Thursday, April 7, 2011

On Vampires...

The following is a question from Formspring about the vampires in my books. I tend to repost answers to questions like this as blogs, so if you want to see a question about my books answered here, ask me on Formspring or email me. I can't credit you if you ask anonymously, so if you want recognition or a free link to your website or profile, you have to let me know who you are and what you want linked.

Are your vampires telepathic? Can they read minds or only dominate/control people's thoughts? Can they all do that? Do some of them have other psychic powers? 


They can't exactly read minds, but they have some limited telepathic abilities. Through a combination of their enhanced sense of smell and hearing, and their ability to manipulate their own electric field, they can sense and manipulate human emotions. This ability starts out as very weak, they are able to sense surface emotions like anger, fear, trust and attraction. They can only manipulate these emotions to a certain degree, usually making feelings that already exist stronger, and the more adept at hiding or controlling emotions the individual is, the harder it is for a vampire to weaken them. This is why vampires, particularly young ones, prefer to feed on children: children are naturally naive and trusting, and less adept at hiding their feelings. Also, if it comes to it, they are smaller and weaker--easier to hold down.

Much older, stronger vampires learn to focus their powers to detect and manipulate even deeper emotions. Because of their volatile, anarchist nature, vampires don't usually live very long so very few of them gain these powers. And they have a hard time convince people to do things they don't want to do. it can be done, it just takes several attempts to beat down their defenses and bend them to their will.

Most vampires are too lazy to even mess with this and just do it the old fashioned way: with their fists and fangs. Vampires do become far stronger and more agile than humans. Though, they aren't so strong or fast that they can't be defeated--unlike the vampires of some other writers. They aren't hurt by sunlight, but they heal very fast. No, they can't fly or turn into bats...unless they learn spells and sorcery that allow them to do so. A stake through the heart won't immediately kill them--though, it will hurt like a bitch and usually incapacitate them--and they can't regenerate limbs. Finally, they can't control the weather or move like the Flash. And holy mother of god...they don't fucking sparkle.

I know this makes the vampires much weaker than they are in other fiction, but this was intentional. I figure if vampires could control humans easily, they'd have become our masters centuries ago. A small group of vampires could (and would) work their way into the confidence of the most powerful humans on Earth and then turn them into puppets. While this does sound like an intriguing concept (and one that has been done before) it didn't fit with what I wanted out of the vampires for my books. In my books, the vampires are parasites. A menace, more in the way than anything else. Their chaotic, psychopathic nature makes them dangerous and unpredictable, and therefore they become the perfect "wild card" adversaries: always somewhat involved but never in charge or the main threat. In my books, the vampires are basically like the various organized crime syndicates active in the world today: held together by fear. Like real life criminal syndicates, they fight between themselves as much (if not more) than with each other.

The real danger from vampires is that they are so weak and desperate. Because of their violent, unpredictable nature they tend to do the first thing that pops into their heads. In my first two books, the vampires wind up enraging creature far more powerful than themselves (dragons and older vampires) by doing something violent and stupid without understanding the consequences. The fact that the vampires involved pay dearly for their actions is noble, but the fact remains that they were able to do great harm through their stupid, self-serving actions.