Friday, August 27, 2010

The (Somewhat) Serious Business of Being a Vampire

Originally the darlings of the horror genre, it seems natural that vampires would bring that darkness with them when they venture into the fantasy and the romance sections of the bookstore. And some of the best-selling vamp fiction can be quite dark: Laurell K Hamilton pushes boundaries and buttons with every new novel. J.R. Ward's fanged heroes tend to be tormented men in need of the healing power of love. In fact, the brooding vamp is so common he's a cliche in the genres of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

So where did all these comic vampire novels come from? It was probably inevitable, when you consider the fact that humor is often rooted in pain. Sometimes we laugh at other people's pain, and sometimes we laugh at our own pain.

Who's had more opportunity to accumulate pain than a 400 year old vampire?

It started in the Fantasy genre, with authors like Lionel Fenn (Mark of the Moderately Vicious Vampire), Christopher Moore (Bloodsucking Fiends) and Terry Pratchett (Carpe Jugulum). Paranormal romance authors soon followed: Kerrelyn Sparks, Katie MacAlister, MaryJanice Davidson, Gerry Bartlett, and Lyndsay Sands have hit the bestseller lists by exploring the funny side of being a bloodsucker (or dating one). Light Paranormal has become a subgenre with a following all its own.

I tend to write darker characters, like Rihat in Blood Hero, just because those are stories that come to me. But I admire the heck out of anyone who can make me laugh, especially when a creature as fearsome as a vamp is involved.

How about you? Do you like your vamps bloody serious or fanged and funny?

Leave a comment, along with your email address, and you could win a free copy of Blood Hero and a $10 B&N gift certificate.

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

She's Sex, He's Death: A vampire and a succubus join forces in ancient Babylon

When Babylonian soldier 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, enslaved by lust, 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?

---+ An AllRomanceEbooks bestseller +---

"Hot, exotic, fast-paced and downright mesmerizing, this is one short story lovers of the erotic won't want to miss."

--Amanda, Rants-n-Raves

"Ms. Drake does a wonderful job of bringing action, sensuality, and passion into the story. The way she writes is intelligent and kept my attention. ...Although this is the first story that I have read by this author, it certainly won't be the last."

--Claudia Rhyes, Manic Readers

"This is a very short, fast-paced read that left me breathless. I was hooked from the first page, drawn in by the fabulous writing and the original plot. ...Ms. Drake, please continue Rihat's story, I want more of, his story I mean."

--Strega, The Pagan and the Pen

"The sex was hot...Though this was an erotic paranormal read, it was so much more. The plot was fully realized, creating a new world, new rules and an intriguing story."

--LynneMarie, HEA Reviews


Rihat knelt before the limestone statue of Marduk, more out of despair than reverence for the stern-faced war god. Tomorrow, Rihat would seek out the monster that was ravaging his village, and tomorrow, he would die.

Once he was dead, who would protect his sister from the beast?

Anger tightened its hold on his throat, and he growled, trying to clear the ache that threatened to choke him. He'd wasted too much time already, first begging his fellow soldiers to fight with him, then trying to bribe palace staff to give him an audience with the king of Babylon, and finally spending his last few shekels on a scrawny pig for Marduk's priests to sacrifice on his behalf, hoping they could tell him how to defeat the monstrous akhazu by himself. All for nothing.

What could he do now but face the beast himself and die with his honor intact?

If he died well, perhaps Marduk would protect his sister.

As he opened his mouth to repeat his prayer, a fierce prickling crawled over his skin. Invisible, fiery needles pierced every inch of him, stinging his arms and legs, burning his belly, inflaming his cock. The air turned thick and heavy, and he gasped, blood pounding in his temples, a sudden, involuntary erection straining against his loincloth, lifting his kilt. His strength ebbed; the muscles in his thighs trembled.

Had Marduk noticed the frustration behind his plea, and chosen to punish him for it?

Behind him, a scuffing sound. Rihat jumped to his feet and whirled, lightheaded with the effort, grunting with the pain of stiff knees forced to move too quickly.

A woman.

Not just a woman. A beautiful woman. The most beautiful woman he'd ever seen.

She wore a robe of white linen so sheer he could see the red-brown circles of her nipples and the dark, furry triangle between her legs. Her skin shimmered gold, like the desert sand at midday. Her hair, black as pitch, was unbound, flowing down her back to brush against the back of her thighs like a veil. A huge carnelian, like blood turned to stone, hung from the intricate chain around her neck.

His cock throbbed harder, as if trying to tear through his clothes to get to her. If he were naked, it would be pointing straight at her.

Why hadn't he heard her enter the room?

She examined him deliberately, head to toe. When her kohl-lined eyes paused at his groin, she smiled and licked her lips with a delicate pink tongue.

