a Guest Post by Michelle Corbier, author of ‘Dark Blood Awakens’
Last Sunday I posted a TikTok video regarding Stephen King’s short story “Rat.” In the post, I mentioned that his novel, “Salem’s Lot”, remains my all-time favorite vampire story. Why? Because the vampire is a monster—not sexy or contemplative. A simple creature feeding on blood and willing to kill for survival.
Similar to the protagonist in “Rat”, Drew Larson, my writing ideas originate from real-world flashpoints. The premise for my urban fantasy manuscript germinated from a dream. Once I awoke, only tidbits of the story remained. Enamored with the idea, I based my novel around that premise. However, I forgot the vampire’s origin story—or maybe that wasn’t part of the dream. Either way, I needed to create a vampire persona.
On a friend’s suggestion, I watched “What We Do In the Shadows”, a Hulu streaming show. If you’re unfamiliar with the program, it’s a hilarious tale of three vampires living together outside New York City. The show is original and irreverent. Though I enjoy the program, I didn’t want my vampire to be a comic.
Anne Rice gave readers ancient, cultured bloodsuckers in “Interview with the Vampire”, which provided some inspiration. In my dream, the vampire had been a physician—presupposing an education. Deciding to draw upon the African diaspora, my vampire would come from Mali, east Africa.
A friend recommended I incorporate Haitian culture—my ex-husband is Haitian—into the novel. With his help, I created a language, Baoumali, derived from east African dialects and Haitian Creole.
But what about my vampire? Recently, I listened to “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, read by Steven Red Fox Garnett—a talented vocal artist. Stoker’s vampire was treacherous and evil—not to mention his lady vampire companions.
The vampire I created for “Dark Blood Awakens” embodies different aspects of the many monster tales I’ve read, viewed, or heard. Korlemo Ibori craves power, wealth, and revenge. People are tools for manipulation or nourishment for consumption.
In a creative space, an artist’s only limitation is imagination. Fantasy provides a platform to craft new worlds, languages, and creatures. It was my pleasure to design a new world within our own—the beauty of urban fantasy.
About the author
Michelle attended the University of California Santa Cruz before completing a pediatric residency program at Michigan State University. After over twenty years in clinical medicine, Michelle now works as a medical consultant. As a member of Crime Writers of Color, Sisters in Crime and Capitol Crimes, her writing interests cover many genres—mystery, paranormal, and thrillers. If not writing, you can find her outside gardening or bicycling.
About Dark Blood Awakens
Dark Blood Awakens is a paranormal urban fantasy incorporating Black girl magic with myths from the African diaspora.
As a child, Makeda’s mom forced her to abandon sorcery. Instead, she pursued a career in nursing while killing monsters with her family of mwindaji. For over a millennium, the mwindaji have hunted Korlemo, a 1000-year-old vampire.
While working in Haiti, Makeda’s desire to recapture her sorcery skills increases. When a lead takes her to a Kentucky rural hospital searching for Korlemo, she uses Baoumali, the language of sorceresses, to reclaim her heritage. During her investigation, Makeda develops a steamy romance with the local sheriff and uncovers a macabre secret the hospital administration will kill to keep silent.
With time running out, Makeda must recapture her sorcery and choose where her alliances lie. If the mwindaji cannot destroy the monsters haunting the hospital, people will die—starting with her boyfriend.