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Vampires Are Last Season, Right?

October 12, 2010

Wrong.

With our impending release of Rachmaninoff in December, I thought I might use today’s blog entry to discuss vampires. Yes, vampires.

I have been told time and again that vampires are done to death. I have been told time and again that if I did write vampires, I should put a unique spin on them. I should make them evil. I should create monsters out of these characters. I have been told what I should do with my vampire characters for a very long time, and quite frankly, I’m tired of it.

Yes, Stephenie Meyers did vampires a terrible blow. Yes, The Vampire Diaries show on television now has cashed in on that teenage vampire love story (and ruined a wonderful book series, OMG). Yes, the market has been saturated by badly written derivative works. But that doesn’t mean that vampires aren’t popular or that they need complete overhauls and be made into utter monsters with little to no redeeming qualities.

I have a very specific way I approach the creation of my vampires: they were human once. Just because they have been altered into creatures that need blood to live doesn’t mean they have lost their humanity. Yes, it is a way that can be explored, much like the vampires in Joss Whedon’s Buffy series, where a demon sets up residence in the body and the soul moves on, but it’s just one vision, a singular writer’s idea for his vampires. It doesn’t mean all authors must write the same sort of vampires, and it doesn’t mean that, should they choose to write a vampire struggling with their humanity, that those vampires aren’t frightening or are pathetic.

The very nature of the vampire predisposes it to feeding off humans. In extreme cases of hunger, humanity takes a backseat to survival instinct, and as such, even a ‘tame’ vampire can be terrifying. They don’t have to be brutal or ugly or disgusting. In fact, the romanticized sensuality and grace, to me, makes their more primal natures more frightening because they’re hidden under a layer of preternatural beauty and the thin veneer humanity. The evil vampire can blend in as easily as his more tame counterpart, and that’s what’s scary to me. The ability for a vampire to tread that line between human and monster, and their choice on which side they prefer to spend more time in.

Nikola, the vampire in Rachmaninoff, is not self-hating. Well, he is sort of due to a mistake on his part that took the life of someone he loved very much. Who doesn’t feel a little self-hatred when we hurt the people we love most? For the most part, though, he accepts what he is. It wasn’t his choice to be made a vampire, but he’s made the best of it he could. He is a vampire, and he knows there is no going back, and so he doesn’t pine for humanity. However, he isn’t evil. He doesn’t intentionally bring pain and fear and death to humans.

In The Keeper, Judas is a form of vampire, and while he isn’t self-hating, he is isolated and full of longing to leave the world he’s been trapped in for millennia. It’s a hard life for him, one he has to truth God and Christ with, and he does it with as much grace and understanding he can. He is human for all intents and purposes except for that little catch that says he has to drink the blood of Christ’s family (long diluted by the time we reach Judas and Hadi’s story). Is he scary? No, and he wasn’t supposed to be. Nikola, though, has been a vampire for over 400 years and, at times, that disconnect from humanity can be glimpsed by how easily he could take a life. That, to me, is the scary part of Nikola’s characterization. His humanity is not like Judas’; it’s only a thin, thin shell around him, a small kernel of his old self he clings to so he can relate—however poorly—to the humans in his life and the world.

I think, what is really important, is the world building and creating a believable vampire. In our upcoming trilogy Pathos, the world is on the brink of destruction. Everything is a mess. The vampire virus has spread rapidly, wiping out ¾ of the population, leaving a world full of vampires with far too few humans to sustain them. That scenario makes monsters out of what could have been a rather bland race integrated with humanity. The fact that their food source is limited changes the whole dynamic of the world – humans and vampires alike.

The world is what dictates the monsters a writer makes. When you want to tell a horror story, then it makes sense to create vampires that are mindless bloodsuckers out to scare, maim, harm, and kill anything that moves and runs hot. But, in my realm of writing (erotic fiction/romance), it makes no sense to create vampire main characters my readers will hate. It’s counterproductive. When someone picks up one of my books, they’re looking for a romantic read, not a bloodbath. 🙂

I love vampires. I love them to bits, and I have since I was a very young girl. They’re versatile, so long as the author is willing to stretch their imagination a little. Play with the powers, the look, the feel, the mythos. It’s so important to discard traditional tropes and grasp onto an unusual trait or change the origin or something so that it’s new, fresher. (Though, I will admit, Rachmaninoff is 99% traditional vampire story because that’s what K. and I set out to write.) Vampires are a race, and if you approach it as a species instead of just mutated monsters that look and behave vaguely like humans, then you’ll see all the possibilities inherent in an imaginary species.

Just… don’t create pedophile, sparkly, stalky vampires, all right? There’s way too many of those sorts of vampires already. 😉

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Michelle permalink
    October 12, 2010 5:40 pm

    Great post, but don’t beat me for pointing out that she spells her name StephEnie Meyer. I can’t tell you how many times I mistyped her name before that sunk in.

  2. October 12, 2010 5:49 pm

    It has been corrected, though I think that just shows how NOT interested I am in her and her sparklepires. XD

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