"Who are you?" he rasped.

"Rejoice, Rihat," the woman answered. "Your prayer has been answered."

* * * *

She could smell his arousal with every breath, a musky, salty scent far more pleasing than the smoky-sweet myrrh permeating the temple. He was clearly a soldier, dressed in the standard leather tunic reinforced with bronze scales, a fringed wool kilt and battered sandals. Alert brown eyes over his straight nose, broad cheeks tapering down to his strong chin, wavy black hair pulled back with a cord--she would have found him attractive even if she hadn't been half-mad with the need to feed.

Iltani reined in her hunger, ignoring the deep ache in her core, the dampness between her legs. She'd finally found a warrior who might suit her purposes. She couldn't risk frightening him off before she'd had a chance to talk to him.

Even if he doesn't accept your offer, he might let you feed anyway. Few men had the willpower to resist an ardat-lili. As much as she hated what she'd become, Iltani could only restrain her hunger for so long.

He looked like he was about to speak. "It won't help to call out," she said. "No one will hear anything until I'm finished with you."

"Who are you?" the tall, well-muscled warrior demanded again. His fingers twitched, clenched into fists. "How do you know my name?"

"I heard you praying. You may call me Iltani."

The warrior took a sharp breath. Sweat beaded on his brows, highlighting the rapid pulse at his temples. "What are you?"

"My father is Ea."

"A goddess," he breathed, fear flickering over his face. He banished it with a scowl that in no way distracted Iltani from the prodigious lump beneath his kilt.

She was so hungry. "Half-goddess. My mother was human."

"What do you want with me?"

The prayer Iltani had overheard was for his sister, and Rihat was clearly prepared to die in order to protect her. A man who could love that deeply deserved the truth. But was he brave enough to look that truth squarely in the eye? Or would he recoil with disgust as soon as he learned what she really was?

"I served as one of Ishtar's handmaidens, until the goddess caught her consort Tammuz ogling me." Even the anger roused by the memory of her exile wasn't enough to eclipse her swelling hunger for Rihat. She wanted to push him down, to kiss him, to drink in the vitality he radiated. The delicate linen of her robe, soft as it was, seemed to scour her swollen nipples with every breath she drew. The tingling between her legs grew stronger. "Ishtar cursed me to be an ardat-lili and banished me to live in your realm."

Rihat didn't back away, or start praying, or make that silly gesture humans believed would protect them against evil spirits. Was he that brave? Or did he simply love his sister that much? He asked, "Why me?"

Hope welled in Iltani's heart. Had she finally found a man who would help her? She'd already released three others from their vows of service--two because she caught them abusing their newfound abilities, and a third because he'd proven too squeamish about her curse to be reliable.

"I require a warrior to help me break the curse. In return, I can give you the strength to defeat your akhazu."

Rihat regarded her in silence.

"Once the curse is broken," Iltani added, "You'd be free again. But until then, you must serve me without question."

"Free," he repeated dubiously. "Why would you release me once I've agreed to serve you?"

She shrugged, tried to hide the trembling thrill she felt as his eyes followed the movement. "That is not your concern."

* * * *

"How?" Rihat asked, barely able to think for the thunder of lust through his veins.

"How what?"

"How would you help me kill the akhazu?" It was a mistake to bargain with her. How many men had she killed, seducing them and feeding on their souls? Sucking them to husks and abandoning them, the poor bastards still crying for her touch with their dying breath. No matter that her father was the God of Wisdom, this woman was a demon, and any sane man would run from her.

But if she could save his sister, he'd give up his sanity as willingly as he'd give up his life.

Iltani licked her lips again and the muscles in his thighs shivered, his aching cock shifting beneath the fabric that restrained it. He was certain all the blood in his body was gathering in his groin. Even knowing what she was, he wanted her more than he'd wanted anything in his life.

"The blood of the gods still flows through my veins," Iltani answered. "Drink from me, and you'll have the strength of fifty men. For a while."

He could barely talk, he was working so hard at restraining himself. He wanted to seize her, to back her up against the wall and take her. Right now. "How long is a while?"

"Long enough to save your sister."

"While I serve you, you'll...feed from me?" he asked.

"I won't take enough to weaken you. I need you to be strong."

Did he believe her? Did it matter? She was the only hope he had of defeating the akhazu. A deal with a demon. It was foolish, but he was desperate.

No doubt, he would enjoy serving her as much as he would regret it. "I'm ready."

The ardat-lili smiled. "Take off your tunic."

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Renee Vincent said...

