I seriously can’t believe it’s already March. Am I the only one who thinks the months go by faster the older I get? Well, anyway, there’s no time for existentialism—we’ve got a lot to discuss this time and there’s no time like the present to get down to things!
First order of business: I’m freshly back from Anime Crossroads and ecstatic that the first convention of 2023 went so well! I met a lot of fans, new and old, and managed to hawk my wares to a lot of new readers, all without losing my voice! If you’ve ever met me at a convention before, I’m sure you know how amazing that last part is. 90% of my business is gained by talking to people who stop by my table. I have to give summaries, discuss my writing style, and listen to many aspiring writers, casual readers, and overly-effusive porn enthusiasts for three days straight. It’s a lot on the vocal cords, believe me! But ACross was great, the people were phenomenal, and I’m gearing up for Evillecon later this month with full faith that it’ll be just as good if not better than what I just experienced last weekend.
So, here’s your reminder that I’ll be attending Evillecon in Evansville, IN! Mosey on over to my Schedule page for more information on that, and definitely swing by the table to say hello if you’re going, too. I’d love to see some more friendly faces from that neck of the woods!
Second on the docket: Ossuary. Another novella published, and a whole slew of new readers to traumatize with my particular brand of erotic horror! I hope you all managed to snag yourselves a copy, be it physical or ebook, and if you ordered a signed copy from me, rest assured, the books are on their way if they aren’t already in your hands! Please keep in mind that I offer signed copies of all of my work at all times. Merely mosey over to the Books tab and click on the form link at the bottom of the page, and I’ll personalize a copy and mail it to you myself.
And hey, if you’ve already got your book and enjoyed it thoroughly, here’s your regular reminder that the best way you can continue to support me after your purchase is to leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Seriously, there is no better way to help my work read new readers than by leaving a kind review. It helps boost my work in the algorithm, and helps me find new markets I wouldn’t otherwise reach. So… get to writing if you’ve already finished Ossuary! Just a few sentences can really move mountains on those sites!
And lastly, the third topic of discussion: What’s coming next?
Well, a hell of a lot, to be honest with you! With Ossuary wrapped up and freshly off to market, the next title on deck to be published is Infaust, my Pied Piper inspired dark romance. My artist for this book is currently tied up with some other projects at the moment, but the manuscript itself is fully finished and ready whenever she is. Tenuous plans have this book launching sometime this Summer, if not into early Fall. More details to come as we get closer to June, but trust me, I’ll keep you all informed!
I don’t like making promises on for-sure publication dates. Lord knows there are a million little things that can send a project back several months, and at this point, I’ve learned my lesson when it comes to promising things that aren’t set in stone. But, while I wait for Sun’s time to free up for Infaust, I’m also working on preparing the first of the Vigilante novellas, too! We may see Pride/Stray published late this year, but please, don’t hold your breath. Three publications in one year is the dream, but until Infaust comes out, not much else will. Get excited, though! If it doesn’t drop this year, it will drop first thing in 2024.
Anyway, that’s enough preliminary business for the time being. We have an actual topic of the month to discuss, so let’s get to it and delve into the next category of DVerse clans: the Triarii, Nicciave, and Loremasters!
The Triarii are one of my favorite clans to talk about because they don’t seem like they’ve got all that much going on with them at first blush. They’re the “strong” vampires, the big ones, the jocks as Gabriel in Letifer termed them, but they are so much more than that. Boy howdy, are they so much more than that. They’re a very tumultuous bloodline that has seen great rises and great losses in power. For much of the Dark Ages, they actually stood alongside the Luminaries and were, in some ways, far more akin to a ruling class than their landed gentry contemporaries.
The first Triarii isn’t known, but exemplary Triarii stand out in history as the leaders of countries, the winners of wars. Most notable of all the Triarii we’re likely to encounter in the DVerse books is Marcu, a Roman Centurion who single-handedly changed the course of European history after a rampant spree of vampiric over-feedings combined with an intense population growth threatened the human species at large. We’ll get into the specifics fully in the final books of the series, but he essentially saw the writing on the wall, realized that there would be nothing left if someone didn’t do something and soon, and took matters into his own hands. The first great cullings began under his watch. Lesser clans found their numbers purged in droves, and prominent families who had the foresight to place their support behind the winning side (Marcu’s) found themselves elevated in the new world order while the rest were left out to receive a last sunrise.
This was the golden age of the Triarii, and it lasted as long as Marcu did. Marcu lost power in an nebulously understood part of vampiric history known colloquially as The Fall. After he was gone, the Triarii splintered, scrambled, and lost their hard-won supremacy. Luminaries who realized they no longer wished to be puppet rulers behind their muscle-bound pseudo-servants took back control and reinstated the pecking order we see persisting into modern nights.
In modernity, we see most Triarii occupy a tenuous position of power and unimportance. They’re often found in ancillary roles of bodyguards, drivers, hired muscle, and confidants to the high bloods. Nary will you see a Luminary operating in public without a Triarii close behind, and because of this close proximity to power, Triarii enjoy being in the know in ways few are. They seem to be working towards something, accumulating power, contacts, and information, but what, exactly, they’re hoping to accomplish is a secret known only to their ranks, and if there’s one thing Triarii don’t share, it’s secrets that benefit the clan as a whole.
Might makes right to the Triarii. First and foremost, they are a clan built upon the belief that the only way to hold power is through conquest, battle, and proving definitively that you are stronger than the one you’re up against. In a time of constant war, in the time of Empires, it’s easy to see why they would have risen above their intellectual counterparts. Triarii embrace from the ranks of soldiers, generals, hardened veterans, and those who have proven their will is stronger than their foes—stronger than anyone, in fact—and their blood assures that’s true.
Similar to the Cultists, it can be difficult to survive the transformative bite of a Triarii. It’s strong blood. Only the strong can withstand it, and even then, a will of steel is needed as well. Because of this, most Triarii tend to be big and bulky. They were fighters in life, or soldiers, or thugs. Athletes, hired muscle, the sort of humans who led an active life and have the body to prove it—but that’s just one sort of Triarii. The strongest power lifter could be felled by a Triarii embrace just as easily as the weakest pencil pusher if they don’t have the mindset, the sheer force of will, to overpower the blood before it overpowers them first. So, any Triarii you encounter demands respect outright. There is no such thing as a Triarii pushover. They all fought to survive in ways most can’t comprehend, and because of that, they’re all worth consideration, no matter the package they come in.
My favorite thing about this clan is that they are, as I fondly call them, “team sports.” What makes the most dangerous isn’t their enhanced strength, their ability to channel ungodly strength and bloodlust through blood rages, or their unbreakable willpower. It’s that they all come into the night with an innate sense of loyalty that is nigh on unshatterable. For most, this loyalty is directed to the clan as a whole. There shouldn’t be such a thing as a Triarii who isn’t willing to lend aid to a fellow Triarii. They are all bloodkin, and in this sense, blood is far, far thicker than water. Triarii talk. They share everything. If one works for a Luminary in Chicago and hears some secrets on the job, you can guarantee every Triarii they’ve come into contact with in that city also knows those secrets too. They rarely if ever act in ways that wouldn’t benefit their fellow clanmates at large.
Of course, there are always outliers. Triarii have to be loyal to something. Most are loyal to each other, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Some are hyper-loyal to the groups they were affiliated with in life (a gang leader may remain loyal to his gang as opposed to the Triarii who turned him, for example). The thing is… this is the sort of loyalty that’s meant to be shared. If it isn’t given to a large enough group, or God forbid, is only given to a single person… Well, there are a few freaks in this world—Rience being one of them, as discussed last month—and there is nothing scarier than a Triarii who doesn’t share.
We’ll get into that in the next novel, Philaimatos, and believe me, it’s fucking wild.
Triarii Power breakdown:
Insanely enhanced strength, speed, and physical ability.
When hurt/angered/triggered, can engage in a “Blood Rage” and essentially go full primal instincts. Become a killing machine with no sense of pain or consequences until their blood lust is satisfied.
Enhanced loyalty to the clan/group of influence. Fixations occur if this need for camaraderie/kinship isn’t disseminated to a big enough pool.
But let’s move on to the exact opposite of the Triarii. No more jocks—let’s move onto the nerds, namely my favorite clan, the Nicciave!
I’m not sure who the progenitor of the Nicciave was, but I can guarantee they were a paranoid bastard who probably wasn’t well liked. They were instrumental in the Triarii’s rise to power during the Dark Ages and select Nicciave benefited greatly from sensing which way the wind was blowing during that initial conflict. Many were culled, but those who aligned themselves with Marcu early on saw unprecedented prestige, status, and power placed upon them as they sold out their fellow kin, clanmates and strangers alike, all in the hopes of receiving a good seat in the new world order Marcu built off the bones of the culled. We’ll see a lot of that in the story of Cassius, another key player in the final books of the series. No spoilers here though. Just know it’s a doozy.
When I describe the Nicciave, the best analogy I’ve found is that they are rats fleeing an eternally sinking ship. They are the most Type-A neurotics you can imagine, and they have good reason to be that. Unlike most clans who are gifted with physical abilities, their claim to fame is purely mental. No one in the vampire world has a stronger mind than a Nicciave. They can compel humans and vampires alike without breaking a sweat, mesmerize as easily as breathing, and destroy minds on a whim. On top of that, they’ve got one hell of a self-preservation tactic under their belts: minor precognizance. If there’s a fist being thrown in their direction, they’ll know about it before it happens—or before it could happen.
For better or worse, they are grossly aware of how dangerous the world is. They have the unique ability to know exactly how bad things are about to get just before they happen, and because of that, they are constantly doing everything in their power to better their positions. It’s not paranoia to think the whole world is out to get you when you know that it is, and in a world built on shadowy politics, back alley alliances, and cutthroat bargains, the only true safety is found in power—absolute power.
Nicciave are opportunists. They are shadow brokers, spymasters, kingmakers, and power hungry to a fault. There’s no other way to attain security than to know every single danger out there and have it under lock and key—or better yet, have it owe you so you hold the leash and direct what direction the danger points. Beside every great leader are a dozen Nicciave lurking just behind the seat of power, whispering in the King’s ear to guide him this way or that. They are loyal only to themselves, and even then, that loyalty is a fickle thing when their own minds tell them they’re constantly under threat.
No one trusts a Nicciave: they are a resource to be used carefully, and always at a cost.
Nicciave have a wider pool in which they sire from than most clans. They don’t look at scholars or athletes or royalty—they look at everyone and choose based on their own set of standards. And even after a fledgling is turned, whether or not they live up to their sire’s standards is another matter entirely. Some watch a single individual for years to weigh whether or not they’ve met some arbitrary set of standards, some invisible check-\list that meets their expectations for a good lackey. Others treat it more like a job interview with the human unknowing what, exactly, that job will entail until it’s too late to turn it down. Some employ “tests'' that range from innocuous to utterly inhumane just to see how the prospective fledgling bounces back.
Regardless of how they get there, Nicciave sires are… difficult mentors to impress. It’s hard to tell who has it better, those with micromanaging sires or utterly detached ones.
Despite their typical unsavoryness, Nicciave remain in high demand to those also seeking power, prestige, or a leg up over their rivals. Most Nicciave have a price they’re willing to sell just about anything for, and their loyalty comes at a figure most couldn’t scarcely begin to afford. Anyone who’s anyone has the number to a few prominent Nicciave on their phone, and if you’re smart, you can benefit greatly from a relationship with one. Just be prepared to lose a few secrets in the process, naturally.
What I love most about Nicciave is that while every bloodline has some flaw or facet of their personality cranked up to eleven, these bastards prove to be their own worst enemies 99% of the time. They are self-destructive in their need to climb the ranks, and even those who seem level headed have at least one trigger topic (or person) that will send them spiraling. Anxiety, OCD, unsavory fixations, and paranoia are prevalent, and no Nicciave has the exact same flavor of brain rot. I adore shadow lord type characters, but they’re always so much more fun when they’ve got some kind of Issue that keeps them from fully achieving domination. They don’t seek power for power’s sake—it’s a self-defense mechanism, and the thing that might provide them with true safety, happiness, or satisfaction will always take a back seat to the thing they perceive will keep them ahead of the dangers they see around every single corner. It makes for very interesting characters and dynamics, something you’ll see in our next duology of novels!
Nicciave Power breakdown:
Enhanced mental acuity—compulsion, mesmerism, mental dominance, and control. Can compel humans without effort and almost all vampires with ease. Only Luminaries would present a challenge.
Minor pre-cognizance (mental “vision” of incoming danger/threats).
Exacerbated anxiety/paranoia. Will distrust instinctively.
Our final topic of the month comes in the form of the other nerds of the vampire world, the Loremasters. In some ways, these are the truer form of “nerd.” They seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge and not for some desperate grab for power, dominance, or security the way the Nicciave do. They’ve got their own issues, but they’re far less dramatic, and there can be an argument made that these bastards are the saddest of all the clans. I sure as shit know my editor thinks so XD
For as long as there has been history, there have been those dedicated to recording it. Vampiric history may transpire in longer epochs than most history, but there are still record keepers, or in this case, Loremasters. Built from enclaves of scholars from every order under the sun, the Loremasters navigate the centuries with the marked goal of recording its passage as accurately and unbiasedly as possible. If there is a progenitor of this bloodline, they would know it. They try to know everything they can as quickly as they can because unlike all other bloodlines, the Loremasters do have an expiration date.
Yep, you heard me right. Loremasters are not immortal. The average Loremaster has a lifespan of roughly 900 years, and for every decade they exist as such, they age. It’s slow at first, but persistent, compounding until their bodies fail them while their minds—the lone aspect of their bodies untouched by age—continue on.
It’s common practice for younger Loremasters to mercy kill their elders once they reach the last stages of bodily autonomy—and once they’ve finished conveying the bulk of their own knowledge. No one wants to exist as a sentient brain on the floor, which is what tends to become of them if they’re not dealt with when their bodies begin to break down.
There’s definitely some possibility of some weird sci-fi shit with this clan once technology catches up to the Futurama heads-in-a-jar concept, but I’ll leave that to you guys to postulate on.
These guys don’t solely live just to die though. Some believe that the fact that they do die gives their longevity more meaning. You would be hard pressed to come across a single Loremaster that doesn’t give their duty 100% of their focus, and that duty is vast, varied, and fascinating. While Loremasters tend to all maintain some contact with their order in whatever area they may inhabit, Loremasters have a variety of positions within vampiric society. Their number is few and always has been, but their worth is undeniable to those with the common sense to appreciate it. Luminaries who desire uncontested proof of their claim over an area always have at least one Loremaster under their employ to attest to their historic legacy, and those with fledglings in need of guidance are often assigned younger Luminaries to document their growing deeds as preemptive guarantees that their rises to power go uncontested.
You can view Loremasters as counselors, scribes, and historians all in one. Most remain situated in one area for most of their lives, but others, typically younger Loremasters, travel frequently, gathering new sources of information for the clan as a whole while their bodies are strong enough to facilitate travel. A common coming of age task for young fledglings is to venture away from the enclave alone and bring back the truth regarding long-held folk beliefs, rumors, or events that have gone uninvestigated by frail elders. The acquisition of new knowledge is paramount to the clan, and the best way to prove your worth is to bring back something juicy.
Older-but-still-spry Loremasters oftentimes have ongoing research projects under their belts. Sometimes they’re pet interests, and other times they’re assigned duties they’ve been tasked to delve into. The quintessential Loremaster is an unbiased observer, a witness to the events of history as history is made. Most subscribe to this mentality. Most. It’s uncommon to see a Loremaster engaged in any physical or bloody feat to uncover secrets. It’s even more uncommon to find a Loremaster engaged politically in any capacity other than as an apolitical advisor/historian. But there are exceptions to every rule, and like all exceptions in the DVerse, it’s those individuals who leave the most ripples in their wake.
While writing this series I’ve found that the most fun vampires are the ones who don’t fully fall into their clan bias. All three of this month’s clan spotlights will get that proven true in the next duology, so trust me, y’all are in for a treat.
Loremaster Power breakdown:
Photographic and eidetic memories. They never forget, and no other bloodline can say the same.
Longevity, not immortality—they age roughly a decade every 100 years after they’ve caught up to their physical age (someone turned at twenty will look twenty for two hundred years and age 10 years physically every century after that).
Enhanced strength, speed, and senses are average in terms of most vampires. Nothing to write home about compared to anyone else under the vampiric sun.
