Tony-Paul de Vissage Author Bio:
One of Tony-Paul de Vissage’s first movie memories is of being six years old, viewing the old Universal horror flick, Dracula’s Daughter, on television, and being scared sleepless—and that may explain a lifelong interest in vampires.
This was further compounded when the author crossed paths with a band of transplanted Transylvanian vampires sightseeing in the South. Thinking nosferatu were getting a bad press and in need of some favorable publicity, he decided to use his writing to change that attitude. Though it may be argued his efforts have probably done the opposite, no vamp has complained…yet.
A voracious reader whose personal library has been shipped more than 3,000 miles, Tony-Paul has read hundreds of vampire tales and viewed as many movies
The Maya Gave us Something More than a Calendar
I guess we can all relax. Archaeologists excavating in Xultun, Gautemala, have uncovered a hidden room which houses wall paintings indicating the world isn’t going to end on December 22, 2012. The walls reveal the oldest known astronomical tables from the Maya, dating from about 1200 years ago and extending 6,000 years into the future, proving that Time will indeed “keep marching on.”
Since that problem’s out of the way, let’s turn to something also Mayan but a lot less worrisome.
Recognize this plot?
In the jungles of the Yucatan, a lost city flourishes. It’s stumbled upon by scientists who carry away some object precious to the inhabitants. In doing so, they bring a curse upon themselves as the embodiment of the sacred object, itself mindless except for the desire for revenge, brings the wrath of the gods upon the wrongdoers. Various minor characters are killed off as the hero struggles to save his friends and return the sacred object to its home...and the inevitable happy ending flashes upon the screen.
My soon-to-be-published vampire novel Dark God Descending touches on a few of these points, and then goes flying wildly away, as is my usual wont when writing about familiar themes.
There’s a lost city—Nikte Uaxac, where life is going on as it has for thousands of years—and a sacred object is definitely stolen from the city, but there the similarity ends. The stolen object is the Emperor himself, Semris II, son of the god of Death, a vampire godling with too much curiosity about the Outside World. and Semris himself is the first to admit it. In fact, it’s his “insatiable curiosity” that gets him kidnapped in the first place.
To the Maya, the vampire wasn’t a cursed creature but simply another of their gods, several gods in fact. First and foremost was the God of Death, called by various names of Yum Cimil, Cizin, and Au Puch. Yum Cimil’s companion in the Underworld was Cama-Zotz, the demon bat, also known as Ikal Ahau, a gigantic bat who ate raw human flesh. There was also a god called Zotzilaha, depicted as a tall man with wings and fangs. Zotzilaha was supposed to have power over the living and was offered the sacrifice of human life.
Semris most closely resembles Cama-Zotz except for the fact that he is slowly in the process of becoming as human as the mortals over whom he rules. When the story opens, he’s already lost his protective armor of scales, and he’s never taken blood directly from a living being. He’s actually a “blood virgin” until his captors nearly starve him to death and he does the only thing he can. He attacks the one man who’ll soon become his friend.
Tuck walked over to the cage.
Oh, God, did that last shot kill him? As far as he could tell, Semris hadn’t moved.
When he saw the slow rise and fall of the bare chest, he felt abrupt relief. He also saw the golden amulet, recognizing it as the twin of the one that had started all this unpleasantness in the first place.
The fruit hadn’t been touched, was rapidly darkening, the sweet, overripe smell permeating the cellar, attracting flies. How the Hell did they get in here, anyway? Several big bluebottles were buzzing around inside the cell, hovering over the peaches, a couple crawling along the edges of the plate. One was floating in the water glass, wings fluttering and making little splashes.
Tuck knelt and opened the little flap, reaching inside to remove the glass. As he reached back in for the plate, it happened. so fast he didn’t even realize Semris had moved until he felt the iron grip upon his wrist, saw the fangs drop and the dark head covering his hand.
He screamed as twin razor slashes struck through his wrist...knowing no one could hear, struggled desperately to get away. Frantic, disbelieving thoughts whirling through his mind. Oh, God, this is why he didn’t eat the fruit. He’s a vampire! Sweet Jesus, he’s going to kill me! Help someone, help me! Why should they? I didn’t help him.
The pain went away, his arm numb from wrist to fingertips.