LOVED this part of your excerpt:

She could smell his arousal with every breath, a musky, salty scent far more pleasing than the smoky-sweet myrrh permeating the temple. He was clearly a soldier, dressed in the standard leather tunic reinforced with bronze scales, a fringed wool kilt and battered sandals. Alert brown eyes over his straight nose, broad cheeks tapering down to his strong chin, wavy black hair pulled back with a cord--she would have found him attractive even if she hadn't been half-mad with the need to feed.

Great to meet you!
Checking out your work now....

Madeleine Drake said...

Thanks for stopping by Renee, and I'm so glad that you enjoyed the excerpt. It's great to meet you too!

I checked out your website, and Raeliksen looks fabulous--Vikings and Celts, yum. :) I had to buy a copy!

Michelle Miles said...

I was lucky to read this before it was published and I can say it's a great story! And the cover is really hot too - I love that guy. :)

Stephanie said...

I have to say I like my vamps both seriously bloody and fanged & funny! :) But it's probably because I love contemp. as much as my paranormal. Each writer's style brings something special to each genre that is too irrestistable to ignore...well for me atleast ;)

Congrats on you story! The excerpt is truly intriguing and a fabulous piece of writing. You've caught my attention on previous sites and I can't wait to read more!

Boone Brux said...

I'm a huge Christopher Moore fan and Bite Me is one of my favorite books. But it's not because of the vampires, it's because of Abbie Normal, the 16 yr. old Goth girl.

I love humor.

I also love your cover. Wow, that's beautiful. Wonderful blog.

Boone Brux

Brandlwyne aka Brandy B said...

Hi... I love the sound of this book. I have seen it everywhere I go recently, alot of ppl are talking about it. Don't worry it is all good!!!


cat said...

Think it depends on the writer, I'd like to see a vamp who is serious but can maybe have an odd sense of humor. I mean wouldn't they? Dead, old but not aging, gotta find some humor in life to get thru the day (or in their case, night). Serious when the circumstances call for it, but able to see the irony that might be in their life too.


I cannot wait to read this book. The excerpt was very sexy.


Madeleine Drake said...

Hi, Michelle! Thank you for stopping by, o crit partner of mine! :)

BTW, everyone, Michelle's hot contemporary, Sex, Lies and Martinis, is today's giveaway in the TRS Book-a-Day giveaway.

Madeleine Drake said...

Hey, Stephanie, good to meet you! I'm delighted that you like the excerpt, and hope you enjoy the rest of the story.

I agree, it's hard to choose between the serious ones and the funny ones. :)

Madeleine Drake said...

Hi, Boone! Thanks, I got so lucky with the cover; my fellow author Dakota Trace was kind enough to design it.

I love Mr. Moore -- the first book I read by him was Practical Demonkeeping and it kept me up all night (in the second best possible way). ;)

Madeleine Drake said...

Howdy, Brandy! Okay, I won't worry. *blushes* :) I appreciate you stopping in, and hope you enjoy it!

Madeleine Drake said...

Cat, I agree, it would be cool to see a vamp with an odd sense of humor. I bet someone who's immortal would have a very different perspective on the world that us short-lived humans.

Also, depending on how old the vamp is and how adaptable, it would be interesting to read a vamp that had never managed to outgrow the mindset he/she was raised in. While it's true that human psychology is universal in many respects, different ancient cultures had some very different beliefs than we hold today.

Madeleine Drake said...

Loretta, are you stalking me? ;) It's cool to see you here--hope you are having a wonderful Friday! I'm so glad you found the excerpt sexy.

flchen1 said...

Some of both, Maddy--I enjoy the intense, brooding vamps, but I also love humor, so I enjoy the lighter side of vampires, too :) So... all of them? ;) Thanks for the fun post today!

f dot chen at comcast dot net

stacey said...

I read both types more of the dark type but could be because the funnier type are harder to find.

Anonymous said...

Great excerpt. I generally do not love vampires...holy smokes I think this one might sway me!

Amy m
atc 218 @ aol . Com

darkreader said...

This book sounds great! I love all books paranormal!!
Hot Cover.

denisetobar at yahoo dot com

Maureen said...

It definitely depends on my mood whether I like the serious ones or the more funny stories. Sometimes I do want to read a serious story with lots of emotion and then other times I just want to smile.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Cat said...

Oops...didn't leave my email address in case I'm lucky enough to win!!


Kathy said...

I loved the excerpt and the book would be so interesting. Love your descriptions. Goodluck with the book. I read a lot of Keri Arthur books and she has a were-wolf and vampire that team up really nice.

Jenn said...

Adding to my TBR list - sounds like a great book!
malleybean at gmail

Madeleine Drake said...

Thanks to all of you for stopping by! I enjoyed hearing your thoughts on light vs. dark paranormal.

The winner of Blood Hero and $10 B&N gift certificate is:

Maureen (mce1011 AT aol)

Mauren, I'll email you shortly. :)