Dominion of the Damned took a long time to go from idea to the page, and it went through a lot of evolution along the way. I spent much of the 90s being fairly obsessed with vampires, beginning mainly with Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and culminating in a big way with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I mean, I was majorly obsessed with Buffy while it aired, and during that time I wrote a considerable amount of fan fiction.
In its most incipient form, Dominion began as an idea for a fan fiction. I’ve also always been a fan of zombie movies. And while Buffy had a few nods to the zombie genre here and there — most notably the Season 3 episode “Dead Man’s Party” — I just thought it would be fun to see Buffy, Spike and the rest of the Scoobies in a classic Night of the Living Dead scenario. Spike had to be part of the story. The more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea of pitting a vampire against flesh-eating zombies.
Alas, I stopped writing fanfic before I ever got around to writing that scenario. But my imagination couldn’t let go of the “vampires vs. zombies” idea. It kept percolating in the back of my subconscious even as I worked on other things.
Every now and then I would pull it up in my conscious mind and play with it a little. At some point it occurred to me that vampires and zombies are really two sides of the same coin. They’re both undead humans that feed on the flesh of the living in one form or another. The biggest difference, as my hero Alek Konstantin puts it, is that vampires tend to be better conversationalists.
Could vampires and zombies be related? If zombies were created by a virus, could a virus also be responsible for vampirism? From there it didn’t seem like much of a stretch to think that the zombie virus might be a mutation of the vampire virus.
I also wondered how vampires, if they existed, would react to a zombie outbreak. After all, they needed humans in order to survive. If a virus threatened to wipe out their food supply, they’d be forced to take action to prevent the extinction of the human race. Once that occurred to me, I pretty much had my premise for Dominion.
While the zombies in this tale are of a pretty standard Romero-esque variety–pretty much what you see in The Walking Dead–I think the biggest challenge I faced with this book was making the vampires interesting. I didn’t want them to be clones of Buffy-verse vamps, and I certainly didn’t want them to be anything like the Twilight vampires. I remembered that my own vampires weren’t supernatural beings, but human victims of a virus. These aren’t soulless, inherently evil creatures, but inherently human beings that have been corrupted. Some have been able to rise above and hold onto their human values. Some stopped caring. And some–many, actually–weren’t very nice people to begin with.
This goes to show you that a novel often isn’t written based on a single idea or spark of inspiration, but rather is the culmination of several ideas that mesh well together and develop over time. I’m still planning to further develop this universe into a trilogy–I’m really hoping to write the next installment later this year–but the Restless Spirits series has to take precedence while I’m under contract. At any rate, I think the first entry, while leaving plenty of room for more story, wraps up the loose ends and ends on a satisfying note.