Monday, October 22, 2012

Vampire Month! Featuring Thomas Winship's Vaempires Series!


This week we are featuring Thomas WInship and his books, Vaempires: Revolution, Vaempires: White Christmas and (releasing TODAY) Vaempires: Zombie Rising!

All three are totally awesome, so after you read the interview below, you will see my reviews of each book.

How are the vampires in your world different from others?

My world has two races of vampires—vampires and væmpires. Neither completely conforms to the usual stereotypes, because I chose not to follow any particular vampire mythology or mode of thought in creating my world.

Certainly, my vampires have some similarities to “traditional” vampires in that they are undead creatures with enhanced abilities and senses, they require human blood for sustenance, and that sunlight kills them.

However, they differ from traditional vampires in that they were created from the radioactive fallout from WWIII, new vampires are born (not made), and they age naturally (although they are immortal). Additionally, the creation of synthetic human blood frees them from the need to feed on humans and provides protection from the sun. This slightly diminishes their abilities and senses. This isn’t an issue when dealing with humans, but becomes significant when facing the might of væmpires.

On the other side of the conflict are the væmpires. Væmpires are mutated vampires. No one knows why the mutations occur or how to stop them. Each væmpire is a bigger, stronger, faster version of its former self, with a second thumb on each hand and an altered physical appearance, to boot.

While this may sound advantageous, it is not without a price—those who mutate end up as warm-blooded beings who must feed on vampire blood to survive. Attempts to create a synth-blood variant have been unsuccessful.

A percentage of væmpires also have special powers. Some don’t simply feed on vampire blood; they are able to pull memories from the person they are feeding upon. There aren’t many of these “Readers,” and the majority of the world’s population writes their reported existence off as urban legend or fearful conjecture. However, when the væmpires rise up in revolution they reveal a darker truth—not only do “Readers” exist, but there are also væmpires who can teleport, walk through walls, create a wall of flames, etc.

Do the vampires in your world possess any of the traditional vampire traits? No reflection? Burning in the sun? Being immortal? Aversion to crosses, holy water and/or garlic? Turning into a bat? Killed by a wooden stake? Fangs? Other?

As I said earlier, in my world, vampires have some similarities to “traditional” vampires: they are undead creatures with enhanced abilities and senses; they feed on human blood to survive; exposure to the sun kills them.

My vampires may be immortal, but that doesn’t mean they are invulnerable. Decapitation, stopping the heart, bleeding them dry, or even causing injuries that overwhelm their healing abilities can kill them, of course.

 They don’t sleep in coffins or dark basements. They don’t turn humans into vampires. They aren’t susceptible to garlic, crosses, or holy water, although they don’t have much use for any of them, either—with the exception of garlic, perhaps. It’s an essential ingredient in so many recipes that it’s hard to swear off entirely.

Of course, both races have fangs. How else can I write scenes about penetration and other barely disguised sexual references without fangs?

And, they can certainly see their reflections in the mirror—how else can they ever be humanized, if they can’t wrestle with self-doubt and self-loathing?

You could say that the dynamic between væmpires and vampires parallels the traditional dynamic between vampires and humans. After all, if the literary world is going to insist on humanizing vampires, then I believe vampires should discover what it means to be human.

In other words, to be prey.

Why did you choose to write about vampires?

As a writer, there are few subjects or topics that don’t interest me in at least some small way. I can read a news article, overhear a conversation, or even see another book, and it will trigger a creative “hot flash” that burns for a few minutes. So, if I hear about werewolves, then I think about werewolves and a few idea bubbles float around my head—or someone mentions fairies and the same thing happens … you get the picture.

Most of the time, however, such an idea cools off because there isn’t really enough fuel to sustain it beyond that initial burn. Occasionally, something lingers in my mind—a creative branding, if you will—forcing me to give it more attention. I’ll make some notes, jot a few ideas down, perhaps sketch a few things—but the gravitational pull of my current project (or the realistic pull of a deadline) will inevitably pull me away.

I didn’t make a conscious choice to write about vampires, so it wasn’t a matter of selecting vampires and rejecting other subjects. The idea for Væmpires came to me and, over time, demanded my attention, so I ran with it.

Do you remember the first vampire story you read in a book or watched on a movie or television show?

While at a cousin’s house for a barbeque, I stumbled across a copy of ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. I don’t know why I started reading it when I should’ve been outside playing ball or swimming, but I did. I couldn’t put it down. I spent the whole day inside, eschewing food, activity, and anything else besides the book. I finished it before we went home and haven’t looked back ever since. Stephen King changed my life.

I’m not going to wax philosophical about that, though.

As best as I can recall, ‘Salem’s Lot was my introduction to the world of vampires. I’m sure I must’ve watched on old movie or two along the way, but nothing that made an impression. King’s vampires weren’t old and stuffy and black and white (although, technically, they were black words on white paper), they were realistic, they seemed possible, and they were awesome.

