Every writer gives their vampire a unique twist. Mine are half-human, half-vampire hybrids called dhampir, but I sought an additional feature never seen before in the vampire genre. Vampires with psychic bonds have been used before. Usually the master knows the fledgling’s every thought and feeling, and sometimes this link goes both ways. I find it too intrusive and a little creepy. Still, I liked the idea of a connection between a vampire and the human they turn.
The psychic bond I developed is limited to emotions, and these emotions appear as colors to the partnered dhampir (called articulated dhampir in Communion). This gives me a unique spin on the bond and, best of all, there’s room for misinterpretation.
Seeing emotions as colors. Now how to put this into practice? Did I want to randomly assign each emotion a color? Let’s see… Happiness is typically yellow and blue sad. What about loneliness? Or even harder to define: melancholy? No, pairing emotions and colors at random wouldn’t work.
But what if I categorize them?
My major in college was Psychology. When leafing through a psychology of emotion textbook, I discovered a study by Shaver, Schwartz, Kirson, & O’Connor, 1987 which clusters emotions based on six categories. So I paired these with the three primary and three secondary colors.
Joy = Green
Affection = Orange
Surprise = Yellow
Here’s an example: Traditional anger appears red. An anger-like emotion such as frustration would show up as a different shade of red— I chose auburn. While hatred and disdain appear as scarlet. The more intense a dhampir feels an emotion, the brighter it appears to their “partner.” So pure, hell-bent rage shines in the other dhampir’s mind as bright red.
Colors are pretty, but is there a functional reason to my dhampir seeing emotions this way? Yes. In most mythos, dhampir are vampire hunters. Mine are too. Or they were. The dhampir were actually so good at hunting down vampires that they drove them to extinction well before my story starts. And the colors helped them do so.
When my dhampir get close to a full-blooded vampire, their emotional colors go haywire, shining their brightest and appearing in a special sequence that conveys a warning. This alerts any dhampir they’re articulated to.
Dhampir can be articulated to two others: the dhampir who turned them and the one they turn.
Imagine a group of 10 articulated dhampir. Dhampir #1 turned #2, who turned #3. #1 can see #2’s colors. #2 can see #1 and #3’s colors. #3 can see #2 and #4’s colors.
During a hunt, the dhampir separate to search their assigned territories. Say dhampir #1 and #3 notice #2’s colors flashing in the warning sequence. That alerts them to head to his assigned area, while they send messengers to notify the other dhampir.
Pretty cool, if I say so myself. Also, the colors allow for beautifully described scenes and for mischief. Lester, the main character, is articulated to Gwynn. In one scene, he misinterprets her colors, setting him up for the most epic of fails.
Genre: YA/Urban Fantasy
Number of pages: 155
Word Count: Approximately 46,000
Cover Artist: Jason Alexander
Vampires are extinct. There are only the dhampir.
Now something more than human, Lester struggles to determine where he fits in this new society. Just what secrets about the dhampir are his friends keeping from him? And what will he do when a notorious figure from dhampir history sets her eyes on him?"
Gwynn stopped being the object of my eye for a few moments as a posh Hispanic woman in a
pants suit walked from the double doors. Mr. Johnston must have made a mistake when he called her a
doctor. She couldn’t possibly be out of her early twenties.
Dr. Rosario reintroduced herself and went through her credentials, but I was lost in her other
details like her full lips, and athletic yet curvy body. Her shoulder-length wavy, nearly frizzy hair
bounced as she paraded around the gym. Her amber eyes winnowed the crowd. She demonstrated
presence like the power executive types, which made me think of my dad and which likely meant her
display was just an attempt to smother the evidence of a depreciating life.
“You may not believe this by my success now, but I used to be bullied, too.”
“She’s right. I don’t believe her.”
Gwynn shot me a smile.
Dr. Rosario went on talking and I went on not listening. Until I heard the word “volunteer.”
Her eyes fell right on me. I’m sure my physical features screamed victim: tall with lanky arms,
horn-rimmed glasses, and an unkempt afro. But it would cost a lot more than her outfit to get me to
open up to my peers.
Dr. Rosario spun around in a circle, still searching.
A hand shot up in the air over where the juniors sat. “I’ll go.”
“Excellent. Come on down.”
The volunteer’s short dreadlocks bobbed as he stepped down the bleachers. The grin plastered
to his face was as dark as his complexion. A few students snickered when they saw who it was.
“Thank you,” Dr. Rosario said when he reached her. “Everyone clap your hands for—”
She held out the microphone to him.
Applause and knowing laughter went off around me. I sat there still, the only motion coming
from the corners of my mouth sinking further.
“Jay’s never been bullied,” Gwynn murmured. “Lester, you’re shaking.”
“I’m not,” I snapped.
No, of course Jay hadn’t been bullied. Six foot four with the bulky physique that turned away
challengers, Jay was usually on the giving end.
Dr. Rosario passed Jay the microphone.
He suppressed his usual crocodile smile. “Let me reiterate that bullying is no joke. It is cruel and
insensitive and—oh, before I continue, shout out to the wrestling team. Good win last Saturday, boys.”
The crowd loosened up with a few more laughs, mixed with shouts and cheers.
A guy a few rows above me cupped his hands around his lips and shouted: “I see you, Jay!”
“I see you, Nicholas,” Jadarius said, pointing to him. “Be careful of that man. He’s a bully on the
He cleared his throat. “But my favorite—or rather, most tragic—example of bullying comes from
last spring. At the end of P.E. class one day, I returned to the locker room to dress into my normal
clothes. But my clothes, and a bunch of other freshman’s, had been put into the toilet.”
Jay was full of crap. He’d been a sophomore last year and he wasn’t the victim of the story he
told. I raised my hand to get the attention of a teacher. The closest, a group of three, stood together
talking. I tried making eye contact with Ms. Lane, the only teacher I trusted, but she was on the other
side of the gym.
“Swirling around in those yellow, pissy waters was the new leather jacket I’d got for Christmas.
It was the last thing my mom bought me before she left me and my dad.”
I jumped up. As I stepped between students to get to the bottom, Mr. Taiffer caught sight of me
and walked over.
“And the worst part was I knew who did it. I stepped to him, expecting the other freshman to
join me. Especially since my best friends had the class with me.”
“Stop him,” I said to Mr. Taiffer, my voice somewhere between a shout and a whisper. “He’s
“What do you mean? I heard about something like that happening last year.”
“Yeah, stupid, it happened to me.”
Jay continued, “He gave me the biggest beat down in the history of Concord Hills High. It was so
bad, my friends watched in amazement.”
Mr. Taiffer didn’t take too well to being insulted. And my own anger only grew when I heard the
taunting laughter of the crowd rise again.
Dr. Rasario reached for the microphone, but Jay dodged her.
“Oh, one more part, one more part,” he told her. “And this classic tale is brought to you all by
the one and only, Lester Fuller.”
I’m a 25 year old writer. I’m a graduate of North Carolina State University where I majored in Psychology and minored in Japanese. I currently live in Maryland.
I wrote a lot as a kid. I began a new story (or 3 or 4) every school year, but rarely finished them. I finally finished one when I was 16. It was about ninjas. It was really bad.
Communion, my first completed novel worth publishing, will be released October 1st. I have that and many other works coming down the pipeline. I plan to be writing for many years to come.