beloved Tanwen for his bride. In those final moments Peredur utters the curse that seals his fate and leads him to another life. Using the power of a saint whose bone makes up an amulet, Peredur takes on the trials to become a true member of the brotherhood—and wage war against the dangerous prowling creatures of the night.
Yet his need for Tanwen still burns….
Tanwen resists her father’s command to take a husband. The only one who understands her sorrow is Cavan, the wise woman’s son. When he promises to use dark forces to reunite her with her beloved, she agrees to his terms. But does Tanwen truly understand the depth of the price that must be paid?
About the Author
A love of the arts led to passionate participation in dance, choir, musicals and plays. My curiosity led to wearing as many hats as possible, from performing to stage managing and directing, from theatre to television and film.
After graduating from Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Film, I discovered there were stories bubbling to the surface that wanted to be novels.
Like many people in the arts, my jobs have run the gamut – from box office for cinema and The National Ballet of Canada, to front of house staff for a big city performing arts centre. I migrated into the 9-to-5 world of offices, morphing into records management for my Clark Kent job. I recently served on the executive for Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada, and have taken part in genre events like Fan Expo in Toronto, and Hal-Con in Halifax.
I live with my husband and my mom on Canada’s east coast, where the rugged sea and misty forests feed my thirst for gothic tales.
You can contact Julia at: