Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I, Vladimir Paperback Release Day

It's been a fantastic year so far, the e-book version of I, Vladimir went on sale in early December and the 5 Star reviews have been rolling in.

Today is the day I and many others have been waiting for, the paperback release of my dark fiction vampire novel. I have been dreaming of this moment for a very long time - the experience of holding my own book in my hands, it is a celebrated moment in any writer's career.

So that's enough of me blabbing on, you want an excerpt right? Something to get your teeth into, a taste of things to come. Well here it is, below is the blurb and first two chapters, I hope you enjoy it.



Thanks for reading, 
All the best,

Daniel Kaye x




BLURB

My memory is different from yours. Over time you lose sight of people and places, dates are like the frayed edges of a painting that you will never see again. The faces and events still haunt me as if they happened yesterday. I remember every life I have taken for almost two thousand years.
For a long time, with our numbers growing, we had known safety. Throughout history, there had always been stories about us. Many believed them to be old wives’ tales. Never once did I believe our numbers could lead to our downfall.
 I have lived many lives and in all of that time, this was to become my darkest moment. The year was 1941 and war raged across Europe. Humans now traveled great distances to wage war on one another. The latest conflict had taken on a new face, a face of evil. One man had taken a sign of peace and placed it on a blood-red colored flag, which his troops followed into battle. Like locusts, they consumed everything in their path and invaded far off lands with little resistance.
As the war spread further, our clans divided into smaller groups to evade capture. We were forced farther east into colder, more hostile territory. Safe hiding places to sleep had become harder to find. I knew the day would come when we would be trapped, but never in my wildest dreams would have imagined it happening as it did.




CHAPTER ONE


As the humans fought another one of their petty wars, I ordered the clan to take shelter in the cellars of an old bombed out castle high in the mountains. The nearby villages appeared deserted but as it is in all wars, they were surrounded by those that were of little interest to us, the sick and the dying. I believed we found a safe haven away from the fighting, but close enough to find those whose health would hold our interest.
It was to be our second night in the castle and, as dusk fell, a sickness like I had never suffered before, woke me. Pain stabbed through my heart and my body trembled uncontrollably. Sweat covered my skin and soaked my clothing. Lying in my casket, weakness prevented me from moving my limbs; it felt as if my immortality was ebbing away. I tried to scream out to the others, but could form no words. No matter how much I willed it, I was still unable to move. My blood pumped around my body with every heartbeat, burning every inch of my body. I was being burned alive from the inside.
 A coarse scraping noise startled me as my casket lid slid open. I tried to turn my head to keep the bright light from blinding me. My head spun as I fought to remain conscious. Strange and unfamiliar voices filled the room and invaded my mind.
 My heart pumped harder, faster. It was as if the pounding organ was going to burst from my chest. Through the pain and the torment, one thought was keeping me sane. My clan was nearby. They would save me, even if it meant them losing their lives if I ordered it.
When I tried to pull myself up, my strength failed me. This sickness drained me of every ounce of energy and I knew that if I did not get away, it would kill me. Lying on the floor like a wounded animal, I was trapped.
The room was full of soldiers staring silently in my direction.
I struggled to even move my eyes. When I finally did, I saw my clan’s caskets laid untouched except for old oilcloths on their lids. They too were trapped.
“You look hurt, Vladimir.”
My mind felt heavy and slow, it was like a dark cloud was suffocating it. I needed to look into the eyes of the man who had attacked me. If his mind could be controlled by compelling him, I would escape. But only flashes of light filled my vision. My mind screamed at me to focus. The pain raged through my body. It took me a moment to realize what the bright flashes were. They were the lights reflecting off the gold-rimmed spectacles he wore.
“Take the artifact out of the room. Let him clear his head,” the man in the black uniform stated. He slowly raised his head, looked down his nose at me, and sneered.
“Not too far. We do not want our friend here getting any ideas about escaping.”
My blood began to cool and my breathing started to return to normal.
“What have you done to me?” I tried to shout but my voice was barely strong enough to form a whisper.
There was not much time to plan an escape, but I needed to give myself a chance to recover. With my returning strength and speed the element of surprise would be on my side. Looking at the others trapped in their caskets, I knew freeing one or two of them would cause panic and allow me to escape.
“I now control you, Vladimir. Let me show you.”
 It was as if he knew that in my weakened state I was unable to attack him.
“Bring the artifact back for him to take a closer look at.”
The soldier at the door walked back into the room. The pain increased with each step. I pushed my body into the corner of the room trying to escape the agony. My strength failed me. I was unable to move. My blood started to burn. The scream I tried to release was trapped, echoing inside of me with no means of an escape.
The soldier in the black uniform crouched down in front of me.
The pressure in my head increased and the heat from my blood burned every part of me. My jaw quivered and slowly began to close as the pain began to win. I stared into his eyes and saw he knew this.
His mouth opened and then he quickly snapped his teeth together twice before turning away and laughing with the other soldiers.
“Take it back to the door,” he smirked.
The man obeyed and immediately relief seeped through my body.
Hate and anger consumed me. Relief spread throughout my body as the pain subsided. Weakened, I knew there was no other way of protecting myself from this. I remained on the floor slumped against the wall where the soldiers had thrown me. What was this thing that caused me so much pain? My body was shaking with anger and a need for revenge. I had to escape.
“How do you know my name?” I demanded.
“I know a lot about you. I know your history, and your clan, Vladimir. We have watched you for weeks learning all we needed to. You see we are the master race, and while you with your arrogance believed that you were superior, you knew nothing. The hunter became the hunted, and they did not even realize it.” He turned to the others and laughed before looking back at me. “I must admit though, close up, you are not as I imagined you would be. No, I thought you would be more of a monster. With your young looks ….” He stepped closer and bent down so he was level with my face. “You almost look human. The most important thing is we know how to control you.” His smile seemed too big for his face. His teeth were bared at me in an almost animal manner for a brief moment, before slapping me across the face with an open hand.
Over the centuries as we traveled across Europe, I had never heard of anything which held such a power over me like this or of anything that would cause such painful sickness. It was as if this artifact contained the power of the sun.
“What is this thing that is capable of having such a hold over me?”
“As I said, we know much about you. We have studied your kind for years.”
“You with your mortal lives—mere children compared to someone like I. How could you know anything about me?” I spat back at him.
“I know with my artifact we control you.” He bent forward and looked me straight in the eyes. “Do you know your history, Vampyr?”
“I have lived through history and know more than you will ever imagine.”
I had learned of this man, the Son of God, the King of the Jews, who gave up his life for the sake of humanity. The man my maker once knew and later betrayed.
“Yes.”
“When they crucified Jesus did you know his legs were not broken?”
I had heard the story of the crucifixion of Christ. It was common practice for the Romans to break the legs of those crucified to increase the weight on the wrists, which were nailed to the cross and bring a swifter death. However, Christ’s was different. His legs were not broken, but they pierced his side with a spear.
 “Have you heard of the Spear of Destiny? Do you know of its power?” he asked as he removed his small eyeglasses, pulled a cloth from his pocket and started to clean them. His eyes never left the glasses as he breathed on them and continued to slowly polish them.
He held the glasses up to the light and squinted at them as if inspecting his work. As he started to wipe the small lenses again my blood began to boil once more. This time it was not from the weapon they had used against me, it was because of my anger for how arrogant this human was. A mere human standing before me more worried about how clean his glasses were than my presence. Did he not fear what I am? Or how every fiber of my body was aching to rip his throat out? And when finished, I would tear his body open and leave his entrails decorating the walls as a warning to others. Sitting back a smile began to form on my lips at the thought of tearing this small man apart. My tongue touched my lip as I imagined tasting his blood, that coppery taste flowing into my mouth.
He walked over to the other caskets and placed his hand on one of the lids. I wondered then if I would be able to use them to aid my escape.
 “Oh, do not worry about them. They cannot get out. They are trapped in a sleep too deep for them to awaken from.” He laughed as he put his eyeglasses back on and finally looked at me again.
“It is said that possession of the spear would grant its owner the power to conquer the world. It is thought the spear would also have power over the dark forces, over creatures like you.”
He paused and looked me in the eyes. “I believe tonight we have proven it to be so. Would you not agree, Vampyr?”
“What do you want of me?” I asked trying to move.
“Do not try to get up, Vladimir. I only have to order it and the spear will be brought back in here. Would you like another demonstration?”
Still weak, I shook my head. There was no way of knowing how much more my body could have taken. But as I watched him, his eyes moved briefly towards the entrance of the chamber then back again. For a brief moment hidden behind his arrogance, there was a sign of fear. It was my time to sneer.
“Do you see the power of the spear?” He turned and pointed at the other caskets. “The oilcloths that cover them are what the spear was wrapped in.”
 I did not take my eyes from his. I knew the power of this spear was unimaginable, even the cloths were enough to bring the same sickness to the others. I had to learn more about this artifact and of its powers if I were to escape, not let this man believe he could use their suffering to stop me.
“What do you want of me?” I whispered, on the hope he would come closer, and this time I was ready to tear his throat out. Knowing that the sight of having their so called leader ripped apart in front of them would no doubt cause the other soldiers to panic and flee. The spear may have taken my strength, but not my will to fight. I had sensed the fear he tried to hide behind his arrogance, which now was to become his downfall.
“All will become clear, Vladimir. Now we must prepare for travel. Return him to his casket,” he barked at the other soldiers.
As the soldiers approached I bared my teeth and snarled. I was a god among my people, and held the power to take or give life as I saw fit.
Now, a mere human thought to control me and believed me defeated.
I tried to resist, kicking out, and snapping my teeth at them. I overestimated my strength as the soldiers grabbed hold of me again and dropped me back into my place of rest. The lid to the casket was pushed back over me. I closed my eyes and for the first time in almost two thousand years, I had nightmares.


CHAPTER TWO

I do not know how long I slept and there was no way of telling. Still weak, the sickness returned. Sensing the spear was not far from me—it left me drained and brought with it a hunger I had never known before. I feared another confrontation with it might kill me.
The metal door at the far end of the room opened and in walked the soldier dressed in the same black uniform as the last time that I had seen him. The heels of his black boots pounded against the floor as he marched over towards me. No matter how much I tried to ignore them and look defiant, the noise of his steps echoed through my head.
“Well, Vladimir, you look a little better than the last time we met,” he mocked.
 “You only think you have control over me. What is it you want?”
“Ah straight to the point, I like that. But first, would you like to know how I know so much about you?” He said standing in the center of the room looking down at me.
I wanted to know more of what this soldier had to say before escaping from this hell, and if it meant leaving the others behind and killing everyone who stood in my way in one bloody massacre, I would. But as I tried to lean forward to defend myself, my body failed. It was as if all of my strength had deserted me and left nothing in its place but pain. What was happening to me?
“We have been studying your kind for a while now. We have captured a couple of your … Let us say, friends.”
 “And you think this troubles me?”
I had always controlled those below me, those that I had created, and if they had fallen into the hands of this man with his artifact, they could never betray me.
“Yes, they were very helpful. How do you think we knew your name and where to find you? You did not even realize we have been observing you for weeks. We watched as you moved from place to place believing that you were safe. All we had to do was wait for the perfect opportunity to trap you.”
“No one would give us up. They would never put themselves before the clan, before me!” I shouted.
“Then explain to me how we found you so soon after getting to the castle,” he replied coolly.
I stared at him as my mind went blank.
 “Ah, I see the thought has silenced you, Vampyr. You are much older and stronger than the rest, are you not?”
 “What did you do to them?”
“Not I. The spear. It was too powerful for them. They tried. Oh, how they tried to resist. But, in the end, they told me everything,” he said.
He came closer and leaned forward so that his face was mere inches away from mine.
Letting out a dismissive grunt, and staring into his cold eyes I knew he had enjoyed telling me this. It was as if he reveled in it, nearly as much as when he had taken their lives. “Do you believe I care about this? Come closer, and I will tell you all about those I have killed.”
“Oh, Vladimir. Look at the way you try to show us you still have some fight in you. It amuses me you would even think this way.”
The man laughed and the sound echoed off the walls.
All thought for myself drifted away as I studied him. The arrogance he had both amazed and sickened me. Like a creature of the night, he had control and was cunning, but I knew he was nothing without the spear.
“You still have not said what you want of me.”
“Vladimir, I control you and you will do what we require of you.”
I stared at him.
“You now know how we control you, yes?” he stated again.
I nodded. My sudden burst of energy and the kick to my chest had taken its toll. I willed for the commander to come closer to me so I could look into his eyes, but nothing happened. I thought if I compelled him to do my bidding, to put him under my spell and release me from the curse of that damn spear I would escape. But no, it must still be nearby and just its presence was enough to subdue my mind, for now.
“We are building an empire! An empire that will last a thousand years.” He looked over his shoulder. “Bring me a chair!” He slowly turned back to look down at me. “Our Reich will reign supreme. It will be clean from the impurities of inferior races!”
As I watched him he seemed to grow taller with each word he spoke. His face even turned upwards as if he was looking at the sky, preaching to a crowd.
The man returned with a chair and the commander lit a cigarette. He remained standing and put a foot on the chair. I watched puffs of gray smoke as they rose into the air, and like the smoke my concentration drifted away. I remembered hearing the phrase life unworthy of life and talk of wasted ammunition on prisoners not worthy of living. Prisoners not fit to live in the Reich. The other phrase was The Final Solution - Their sickening plans to annihilate all Jews and other races they deemed subhuman within their grasp.
“In a way we are very much alike you and I,” I said breaking his speech.
He looked at me startled for a moment before smiling. “Do tell, Vampyr, how do you see us being alike?”
“You are a strong leader among your kind, as am I.”
“Go on,” he replied coldly.
“We speak of similar goals for our own kind, but you,” I said smiling. “You are a clever man, you have found a way to capture us, and not many have been brave enough to try before you. I can show you things you never thought possible.”
“Enough! Do you honestly think your charm will work here, on me?” Laughing he turned and walked from the room.
The caskets opened and moans of agony filled the room. My eyes closed and I faded into darkness. The freedom of the life we had known was over.
A few hours later I awoke to my clan huddled around me, their faces filled with fear and confusion. I realized, like the others before them, I was to be the cause of their death.
