We have Angel Martinez stopping by today with her new release Skim Blood & Savage Verse from Pride Publishing
Vampires. They’ve been with us nearly as long as humans have been afraid of the dark. The original vampires weren’t sexy bloodsuckers, though. In many traditions, they were plague carriers, grave robbers, ghoulish devourers of human flesh, or stealers of children. They were monstrous, often hideous. In some cultures, they were our own restless dead. In others, they were demons or vengeful spirits of nature.
The seductive blood drinkers we associate with vampirism today got their start in novels of the Victorian era, which was in Western culture a time of both a strange fear of and a helpless fascination with sex. Vampires became code for sexual predators, the acts of piercing, of entering the flesh and sucking providing a tiny sidestep for Victorian novelists and readers who couldn’t quite talk about the act.
There is a definite case to be made for queer coding vampires of that era as well, and vampires ever since. Bram Stoker’s ponderous and fascinating epistolary novel, Dracula, gives us a monster horrifying to Jonathan Harker. This vampire is urbane, intelligent, mysterious, and we come to suspect that Harker’s revulsion has as much to do with internalized homophobia as with the fact that he witnesses the count kidnapping a baby. The vampire in Carmilla is less ambiguous, and many of the scenes between her and the protagonist are sensual and even tender. While these vampires are both monstrous and the antagonists of their stories, they do set the stage for our modern love affair with vampires as both blood consumers and as unabashedly sexy fictional characters.
When I started to put together the 77th Precinct for the Offbeat Crimes series, I knew I wanted a squad of paranormal officers with broken paranormal abilities. It seemed imperative, to me at least, to include a vampire police office among them as homage to other vampire detective like Angel from the eponymous television show, Nick Knight from Forever Knight, and Henry Fitzroy from Tanya Huff’s Blood series. But how to “break” a vampire’s abilities?
I decided that he would have a blood allergy so that he couldn’t feed directly from humans, but then how did he survive? Right. He had to eat something. The next thing to look at was blood components. Could he maybe only be able to digest white blood cells? No, that made no sense. If he was allergic to some blood components, the bits that were part of someone else’s immune system would be the most likely allergens. Next, I thought maybe he could only have platelets. But that seemed unlikely as well since they would probably just clump and cause unpleasant digestive issues.
The final answer was obvious. Washed red blood cells are a blood product where most of the fluid portions of blood have been replaced by sterile saline—plasma proteins, electrolytes, and antibodies are removed in this way and the remaining washed RBC’s are often given to patients with severe allergic reactions. Bingo.
So Carrington Loveless III has many of the qualities of his vampire brethren, but he can’t feed from humans. His blood comes in cold-shipping packages by prescription, a source of scorn and derision for his vampire brethren and of some confusion for humans. He certainly hopes he still has the sexy part down. You’ll have to judge that part for yourself.
Words damage more than just feelings as Carrington hunts feral books menacing the city.
When a ferocious book attacks Carrington at his own birthday party, he believes it’s an isolated incident. But similar books soon pop up all over town, menacing innocent people with harsh bits of poetry and blank verse that deliver damaging physical blows. It’s a frustrating case with too many variables and not enough answers, and the stakes go up with each attack.
With the help of his misfit squad mates at the 77th and the public library’s Rare Books Department, the missing pieces decrease but not Carrington’s vexations. His commanding officer rakes him over the coals at the beginning of every shift. His police partner has lost patience with what she sees as his delusional relationship choices and his inability to pick the right man in a vast field of two. City Hall demands that the books be stopped immediately. It’s enough to put a nutritionally challenged vampire off his skim blood.
The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, (same husband for almost twenty-four years) gave birth to one amazing son, (now in college) and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.
Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.
She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.