Welcome to another installment of World-Building Wonders! Find a Friday escape into an author’s awesome world — and worldview! Today’s featured author is actually, me.
In addition to being your story-building, book-happy blogger and author, I’m also a founding member of Uncommon Universes Press, a small press publishing books with deep world-building, fresh concepts, and the struggle of good vs. evil.
As part of this, myself and the other part of my creative brain, Julia Busko, are releasing a novella from our urban fantasy/horror series as a free online serial – Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water. It’s being released under our Asylum Press imprint: burning the light of truth into the darkness.
This story partly came about from brainstorming, dramatized in Reinventing Vampires. Again. We wanted to use the vampire mythos to tell a new kind of story. One that focuses on chronic illnesses and disabilities (issues close to my heart). On people grasping for anything to heal them and make them stronger than a deadly genetic condition. Even if that means turning to the occult.
Blood Mercy features a disease called the blood curse. It’s a deadly, hereditary blood disease that is present in all parts of the world, and in all cultures. I based it partly on the blood conditions of porphyria and hemophilia. Individuals with the blood curse require additional blood in order to stay alive.
In ancient times, people with the blood curse used to drink animal and human blood from donors to try and stave off the illness. However, it was largely ineffective. Many times, they died, often alone in sick houses, or houses of the dead, where they were sequestered due to their physical and presumed spiritual uncleanness. In frustration, some turned to witch doctors, shamans, and other practitioners of the occult, seeking a cure of their conditions.
They got one. But at the expense of their souls. The drinking of blood in occult rituals turned many to madness, and others gave into their dark lusts for power and control. They filed their teeth and, empowered by other abilities gained from their activities, saw themselves as more than human. Better. Later on in history, they were called vampires.
Standing against them is Melrose. Once Thoth, an Egyptian from a wealthy family with the blood curse, he favored reason over the occult practices prized by his family. He studied at the library of Alexandria, and then traveled to study from Aristotle in Greece. There, Melrose developed one of the first crude transfusion devices, far earlier than recorded history.
With that, he could free the blood cursed and give people a hope based in facts and science. He would need to find donors, and refine the system. The blood cursed, now the Blood Kind, still suffer side effects, including psychological conditions, sensory processing disorders, light sensitivity, and a dependency on transfusions. Moreover, the transfusions give the Blood Kind exceptional longevity and surprising gifts, which some use for good–and others, for ill.
But the Houses of the Dead still stand between the vampires and the clean humans. And Thoth, now Melrose Durante, leads them. Even with the disabilities and their common chronic illness, they are still the best chance to keep the darkness at bay.
But when an attack threatens his beloved family and estranged wife, will Melrose’s knowledge be enough to save them?