In late 2009, at the height of the Twilight mania, Ulysses Press approached me regarding my writing a vampiric version of Pride and Prejudice. [Each book in the Twilight series was inspired by and loosely based on a different literary classic: Twilight on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, New Moon on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Eclipse on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (which is ironic because most critics consider Heathcliff’s digging up Catherine’s grave a form of vampirism), and Breaking Dawn on a second Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (with a bit of A Merchant of Venice).] I will tell you upfront that I lodged my initial objection to the idea of mixing my Jane Austen with the paranormal. Eventually, though, I succumbed to my friends’ advice to do the project for the publisher simply find another who would not treat Austen respectfully. If you know anything of me, you know, before I started the project, I jumped into the research of vampires with both feet.
The problem with writing about vampires in the Regency is that the idea of vampirism was still much in legend rather than in literature. One must recall that Dracula was not released until 1897, some 80+ years after the tale found in Pride and Prejudice.
Therefore in the tale, I depended heavily on the legends of vampires, Celtic gods, and the baobhan sith (Scottish female vampires). I mixed those with a traditional Scottish ballad, the tale of Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender. The story dates back at least to the time of Charles II and the ballad probably dates back further. It is still popular in England, Ireland and Scotland. There are similar stories in Norse and other European ballads. It is also found in the Appalachians.
Unfortunately, the original book I wrote for Ulysses Press is now out of print. When a book goes out of print with a traditional publisher, there is a procedure in getting one’s rights to the book returned. The contract customarily reads something to the effect of… “If after the expiration of two years from the date of the first publication the WORK the PUBLISHER may terminate this Agreement and give the AUTHOR the option to purchase, at fair market value, all volumes on hand and all materials used in the printing of the WORK.” (and) “If the WORK remains out of print for longer than 180 days and PUBLISHER does not agree to reprint WORK with 180 days of receipt of written notice/request from AUTHOR to reprint the WORK, this Agreement shall terminate.”
So, while I wait for rights to be returned to me, what am I to do. My contracts with Ulysses also hold a non-competition clause. It essentially says I cannot sell the rights to my books to other traditional publishing houses, but “AUTHOR may continue to self-publish such works, but under no circumstances may AUTHOR publish a competing work with a traditional publisher that seems into the brick-and-mortar retail book trade.”
Problem Resolved. I can self publish the book without being in violation of my contract. So I am rereleasing Vampire Darcy’s Desire with a flashy new cover from Chris Kudi and SKC Design. The story is essentially the same as the one from before. However, if you have never read it, what better month than October and Halloween to take on a paranormal version that includes our favorite couple?
Tormented by a 200-year-old curse and his fate as a half human/half vampire dhampir, Fitzwilliam Darcy vows to live a solitary life rather than inflict the horrors of his life upon an innocent wife and his first born son. However, when he encounters the captivating Elizabeth Bennet, his will is sorely tested.
As a man, Darcy yearns for Elizabeth, but as a vampire, he is also driven to possess her. Uncontrollably drawn to each other, they are forced to confront a different kind of “pride” and his enemy’s “prejudice,” while wrestling with the seductive power of forbidden love. Evil forces, led by George Wickham, the purveyor of the curse, attack from all sides, and Darcy learns his only hope to survive is to align himself with Elizabeth, who is uncannily astute is how to defeat Wickham, a demon determined to destroy each generation of Darcys.
Vampire Darcy’s Desire retells Austen’s greatest love story in a hauntingly compelling tale. Can love be the only thing that can change him?
Elizabeth thumbed through the book she found on the floor as the clerk totaled her purchases and prepared them for shipping to Derbyshire. She noted references to the crucifix, the rosary, and holy water, as well as beliefs regarding mirrors. She remembered Wickham’s blurry reflection in the window in Meryton, and suddenly things made sense. Darcy told her of using the vial of holy water when Wickham approached Georgiana at Ramsgate. On another page, she discovered that Germans believed the head should be buried between the feet to release the soul. It seems as though Darcy was right on that point, she thought.
Flipping the page again, her eyes fell on a sketch of a woman holding a crucifix and a vampire retreating. She thought how foolish the drawing appeared until she read the caption: “Say the vampire’s name backwards as you bring forth the crucifix.” Well, she thought, I wonder if that would do the trick? Elizabeth closed the book and slid it toward the clerk.
“This is quite an agglomerate,” the old man said with amusement.
“My father reads everything having to do with Scottish beliefs, folklore, and customs,” she declared. “I thought to share these with him after I learn more about the beginnings of the well-dressing ceremonies. I understand them to be based on ancient pagan customs. Mr. Darcy and I only recently married, and I have yet to see his estate. I do not want the villagers to judge my ignorance on such traditions as being a poor reflection on my husband. Moreover, I have a cousin who leaves for Jamaica soon. I thought he would find the books on spirits and such amusing.”
