Why Catholic Vampires?

Love at First Bite is my My Dragon Award Nominated series. Usually, my elevator pitch is “Traditional Vampires that integrate free will into the mythology, resulting in a unique end result.”

What I don’t say is that by “Traditional Vampires that integrate free will,” I mean “Catholic Vampires.”

This is in part because, as one person replied: Weren’t Vampires always Catholic?

There’s a point there. In the original mythology that I can recall, Vampires weren’t repelled by a cross, but to the crucifix. They reacted to a consecrated host.

But they were also automatically evil. And that was the part I drew the line at. How did that make any sense?

In Dracula, the novel, Vlad Tempes was never considered a nice guy. And I’m certain that Stoker’s history wasn’t exactly half as detailed as ours would be today. For Stoker, Dracula was probably evil even before he was a vampire. When Lucy was turned, she could be little more than a feral dog, overwhelmed by urges and appetites she’d never had before. All easily explained.

But after a while, once you get into other vampires, why would all of them in fiction become automatically evil? Doesn’t that subvert free will? Unless you go for the Buffy solution, which was that all vampires were soulless, and the soul was replaced with a carbon copy of a demon. Basically, people were the skin suits that a demon wore. They drank blood as a perverted mockery of the Eucharist, and that’s that.

But otherwise, it’s generally unexplained. I don’t even remember Larry’s Monster Hunter International series addressing it, really. It was just “Vampires are evil, they don’t sparkle, just kill the f**kers.” (Though if anyone has a better recollection, let me know.)

My vampires at the very least needed to address free will.

Which becomes a problem. How can I have people become vampires, and then automatically afflicted by holy artifacts? Unless I go the “demon wearing a skin suit” route, it doesn’t make much sense.

But what if vampires, like people, are formed by their actions?

Catholic theology states that a resurrected body is a body that is perfectly controlled by the soul. So, the more actions one makes, the more the vampire is formed, and the closer body and soul comes together. The more evil actions one commit, the vampire becomes more powerful, but is also more afflicted by religious artifacts.

Anyone who is “good” is something different.

Here’s yet another tenant of Catholicism that ended up in the novel: Aristotle. Yes, the vampires are based around Catholic philosophy because the Church still uses Aristotle. “Actions form the person” is straight out of his Ethics. RPGs also use a similar system (the one I’m familiar with is Knights of the Old Republic).

Now, even under this model, I would not, and will not argue for being just “people with fangs.” I submit that when you take a person, remove all sense of personal consequences from their life, and give them the powers of a vampire, then they are not “people with fangs,” it’s a grave temptation to become a serial killer with fangs. One monster or another, there’s very little difference except in scale and scope.

Keep in mind, I’m not saying “people are naturally evil.” I’d say at least half of my vampires are just folk who would like to survive and move along. Wearing a cross is gonna hurt, unless they go to frequent confessions, because even venial sins are going to mount up after a while.

And yes, I want redemption to be a possibility. Why? In part because I sometimes write bad guys that I like enough to want to redeem. They’re not pure evil, they just try to be. Also, hell, if you’re still on the planet Earth, and not in Hell, I’m fully convinced that Heaven continue to try to catch sinners until the last possible moment. When you consider the number of Catholic saints who used to be schmucks, redemption will sneak into my series eventually.

Keep in mind, this still circles back to the “actions maketh the man” aspect. Evil people can still do good things — it’s rare, but it happens. Granted, some of the most evil pricks on Earth have ironic “virtues” that are comedically small in comparison to their crimes, but some don’t even have that much. I don’t recall anyone trying to spin Stalin as having a single quality that made him look like anything less than a total prick, while Hitler was a vegetarian who painted flowers.

Granted, the levels of evil I’m dealing with … well, let’s just say that their isn’t a LOT of redemption from the antagonists. I may have redeemed two vampire antagonists over the course of the series.

But then again, look at my protagonists, will you? There’s Marco … who’s his own type of dark. There’s Amanda, who had to participate in things that she still thinks about sometimes. Let’s not even discuss Rory, shall we?

