Apr 26, 2011

V is for Vampires

My book isn't about vampires, but it does have a few in it. They're all antagonists to one degree or another, and two of them have names.

These days, vampires are either still the hottest thing going, or the last thing anyone wants to see anymore. I grew up on vampire movies, though, so they're kind of ingrained in my mind as go-to villains. The thing is, they're not the villains in most cases anymore.

Something changed, somewhere along the road, and instead of vampires being representations of everything our humanity and society are meant to find abhorrent, they became romantic, tragic figures. Even re-tellings of old stories have changed. Bram Stoker's Dracula, starring Gary Oldman, while an excellent film, is very different from the book. In the original book, Dracula is not a romantic figure. He's a dark, sensual predator. The women he feeds on are not drawn to him by lust or love. They're drawn to him by his supernatural power over others. Dracula is an embodiment of everything Victorian ideals stood against. He is a monster whose own desires are met by inflicting suffering upon others. He is feared and hated. Not loved.

It would be interesting to see vampires return to their place as monsters. Some movies have tried to return to this. The one most in mind at the moment is the upcoming Priest, starring Paul Bethany. I'd like to see these romanticised creatures as the villains again. We need to fear our nightmares, or else what will our heroes save us from?


  1. I actually find the idea of a 107 year old man falling in love with a 17 year old schoolgirl and spying on her while she sleeps utterly-bloody-terrfiying! Twilight was definitely horror and not YA paranormal romance from where I'm sitting. . . :p

  2. Very thoughtful post, Paul. The last vampire series I was into was Anne Rice's series about Lestat. I tried Twilight and couldn't get passed the first 20 pages. Yours, however, that I would read.

  3. I've often wondered if our current fascination with vampires doesn't somehow speak to our dissatisfaction with our own lives. Having a powerful, sensual person who doesn't age, grow sick, or experience poverty see us as special and want to turn us into the same being they are? I imagine that concept is subconsciously appealing to many.

    Me? I'm like you. I miss them being monsters. :)

  4. I'm with you on this Paul. I feel the same way about demons. Before this Paranormal Romance craze came out demon were always depicted as evil. Now, they're misunderstood, or evil light? These creatures are supposed to scare you, make you crave the daylight. I wish our monsters would go back to being scary.

  5. I'm a huge fan of vampires and vampire stories, and I love them as monsters. I think the romanticizing of vampires has gone too far, and I didn't care for Twilight at all. I'd love to see the return of more frightening, evil vampires, the angst-filled, brooding vampire is now overdone to me.

  6. I've never really understood the facination with vampires - but until a couple of months ago, I used to work for the public library service and it seemed that virtually ALL the teen fiction featured vampires!

    In my daughter's teenage days it was all 'Sweet Valley High' - I wonder what will come after the vampires!

  7. Interesting post. I've never been big into vampires, but they certainly are a hot item these days. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  8. Ellen: I think I'd be pretty scared by that blurb, myself. :-)

    Karen: Thanks. I just hope it comes across as a book about characters and story, rather than a book about a particular kind of monster.

    Jeffrey: Oooh, I think you might have something there. Typically society uses villains to work through its current fears, but it's becoming harder and harder to have black and white "bad guys" in fiction, so people turn to using their heroes as examples/exemptions from their own issues.

    Noree: Sometimes you just want a fun story where the good guys win in the end.

    Julie: The risk of any twist on an old story is that the twist itself can become the primary defining feature of a character or plot. I think that when we allow ourselves to enjoy telling more traditional types of stories, we can become even more creative with the characters themselves, instead of tying ourselves too overly-complex tropes.

    Sue: I think a lot of the appeal once came from their role as a foil for humanity and their role as a predator that outdid us on the food chain. Their strength and immortality are appealing, but the willingness to feed on humans makes them a threat, something to hate and fear. In a lot of YA horror or paranormal stories, the specific driving need for human blood is left aside, leaving less of the monster.

    Sarah: They're hot, but that does risk over-saturation.

  9. Ah, but the good guys can still win and the monster be evil. I guess I'm just the kind of person who likes dark stories more.

  10. Oh, I know. I'm agreeing with you! :-)

  11. Reminds me a lot of Carpe Jugulem, which explored a similar idea in-universe through the "civilised" Magpyr family, who nonetheless "treated people as things"...Lords and Ladies too for that matter, where the fact that the villain is romanticised is a symptom of their influence