My immortal life was ending, and I knew the others sensed it too, when one of the older ones offered me the last of his blood to save my life, I refused. It was noble of him to offer, but I chose another. A younger vampyr who was less willing to come forward served as a better lesson to the others that I was able to take any of them. His blood although weakened by the spear soared through my body, and helped heal the damage from the torture I had endured. When finished, I threw his empty body aside and then told them of what I knew of the artifact and the story of how it came to be so powerful.
My maker was the apostle Judas Iscariot, the man who for a few pieces of silver betrayed Jesus, the Son of God. His guilt for betraying Jesus led him high up on a hill.
There, Judas climbed a tree, tied a rope around his neck, and jumped. As the apostle took his last breath he heard his god speak to him. He told him he would not be allowed to take his own life for what he had done. He would be cursed to walk the earth in darkness and never to see the sun again.
This made the Devil angry. Because he had betrayed Christ, the Devil believed Judas’ soul would be one of the most powerful ones he would own, and he wanted it. So he too cursed him, in exchange he wanted many more souls so he told Judas his only source of food was blood, as he was blamed for spilling the blood of Jesus. I told them that all of us are descended from Judas and because the spear had pierced Christ’s side and touched his blood, it must be why it held so much power over us.
They stared at me as I told them of the soldiers’ plans and that we were to become part of their Final Solution.
The door at the end of the room opened again, and the younger ones began to wail.
“You!” I shouted pointing at them. “Stop! Remember what you are.”
Some stood where they were the others huddled into the corner, and as I looked into their eyes all I saw was their fear.
“You are pathetic and deserve to die first,” I said grabbing hold of one and pushing him into the middle of the room. “They think they can subdue us, but we will fight. Now stand beside him,” I said pointing at the lone vampyr in the middle of the room.
As one, the clan moved beside him and waited for the soldiers with the spear. The door stayed open but no one entered. I sensed the fear in the others as they waited for the spear. This was worse than the torture itself. How in such a short time the clan had succumbed to fear?
The heavy door slammed closed behind them. They stood grouped together. I stared at them and their faces were full of terror. For a moment we were the same.
The spear had awakened a primal force, a hunger we had not known for so long. We had been tortured to near death and starved.
The animal instinct that the spear kept subdued in us was now free and resurfaced with a savage vengeance. The humans who stood huddled before us never stood a chance. We were on them before I even had time to think. I tore from one to the next without thought of the others. The sweet smell of iron that only blood can make filled my nostrils as it sprayed into the air, it excited me and drove me further. Bodies were thrown aside as I fought my way through the screaming mass of humans, no longer caring of anything other than my own needs.
As the last of the screams that had echoed throughout the locked room faded away, I looked back at a massacre, and smiled. Bodies with their throats ripped open, lay all around us covered in bloodied clothing. I did not care; my body felt strong again and looking at the clan knew they felt it too. One of them looked up at me and smiled. She wiped the back of her hand across her chin, removing a mixture of saliva and blood, before burying her teeth back into the human she had laid across her lap. I let go of the corpse, now only an empty sack, and closed my eyes with pleasure at the sound it made as it hit the blood soaked floor. Roaring with joy as I glared at the clan, having never witnessed us feed as if we were a pack of wild animals before excited me, and gave me the strength, which the spear had taken. The blood that fed our bodies brought hope among the clan. Plans of rising as one and of escape whispered through the room. I ordered two of them to stand by the door and wait for the soldiers to come back in, this way we would attack them from the front and behind. Wanting out of this prison and sacrificing them would mean nothing to me. This was our strongest moment just after feeding and it was now we had to fight. We are Vampyr and were never to be controlled by mere cattle.
The door opened and soldiers flooded back into the room led by a man who held the spear. My clan fell to the floor around me and as their snarling ceased, their screams filled the room. I tried to fight back. If I could get that damn thing away from us, I would be able to escape. I lunged forward to attack, wanting to be free of this room and would do anything to accomplish that. With each step forward the sickness increased and my heart began to thump faster. It forced burning blood through my body. I shouted at the others to stand beside me and fight but when I looked across the room at them saw that they had already succumbed to the power of the spear. Hopelessness had finally consumed me and I collapsed to the floor.
The commander entered the room and ordered the soldiers to remove the bloodied corpses. Frustration and anger filled me. Our moment to escape and the strength we had gained was taken from us once more. I believed then this was going to happen again and again, to allow us to feed like animals, and then drain us by torture. While they had that spear, they would always have control over us. 



"I, Vladimir is compelling and enthralling reading."
"I couldn't put it down."
 "Addictive"
 "one of the most enjoyable vampire books I've come across in a very long while."
"compelling and wonderful"
 "Absolutely brilliant book. I was hooked from the first word ..."


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