UPDATE! We have a winner: Natalie Hartford! Congratulations!
I’d like to welcome Denise Verrico to my blog today! I hope you’ll find this as interesting as I do! Take it away, Denise….
When I set out to write Cara Mia my first Immortyl Revolution novel, I read a lot of books on vampire legends. I’ve always been attracted to the figure of the vampire. The all-powerful vampire appealed to me as a kind of dark superhero. Almost every culture has some sort of vampire myth. Like most people, I was familiar with the Eastern European vampire myths. In these stories, the vampire is typically thought of as an “undead” demon or re-animated corpse that feeds on the lifeblood or sometimes the soul or sexual energy of human victims.
As I dug further into the lore, I found that a lot of evidence points to these vampire legends first appearing in India. This gave me the basis of the Immortyl culture of my vampire series. Indian mythology provides many examples of vampire-like spirits and deities, but one deity often associated with vampirism is Kali, a fierce form of the mother goddess (Shakti) and consort of Shiva. Kali is an intimidating figure, usually depicted as emaciated with withered dark blue or black skin and three eyes. She even wears the body parts of her victims as jewelry and has a blood-red tongue that sticks out in defiance. Her favorite places are battlefields where she and her attendants, the dakini, become intoxicated on the blood of victims.
Because of this fearsome image and some pop-culture references to her, Kali is an often-misunderstood figure in the West. However, Kali is the goddess of time, not death, and only slays evil demons. Symbolically, she annihilates the selfish impulses and ego that bind us to our material bodies. Her aspect may be ferocious, but she is called Kali Maa (Mother Kali) and is revered in many parts of India. Historically, only one group associated with Kali was known for violence, the Thugees. These devotees would waylay travelers and use them as blood sacrifices to the goddess. The Thugees were the inspiration behind the Kali worshipers in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, hence a lot of the western misconception.
Tantric cults often focus on Kali. Tantra is an older religious tradition than Hinduism, dating back before the Aryan tribes migrated into India. These groups center on Shakti (female principle) worship and sometimes use sex and even blood in their rituals. The idea behind this is to gain control over the body to capture divine energy and gain blessings. The more I read, the more I became fascinated with the stories surrounding Kali and tantric practices. This led me to imagine the origin of the Immortyl culture in my books.
Ms. Verrico is an Urban Fantasy author and New Jersey native who grew up in Western Pennsylvania. She attended Point Park College and majored in Theatre Arts. For seven seasons, she was a member of the Oberon Theatre Ensemble in NYC. Denise has loved vampire stories since childhood and is a fan of the Dark Shadows television series. Her books are published by L&L Dreamspell Publishing and include: Cara Mia (Book One of the Immortyl Revolution Series), Twilight of the Gods (Book Two of the Immortyl Revolution Series), and My Fearful Symmetry (Book Three of the Immortyl Revolution Series). She currently lives in Ohio with her husband, son, and her flock of seven spoiled parrots.
So, had you heard of these vampire myths? Did you learn anything new? Relieved there are no sparkles? Have a vampire myth to share? I love comments and to show my appreciation, I have a monthly drawing for a $10 gift card of awesome from AnaBanana Bath & Body Treats. Comment to be entered (and it doesn’t hurt to leave a contact email, though I also announce the winner on the first Monday of the new month).
Denise is also offering an ebook of Annals of the Immortyls to one lucky commentator. Ask her a question or answer one of the questions above and be sure to leave an email or website address where she can contact you, if you want to be entered in her drawing. Her drawing will remain open until August 14, 2012. Many thanks to Denise for visiting and for such an interesting blog post! I had no idea!