In addition to writing fiction, I’m also a poet and serve as Vice President of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Poets often use “prompts” to start a poem. A prompt is basically a phrase or a sentence that might spark an idea. As a fiction writer, I also find prompts helpful.
As I mentioned last week, I learned about the idea of the vrykolakas from reading The Vampire in Europe by Montague Summers. In the chapter “Modern Greece” where Summers introduces the vrykolakas, he also relates a few vrykolakas stories. One of the stories is this one:
An incident which was very widely talked of in the island of Santorini and caused the greatest astonisment was the extraordinary friendliness that one of these vrykolakes showed to his wife who was still alive. By name Alexander, in his lifetime he had been a cobbler and he had lived in the little village of Pyrgos. After his death he appeared to his wife just as if he were still living. He even used to come and work in his house, for he mended his children’s shoes; he went to draw water from the reservoir; and he was very often seen in the neighboring coombs and dingles where he was wont to cut down wood for the use of his family. But after this had been going on for some time the villagers and those who lived round about became thoroughly frightened, so they exhumed his body which was cremated, and with the smoke of the flames the power of the demon also dissipated and was dispersed.
As soon as I read that paragraph, I wanted to know more about this “friendly” vrykolakas from Pyrgos. Who was his wife? What did she think when she first saw her dead husband return? If he was so friendly, why did the villagers hunt him down and destroy him? What happened to the wife after the vrykolakas was destroyed? These questions became the basis for my story “The Vrykolakas and the Cobbler’s Wife.”
To answer those questions, I turned to memories of my own father who died when I was young. I thought of my mother who learned a trade to support the family. I tried to imagine the mixed reactions I would have if my father came back. I also researched the village of Pyrgos at the turn of the century and hope I managed to capture it with some authenticity.
If you’d like to check out “The Vrykolakas and the Cobbler’s Wife,” you can order it at: http://www.cemeterydance.com/page/CDP/PROD/_cd066
You can pick up a copy of my vampire novel Vampires of the Scarlet Order at: Amazon.com. The book is also available as a Nook Book at: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vampires-of-the-scarlet-order-david-lee-summers/1013538009?ean=9780975453360