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Making Vampires For the Real World
Building the world of Love at First Bite
I've always had a problem with vampire fiction in which the vampires were so secret, nobody knew they existed. Nobody. At all.
Seriously, when you're around for hundreds of years, eventually somebody is going to start talking.
Which is why when I started writing Marco and Amanda, their first step was to go to the local Catholic church and start asking questions — if only so their inquiry can be kicked up the chain of command. The next step would have been to go to the nearest synagogue.
Why? Because where else are you going to go aside from the organizations that have been around for a few thousand years?
And from the church, we will get one very simple concept: Vatican ninjas,
Yes, it feels as though I've promised Vatican ninjas for a while now. Well, you're gonna get them.
After a while, I started working out the people who should have, reasonably, come across vampires for the last hundred years or so — and survived the encounter. Soldiers were at the top of that list. Since there are a lot of soldiers who went from the military into the police department, there would be cops all over the country who would at least be concerned about the monsters under the bed.
Yes, I know, if I'm not careful, I'm going to end up recreating the world of Monster Hunter International. Mercifully, I barely had a vague notion of “this Larry guy” on Facebook when I was writing the novels. I read MHI after I wrote them, and before the final draft—that comes up in at least one book.
Now, is every last vampire going to be the loaner sulking out in the middle of nowhere? Well, that would be hard, considering that Honor At Stake is in New York City.
For the record, no, "the city" is not Manhattan. I lived in Queens, so I’m one of those people who remember that New York City has five boroughs. Yes, I know that New Yorkers refer to Manhattan as “the city,” but if a large quantity of vampires lived in Manhattan, it would be way too easy for the neighbors to realize that the creepy guy next store is just not right
… Okay, for the most part, there are a lot of neighborhoods where you can get away with that because every other person on the block is some variety of “not right,” because, well, welcome to New York. Even before the Current Nightmare, it was strange. The major philosophy of the city is "cerchez le buck" and "leave me alone, and I won't push you in front of a train, thanks." But you can't stuff all the vampires into one neighborhood.**
That's why there will be a vampire who claims to be a Roman Centurion from the Empire and he owns Little Italy! At which point, someone will smack him down and tell him that, 1) being a Sergeant in Mussolini's armydoesn't count, and 2) if he doesn't sit down and shut up, he'll be driven out of "Little Italy" (which, right now, is about one square block in lower Manhattan) and sentenced to his great grandson's home in Howard Beach, enjoy it when it floods.
Yes, welcome to New York.
And yes, there will be a governing body of vampires. The New York City Vampire Association will have monthly meetings in the far east corner of Queens, in the local VFW hall. But that's for book two. It's also for vampires of status — you know, the vampires that invested in the ground floor of Ma Bell (AT&T), IBM and Apple.
There will be vampire bars. There will be a nice little underground network that will guarantee fresh blood, caught that evening. There will be plenty of them that want to be 9-5 vampires (PM-AM, of course), go home, crawl into a room with blackout curtains, and not want to get up until the next morning.
There will also be a history of vampires going back to the 18th century. Why only that far back? Because I haven't needed a reason to go back farther yet. There will be vampires on both sides of World War II — because Gulags and Concentration camps are natural places to make certain that the victims of vampires don't end up coming back for any reason (Let's just say that there was one concentration camp where it was replaced with a row of trees. No one really knows what happened to it. I have a nice little supposition on that one.)
Now, why would vampires be a secret? Well, that part is simple, and I'll give you an example. Announce that vampires exist in New York. Prove it to one and all. Watch every goth become a target of people with recently purchased bow and arrow sets, or Molotov cocktails, or try to utilize weaponry they've seen in any random vampire film.
That's why even the most demonic vampire is going to keep a low profile. Because even vampires understand that, if Satan appears in a puff of smoke in front of a live studio audience, people suddenly become very, very religious. And you'd have every single civilian on the planet carrying enough crosses and rosaries to equip everyone in the Vatican, and still have enough left over to hand out to the tourists.
Overall, it became a fun world to build and explore. Because I didn’t build this in advance. I let it build organically. And it was very entertaining all around.
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