The Vrykolakas Deviation (Narcissus Legacy, #1) by Sherri Lackey
Paranormal* e-book, 221 pages
Keeva lives her life on the run, changing identities and personas. She is running from monsters she has never seen - vrykolakes, vampire creatures her father, Sandor, has told her stories about all her life. She had almost convinced herself that these monsters had all died in a volcano eruption on the island of Strongili long ago.
But when a vrykolakas named Severin kills Mandy, her best friend, she discovers the vrykolakes are alive and well. Keeva knows about Severin from her father’s stories, and her first impulse is to kill him and rid the world of the evil vrykolakas. She feels drawn to him however, and takes him prisoner. She hopes to better understand the vrykolakes and perhaps better understand herself. She is over two thousand years old. She doesn't know who or what she is, but she wants to find out. In order to do that, she has to discover her past. Severin might be the place to start looking for a connection to the past. Or, he could be the worst mistake Keeva has ever made.
"Why? I am a vrykolakas and that is all that matters," he said harshly. "You are not a vrykolakas. You are nothing, less than nothing, daughter of Sandor. You are nothing but a freakish aberration, a mistake yet to be remedied – erased."
This conversation was not going in the direction I had hoped it would go. "And yet," I said, "here you are tied up in this room. This less than nothing aberration managed to drag your practically lifeless body back here and tie you up. That is something to think about isn't it?"
He gave me that cold smile again. "You are such a naïve little girl. How have you survived this long?"
I suddenly felt foolish. I clearly was not on top of my game here. I was failing miserably and his last words cut me deeply. I walked out of the room slamming the door behind me. I was frustrated by my failed first attempt at interrogation. On top of that, I couldn't think clearly with him around.
That night, I was restless again. At times it seemed I was in some realm of being half asleep and half awake. At one point, I thought I woke up to see Severin standing over me, looking down at me with that wolfish grin. I came more fully awake. He was not there, but his distinct odor was pervasive in my room. I got up and got a drink of water from the kitchen. I listened quietly outside his room and heard nothing.
About the author:
Sherri Lackey, born in Carlsbad, New Mexico, now lives in Montana where the cold northern climate inspires her to write. She writes science fiction and fantasy with dashes of speculative fiction, a pinch of steampunk, and a touch of urban fantasy. She lives with her husband, Paul, and their three children. She also has a faithful dog named Raymond who likes to sit by her side while she writes.
1) How did Vrykolakas Deviation come about? What was your inspiration and when did you know you had a story?
I wanted to write a vampire story which was a little different from all of the rest. I read Dracula a few years ago. Some of the newer vampire tales, like the Vampire Diaries and the Twilight series, mix romance with vampirism. I read Brahm Stoker’s novel in order to get a feel for the traditional vampire which is an entirely evil creature in Dracula. This got me to thinking about how I would write a vampire story. The Vrykolakas Deviation is the answer to the question I had asked myself. The vrykolakes are purely evil, but I managed to work in a bit of romance too. To find out how I did that, you’ll have to read my book.
2) Can you tell us what a vrykolakas is?
A vrykolakas is sometimes called the bloodless vampire. The legend originates from the Greek island of Santorini. The legend states that the undead vrykolakas would maliciously knock at someone’s door. If the occupant did not open the door upon the first knock, the vrykolakas would go away and leave the occupant alone. But if the occupant answered the door at the first knock, the vrykolakas would disappear, only to return later to turn the unfortunate occupant into a vrykolakas. How a vrykolakas killed his victims is not well defined in the legends. This left me a lot of latitude to define how a vrykolakas kills his victims in my book.
3) How do you go about your worldbuilding?
My story is an urban fantasy spanning millennia. I incorporated places such as ancient Assyria, Greece, Ireland, and the modern day United States in my tale. I researched the ancient customs of Greece as well as Greek mythology. I also researched the legends of Ireland, specifically the Tuatha de Danann, for certain parts of my story too. I changed some of these legends to fit my story, but I try to stay as true to the culture I’m presenting as I can. At one point in the story I basically have my main character, Keeva, say something like - You’ve heard the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, now let me tell you what really happened.
4) Since Keeva's story is the first in the series, can you give us an idea how many books are planned and give us any hints of what is to come?
At the present I have four books planned. The second book, The Darkness Below, should be available toward the end of summer this year. It picks up with the story of Keeva’s daughter, Kaie, who is a different type of vrykolakas. Her name literally means combat. Kaie becomes trapped in another realm known as Subtenna which is a perpetually dark place where no sunlight ever penetrates its surface. It is the realm of the dark elves. Her only desire is to find a way back home, but everything about Subtenna seems to conspire against her achieving that goal.
