Tom Doyle on The Idea of Vampire in The Left-Hand Way + Giveaway


The Left-Hand Way by Tom Doyle // VBCNote from VBC/Chelsea: Today we’re turning over the blog to Tom Doyle, the author of The Left-Hand Way, which you can snag at Amazon or read to the end of the post for a chance to win a copy. While there aren’t any vampires in his novel, the myth and idea of them permeates the book. Well, I’ll let Tom explain…

On the surface, The Left-Hand Way (and my American Craft series generally) has no vampires, or indeed any other nonhuman magical creatures. This was part of the rules of my world from the beginning. The magician-soldiers and psychic spies of my books are completely human, and the only thing that distinguishes them from mundanes is the ability to do what they call craft. Everyone intermarries, and craftspeople pop up in the mundane population every now and then. The magic itself is mostly on a human scale–spells that aid in fighting and probabilistic visions of the future.

And yet, despite this limit on my worldbuilding, the idea of the vampire haunts The Left-Hand Way. I suppose so many of our images of occult evil are concentrated in vampire stories that it would be difficult to create a villain with supernatural power who didn’t bear some resemblance to the Undead.

As a first similarity, the villains of the story, Roderick Morton and the Left Hand (the craft euphemism for evil) sometimes act as psychic vampires, drawing on the life energies of those around them. In my first book, American Craftsmen, Roderick feeds on the energy of the entire city of Washington, D.C., which is as good an explanation as any for much of what happens in my town. The Left Hand doesn’t generally require the extra juice to survive; instead, they use other people’s lives to augment their power.

Second, the Left-Hand villains have pursued immortality at all costs. Roderick and a few others have basically succeeded, and Roderick is now extremely difficult to destroy. (Unlike some vampires, Roderick is not adverse to sunlight or religious symbols.)

Third, the villains of my series are capable of possessing other bodies, either temporarily or permanently. This goes back to the vampire in one of the oldest senses of the term as a possessor of corpses.

So despite the rules of my world, I seem to have created some pretty vampiric humans in my first book. In my most recent book, The Left-Hand Way, the connections to stories of the Undead become more explicit.

For starters, I introduce a new magical family who name will be very familiar to vampire fans, the Renfields. My Renfields are a criminal class in England’s craft world, and they perform services for the Left Hand, though they always get paid in advance because, as I put it in the book, “since the cock-up of the Romanian job, the Renfields never hung around for the culmination of their masters’ schemes. Succeed or fail, the grandest schemes would always cause plenty of damage to nearby friend and foe alike.”

Next, I allude to how the Left Hand and the Renfields inspired Bram Stoker. In my cryptohistory, some significant works of British literature are also cautionary tales against the Left-Hand way. Dracula, Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and the “Akallabêth” section of The Silmarillion are, in part, intended as moral allegories to show how Left-Hand craft will destroy one’s soul, loved ones, and eventually, like a viral plague, one’s whole nation. Stoker’s work was unusual in that he dared to out the Renfields by their real name, so they have to go by different names in public now.

Returning to Roderick, he has become in some ways even more vampire-like in book 2. He has created a life extension serum for others derived from his own blood, and this serum gives him some power over those who use it, much as a vampire’s blood might. He preys upon young women. Finally, the protagonists’ pursuit of Roderick has some features reminiscent of the hunt for Dracula, but I don’t want to go into details in that area lest I spoil the fun.

This perhaps has all been a long way of saying that, despite the absence of vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures, my books have a lot to offer for the fans of paranormal adventure. So thanks to Vampire Book Club for hosting me here, and if you’d like to find out more about me and my work, please visit my website.


One lucky VBC reader will win a hardcover copy of Tom Doyle’s The Left-Hand Way. Contest is open to addresses in the U.S. and Canada. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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4 Responses to “Tom Doyle on The Idea of Vampire in The Left-Hand Way + Giveaway”

  1. susan emans says:

    Great guest post! The books sound fascinating; I need to check them out.

  2. Katie says:

    Thanks for the chance to win! Sounds good

  3. Sarah says:

    This looks cool

  4. Susan H. says:

    This book looks intriguing!

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