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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guest Post by Author: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

VampirePhile is honoured to welcome to you today, author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, on tour for her latest release: Burning Shadows : A Novel of the Count St.Germain.   Today, Ms. Yarbro Guest posts on Saint-Germain's  Rules of Vampirism.

Saint-Germain’s Rules of Vampirism

When I began working on the Saint-Germain Cycle, way back in the winter of 1970/71, I read extensively in the folklore of vampirism; I had studied the subject in college, and had continued to pick up interesting books on the subject — most of them are still on my reference shelves.  Wanting to maintain a consistency of vision in the five novels I intended to write, I made a list of what was believed of vampires the world over.  Since, as far as can be determined, all cultures past and present have at least one vampire myth in it — defining a vampire as an improperly dead person who sustains life by feeding on the living, usually through blood — just as all have a were-beast myth — that being a living person who, under external influences, transforms into a beast when those influences are present, as differentiated from shape-shifters, who are living people who can, at will, transform physically into any living creature.  Drawing on my reading, and my desire to push the Dracula image as far to the positive as possible and still have a recognizable literary vampire, I prepared my charts.

Anything that was held to be true in eighty percent of the cases I took as true.  Of the remaining beliefs, if I found one I liked that didn’t conflict with the majority of the folklore, I kept it.  The rest I discarded.  Those rules have remained with the Saint-Germain stories from the beginning and will, in all likelihood, last until the end.  And here they are:

      1) What the vampire gains from blood is the quality of contact with the person providing it.  Intimate love is more sustaining than erotic dreams, and far more nourishing than fear and panic: the more satisfied and aware his partner is, the more the blood nurtures him.  This makes Saint-Germain and his blood relations very responsive lovers.  Due to being undead, Saint-Germain is impotent, but his female blood relatives can have ordinary intercourse.

      2) Vampires are vitiated by sunlight, and in order to deal with prolonged exposure, Saint-Germain lines the soles of his footgear with his native earth which has to be renewed at the new moon, or it begins to lose potency.  He also lines saddles, baths, foundations of houses, the floor of carriages, the seats of cars, etc. with his native earth, replacing it as it loses strength.  He sleeps on a mattress atop a chest containing his native earth.

      3) Although capable of great physical strength, especially at night, vampires are immobilized by running water — this includes tides and currents.  Even still water can be uncomfortable. 

      4) Saint-Germain and his blood relations do not eat food.  And they do not drink.  Saint-Germain uses the ultimate vampire line, “I do not drink wine” in almost every story, an homage to Dracula
    5) Saint-Germain and his blood relations have no reflection, either in mirrors or in water.
If photographed, the image comes out blurred.  Saint-Germain has a waxwork of himself for such things as passport and visa photos.

      6) Saint-Germain and his blood relations die the True Death when their spines are severed or their nervous system is destroyed.  Being undead, they cannot catch or transmit diseases, they cannot drown or freeze.  Since fire destroys the body and the nervous system, it is deadly to vampires.

      7) Sacred or holy objects of any religion have no effect on Saint-Germain or any of his blood relations.  Entering a church or other religious structure does him no harm.  He is not repelled by prayers or other religious rites.

      8) Saint-Germain’s memory is very good, but not always totally accurate.  He occasionally has trouble recalling details more than 500 years in the past.  Saint-Germain’s first 1,500 years of undead life were monstrous.  He is discomfited by his memories of that time and rarely addresses his life during those years.

      9) Saint-Germain and those of his blood have some telepathic power over animals.  It is difficult to do, and requires almost complete rest, but they can use it when needed to influence animal behavior for a short time.

      10) As closely as possible Saint-Germain’s stories keep to what is known about the real man, and the claims he made in his lifetime.  Where there are blanks in his biography, I can fill in as I like, but the historical man’s accounts largely determine the Saint-Germain stories’ settings.

The real Comte de Saint-Germain was an alchemist, claimed to be 4,000 years old and said that he kept his youth by drinking the Elixir of Life.  He was known to sponsor a publishing house in Amsterdam; he claimed he could make jewels and gold; he spoke over a dozen languages; he was ambidextrous and his signature was the same in both his left and right hand; and had traveled extensively.  He wore black and white almost exclusively; was rarely seen during the day; did not eat in public.  He also claimed to have the secret for the sovereign remedy that would cure all illness. 
His servant was named Roger, and he said he had met Saint-Germain in Rome during the reign of Vespasianus.  Roger vouched for all of Saint-Germain’s stories so long as they occurred after they met.  Roger himself disappeared from Europe and all recorded information sometime in 1784 or 1785.  Saint-Germain’s last verified sighting by someone who had known him at the Court of Louis XV was in Genoa in1805; Saint-Germain said he was going to Egypt to continue his alchemical studies.  Since he had been reported dead twice before, some dismiss this sighting as fiction, but it seems so like the man that I hope it’s true.

So far these formulae have held the series together over thirty years. With a little luck, they'll continue to do so for some time to come.

Burning Shadows (St. Germain Chronicles #23, Novel #21) is available now, where good books are sold!


Soni (VampirePhile) said...

A great Thank You goes to Ms. Yarbro for Guest posting today! ~ Soni

booklover0226 said...

I'm a big fan of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Her Saint-Germain series is the tops.

Tracey D

Anonymous said...

great guest post today! Thanks, Soni for posting, and thanks to Ms. Yarbro for being here today! I love reading rules of various vampire worlds, and it's nice to see that Ms. Yarbro kept many of the traditions: no reflection, running water, native earth, in her tales. What started off as 5 books -- now 23! Amazing. Here's to another 23!

booklover0226 said...

Happy Birthday, Saint-Germain!

Tracey D