Top SF author Jon Courtenay Grimwood goes all “Vampires of Venice” with his latest book, and here he explains how he’s going to add some new twists to genre in The Fallen Blade
The latest SFX also features an exclusive First Look extract of the novel’s cracking first chapter. Don’t miss it!
As a bonus exclusive for the SFX website, he’s also given us his persional guide to Reclaiming The Vampire in The Fallen Blade .
What five vampires clichés did you want to avoid in writing the novel?
1 That they glitter in the sunlight. Hell, they burn up like a streak of dry ice, unless well protected and even then they feel as comfortable as an ice-cream sitting in a microwave waiting for someone to hit the on switch.
2 They’re emo. I’ve nothing against emos – someone has to sit around war memorials taking bad drugs and drinking cider – but vampires aren’t wandering the night because they're heartbroken or couldn’t get tickets to the right gig. They own the bloody night.
3 They don’t like crucifixes and garlic bread. Can I introduce you to my Venice-dwelling atheist vampire, who spends a lot of time hanging out in churches looking at girls. Well, one girl in particular.
4 They don’t have a heartbeat. Not sure where that came from. Stoker’s female vamps are rosy-cheeked after feeding. And when staked, gush blood like burst balloons. Sounds like a circulatory system and functioning heart to me.
5 They sleep in coffins. Umm, why? As disguise, possibly. As a convenient way of travelling, good idea. (I mean, whose going to open a sealed coffin that has the right papers.) But every damn night for centuries...?
What five pieces of vampire lore did you feel you had to include?
1 They sleep during daylight. Well, sleep’s probably the wrong word. But their bodies definitely use the day for downtime.
2 Silver burns. That stuff with crucifixes? It only works when the cross is silver. Gold, wood and ivory? Forget it... Vampires need a weakness. Otherwise put the undead among humans you’ll have a short novel about an even shorter war between wolves and lambs.
3 Vampires heal fast. Upside, less injury time. Downside, an inability to get properly drunk, stoned or wasted. If your system responds to alcohol the way it responds to wounds or poison; then it's going to heal you from those five pints whether you want it to or not.
5 Crossing water weakens them. Vampires need contact with the earth to keep their speed and power. Removing that contact drains the power. Hence Count Dracula travelling with boxes of earth.
What are the three things you want to add to vampire mythology?
1 That vampires and werewolves come from the same place… whatever, whenever or wherever that is. They’re closer in kind than either will admit. But then family fights are always fiercest.
2 Feeding – at least first feeding – is tied to the fullness of the moon. As the moon grows fuller the vampire need to nip behind the bike sheds gets more extreme. It’s the ultimate loss of innocence and five times as messy.
3 Vampires are a self-selecting species. Tycho is the first of his species into Europe, a couple of generations before Vlad Dracul. This – for me, and I hope others – is an ur-myth.