He knelt there on the floor, watching the pale body crouched so near he could have reached out and touched his shoulder...his bare, wingless shoulder.Where did his wings go? What happened to them? All he could do was watch those shoulders heave with the strength of each deep swallow, feeling his life ebb away, and a vague surprise that it didn’t hurt at all.
Eyes rolling up, Tuck gave a little sigh and collapsed against the bars. He was barely conscious as he saw Semris raise his head and release his arm. In spite of being only slightly aware, he felt a stab of surprise as the quiet voice whispered, “Gracias. Gracias por su sangre.”
He’s thanking me? Thanking me for letting him kill me? With an effort, he made himself withdraw his wounded arm, cradling it against his chest with his other hand. Forcing his eyes open, he stared at his wrist, fighting the wave of blackness floating before his eyes.
There was no bloody ripped-away flesh as he’d imagined, only four deep punctures. Two of the five little veins had been pierced, but the wounds were clean and already clotting. Tuck forced himself to take a deep breath, then let it out, and repeated the procedure. Keep breathing! Don’t pass out. He might decide to have a second helping.
“I took too much. I am sorry. I was too hungry.”
There was such concern in Semris’ voice that Tuck found himself replying, “That’s all right. I-if I’d known, I… Oh, God, what am I saying?” He fell silent, feeling a bout of hysteria galloping toward him.
Something was thrust into his hand. One of the peaches. Semris’ hand, between the bars, holding it out to him. “Aqui. Come. Pronto.”
So he took the peach and bit into it, choking slightly as the rich, sweet juice slid down his throat, but forced himself to keep chewing and swallowing. As the fruit sugar hit his stomach, he began to feel better.
“That was good.” With a sigh, he tossed the peach pit aside.
Through the bars, hands helped him to his feet. He leaned against the door, hanging onto it to keep his balance as dizziness flooded back.
“Again, I am sorry. He looked up, meeting Semris’ eyes, startled at the concern in them. “It has been so long since I have had the living wine.”
Living wine…what a beautiful way to describe it. Tuck still felt a little groggy, wondered if he was now under the vampire thrall. He decided to find out. “Am I your minion now?”
“Why would you think that?” Semris sounded genuinely puzzled.
“Well, you’ve taken my blood. Generally, when a vampire--”
“Vampiro! Donde?” Semris looked around quickly, arms crossing over his throat in a protective gesture.
“You.” Tuck answered, feeling he’d made a mistake. “Aren’t you a vampire?”
“Of course not!” The answer was disdainful that Tuck might mistake him for such a vile creature. “I am a Dark Lord. Un demonio.” The pale chin lifted proudly. “Los vampiros are creatures accursed.”
Tuck thought that over. “And you’re not.”
“No.” Semris shook his head, the dark hair swinging. “I am not.”
Tuck realized he must be feeling better, to be able to marvel at the absurdity of this conversation.
That’s grad student Tuck’s introduction to Semris, with whom he soon develops an emotional bond, as they communicate through an archaic form of Spanish.
It’s the relationship between these two men—separated by millennia but joined by their unexpected friendship—that makes up the majority of the story. Oh, there’s a love story, too, don’t doubt it—as well as a love triangle, but it’s the interaction between Tucker and Semris, and their attempts to learn about and accept each other which eventually changes both their lives, gaining one immortality and the other humanity, as well as affecting their loved ones and their people forever.
Dark God Descending has been described as a “unique, stay-up-all-night read.” by Margaret Marr, and received 5 Angels from Dark Angel Reviews. House of Toad called it “a classic Indiana Jones adventure with a dark and bloody spin.”
As prejudiced as I am, I think it’s got something for anyone who likes the paranormal genre. Adventure, suspense…sex, of course, most definitely. Wouldn’t be a love story without it. There’s some humor, as a staid and upright physician loses his inhibitions enough to become a permanent resident of his own particular Twilight Zone. And don’t forget the blood and violence. Plenty of that, too. After all, it is a story about a vampire. And the villain’s fate? Totally and completely fitting, and at the same time ironic in the extreme. If it were a movie, the audience would cheer!
Dark God Descending is scheduled for a very appropriate December release by Class Act Books, December 15, to be exact. I tried to get it scheduled for December 22, but the publishers just wouldn’t agree.
NOTE: To celebrate the discovery of the “new” Mayan calendar, I’m offering a copy of my novella Vampires are Forever to one lucky commenter who can answer this question: Which Mayan vampire god does Semris most closely represent?
Author website: http://www.tony-paul.com