Kristen Painter’s House of Comarré series continues this month with FLESH AND BLOOD. Book 3, BAD BLOOD, will be available in December. You can keep up with Kristen at the official Facebook page.
One of the questions I get asked most often is where the idea for the comarré came from, these hybrid humans bred to be blood slaves for the vampire nobility. Usually I say that I’ve carried the idea of Chrysabelle around in my head since college, which is true, but that was just a blurred image of a woman in a slinky white dress dipped low enough to reveal a gold tattoo on the small of her back. It wasn’t the comarré, exactly. More like the seed that grew into Chrysabelle.
First, a little background. My heroine, Chrysabelle, is a woman torn between two worlds. She was born to serve, trained to be a companion, full of grace and charm and propriety. But underneath that beats a heart that longs for a very different life. A life where she is not property, where her very existence adds nothing to another’s social standing, where she is not a symbol of her patron’s wealth. (There are other depths of her I’m not going to talk about here because I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t read Blood Rights yet.)
The comarré life is all she’s known for the past one hundred fifteen years. Her first fifteen years, before her blood rights were purchased by her patron, were spent in the Primoris Domus. This place is more than a house or a school or a training facility. From the moment a comarré is born, it is their entire world. They live here, grow up here, get educated and trained here and keep rooms here even after they’ve moved into the home of their patron. Some return to work here and eventually, when they are without a patron long enough, die here.
Comarré don’t know their parents, so they consider all older comarré as aunts and uncles, all their peers as siblings. In this way, their world is filled with family, but Chrysabelle’s never felt close to anyone. Early on it’s determined that her blood is some of the purest ever produced in a comarré. As a way of finding solace, she also submits to numerous signum (the gold tattoos all comarré get) making her that much more desirable. This results in her blood rights being purchased at a young age, and her spending the next hundred years in service to a vampire she feels nothing for other than a sense of duty.
So back to the question of where did I get the idea for the comarré? I knew Chrysabelle was going to be a representation of lightness, from her coloring to her clothing to the way she’d been taught to act. I also needed Chrysabelle to be a counterpoint to all of Mal’s darkness and for the comarré to balance the heavy weight of the vampire world in general.
I started by thinking about the idea of geishas and courtesans, then the idea really began to grow. I wanted them to be more than that. Beautiful, delicate life-giving creatures who were also something…else. They had to have a high tolerance for pain and a quiet strength to endure the lives they’d been born into. But I also wanted them to have a greater purpose and a touch of the divine. Almost like a religious order. Not exactly sword-wielding, vampire-feeding nuns and monks, but that’s not a bad rough sketch.
And now you know. From those thoughts and ideas sprung the comarré.