The third book deals with Connor, Kaie’s older brother. Connor is a gentle vrykolakas, not interested in much else other than his studies and the ancient but beautiful banshee, Genovefa. Connor desperately loves Genovefa, but she still pines away for her husband who died thousands of years ago. Broken-hearted and humiliated by her rejection, he leaves the realm of earth to nurse his wounded heart. Instead of soothing his soul, something terrible happens to Connor and he becomes a deadly creature whose sole purpose is to be a weapon of destruction.
The fourth book will focus on Kaie’s youngest daughter, Lyric. I haven’t completely decided what sort of creature Lyric is, but for now and maybe forever, she is a nymph not unlike Echo in Greek mythology. Speaking of Echo, she is featured in the second book. I spell her name as Ekho which is an alternate spelling I found while doing research. Ekho will also make an appearance in the fourth book as she will be the one explaining to Lyric what sort of nymph she is. Lyric’s story is part adventure and misadventure as she finds herself caught up in the quest for a powerful relic along with a cantankerous and dangerous man named Roan who rides the winds upon a fierce griffin. Lyric has no need to ride a griffin however, because she can fly.
5) How long did it take to write Keeva's story?
It took me approximately a month to write The Vrykolakas Deviation. I had the outline worked out in my mind and wanted to get the story written down as quickly as I could. After it was written I took several months to revise and edit the story.
6) Were any scenes difficult or easy to write? Did any characters surprise you?
Some scenes are more difficult than others. I think the fight scenes are the hardest. I want them to be believable. Describing a scene where there is tense action happening is tough. I spent a lot of time revising those scenes until I was satisfied with them.
I always have a character that surprises me. It’s kind of like they walk up to you and say - Bet you didn’t know this about me. In this story, Keeva was the one who surprised me. Part of what she struggles with is her own identity. She is born into a family of vrykolakes but isn’t really one of them and neither is her father. She feels like she missing something. I honestly didn’t know what that something was until I did the first revision of the story. It just hit me that second time around and I thought to myself, of course that’s what she is, why didn’t I see it before? It’s obvious to me now.
7) How would you describe your book in one line?
In a last ditch effort to find out who and what she really is, Keeva captures her father’s worst enemy, questions him, falls in love with him, sets him free, and tries to survive the aftermath which follows.
8) What are some of your favorite vampire books and books in general? Favorite authors?
I enjoyed the Twilight series in the same way I enjoy eating a chocolate fudge brownie sundae on special occasions. I also enjoyed reading Dracula which doesn’t sugar coat what a vampire actually is. Taken together both can offer up a full course meal.
My favorite authors include fantasy writers such as Patrick Rothfuss and his King Killer Chronicle series, Stephen Lawhead and his Song of Albion series, and Terry Brooks with his vast Shannara series, more specifically the recent Genesis of Shannara series. I also love just about anything written by Dean Koontz. If I try to imitate any writer it would be Koontz. His writing resonates with me. To me, reading one of his books is like sitting down for a cozy chat with a friend.
9) Did growing up in Carlsbad, New Mexico influence your writing in any way? Are there any moments or settings which stand out and influenced you as a writer today?
New Mexico isn’t called the Land of Enchantment for nothing. Carlsbad in particular has its share of urban legends. One of them is the story of the crazy lady who chases people out by the river with an ax. When I first heard it as a teen, the story conjured up a scene in my mind that would be equal to any horror movie ever made. I retold the tale to my mother who informed me that the story was partially true; the crazy ax woman was actually a cousin of my dad.
You see, my dad grew up on Rocky Arroyo just outside of Carlsbad. The ranching families who lived there were the Shafers, the Joneses, and the Campbells. They were a tough group of people. Vigilante justice was a way of life for them. To top that off, the Jones family had a very different view about William Bonney, a.k.a. Billy the Kid. By her estimation, Ma’am Jones, the matriarch of the family, said Billy was good boy.
So, when my mom told me that the crazy ax wielding lady was a relative, the urban legend seemed less like a scene out of a horror movie and more like a day in the life of a ranching woman from Rocky Arroyo.
Both urban legends and true legends from my own family tree are chock-full of inspiration for my stories.
10) Any thoughts on the state of publishing today? Is it easier/better for authors to get their books out onto the market?
The state of publishing today is exciting and terrifying at the same time. The opportunity to get your story out in the public eye is greater today than it ever has been in the past. The market is also flooded with thousands upon thousands of books which are all vying for readers’ attention. Getting your book noticed among the myriad of others is not an easy task, especially on a limited budget. Many books will lay unnoticed by the masses whether or not it is a well written book. Sometimes you find poorly written books at the top, and you have to scratch your head and wonder why that is, while much better books are sometimes never discovered. It doesn’t seem fair at times, but that’s life!
Nevertheless, I remain optimistic and excited. I like what is happening in the publishing industry these days. My readers, though they are not a multitude, are loyal and supportive. They encourage me and keep me coming back with another story for them.
Sherri will be awarding a $25 GC from Amazon to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $15 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn host. Follow the tour and comment to better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here.