In the interest of full disclosure, however, I must admit that I didn’t find them frightening as much as I found them unsettling. Frankly, they creeped me out. The thought of vampires hiding beneath floorboards or lurking in darkened spaces played tricks with my mind. The fact that vampires could multiply—and didn’t discriminate—turned those tricks into mean, dirty tricks. A ten-year-old’s imagination can run rampant with the idea of an undead horde of women and babies after his blood.

What makes vampire stories appealing in today’s pop culture?

Let’s face it—most people want to live forever. The only drag about that dream coming true would be dealing with the infirmaries of old age. Vampirism takes care of both. Live forever and be sexy as hell the whole time? Who wouldn’t want that?

Live forever. Look good. That’s the appeal of vampires in a nutshell. 


Anything else is pop psychology at its worst. Oh, wait … so is what I said. LOL

Live Forever. Look Good. No one cares about personality or brains.

If someone were to see one of your vampires on the street, what would their reaction be? Fear? Attraction? No unique reaction from that of seeing a human?

Mindless, shameless attraction. Loss of all self-control. Behavior akin to what you see at the typical all-you-can-eat buffet.

As I’ve said in earlier interviews, the vampires of Væmpires are inhumanly attractive, on average, although they tend not to flaunt it. In fact, the models used for the covers of all the paranormal romance novels are either: a) humans pretending to be vampires; b) teenage vampires determined to shame their parents c) adult vampires determined to shame their children; or d) the cryogenically-preserved remains of a certain Mr. Pattinson (proving that he did, in fact, “live” forever. Ms. Stewart, alas, faded from the public eye after an ill-advised cameo in 2032’s “Twinlight,” the first of an intended series of movies based upon the misadventures of Jacob and Renesmee’s conjoined fraternal twins. One twin is a dhampir/wolf hybrid with amazing abilities, affectionately named “Dampy” because her fur is always, well, damp. The other twin, Kenny, is a normal human afflicted with debilitating cases of aquagenic urticaria and an allergy to pet dander. When the movie flopped, Kristen supposedly sought refuge in a “Team Jacob” commune in upstate New York and was never seen again.).

But, seriously, here’s a related excerpt from Væmpires: White Christmas:

Daniel had the greatest parents in the world, and he knew it. His mother, a famed author of adventure novels, was the single greatest influence in shaping Daniel’s life. She was everything a boy wanted his mother to be and then some.

She looked radiant that evening. Her lustrous black mane was swept back in a jeweled headband that glittered with the room’s decorative lights. A pair of simple diamond earrings dangled from her earlobes, and a multifaceted diamond pendant adorned her neck. Red lipstick and a black dress made her white skin appear even whiter. She was a classic beauty.

Of course, most vampires possessed inhuman good looks. It posed one of the biggest ongoing problems for vampire-human relations. Simply put, humans were far too susceptible to vampire appearances for their own good. For the average vampire, it was rather embarrassing. For his mother, who was even more of a public figure than his father, it was a perpetual headache. At any moment of the day, a love-struck human—male or female, it didn’t matter—was likely to profess undying love for her.

Forget the fact that she had found her one true love decades earlier. Forget even the insurmountable differences in life expectancy or physiology. Humans cornered the market on irrational impulses.

Of course, a human would run upon encountering a væmpire. Not because the væmpire is any less attractive than a vampire, but because væmpires advocate ending the existence of humans. That makes it a little tough to become BFFs.



My Review of the Vaempires Series:
 
Vaempires: Revolution
Vaempires is a truely original novel with characters that will hold you attention and a plot that takes you on a ride.

I've shelved this as new adult because the characters, aged 15 and 16, are forced to grow up during the beginning of this war and act more like they are 18-22. They are now the rulers of this changed world.

The action scenes in this book are second to none. If you are a fan of action, you need to read Vaempires. The hand-to-hand combat is described expertly by Winship.

The world of Vaempires has similarities to our own, yet quite a few differences. The futuristic society of humans, vampires and vaempires all struggling to coexist is the perfect backdrop for the other smaller issues the characters face.

I can't wait to read Vaempires: White Christmas and Vaempires: Zombie Rising.
 

Vaempires: White Christmas
This was a great backstory to Vaempires: Revolution. The love story captures you and doesn't let go til the very end.

Daniel and Cassie are young and trying to find their way in the world Winship has created. They are both expected to be very powerful when they mature, yet it seems their worlds are so far apart at the beginning of White Christmas.

The political backdrop adds to the tension between them. It seems the universe keeps causing problems for these two young vampires, but they fight through it with the help of their parents.

Yet another great story from Thomas Winship.


Vaempires: Zombie Rising
What can I say? Winship delivers again! This one is action packed and a cool look at the end of Vaempires: Revolution from a different POV.

Ray and Linq are great characters. Its so nice to get to know their part of the story.

I love Cassie. She's the kind of girl I love to read about.

This story is all action and Winship does a great job describing the fight scenes while capturing the thoughts and emotions of the characters that are fighting. The scenes feel like they are straight out of a Jason Statham movie--choreographed to perfection.

Can't wait to read the next one! I need it now!