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: That’s all very nice, but how do I do this as a “neutral” thing? How do I leave Free Will while having an obviously supernatural problem? Well, vampirism is transmitted by blood-to-blood contact, so it’s a blood born virus. We know the vector.

Obviously, it must be a supernatural virus, transmitted from human / supernatural contact.

In Honor at Stake, I suggested Nephilim were the origin, but I’ve kept it vague, if only because I don’t have any vampires that old to confirm it, nor is there anyone kicking around who has that much history.

If I ever continue the world, I’m going to have to dive into the virology more. After all, vampires have worked with governments — Nazis, Soviets– so we know there were experiments. I’m just never going to do those stories, because I suspect it’s going to look like Wolfenstein or Hellboy if I do that.

One of the few things I’ve spelled out is one of the quirks of viruses: most of them try to not kill the host. In fact, if I treat vampirism as being a disease, it’s actually a symbiotic relationship, as it keeps the host alive. Which means it would act like it. There are some viruses that actually aid the host by providing food (for example, one real life avian virus that encourages bugs to climb to higher altitude, making it easy for the birds to eat them).

And finally, the best reason I have for doing Catholic vampires …

I’m Catholic.

Duh.

See if anyone else gets redeemed in the climactic conclusion to the series, with Good to the Last Drop. Or, if you’re new here and haven’t read the series yet,  click here to get the entire Love at First Bite cycle.

Signal Boost: Good To The Last Drop

The finale of Declan Finn’s Love At First Bite series is out today.

 

The final war is about to begin.

Merle Kraft, Marco Catalano and Amanda Colt have battled against the mythical Council, a supernatural conspiracy that monsters fear. This war has brought them up against vampires, minions, and demons from Hell.. Along the way, they have accumulated allies among the police, the military, the mafia, college students, lowly street gangs, and even other vampires.

Marco and Amanda have overcome their biggest terror — their passion for each other.

But now, they face the final threat, one that is the culmination of every threat before them. This creature from Hell has powers beyond anything they’ve ever seen before, and has allies of his own: including SpecOps minions, an army of vampires, and packs of werewolves.
And that was before Marco got bit.

Buy Good to the Last Drop (Love at First Bite Book 4) on Amazon.

One Page Podcast: Live And Let Bite by Declan Finn

Live and Let Bite (Love at First Bite Book 3) is a 2017 Dragon Award Finalist for Best Horror

Merlin “Merle” Kraft has been fighting the darkness for months. He left San Francisco in the capable hands of Marco Catalano and his anti-vampire team to defend them against vampires. With special operators at his command, Kraft has been killing every vampire he can find in the Middle East. After clearing out a nest in Tora Bora, he is finally brought back to New York, and the investigation that led him to vampires in the first place.

Marco is starting to spiral. He knows it. His team knows it. Everyone around him can see that he’s just a bomb waiting to explode. The only woman who can bring him back from the brink is also the woman who lit his fuse.

Ever since the demon Asmodeus tried to murder Marco, Amanda Colt has been hunting down every lead to find the ones ultimately behind the attempt. After months of investigation, she learns that something in the dark is colder than the dark. It is a vampire assassin that Amanda has faced once before, and Amanda lost. This assassin is stronger than anything they’ve face before, and it isn’t alone.

With Marco ready to self-destruct, and the armies of Hell ready to descend, the three of them must come together and stop a thousand-year-old assassin that has never been stopped, and has never failed to kill her target.

Book Review: Murphy’s Law of Vampires

Murphy’s Law of Vampires is book 2 in the Love At First Bite Series by Declan Finn. The review for book 1, Dragon Award nominee for best Horror, Honor At Stake is here.

This time, Marco and Amanda are battling vampires on different coasts as well as a demon. Will their budding romance survive the distance? Will they survive Mr. Day?

The book picks up where Honor At Stake left off. While Amanda is accounting for her and Marco’s actions during Honor At Stake to the Vampire Council, Marco is headed to San Francisco to help Merle Kraft take on the vampire hoards there and attend college. In San Francisco he meets a whole new group of vampire fighting characters, including a vampire and werepuppy.

