Thursday, 18 February 2016

I Always Knew Rasputin Was a Vampire.

When choosing an antagonist for my books, being a historian, I naturally veered toward an infamous character from history. And what a huge playground that is in which to roam. With such a plethora of interesting villains it was hard to know who to choose. Psychopathic Roman emperors such as Nero and Caligula; murderous conquerors like Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane? Or more recent notorious individuals who still haunt the popular imagination, like Grigory Rasputin, the Mad Monk and confident of the last royal house of Russia - the Romanovs?
Decisions, decisions....
Characters like these make great choices for fictional villains. For one thing, they're all dead so can't sue you for character assassination! Perfect.
Why did I decide on Rasputin? He's a mysterious, fascinating and controversial figure considered evil by some sources and a saint by others. All depends on who you read. Many consider him responsible for the demise of the Romanovs, and much has been written on his strange relationship with the Czarina, Alexandra Fedorovna, wife of Nicholas II. Almost all the sources are in agreement that he had some form of hypnotic influence over the Czar's family. The fact that he was so hard to kill - poisoned, shot, bludgeoned and thrown into a freezing river to drown (he eventually died of hypothermia) - was a spur to my already-overactive imagination. What else could he be but a vampire?
It was to good to resist.

Here's how he first appears in BloodPledge, Bk2 in my Dantonville Legacy series:

     By the time I got to the top of the stairs, Kari was already at the bottom with a group of men. As I joined her, five faces turned to look at me - Marcus Antonius, Jake and Terens, and two men I didn't recognise. One stood an inch or so taller than the rest, with deep, penetrating eyes that seemed to bore into my soul.
     "Ah, our little Ingenii," he drawled. "How I was looking forward to meeting you." If a voice could drip evil, his did. Hypnotic eyes. Strange warmth crept over me.
     "Lower your eyes snake," Marcus Antonius snarled. I was vaguely aware of him pushing the man onto his knees.
     I blinked and gripped the marble bannister as Kari stepped in front of me, blocking him from my view. "Go back upstairs, Laura," she whispered over her shoulder.
     "Control your pet, Timur," Alec said from behind me as he came down the stairs, His voice held a lethal tone.
     Kari glanced up at him, smiled then stepped aside and went to stand next to Jake. Hie whispered something to her I couldn't catch; his mouth was a hard line, jaw clenched.
     Alec joined me and took my hand. He was formally dressed in a lead-coloured suit with black lapels and matching shirt, and a lavender tie that set off the brilliance of his eyes. The cut of the suit, in particular, emphasised the width of his shoulders and nearly took my breath away. It was a stunning contrast to my ivory dress and for a moment I wondered if he'd listened in on my conversation with Kari.
     ... The man rose, his gaze locked on the ground, the knuckles of his clenched fists white as they hung by his side. It seemed the very air around him crackled with suppressed rage. Had the others felt it? As Jake led him away - Kari by his side - I breathed a sigh of relief and hoped I would never have to meet the man with the penetrating eyes any time soon.
     Alec's gaze followed him until they were out of sight.
     "Who are they?" I asked.
     "Count Timur Szechenyi and Grigory Rasputin." Marcus Antonius answered in his deep baritone voice. He'd remained standing in the hallway, sword sheathed.
     "The Rasputin? The mad monk who got the Russian royal family killed?"
     "The same."
     "No wonder they couldn't kill him." From what I remembered of my high school history, he was supposedly poisoned, shot, bludgeoned and his body thrown into a frozen river by Russian aristocrats trying to protect the Czar's family. Obviously, they were unsuccessful.

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Until next time,
Happy reading.

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