How This All Started
I live in Toronto which is a city full of little countries. We have a Little Italy, Little Portugal, Little India, Greektown, Chinatown, Japantown, Koreatown and more!
I spent my whole life waiting for a vampire book which reflects the reality of the city I live in. Because people come in different colors, shapes and sizes, so why can’t vampires?
So I got tired of waiting and decided to write my own multicultural, dark fantasy book.
My writing is for fellow readers interested in different cultures, have diverse backgrounds & gender (LGBT), as well people interested in a new take on old ideas. Unconsciously much of the book is built on Taoist philosophies which have been told to me through my life which I usually ignored most of the time.
The Ideas That Inspired This Book
I’ve spent over 10 years thinking about writing this book and researching different ideas, so here are just a few tidbits:
Vampires & Blood
Vampires are what humans yearn to become – immortal, have eternal youth, super strength and healing powers.
The bloodless vampire thing may seem strange but it’s quite common of Chinese vampires. I grew up watching movies about Jiang Shi which means “dry corpse” and they suck Chi or living energy from people. They have green skin, are dressed in ancient Chinese clothing and they are like zombies because they can’t think.
When I was 12, I started reading Anne Rice and I was blown away. Her vampires were elegant and smart. Also, later on, I developed a fear of blood, after a needle stick injury and was put on anti-HIV meds. I had to undergoing multiple blood tests for a year to make sure things were ok. This made me think – if vampires are so smart and lived for so many years, they ought to have figured out another food source by now because blood is such a hassle! (messy, dirty, lots of corpses to bury…generally it’s troublesome)
So in this book, after East meets the West, knowledge is exchanged and all vampires don’t have to suck blood anymore.
Magic Users (Sorceresses & Warlocks)
There are lots of books on magic, but in this book, magic is explained by the concept of Chi. By having control of the Chi in your body, you are able to manipulate physics to create magic. It’s kind of like “the force”, and how much magic you are capable of depends on what Chi Level you are at.
I learned a lot about Chi by speaking with Chinese Taoist Tai Chi practitioners (among them is my uncle who talks a lot) and Chinese doctors. This is a real concept used for healing people and it is true that there are different levels. At the “top” level, you attain Nirvana like the Buddha and you become enlightened.
In the book, magic users are persecuted by vampires enemies. So all the witch hunts in history that went on were really vampires living in human society trying to kill off magic users.
Like Tamara, I love my grandmother very much. When my grandmother had a stroke a few years ago I was thinking I would do anything to make sure she gets better again, even give her years of my life.
When I told her about this, she said, “You are a stupid girl, stop thinking nonsense!”
But the idea of having a bad grandma willing to take away life from her descendants sounded like a great story, so that’s how the book series begins.
An Alternative History
As the characters in the book have lived for so long, it only made sense that some of them are based on real historical figures.
Grandmother Zhi in the book was based on a powerful woman from the Han dynasty, Empress Lü Zhi (241 BC – 180 BC). Zhi was kind of a mean person, as the first order of business after her husband died, was to kill any children who could potentially take away the throne from her son (as long as he was the Emperor, she pretty ruled over him and China) and their mothers, the concubines. She was particularly cruel to her dead husband’s favorite concubine, Qi Yi (died 194 BC), and turned her into “human swine”. Basically she chopped off all of Yi’s limbs, sliced off her ears and made her mute, then kept her alive in a large jar for many years.
In our story, Yi marries King Ragnar Lodbrok (died 865 AD), the king of the vampires, and has futuristic metallic arms and legs (her tongue & ears remain intact, which is different from reality). The first wife of King Ragnar is actually the Egyptian queen Nefertiti (1370 BC-1330 BC), who married the king in an arranged marriage as oppose to a ‘love one’ which Yi is in.
Since magic is involved, I had to add Merlin (first written appearance c. 1136) in somewhere…as a handsome young man, of course (I know, I’ve been watching too much of BBC’s Merlin). His wife is a woman with a head of long white hair called ‘White Maiden” and they are inventors of technological innovations for the vampire house/government. Her character was inspired by a character in a martial arts movie called The East is Red.
There is also a character called “Kat” based on a friend who died recently and I thought it would be nice to write her in as having inherited an alternative body, so she lives on in a book.
Does this cast sound incredibly diverse? Well, the world is a fascinating and complicated place!
Explaining the whole world with Taoism
All the beings in this book: humans, vampires and magic users (sorceresses & warlocks) can have their existence explained in yin and yang terms. In Taoist philosophy, the concept of yin-yang is used to describe forces which are seem opposite or contrary but are also interconnected and interdependent which can describe the duality of everything in the universe (life/death, light/darkness, etc).
Looking at the symbol, the two sides look like teardrops with two dots of opposite colors in each part. Using the sun as an example, starting at a point when it’s super sunny, the yang side is at its maximum (fat part of teardrop). As the day goes on, shadows start coming in (dot on the yang side is already inside the yin) and eventually the yang part fades to a trickle and shadows of the yin dominate. Then the opposite happens, as a hint of yang appears and yin fades again. This is also suppose to explain life and death as well – although people die, there is an opportunity to leave life behind in order to continue the cycle.
Humans have both yin and yang, so they can generate chi, which is energy. All humans are born with chi (passed on from parents), and can generate chi from the air you breathe as well as from the food eaten. As well, the souls of people contain yin and yang elements called po (yin) and hun (yang). So when people die, it’s the hun or heavenly soul part which flows upwards while the po part returns to the earth with death.
There are two types of vampires mention in this series, the “intelligent vampires” and jiangshi which are like zombies with no thoughts. Both vampires have bodies which are not balanced, so they need to absorb chi from humans in order to survive. The “intelligent vampires” possess only the hun (yang) part of the soul and jianghi possess only the po (yin) part of their soul .
Magic users whether a female sorceress or male warlock are humans, so why do they need chi? Well, when you use magic you are using chi and just eating won’t generate enough energy to use such skills. So artifacts are used to help gain more chi or stealing from other people.