Here are the physical traits of the Canichmehah vampires:
- They are not damned (at least they don’t think they are) or inherently evil. With that idea removed, they can do a lot of things that most literary and folkloric vampires can’t do:
- They can be out in the sunlight. Sunlight is pure, safe (safer than the dark, anyways), and connected to the Son of Man, Light of the World, etc., etc. That’s why folkloric and literary vampires typically can’t be out in the sun: it’s good and they’re evil. But my vampires aren’t evil, so no problem with the sun.
- They can go to church. Or synagogue. Or the mosque. Some of my vampires actively practice religion. Most are at least in some way religious. Micah (who is Jewish, by the way), at one point in the book, quotes Psalm 56. Anselm crosses himself. They all go into a church for a funeral. Take that Dracula, you heathen, godless vampire!
- Silver doesn’t bother them. (The reasons why silver is connected to vampires are many, but the two prevailing theories is that vampires came from Judas Iscariot’s cursed descendants, and silver is an anathema to them because Judas betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver; the other is that silver was a holy metal in many pagan religions and it continued to be thought of that way, even after Christianity came to Eastern Europe. Either way, silver bothers vampires because they are cursed.)
- They can cross running water. Water, in folklore, is pure (think baptismal waters), which is why damned creatures can’t cross it.
- They can enter any building they want. The idea that a vampire must be invited into a house comes from the idea that only you can invite evil into your life. My vampires aren’t inherently evil, so no problems there.
- They are stronger, faster, and better at healing than the average person. They do not die of old age, as far as any of them are aware. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be killed.
- One vampire in the book is killed by being beheaded. Others are killed by being shot with 00 buckshot from a 12 gauge shotgun at close range (there are some wounds too big even for a vampire to heal). One is killed by having his throat—and carotid arteries and jugular veins—torn out (he bled to death faster than he could heal).
Man, just listing all of those things makes my book sound really violent. Which, I guess it is, except there are a lot of non-violent things that happen in the middle to tone it down. In any case, vampires can also die from fire and drowning, and one vampire’s husband was crushed to death in a building collapse many years ago. So death happens; it just has to be a pretty big, messy death.
- My vampires do not get sick. They do not have any diseases (other than vampirism, which is a type of virus). They heal wounds and broken bones fairly quickly.
- Vampires of both sexes are sterile. And unlike many literary—and even folkloric—vampires, they do not have an uncontrollable libido. Which isn’t to say they never get it on, but it isn’t nearly as important for them as it is for humans. They’re perfectly capable of going decades without sex (humans are too, but there’s a much higher chance of humans being mentally warped by it).
- They can control minds. While this usually has to be done through eye contact, older vampires can sometimes do it without eye contact. Also, having taken someone’s blood makes it easier to control the mind without eye contact.
- They are not actually dead. My vampires have a heartbeat and they breathe, they just do both very slowly. However, when a human is turned into a vampire, he goes into cardiac arrest and all heart and lung function does cease for a short period of time (a minute or two), which leads some vampires to refer to the episode as “when I died.” Becoming a vampire is, literally, dying as a human and being reborn as a vampire, but even as a vampire, they’re not technically dead.
- When a human is made into a vampire, they are frozen in time; all aging ceases, but is not reversed. So you wind up with vampires like Micah, who look like they’re 19, and vampires like Joshua, who look like they’re in their late fifties. And unlike some literary vampires, my vampires look the way they did when they were human: some are gorgeous, some are average, and some aren’t terribly attractive.
Some people may notice that many of my vampires are short. Micah, Isaac, and Joshua are all around 5'6" and Anselm is 5'9". (The average height of a man in America in 2000 was 5'11".) This is because when they were turned in the middle ages, people were much shorter then than they are now. (The average height of a man in England in 1200 was about 5'6".) Again, you look exactly the way you did on the day that you died as a human.
- No coffins.
- They drink blood every three days, or more often if they are young, hurt, or have to physically exert themselves a lot.
- They cannot eat or drink anything. Needless to say, toilets and refrigerators are the least used items in their houses.
- They create other vampires by first draining a human of some of their blood to weaken them, then they give their own blood to the human to drink. From beginning to end, the entire process only takes about five minutes.
- People who are simply bitten are not turned into vampires. The vampire virus can only be transmitted through a vampire’s blood.