Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Contest & Guest Post with Author Madeline Drake! [Closed]

Welcome, Author and Guest Blogger, Madeline Drake! We're thrilled to have you at Rex Robot Reviews. Madeline is the brilliant writer behind Blood Hero and is here today to talk about the making of a Babylonian vampire!

The Making of a Babylonian Vampire
If you're a fan of vampires, you probably already know that modern vamps are the products of 19th century literary imagination, thanks to writers such as John Polidori, Sheridan Le Fanu, and Bram Stoker.  These fictional vampires were based on folklore that goes back to Eastern Europe in the 1700s, although the original revenants were really more like blood-sucking zombies than the sexy, sophisticated vamps we know and love today.

Blood-suckers and revenants have, in fact, permeated the myths of many culturesmthroughout history.  So when I became interested in writing a vampire story set in ancient Babylon, the first thing I did was start searching for a supernatural creature similar enough to serve as a vampire-equivalent.

I learned that Babylonian bugaboos fall into one of three categories:
1.  Utukku--ghosts unable to move on to the afterlife due to violent death, improper burial or a host of other reasons.  Ekimmu were greatly feared by the Babylonians, who invented many rituals and charms to protect against hauntings. 

2.  Human-demon hybrids, resulting from human interaction with the supernatural world.  Sometimes the demon nature manifests physically in animal form, like the lion-headed ugallu (a creature who acted on behalf of humans to defend them against malicious spirits).  Other times the demon nature is monstrous, as in the deformed alu who walks the streets at night and hides in dark corners to ambush the unwary traveler.

3.  True spirits like the ardat-lili or the the akhazu—supernatural creatures that essentially seem to be minor deities, demons, or monsters with no trace of humanity at all. 

But the Babylonians don't seem to have had legends about revenants, possibly because corpses buried in the arid countryside tended to mummify rather than rot.  And by Rihat's time, it was common practice, when the family could afford it, to have the deceased body embalmed in honey and stored in a jar before burial.  It would be a piece of cake to tell if one of the dead had come back to life—all you had to do was check the seal on the jar.  So other explanations had to be found for those things that went bump in the night.

Fascinating, right?  But also a problem for me.  If I wanted to recast any of these monsters as vampires, I would have to significantly alter their character.  And I didn't want to misrepresent the existing mythology; I wanted to insert a vampire into an authentic Babylonian setting.

So I asked myself:  what are the characteristics of vampires that are most interesting to me?  Enhanced strength and speed, and extrasensory abilities like mesmerism (entrancing and mentally influencing others) were the biggest ones.  I wanted my vampire to look human, and even be able to pass for human when he wasn't using his powers.  Immortality, or at least longer life than the average human being.  And of course, as a vamp, he would need to be a bloodsucker.  What existing character in Babylonian mythology most closely fit?

A demigod.  Gilgamesh, Heracles, Perseus, Cuchulainn—many of the heroes of ancient mythology were fathered by gods.  As the offspring of a human and a deity, demigods had superhuman powers, thanks to the mix of human and divine blood that ran through their veins.

But what if a human were to ingest divine blood?   Might he not be graced, at least temporarily, with a small portion of divine powers?  At least for as long as that divine blood remained in his body.

That was the genesis of the damu-quradu, or "blood hero."  Rihat, a soldier in the Babylonian army, returns home on leave and discovers that his village is being terrorized by an akhazu demon.  In order to gain the strength to defeat the demon, Rihat must accept gift of blood from a minor goddess with troubles of her own.

Of course, I'm not the first author to transplant vampires from Eastern European lore to another mythos:  Sherrilyn Kenyon is probably most famous for her wonderfully-detailed revisioning of Greek mythology in her Dark Hunter books.  Jim Butcher's vampires are organized into houses that reflect the different aspects of traditional vampirism (blood, life force, etc).  On Buffy, Joss Whedon re-envisioned vampires as humans possessed and transformed by demons.  Tony-Paul de Vissage intertwines vampire lore with Mayan mythology in Dark God Descending.

What flavor of vampire do you like best?  Are you a Transylvanian traditionalist?  Or do you prefer a version of the vamp with a non-Romanian heritage?

About Madeline:
Madeleine Drake writes feisty, fast-paced paranormal romance and erotica that spans the space-time continuum.  Raised by a pride of cats, a friendly mutt, and the Sonoma County library system, she loves to read about ancient history and mythology, anthropology, gender roles, and sexual archetypes.  Her homeworld is located out past the constellation Orion, but she currently resides in Texas.  You can find her online at

Her debut ebook, Blood Hero, became available July 9th from Excessica Publications.

About Blood Hero:
When Babylonian solider Rihat discovers that his village is being terrorized by an akhazu demon, he seeks help at Marduk's temple. He meets Iltani, a demigoddess who's been cursed by Ishtar to live as an ardat-lili, a night-maiden who feeds on sexual energy.

Iltani offers Rihat the power to slay the akhazu, if he'll agree to serve her every need without question. But will the price of that power be more than Rihat can bear to pay?

What's up for grabs!? 
$10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
and one copy of Blood Hero! 
How to Enter: 
-Be a Follower! (New/Old)
-Answer Madeline's question!
-Include a Valid E-Mail

Extra Entries for +5 Each:
-ReTweet (include link!)

-Ends September 20, 2010
-48 hours to get back to me
-US & Canada residents only (Sorry!)
-Book&GC provided by & delivered directly from author


Related Posts Plugin