That’s enough of all of that for the moment. Let’s open things up to a question! I only got one this month from Twitter, but that’s fine. I’m a bit pressed for time at this point in the month, so I won’t complain.
Do you have a list of character names or words (made up or otherwise) you’ve set aside as title words or scene inspiration that you want to use in future works?
This is a fascinating question! I don’t typically have lists of names stored up—I’m really more of the “picks a name when I absolutely have to because choosing names is like pulling teeth half the time” but I do have a few names I came across while reading this big ass text book on horror cinema history that I decided to store for a rainy day. I think I’m going to use them for a future polyam erotica I want to write. The names are Zattiany, Diodati, and Aloysha.
When it comes to stories set in fantasy spaces where I don’t have any real-world applications or correlations, I tend to make up names based on how they sound phonetically, and those are always in-the-moment type choices I make while looking at my keyboard and Frankensteining syllables until a name emerges. For real-world based things, I usually look up census records from the time period/location for inspiration or I pull up the various family trees my mother has researched and find fun names from there. Some examples of the latter could be seen in the pirate story I want to write sometime: Rook Sinclair, Avery Tremaine, and Olivier d' Aubrecicourt (father’s name)/de Malet (mother’s name). I’ve also got a Lyde and Nikita on deck, a Lucas, Pierce, and Ilya for a spy novella, and a whole range of various vampires (Felix, Jericho, Eden, Blair, Asher, Ricca, Naoya, Nebraska, Charon, etc.)
As for title words, lord, where do I begin? We already know I almost exclusively title my stories with obscure, one-worded things. I usually find words for that kind of thing by using obscure word dictionaries or online resources like the Haggard Hawks twitter (if you don’t follow this twitter you are missing the fuck out). I also keep a running list on a desktop sticky note of words I come across that I’m fond of and might potentially use if I come up with a premise that suits the word. The DVerse novels in particular required a lot of long hours of research and digging to find Ancient Greek/Latin vocabulary that fit the overarching themes of each book without sounding jarring or bad as title words. For those I’ve got things like Thanatoses, Skiamakhia, Aletheia, Nepenthe, Dakethumos, Philaimatos, etc.
Current words on my list I’d like to write stories around/for would be Philamot (the brownish orange of dead leaves) or Aiteall (a fine spell of weather between showers of rain), with that latter one being one of the few reasons I’d ever consider doing a sixth Tempest book, simply because it fits the overarching title theme of that series.
As for words that may inspire scenes, that’s trickier. I do have one example that sticks out in my head. When it comes to the sequel to Ossuary, Reliquary (oh look, another title word teaser), a large part of what made me want to write it came from the idea of “infestation.” I don’t want to go into a ton of detail since Ossuary only just came out and I’d hate to spoil the ending for anyone, but as I was working on the notes for it, that word just stuck in my head and wouldn’t let go. The idea of something inhuman and wrong “infesting” a mundane, domestic space, worrying away at the once-comfortable trappings and existing within its confines in a way that is just patently WRONG wouldn’t leave me, and it’s become a large feature of what makes that sequel so horrifying. In Ossuary, the horror of Thierry’s surroundings was obvious. He’s in a crypt. He’s surrounded by the dead and dying; it’s simply human nature to recoil from dead things. Domestic horror, though, and the idea of the once-comforting domestic setting becoming “infested” with something that shouldn’t be there…
Well, that’s a hallmark of lots of horror, and it helped me define what sort of terror I want the audience to feel as they read it.
I think that’s the only concrete word I’ve currently got influencing any specific scenes or themes in a story right now. Typically, I’m more guided by “feelings” or specific energies I want to convey to a reader, and a lot of that isn’t so easily captured in just one word.
Only one question, which means we’re going to wrap things up a little shorter than usual this month. There’s plenty to make up for it though in terms of upcoming events and projects, and on that note, I hope I get to see some of you guys at some conventions this year—lord knows I’m going to be attending and tabling at a lot of them—and that you’re enjoying Ossuary. We’ll finish up the last of our clan deep dives next month and move on to some more fun things come April, and not just in our blog rotation! But more on that later. I’ve rambled on long enough here, and I’d hate to spoil the surprise.
Until next time,