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Authors: Regina Jeffers

Vampire Darcy's Desire

BOOK: Vampire Darcy's Desire
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Table of Contents
 
 
 
AUTHOR’S PREFACE
When the initial concept came to me from the publisher, Ulysses Press, to write a vampire version of
Pride and Prejudice
, my hackles immediately rose. To me,
Pride and Prejudice
is the most perfect novel ever written, and the thought of someone abusing that story line sent me into a state of amusement mixed with pure irritation.
As a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, I love everything to do with Jane Austen. However, unlike some hard-core Janeites, I read everything related to her works. Some of it I love, and some of it I throw across the room in disgust; but even when I angrily throw the book at the wall, I retrieve it and continue to read, looking for something in it I can enjoy. There are only a few Austen-related alternatives in which I find nothing I can accept to be possible. Most of those I deem ridiculous, however, deal with the story of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, because like many Austen readers, I hold a preconceived idea of how these two would get on in their lives once they were married. Austen gives us very specific allusions as to how the couple might achieve happiness, so when presented with the concept, I flatly refused to even consider a vampire version. However, after discussing the idea with close friends and with my editor, I conceded. It was my belief the project would go forward with or without me. At least if I was involved, I could possibly maintain some integrity in the story. In a Gothic or vampire-inspired story, undertones of sex, blood, and death are inherently present, although Jane Austen rarely even hinted at any of these elements in her novels.
Originally, the concept was that Darcy would be the vampire who seduces Elizabeth, yet I could not abide such a proposal. If vampirism was to be added to the tale, I wanted Darcy portrayed as a poetic tragic hero rather than as an embodiment of evil. I also
wanted to control the representation of sexuality, the combination of horror and lust. Like in
Pride and Prejudice
, Darcy needed to desire Elizabeth and to be willing to put aside his beliefs and lifestyle in order to earn her love. As
Vampire Darcy’s Desire
is a horror romance, a more prominent sexual tension than in the Austen version was obviously required, although any astute reader of Austen feels the sophisticated undertones present in her writing.
My story line is based on the traditional Scottish ballad known as “Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender,” which I used as the core of the curse upon Darcy’s family. The ballad has many versions. Some even call it “The Brown Girl.” It is currently listed as one of the ballads brought back into circulation by Francis J. Child, a renowned “songcatcher.” The story behind the ballad dates back to the time of Charles II. There are Irish, Scottish, and English versions of the song, as well as similar stories in Norse and European folklore. Popular folk singers, such as Jean Ritchie and Alan Lomax, have recorded versions of the song. Even the Grateful Dead has it in their discography. There is an excellent reading found on YouTube, as well. In keeping with the Scottish ballad, I chose Northumberland as the place for Wickham’s home where he is buried because of its proximity to Scotland and because of its numerous border wars. Luckily, Newcastle, where Darcy sends Wickham in the Austen original, is in Northumberland.
In merging the two diverse genres, one must remember that vampire literature springs from early Gothic tales, which ironically peppered the literature of Jane Austen’s time. Typically in early vampire stories, a respectable and virtuous woman rejects a man’s love.The woman is under the influence of a tyrannical and powerful male from whom the “hero” must save her, and that “hero” possesses a highly developed intelligence and exceptional charisma and charm. A “seduction” of sorts occurs. Are those elements not also present in each of Austen’s pieces? After all,Austen herself parodies the Gothic novel in
Northanger Abbey
, even mocking Ann Radcliffe’s
The Mysteries of Udolpho
. She uses the stereotypes of the abbey, the mysterious murder, and the evil seducer, yet Austen
keeps the theme of the individual’s worth that’s found in all vampiric literature.
I teach English and have done so for more years than I care to count, and so I am familiar with many of the original literary works dealing with vampires. For example, nearly eighty years before Bram Stoker’s
Dracula
became the standard by which vampire stories are judged, Lord Byron’s life and legend inspired Polidori’s
The Vampyre
, and even Stoker quoted Gottfried August Bürger’s narrative poem “Lenore” (1773). Samuel Coleridge’s poem “Christabel” also influenced much of the vampire literature that followed.
Yet unlike many modern readers of vampire stories, I realize that some elements of vampire tales come from modern visual media rather than legend or folklore. While doing research for
Vampire Darcy’s Desire
, I looked more at the types of vampires, ways to kill a vampire, and general characteristics of vampires.Although I learned tidbits about the Twilight series from my female students, I purposely did not read the book, nor did I see the film. I wanted my characterization of vampires to be as original as possible. Most of my reading of vampire stories came many years ago and fell along the lines of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Marilyn Ross’s Barnabas Collins series. In fact, I once did a stunt for a
