Or why Vampires are cool no matter what context they’re in.
I mean… you gotta have Vampires, right?
They’re just so cool! Humanoid, obligate sanguivores with superpowers full of elegance and eloquence… For me that’s all you really need in your basic Vampire starting kits. After that you can sort of just go wild with them; as everything else you throw on top of those traits is just set dressing. Be they glowy vampires with a thing for high schoolers or black leather-clad vampires with strong opinions concerning the topography a motherfucker ought to be ice skating on… As long as you have the blood drinking, style, and some manner of super powers… audiences are generally pretty lenient with what they’ll accept from your vampires.
So like I said… I just decided to go wild with what my vampires could do.
I was always of the opinion that if you were gonna have such a shake up to the Human placement on a given food chain… there needed to be some reason as to why the other entities ‘disrupting’ the usual chain haven’t completely supplanted the Humans in that world. Perhaps – in the case of our story – it’s in part because all of your Humans low key have superpowers that makes picking a fight with the species as a whole just a bit much. As of S&V: Family Affairs, in the world we know about four types of entities that display sapience: Humans, Fae, Fek’Thal, and Elementals. Then we have hybrid entities such as Witches, Slaugh, and Drax.
Silence & Vanity: Family Affairs was the first story I wrote that I could honestly say to myself, “Hey, this isn’t all that bad!” I personally find it to be an enjoyable read and feel like I really got the hang of both Iris and Amber with this story. Part of this comes down to how much easier it is to write a story when you don’t have to establish the foundational context of the main characters. We already know who Iris and Amber are at this point, so we can jump right into their developing dynamic. At this point, they’ve been through their first mission together and have had significant downtime in the mystery inn and the surrounding villages. In their debut story, we spent about equal amounts of time in both character’s heads, learning a bit about what made them tick. Here we spent a lot more time in Iris’ head as we learn about Amber and her circumstances from Iris’ perspective.
The mysterious inn and Tadaq was one of those early morning ideas I had that in retrospect I can’t believe I didn’t initially have this sort of thing planned into my world building. Especially as we start learning about Wrong Places in the next story. I think it neatly encapsulates a lot of the feel of the world: what is strange versus what isn’t strange, how people react to the bizarre, and how our main characters aren’t ‘Scooby-Doo and the Gang’. People like Iris are curious about the bizarre, but will more than likely leave things well enough alone. Amber on the other hand can’t grasp why the bizarre would even be worth discussing if you’re not going to try to investigate it. Reina is more the type to investigate the bizarre, but only if the bizarre thing in question seems like it could be putting other people in danger. And our upcoming character is very much the type to not realize they are in a bizarre situation at all and gormlessly meander along their merry way, completely oblivious.
Finally getting our protagonists to Sventholme, a nation more or less run by Drax, was a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed all sorts of vampire media in my time and wanted to try to do something a bit more special with them. A running gag you’ll see with immortals in my stories is that they cannot keep track of small denominations of time for shit. The Drax too are like this and thus keep many Humans close at hand in order to manage their affairs and territories. To me, the biggest thing I had to work out was how a country run by Vampires that was also surrounded by Human-run nations could exist. More over, I didn’t want to have any ‘vegetarian’ Vampires, as a major theme of the world of Solbalim is that the consumption of others makes you powerful, but comes with different limitations. So I envisioned this sort of country-scale protection racket where the Vampire overlords generally provide protection in the form of being terrifyingly powerful entities that neither Human nations nor the Fae want to actually pick a fight with. In fact, due to the Fae as a species fearing the disease that resides in the blood of Drax, the country of Sventholme actually makes for a very effective buffer against Fae encroachment into the Human territories.
I do so love it when people (and monsters) find ways to work together.
In terms of things that are lacking in this story, I would have loved to have taken more time to describe the small portion of Sventholme that we DO get to see. The layout of Isolde’s mansion and how disorienting their Shadow Magic was didn’t really come across that well in my opinion. Also the majesty of the combination Library/Research Center that is The Library of Sventholme was not well communicated, so I needed to do better there. However, as far as the characters and their interactions are concerned, I was actually quite happy with it all. Although we are only seeing snapshots of life within Isolde’s Domain and extended territory, I think we get a pretty good idea of the nature of this place in the hierarchical sense.
Also in case it wasn’t obvious… the Silence & Vanity stories were romance stories the whole time!!!