by Kristen Painter
)Also by this author:
, House of the Rising Sun
, City of Eternal Night Published by Orbit Genres: Urban Fantasy
I don’t know exactly where Mal came from (other than the twisty recesses of my mind), but I can tell you what his building blocks were – a host of dark emotions: disappointment, anger, impatience, bitterness. As I mentioned in my first post about the events that led me to write Blood Rights, that book started as an outlet for my frustrations – something I highly recommend to those of you feeling bummed at the way things are going with your career! And since the bones of my heroine, Chrysabelle, were already developing into something very distinctly bright and full of light, I knew I couldn’t pour all that darkness into her.
Mal became the perfect receptacle. He is, to me, the embodiment of the dark, tortured hero. He’s got soul deep wounds that aren’t going to be healed in four hundred pages. If you don’t already know, he’s also a vampire, but he’s so much more than that.
Let’s back up. Let’s start when Mal was human, before his existence fell apart. I decided as his back story to make him a headsman. The job of executioner in the late 1500’s, when Mal would have been alive, was one that both isolated and somewhat vilified the individual that held it. Superstition said that the executioner took upon him the sins of those he was paid to dispatch, the full weight of the souls of those rapists, murderers and thieves.
Because of this, the executioner was treated only slightly better than a plague victim. A special tankard was reserved for him at the village inn so that no one else would have to drink from the same cup as he did.
So this man whose job it was to snuff out human life had little solace. Undoubtedly the list of names of those willing to befriend him, to offer a shoulder for his burdens or share his bed was a very short one. Unless he found someone who couldn’t do any better. In Mal’s case, he finds that person in a gypsy woman accused of thievery and prostitution. He saves her from the gallows and takes her as his wife. But that leaves him with the ever-present question of why she stays – obligation? Or love?
As you can see, Mal’s mortal life isn’t so hot. Now let’s examine his vampire life. Within moments of being turned, he commits the cardinal sin. He drinks to death his sire in the process of being turned.
This act defines him as anathema to the rest of the nobility (a group he doesn’t even realizes exists until some years later) and damns him to forever take the life of any victim he drinks from. As time passes, he becomes more and more of a monster as the desire to kill rages stronger and stronger.
Eventually, he cuts such a bloody swathe through Europe that the vampire nobility feel he must be dealt with. (All those pesky villagers with torches and pitch forks.)
What the nobility does to him results in a second curse. This time the names of each of his victims appears on his skin and their voices come to life in his head – they taunt him mercilessly, urge him to kill more and berate his every decision.
When he does kill again, the second element of this curse is revealed. His victim becomes a ghost who haunts him. She tells him everyone he kills from that point on will join her in making his life more miserable than he’d ever thought possible.
This is my hero, Malkolm Bourreau. Torn, tortured, tormented and because he’s unable to directly consume human blood from the source, he’s unable to access his full power.
Fortunately—or unfortunately—the next person who comes into his life is comarré Chrysabelle Lapointe.
She’s everything he needs. Everything he wants. And everything he can’t have. I’ll tell you more about Chrysabelle and the comarré in my next post.