The new crop of characters, especially the members of the Vampire Council are fun and interesting. I loved all of the different personalities that showed up. It’s easy to imagine that a council with members of vastly different ages would be weird and it is.

The bad guy, Mr. Day, is a special kind of evil that doesn’t easily die. I love bad guys and Mr. Day pushes all of my buttons. He dresses well, he’s pure evil and he isn’t easily defeated.

One of the best parts of this book, besides Mr. Day, is the character development. This book brings out a side of Marco that you didn’t get to see in Honor At Stake. He really does have feelings, who knew?

Like Honor At Stake, Murphy’s Law if Vampires is a timeless battle of good vs evil, with lots of action, explosions and a crew of Vatican ninjas who have very cool gear.

Murphy’s Law of Vampires is an awesome read that is full of action and a bit of romance. Just like in the first book, the reader is left hanging at the end of the book. As a reader, I want to know how it ends. (As a writer, this is an ingenious way to hook readers for the next book.)

Well worth the read.

One Page Podcast: Blood of Invidia by Tom Tinney & Morgen Batten

Blood of Invidia is a 2017 Dragon Award Finalist for Best Horror

Galaxy conquering Vampires, Shape Shifting Warriors, Yakuza Ninjas and Gray-Skinned visitors.

Aliens, Vampires and Werewolves…Oh, my! These aren’t cute candy eating extraterrestrials, or your sparkly Tweens Vampires. It’s time for you to run (and your little dog too!)

10,000 years ago, a majestic race of beings waged war across our galaxy. They were the Invidians and they conquered worlds. They were driven to build their empire and fulfill their destiny. But they were mortal, so they sought the secret to eternal life. They found it.

And then they disappeared.

Tomorrow afternoon, a Vampire battles Werewolves in the middle of Times Square. Shortly after, the Grays arrive to calm our fears. Find out why the galactic order rests on the shoulders of three human beings and one mysterious stranger. Can they save all of us by following the path paved in the “Blood of Invidia”?

Blood of Invidia is available on Amazon.com in ebook and paperback.

A Brief History of Vatican Ninjas

I think the first time I came up with the concept of the Vatican ninjas I’ve used in my Love at First Bite series was as a joke I made during a Dan Brown review.

In The Da Vinci Code, The protagonist stated that he, personally, knew the current pope, and therefore he was certain that the Catholic church couldn’t be behind the plot, because “the Church didn’t do such things anymore.”

My response was: “Anymore? You mean, the church used to have Ninjas? I WANT MY VATICAN NINJAS.”

Thus, a running joke was born, and, like everything else in my writing worlds, it quickly spiraled out of control.

When I bounced the concept of Vatican Ninjas off of a Catholic Facebook group as a force for fighting the legions of darkness, the first, almost reflex question by a lot of the group was: “Why does the Vatican have to do this? Why is it all on the shoulders of the Catholic church to do all of this?”

Aside from exorcism?

I think my response at the time was “Well, who else would be better equipped for such a position? It’s a long standing institution that deals with the supernatural on a routine basis. The Church would feel obligated to fight back Satan’s forces, of course.”

So … yes, my argument was “With Great Power, comes great responsibility.”

Though my first thought was really: Who else is gonna do it? (This was before I had been exposed to Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International, and the idea of hunting monsters for fun and profit.)

Of course, the Vatican has its own army. It’s not a very big one, granted, but if anyone is going to be able to give shooters training to fight the abyss, it’s going to be a few thousand priests. There would have to be meditative prayers before battle, that can hide them from the enhanced senses of vampires. IE: Basically, if a vampire has the senses of a Sith lord, going through this silent, prayerful meditation would make them invisible. In fact, if it’s a saint versus a vampire, a vampire would have to directly lock eyes on them — assuming, of course, the saint doesn’t have the power to cloud vampire’s minds…

Sadly, I now have a Simon Templar / The Shadow crossover in my head. But that’s another conversation.

The Vatican Ninjas would probably start to become a serious institution somewhere around the Protestant Revolt of the 1500s. It’s when Europe started to really go dark.