“Your thoughtfulness is admirable, Mrs. Darcy,” the man observed as he stacked the items. The shopkeeper picked up the last two books. “And these are to be delivered to Darcy House?”
“Yes, that is exactly what I require.”
* * *
Stepping from the bookstore, Elizabeth found neither her husband nor the carriage. “Where can they be?” she mused aloud. “Surely Georgiana and Belton are at the coach by now.” Impatient, as usual, she paced along the walkway. It was not like Darcy to be late. Never had she known him to be tardy for anything. Agitated, she searched both sides of the street for her husband, Georgiana, or even one of the servants in the Darcy livery. Reaching the alley, a flash of color along a row of boxes caught her eye, and, intuitively, Elizabeth turned toward the bright object. It is Georgiana’s slipper! How did it get there? And where is she? Impulsively, she rushed forward to retrieve it.
The overhang of the buildings blocked the little winter sun the day offered, and the alley itself, although not totally black, was heavily draped in shadows. “Georgiana?” she called, and then listened before stepping further into the opening. Nothing moved, and Elizabeth turned to leave, but then a muffled whimper froze her in place.
“Georgiana!” she yelled louder, before charging into the dusky obscurity.
As if a theatrical light were thrown on the scene, Elizabeth stared in horror at the tableau playing out before her. Georgiana, wide-eyed, stood in the narrow, gloom-filled street. Wickham held one hand over her mouth and the other wrapped around her waist, and her hands were tied behind her back. Georgiana struggled to free herself, but Wickham’s mouth remained poised above the indentation of her neck.
“Step away, Wickham!” Elizabeth’s voice rebounded off the brick walls.
“Mrs. Darcy.” He raised his head but did not release his captive. “You may be next, but you must wait your turn, my dear. Your lovely sister is ahead of you.”
Elizabeth squared her shoulders. If she could delay the wretched creature who was hovering over Georgiana, mayhap Darcy would arrive in time to assist her. She spoke slowly and loudly: “I said to release her!”
“If you insist, Elizabeth,” Wickham said with a laugh, but he did not slacken his hold on Georgiana. “You may go first.”
“I am not Elizabeth to you,” she insisted. She lifted the chain from about her neck, exposing the jeweled cross. “You will release Mr. Darcy’s sister.”
He challenged, “Do you think that pitiful crucifix has any effect on me?”
“Actually, I believe it does,” she asserted. “If not, you would have claimed me at the Netherfield Manor House.” She extended the cross before her for protection. “I think, Mr. Wickham, the reason Georgiana is still alive is because she wears a similar crucifix.”
“This thing?” Wickham used his hand to flick at the chain, but Elizabeth noted he did not touch the cross.
Realizing Georgiana required hope if they stood a chance of surviving this encounter, Elizabeth addressed Darcy’s sister directly: “Georgiana, you must believe in your brother. The crucifix protects you as long as you wear it.” She watched with satisfaction as the terror on the girl’s face diminished. “Your brother does all to protect you. Continue to believe in him.”
Wickham jerked Georgiana closer, but Elizabeth noted a bit of confusion cross his expression.
“Why do you care if I take her?” Wickham countered. “Why not claim the freedom you will earn with her death?”
“Because we all swore to end the curse that our ancestors began,” Elizabeth said coolly.
“Our ancestors?” Wickham repeated sneeringly.
Elizabeth smiled. “Do you really not know that Arawn Benning, the Lord Thomas of the tale, was my ancestor, just as Ellender D’Arcy was William’s? How ignorant you are! It is Fate that brings my dear husband and me together. You cannot defeat us, Wickham,” she insisted.
“Yet I can still exact my revenge.”
Elizabeth attempted to think of something to frighten Wickham away. She still clutched the crucifix before her. Then she thought of the diagram from the book. “Wickham George!” she called out as she took a step forward.
Wickham did not turn a hair. “My followers call me My lord. You may do so when you join me.”
“Pigs will sprout wings first.” Elizabeth’s mind raced. If Darcy were coming, he would be here. Reverse the letters. Visualize Wickham’s name and reverse the letters. It was a silly thought, but she was desperate. “Mahkicw Egroeg!” she tried.
“Gibberish, Mrs. Darcy?” Wickham inquired mockingly. “You are grasping at straws, my dear.” He lowered his voice and spoke in an intimate tone, “Taking you will double my pleasure. Revenge on both the D’Arcys and the Bennings in one fell swoop.”
Now for the Giveaway! I have two eBook copies of Vampire Darcy’s Desire for those who comment below. The Giveaway will end at midnight EDST, Thursday, October 13, 2016.