Dark Shadows
promotion for a Jonathan Frid live appearance; I was the woman in the crowd he grabs and bites. The hardest part of the staging for me was being put in a coffin. I am too claustrophobic!
A great deal of my research dealt with the Baobhan Síth, Scottish vampires, and with Celtic gods, because I used the traditional Scottish ballad to tie my story line together. Also, I revisited the character of Abraham Van Helsing. In his early notes for
Dracula
, Stoker conceived of three characters that eventually were combined into Van Helsing.Van Helsing represents all the good in the world and is a positive influence in the midst of
Dracula
’s chaos. He uses his intelligence to unwind the mystery of the vampire attacks, he leads the hunt to find Dracula, and he is the one who recognizes the need for God’s intervention in ending the demonic possession.
I transferred those characteristics to Elizabeth in my story. She is the impetus for Darcy’s ability to change his life. It is also through Elizabeth that the reader learns how Wickham can be defeated. Stoker hadVan Helsing similarly instruct his readers. (If you do not believe me, see Chapter 18 of
Dracula
.)
There is also unmistakable social commentary in
Vampire Darcy’s Desire
. Elizabeth Bennet is an intelligent woman, and like the originalVan Helsing, she uses her “knowledge” as “power.” She leads Darcy in his battle to stop the curse on his family. Darcy, on the other hand, is a Renaissance man in accepting help from a woman.The book also speaks to the natural stratification of human society—the exercise of power over others, those who are
weaker
.
Some elements of the Gothic are apparent in
Vampire Darcy’s Desire
: an ancient prophecy; dream visions; supernatural powers; characters suffering from impending doom; women threatened by a powerful, domineering male; and the quick shorthand of metonymy to set the scenes.Yet essentials of romance are just as prominent: a powerful love, with elements of uncertainty about the love being returned; the lovers separated by outside forces; and a young woman becoming the target of an evil schemer.
Darcy voluntarily isolates himself because of the family curse; Wickham is the epitome of evil.As in many Gothic tales, supernatural phenomena and prevalent fears (murder, seduction, perversion) are incorporated, but the underlying theme of a fallen hero is central to the story.
Vampire Darcy’s Desire
combines terror, horror, and mystery set within the framework of a love story.
A dhampir, the product of the union between a vampire and a human, probably finds its origin in Serbian folklore. Modern fiction holds many examples:
Blade
, a comic brought to life by Wesley Snipes on the screen; the character Connor in the TV series
Angel
(the show’s male equivalent of a Slayer); and Renesmee,the daughter of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from Stephanie Meyer’s
Breaking Dawn
. Traditionally, a dhampir possesses the ability to see vampires, even when they are cloaked with the power of invisibility. They generally have similar powers to vampires with only a
few complications.
This new dhampir Darcy possesses many of the qualities the reader notes in Austen’s character. He is “withdrawn” from society, is generous, is protective of his sister and his estate, and has a sharp wit. He is amused by Elizabeth’s verbal battles and is attracted to her physically. Darcy denies this attraction initially and then makes changes in his life to win and to keep Elizabeth’s regard. Austen’s Darcy says,“I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit…I was spoiled by my parents…allowed, encouraged, almost taught to be selfish and overbearing…”This characteristic plays well in the Dhampir Darcy’s pursuit of Elizabeth. He more aggressively persists in winning her affection in this book.
PROLOGUE
She was beautiful in all her innocence, much more beautiful than the notorious Mrs. Younge, his latest minion, who arranged this encounter and who waited for him now in the adjoining woods. Long, thick lashes rested on the rise of her high cheekbones, and, although a bit mussed, her golden tresses spread out across her pillow like the rays of the sun. Her deep sigh brought his attention to her lips, and for a moment he thought her awake, but Georgiana Darcy slept soundly, thanks to his spellbinding charm. She was the image—the embodiment—of his beloved Ellender.
One candle lit the room, casting shadows, which danced in the corners.There was nothing mediocre about the room, with its rich tapestries and elegant sculpting.“Only the best for the Darcys,” he muttered.
With a unique swagger not found in many of his kind, he glided to the bed’s edge. Unable to hide his anger and his contempt, a frown furrowed his brow, and a flash of fire transformed his vision. A torrent of images racked his soul—pictures of blood, of betrayal, and of revenge. “You will do quite well, my dear,” he whispered.“I will enjoy spending an eternity with you.” He lightly twisted one of her curls around his finger.“This is for the suffering I have endured at the Darcys’ hands.”
Slowly, he leaned over her, feeling the blood rush through her veins, his hard, dark eyes seeking the indentation of her neck. He relished the feeling of expectancy.The ringing silence of the room was broken only by his breathing.
Fully engulfed in his desire, when the door swung open, it took several seconds before he realized that an intruder had discovered his inexplicable need for her.“Move away from her,Wickham,” the tall, dark figure ordered as it stepped carefully into the room.“You will not bring your death and decay into my household.”
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