Once again, I welcome Tony-Paul de Vissage to my world, to share a little about another release, with extra bite. Always glad to have you round, Tony-Paul! The floor is yours.
Limousin, France, 1249… The Black Death rages and Faith is abandoned in the search to survive.
In one night, Damian La Croix loses his life and his soul as he willingly choses Undeath rather than perish of the Plague. His payment for immortality: the lives of everyone on his father’s estate—including his parents—paid to LeMaitre, the vampire he comes upon in a charnel pit. That act sets Damian on his journey. Through Mankind’s long centuries, many women cross his path, respond to his enticements, and are forced to make a choice…for when the Night Man Cometh, Death is never far behind.
They say the “traditional” vampire is making a comeback. No longer the anguished seeker of acceptance, of finding love and nothing more; no sparkly, benign, adolescent-appearing male wavering between turning the girl he’s attracted to or giving in to his bestial nature, not waging war with werewolves or others of his own kind; no pair of Undead sibling rivals who’ve loved the same woman in the past and now are committing the same mistake in the present… This Undead gentleman is sometimes no gentleman. He can be cruel and seductive by turns, blood-lusting or just plain lusting...a ravaging beast or a ravenous lover. If he can’t get what he wants one way, he’ll get it another…no holds barred…
With that in mind, I decided to write a traditional vampire tale, with a protagonist who was more Prince Drakula than Stefan Salvatore or Edward Cullen, but I still wanted him to be likable in spite of his obvious negative character traits. So…how to do it…?
First off, I had to pick my era…the Thirteenth Century sounded good…times of the Renaissance…those great tunics…swords…men with long flowing hair, Women with even longer hair and those fantastic high-waisted dresses pushing bosoms even higher. Sounded good. Damian la Croix, son of the Marquis la Croix of Limousin, France, is a child of his time…spoiled, pampered as only a noble heir can be…a threat to anything wearing a dress, while falling madly in love with the woman he’s been betrothed to…and then, his life is interrupted.
The Black Death strikes and Damian doesn’t want to die. He wants to live, to marry Antoinette, to love her, and when he chances upon a vampire struggling to find a victim in the dying village, he sees a way to escape the Plague and have his Antoinette, too. Without blinking an eye, Damian bargains the lives of everyone on his father’s estate for his own immortality. That alone places him outside the pale of the present type of literary vampire because no matter what comes later, Damian never repents or regrets his choice, and as we all know, one of the characteristics of the current paranormal lover is that he generally descries some of the things he’s done in his immortal past. But Damian…? He has no hesitation in destroying his beloved Antoinette when she turns against him, and he may mourn the others he loves and loses, but never once does he say those words: “I wish I hadn’t made this choice…”
It would’ve been easy to make Damian a complete villain, so the reader would applaud when he gets his comeuppance in the form of the downward-stab of a stake, but I didn’t want that. In the Grand Scheme of Things, Damian isn’t even better or worse than his Undead peers. He has friends among the Undead, men he shares adventures with, but he also has acquaintances among the Living, some of whom he’s quite willing to fight for. He has one rule he lives by in his journey through the centuries: Damian never forces anyone to become a vampire; he gives every woman he loves the right to make her own choice. As a result, though many profess undying love for him, when the moment comes, all invariably choose mortality rather than succumb, and Damian, though it leaves him once more alone, lets them go. He chooses to walk the corridors of Time alone rather than have a companion who has no wish to be as he himself is, and yet… There’s still a bit of human optimism left in Damian, and enough humanity for him to keep believing that somewhere…somehow… there exists someone for him, that somewhere a woman waits who’ll accept him for who he is…in spite of what he is…
…and when Damian does find that elusive someone—three thousand years in the future—he discovers her to be not what he expected at all…
It’s a bit of a different story, but one I think both horror fans and paranormal romance readers will enjoy, for its perspective of the vampire as both potential villain and hero.
The Night Man Cometh is available from Class Act Books, in ebook and print versions. Buy it here.