Thursday, June 07, 2012

Saint Sanguinus by Julia Phillips Smith

The caution “be careful what you wish for” is the jumping off point for my Dark Ages vampire superhero origin story, SAINT SANGUINUS.

Due to my birthday falling on Remembrance Day, a few years ago I found myself thinking about the thousands and thousands of unknown soldiers and warriors lying on their last battlefields over the centuries. That’s when the seed of this story took root.

What if one of the voices calling out in pain and fear, I thought to myself, suppose that voice did not ask God to welcome a warrior’s soul into heaven?

What if one of the voices cursed God instead, for daring to collect a life unlived?

Thus my brotherhood of guardian vampires was born.

In SAINT SANGUINUS, a warrior’s curse with his dying breath summons a member of the brotherhood to take him into their service. These guardian vampires stand between humans who would wipe out the vampires if they could, and vampires who would turn too many humans into vampires if left unchecked.

Is this the kind of life that Dark Ages Welsh warrior Peredur longed for when he cursed his approaching death? Was he thinking only of his beloved, Tanwen?

What of Tanwen, the chieftain’s daughter? Upon hearing of Peredur’s death, she vows to do whatever it takes to be reunited with her love once again.

Many lovers have vowed the same thing. “I would do anything for you. Anything.”

In Tanwen’s case, she’s truly a woman of her word.    

Excerpt 2 -

            "What if Cavan did have intentions for me?” Tanwen prodded.
            “He does, daughter. Make no mistake about that.”
            “Why did you allow Rhodri to speak to you? I’ve never shown the slightest interest in him.”
            “You loved a man who fell in battle,” her father clarified. “I don’t expect you’d ever have feelings for anyone in the village.”
            So he understood that part, at least. She stopped walking. He slowed, turning to face her.
            “Peredur was a love match,” he continued. “Now we’ll have to find you the best man still standing.”
            She almost laughed at her father’s way of putting things, but tears stung too close to the surface. “I won’t marry the blacksmith’s son,” she stated.
            “We won’t discuss this while you are distraught,” he said.
            “I won’t be Rhodri’s wife!” Tanwen’s voice tinged with panic.
            Tada grabbed her hard by both arms. “You will do as your father commands you.”
            Tanwen felt a rising fury she’d never known before. Perhaps she felt there was nothing left to lose, now that Peredur was gone. Recklessly, she shoved him with all her might. Her father was more than equal to that show of force. It must have been the shock alone that made him let go of her.
            “Peredur was my true husband and I won’t have another,” she said in a voice as hard as the huge rocks by the sea’s edge.
            Tada stared at her with a mixture of compassion and hurt. “Tanwen, you are grieving. You make no sense.”
            “You welcome Rhodri here to begin the marriage deal, and I am the one without sense?”
            “Rhodri has been trained well by his father. He’ll be the village blacksmith in his time. You’ll be well looked after.”
            She felt another surge of anger burst within her. “If Peredur hadn’t been so concerned about looking after me, he wouldn’t have gone on that last raid.”
            Tada sighed as if she were three years old and impertinent. “There’s more to it than that.”
            “He knew how you felt, Tada! He struggled to please you so you’d agree to our match.”
            “Daughter, watch your tongue.”
            Tanwen thought of Cavan and his mother, of their assurances. They were wrong. She felt like goading her father now, would welcome an explosion of pain on the outside to match the agony trapped inside her. “I will marry no other man,” she challenged.
            “You will obey, daughter.” He barked his words as he would order men in a warband. He’d been a fierce fighter not so long ago. His face told its tale in scars from his younger days.
            “If you speak to Rhodri about me again, I shall leave here. You shall never gaze upon me for the rest of your days.” Her heart beat fluttered as she waited for his blow, but somehow speaking it aloud began to calm her deep inside.
            Tada’s eyes flashed and his body tensed. What did he see when he looked into her eyes? Why did his expression struggle between pride and outrage? “You don’t fear me, do you?” he said at last.
            “What is left for me to fear?” she explained. “Peredur is gone. The worst has already happened to me.”
            Tada sighed and turned from her, gazing back over his lands. “I am grateful you didn’t turn out to be a male child,” he said. “Here you are a maiden, fierce as Boudicca.”
            Tanwen looked at her father as though she had never truly seen him before. Perhaps he felt the same way about her. He returned her curious stare with his own.
            “Am I not my father’s daughter?” she said at last.
            He took her in his arms, his embrace dashing cool relief over the hurting inside her. “Ah, my girl,” he said into her hair.
            Even as she felt her father’s strength and love, Tanwen felt the loss of all the embraces Peredur would never give her. She squeezed back, trying to drive out the loneliness that intruded even in a moment such as this.


June 1 Tour Intro
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Everyone Loves a Sinner

Saint Sanguinus
by Julia Phillips Smith

Book blurb: 

An elite brotherhood stands between humans and vampires, preventing one side from annihilating the other. Who are called to this service? 

Only those warriors who curse God with their dying breath. Welsh warrior Peredur falls to a spear before he can claim Tanwen for his bride. Raging on the battlefield, Peredur utters the curse that seals his fate and leads him to another life. Using the power of a saint whose bone makes up an amulet, Peredur takes on the trials to become a true member of the brethren. Yet his need for the chieftain’s daughter Tanwen still burns. 

Tanwen resists her father’s command to take a husband. The only one who understands her sorrow is Cavan, the wise woman’s son. When he promises that he can reunite her with her beloved, she agrees to his terms. 

But does Tanwen truly understand the depth of the price that must be paid?

Author bio: 

A graduate of Ryerson University’s film program, Julia Phillips Smith’s previous writing credits include scripts for radio and television. She has donned various creative hats, including stage manager (theatre), editor (TV documentary) and director (short films.) 

Julia lives with her husband and her mom on Canada's east coast, where the rugged sea and misty forests feed her thirst for gothic tales. 

A longtime blogger, she invites you to visit A Piece of My Mind ( ~~~ 

Blog -


Tara MacQueen said...

What a great excerpt! Thoroughly enjoyed reading about Saint Sanguinus.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Roxanne -

Thanks for hosting me today! I was so happy to see the excerpt you'd chosen. Tanwen is a special character for me, and I enjoyed writing her relationship with her father.

Sans Pantaloons said...

I have prepared an updated Virtual Book Tour graphic with the correct spelling here.
Or maybe I'm just being pedantic.