**Visit Tynga’s Reviews today for her fairy tale Fantastic Fable discussion from Jess Haines & a chance to win DECEIVED BY THE OTHERS**
The Vampire Empire, the setting of the phenomenal series by Clay and Susan Griffith is a chilling and deadly world that held me captivated. It began with THE GREYFRIAR, which left an indelible impression on me, and continues on September 6th from Pyr Books with THE RIFT WALKER. Today, we have Clay and Susan here to give us a breakdown of the fairy tale themes used in The Vampire Empire series. Haven’t started this series yet? Drop what you’re reading and start NOW. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Thanks to wonderful team over at Prometheus/Pyr, three of you who comment on this post will win a copy of the book! See details below
Not Always Happily Ever After
By Clay and Susan Griffith
As avid readers, we both grew up on fairy tales. However, they weren’t always the homogenized sweet versions you see now on bookshelves. The original, straight-from-the-old-country fairy tales were dark scary stories that made you clutch your covers at night with dreams of monsters, death, revenge, curses, and shadowy forests. They were also wonderful tales of beauty, magic, rescues, redemption and true love that made your heart beat fast and filled your mind with thoughts of heroism. But they warned of evil deeds and dark thoughts to scare you onto the path of good and pure.
As authors, the themes in fairy tales are second nature to us; they’re part of our fictional arsenal, purposeful or not. Even so, we always want to put our own spin on them. It’s enjoyable to play with icons and test our skill at paying homage to the classics. Heck, Chris McGrath’s cover for The Rift Walker, the second book in our Vampire Empire series, is pure “Sleeping Beauty.” And that’s on purpose.
Fairy tales inform all aspects of Vampire Empire. In our story, all of Europe has become a creepy version of the traditional place of horror in fairy tales: the foreboding dark forest where monsters dwell. We have our heroine, Adele, the adventurous princess who confounds the boundaries of stuffy tradition. Gareth, the mysterious prince who broods over evil he has done and seeks to undo. And the Greyfriar, the masked hero, the stalwart woodsman, the caped swordsman.
Many readers have seen obvious elements of “Beauty and the Beast” in our novel, The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire Book 1. These elements are quite intentional on our part. There’s a dark forbidding castle with a monstrous owner as well as the young princess who must see beyond the monster to the spark of humanity underneath. Whereas in most versions of “Beauty and the Beast,” the beast is a cursed prince waiting to be transformed back, in our tale being a beast is just part of his unchangeable nature. Prince Gareth is a vampire and, like any monster, he comes with a lot of terrible preconceptions. It is up to our human heroine, Adele, to wade through her bias and learn the truth for herself. Not everything is as it seems in The Greyfriar.
Like most fairy tales, Vampire Empire is a coming of age story. At the beginning, Princess Adele is very young, unsure of herself and her role in life. However, she is naturally clever and brave and committed to her principles. She will travel the world to places of wonder and terror, and grow from that frightened girl, hopefully, into an impressive woman. Her path is filled with opportunities to do (or fail to do) valiant things like any fairy tale heroine, whether it is saving her brother like in “The Six Swans” or vanquishing a shifty wolf as in “Little Red Riding Hood.” Adele’s adventures change her and, if she’s wise, they change her for the better.
And what’s a fairy tale without a little forbidden love? Without giving too much away for those who haven’t read The Greyfriar or the sequel, The Rift Walker, the core of the series is a bittersweet love story that pushes the characters to make decisions that might not always be the most rational or those expected by their families. Fairy tales love affairs must often be hidden for fear of the shame and retribution they would bring on the characters should they become public, or the destruction they might bring on the world.
Fairy tales are often, at their heart, cautionary tales. Beautiful young people are warned against vanity and misdeed, and their fate rests with their own nature. The story tests the heart of the hero or heroine. Their choices determine plot development and the rise or fall of their character. They may be consumed by emotions like revenge, or even misplaced mercy. And we certainly give Adele and Gareth and Greyfrair ample chances to fall under the sway of both of those given the background of Vampire Empire is a war to the death between humans and vampires. None of the characters are perfect. After all, flawed characters make the most interesting reads, helping to shape the narrative in most intriguing ways.
The one area where Vampire Empire differs from fairy tales is that we can’t guarantee Adele or Gareth will live happily ever after.
Life isn’t always a fairy tale, but if we’re lucky it comes close.
Clay and Susan Griffith are writers who have also been married for over 15 years. They are the co-authors of The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire Book 1 and The Rift Walker: Vampire Empire Book 2 (Pyr Books). The Vampire Empire trilogy is a rousing combination of fantasy, steampunk, pulp adventure, and romance, and Paul Goat Allen, the sci-fi/fantasy moderator of B&N.com, referred to Vampire Empire as a “landmark event.” The third book of the series will be out in 2012.
Clay and Susan have written many comic books over the years including The Tick, The Man-Eating Cow and, more recently, Ray Harryhausen Presents: It Came From Beneath the Sea…Again. They also script and contribute to the tv/web show Monster Creature Feature (www. mcftv.com).
They plan to continue writing together. And to stay married.
Want to read more from Clay and Susan Griffith?
This giveaway is provided by Prometheus/Pyr
Three winners will each receive a copy of The Rift Walker by Clay and Susan Griffith
Available on September 6, 2011 from Prometheus/Pyr
About the Book:
Princess Adele struggles with a life of marriage and obligation as her Equatorian Empire and their American Republic allies stand on the brink of war against the vampire clans of the north. However, the alliance’s horrific strategy for total victory drives Adele to abandon her duty and embark on a desperate quest to keep her nation from staining its hands with genocide. Reunited with her great love, the mysterious adventurer known to the world as the Greyfriar, Adele is pursued by her own people as well as her vengeful husband, senator Clark. With the human alliance in disarrray, Prince Cesare, lord of the British vampire clan, seizes the initiative and strikes at the very heart of Equatoria.
As Adele labors to bring order to her world, she learns more about the strange powers she exhibited in the north. Her teacher, Mamoru, leads a secret cabal of geomancers who believe Adele is the one who can touch the vast power of the Earth that surges through ley lines and wells up at the rifts where the lines meet. These energies are the key to defeating the enemy of mankind, and if Princess Adele could ever bring this power under her command, she could be death to vampires. But such a victory will also cost the life of Adele’s beloved Greyfriar.
The Rift Walkeris the second book in a trilogy of high adventure and alternative history. Combining rousing pulp action with steampunk style, the Vampire Empire series brings epic politcal themes to life within a story of heartbreaking romance, sacrifice, and heroism.
Click HERE to read an excerpt from The Greyfriar
1. Leave a comment for Clay and Susan, let us know what you think of this post, book or series.
2. +1 entries for tweeting about this contest, blogging about it, linking via your sidebar etc…(please tell me where!).
3. Giveaway is open to everyone.
4. Please include your email address in your comment.
5. All Fantastic Fables winners will be announced on September 7th.
6. The winner will be picked with the help of Random.org.
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