How dark? Look up the Anabaptists sometime: these guys were so nasty, Lutherans and Catholics stopped fighting each other, looked at the Anabaptists, and promptly joined forces to wipe them off the face of the Earth.

The crucifix fell out of fashion in Protestant areas, and traditional Vampire lore stress a crucifix, not a cross, being a problem for a vampire — otherwise a lowercase T in block letters will do it. This would require forces that are specialized in battling creatures that are stronger, faster, and nigh indestructible.

After two hundred years. and the “Enlightenment” hit, superstition increased. Ouja boards became common. Isaac Newton dabbled in the occult, and had volumes of horoscopes that he had forecast. The mythical age of intellectual brightness really had a five to one ratio of dark, dim occultist crap emerge. The only thing we really discuss today is everything history kept and took with it. (It’s almost like discussing the “Golden Age of Movies,” but if you watch TCM, you see just how much really is garbage).

Of course, in a world where vampires exist, the obvious reason for the increase in superstition during the Enlightenment is simple: the Catholic church used to have local teams to deal with the Supernatural. When the Church left, so did said teams. With the suppression teams being removed, demonic activity spiked. Occult belief was a “rational” response … at least to people who abandoned faith for whatever nonsense they came up with along the way.

So, going to clean up the mess? That’s right. The only organized game in town, who covers … well, the planet. They’d probably be called something like “tegumento daemonium interfectores,” which is what I get when I load “covert demon killers” into Google translate, so I expect this to be hysterically inaccurate. Or “occulte daemon interfectores,” which is Google Translates idea for “secret demon killers.”  Though “Excursor Vaticanae” has been suggested by people who know Latin better than I do.

….ANYWAY, no matter the Latin name, the load out for the ninjas would, over time, have to evolve, but it would still be a wide ranging arsenal. Fifty-caliber sniper rifles would be mandatory for removing the heads off of vampires at a distance. There would be silver ammunition components (hollowpoints with silver balls instead of stems– according to Larry Correia, silver is too hard, and doesn’t have the right spiral of regular bullets). They could carry crosses, and holy water, and squirt guns. Their traps would include bouncing Bettys filled with holy water. Incendiary grenades and high explosives would have to be mandatory, I’d figure.

And, even though I have them dealing with a lot of vampires, they will, of course, be trained to deal with other supernatural threats. I figure that demons, elves and werewolves would be in the top five threats in their inventory.

The Ninjas will of course, have a mandatory retirement age of 65. Why 65? Because that’s the retirement age for priests. Why not sooner? Because the ones who survive the field long enough become trainers … if they can be dragged out of the field. Outside of someone who is a careerist, name me one average beat cop or soldier who wants to be transferred too far away from the street / the action / their men.

But as noted, they have to survive the job long enough.

See who lives and who dies in Good to the Last Drop, the conclusion to my Dragon Award Nominated series.

Declan Finn is a three time Dragon Award Finalist. Honor at Stake and Live and Let Bite, books #1 and #2 of his Love at First Bite series, were nominated for best horror in 2016 and 2017, and his co-authored work, Codename: UnSub, was nominated in best apocalyptic in 2017

One Page Podcast: Honor At Stake by Declan Finn

One is a heartless, merciless killer. The other is a vampire.

College freshman, Amanda Colt knows few people and wants to know fewer still. She enjoys fencing and prefers facing a challenge every once in a while. She is beautiful, smart, and possibly the most interesting person on campus…and most people stop after the first adjective.

Then she finds Marco Catalano in her fencing class. He is tall, attractive, and very intense. With a mind like a computer and manners of a medieval knight, he scares most people. Except Amanda. They both have secrets, for they are both monsters.

As they draw closer, they must find the line between how much they can trust each other, and how much they can care for each other. Each carries a secret that can destroy the other. They must come to grips with their personal drama soon, because a darkness is rising. Bodies are turning up all over New York, and an army of vampires is closing in on all sides.

They have only one hope … each other.

You can find Honor at Stake (Love at First Bite Book 1) on Amazon.com.