Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why do we love vampires?

Following on nicely with my superstitions thread, I suddenly realized that my next book is all about superstition--and our deepest folk fears, of evil that walks in the dark. In the past when only a candle lit a few feet of darkness it was easy to understand that the wind moaning down the chimney sounded like a soul in torment, or that a flapping sound was an undead creature flying through the night to seek blood.

My next book, ROYAL BLOOD, has all these elements in it, but I hasten to add that it is not a horror story. It is comedy, like the rest of the Royal Spyness books. Lady Georgie, my royal heroine--34th in line to the throne but penniless as ever, is asked to represent the family at a royal wedding in Europe. She discovers that the wedding is at a castle in Transylvania--and yes, something is crawling up the walls and a pale young man is bending over her bed.

I decided that there was such a universal fascination with vampires that I wanted to have fun with the whole Dracula motif.  I'm not saying whether there are real vampires in my book or not. You'll have to read it to see. But I am interested in what lures us to stories of the undead. The desire to be scared but safe. That same feeling as we sat around a campfire as children and told ghost stories. But it's more than that--it's the ultimare lure of forbidden fruit. The sexy vampire toying with our very soul, but irresistable.

That's why it's so delicious to write about--if, like me, you don't take it too seriously. I know there are some people who do. Charlaine Harris says that people with sharpened teeth show up on her doorstep. She's had to put in a perimeter security fence. They hire security when she speaks. So I seriously hope these folks are not offended when I poke gentle fun at them in my book.... I don't want them showing up on my doorstep, fangs and all.

So why do you think we are attracted to vampires?
ROYAL BLOOD comes out in September! Watch out for it.


  1. I've got to admit I don't quite get all the current fascination with vampires. Yes, I watched Buffy when it was on TV, and I can see the forbidden fruit fascination with vampires, but the craze seems so over the top to me.

    I'm actually looking forward to you poking fun at it.

  2. Well, it's been going on for a while, it just went up a notch or two with Twilight and the Charlaine Harris Sookie series. Remember Anne Rice and Lestat? I enjoy all three previously mentioned series, but won't read something simply because there's a vampire in it. I like a paranormal twist to my fiction sometimes, but actually I think I prefer ghosts and witches to vampires for that.
    I feel so sorry for Charlaine with having to have security and having crazies show up on her doorstep.
    Like Mark above, I'll be looking forward to your tongue in cheek take on it.

  3. Many moons ago I wrote a piece for the Horror Writers of America entitled Vapires R Us. The point of the piece was a serious look at the flipside of the vampire mythod--that without our powerful beliefs in Christianity and its opposite evils--as in the AntiChrist--there would be no vampire mythology. The piece was srious but also riddled with one-liners such as "you can't keep a good monster down". But vampires or the "walking dead" have been with mankind since the outset in one fashion or form or another. Whether depicted as zombie-like walking dead or as the charming Count Dracula, borh have risen from the grave and have broke with the natural order of things. The reason the sun will scorch a "vampire" to death is that as the "eye of God", the sun or God will not abide such an aberration.
    However, after the serious "horror" of it all wore off, the vampire and other monsters from Frankenstein to the Werewolf were spoofed and soon became punching bags for Abbott & Costello -- comedy...then on to TV spoofs like the Adams Family and The Munsters...and soon softened and turned into "good guys" and even romanic figures like Byron, Shelly, Keats -- poetic in their painful aloneness. In romance novels they became absolutely gorgeous and caring people as in Twilight where some are good vamps, others are bad to the bone....and the best twist comes in such films as Lost Boys and more recently True Blood where really fresh twists are put into play--and yet while there are vampires who work and sweat out being "good" enough not to feed on people they love, there are also god awful bad vampires as well.
    I did a vampire novel years ago with an archelogical slant, and all the vampires are wearing white in my depiction now a kindle book entitlee Vampire Dreams. No good vampires there as I wnated to revive--at the time--the power and awe of the creature and pull him or it back from the brink of spoofiness and Buffy-ness.


  4. Honestly, vampires have never done it for me either as a horror or erotic subject matter. (For horror I prefer zombies, serial killers and monsters in general.) My husband on the other hand, loves vampires and finds them incredibly sexy. We both do enjoy the humorous vampire take offs like Leslie Nielsen's Dracula: Dead and Lovin It, George Hamilton's Love at First Bite and Lauren Hutton and early Jim Carrey's Once Bitten. Look forward to reading how you having fun with the genre as well!

  5. I prefer the spoofyness (is that a word?) of things like Dean James's gay-vampire-mystery writer. Placing tongue firmly in cheek suits me better than deep dark drama like Lestat. But what the fascination is, I don't know, unless it's that people like to be scared without actually suffering through any real danger. Personally, I don't like to be scared, period :O)

  6. I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that they are human-like. Most other monsters are just...monsters. Vampires resemble us so I think it makes them more interesting. I'm not crazy about vampires in general either. But I do like a little vampire drama sometimes. =)

  7. I admit to not liking stories about vampires. It's creepy and while I don't believe in them, I must let myself live the story if I am to enjoy it. However, I love your character and I'm sure to buy your book.

  8. As for as female fans of vampires go, I have a theory. When renowned psychologist David C. McClelland, PhD researched people's images of death, the one that came up for most women was a sexy figure of death, the demon lover. He called it the Harlequin complex. Well, a vampire is the ultimate demon lover, the ultimate alpha male--powerful and ageless and usually well-dressed--but dependent on human blood. (And blood has a particular resonance for woman, at least once a month.)

  9. Rhys, I can't wait to laugh with Lady Georgie through the next book. I think Rob and othes made some valid comments. I also think that the vampire represents for some the sense of unfulfilled longing that we all have to some degree for what is out of reach, by circumstance or choice. When you realize at 23 that your decision to marry and have children and study pathophysiology probably means you won't make it to the Olympics in gymnastics, it's not exactly the worst tragedy in the world. But if you loved gymnastics or the dream of it, and now know you can't achieve that dream, I think it is a hint of the sort of longing that we project on vampires, who theoretically long to live freely in the sunshine and without stigma. (Nope, I didn't marry and have kids at 23, nor pursue a career in gymnastics. Pathophys, in med school, later.

  10. Such interesting insights, folks.
    And I have to confess that I don't mind funny vampires but I hate horror stories. I get too involved with books and movies and I'm easily scared.
    But the dark, brooding male is the ultimate hero, isn't he? Mr. Darcy, Heathcliff, Mr. Rochester.

  11. I have always loved stories about fantastical characters, including dragons, wizards, witches, elves, vampires, and werewolves. But I don't think vampires have any special appeal to me above the others. In fact, I prefer werewolves to vampires. I was on Team Jacob (the werewolf) when I read the Twilight series, though I knew Edward (the vampire) would win.

    I didn't discover Buffy the Vampire Slayer until the show was almost over, but I've watched it twice so far on DVD. In addition to horror tales (I prefer to call them "supernatural thrillers"), I enjoy paranormal mysteries and humorous books about vampires, etc. (I think Dean James' series is hilarious). I can hardly wait to read Royal Blood!

  12. I think you've hit the nail on the head, Rhys, with the dark, brooding hero. After all, look at romance, the number one selling genre in the world, which is filled with heroes (not all) who are dark and brooding. They were always my fave.

    Then couple that with the fact that every teenage girl who has ever gotten a hickey and felt that delightful shiver run down her spine, with the knowledge that the mark of the blood drawn to the surface will remain on the neck, well, I think that there is a winning combination. It combines erotic feelings with a sense of danger (with hickeys, the danger of being caught by one's parents?) and the romance of the dark, brooding hero, or perhaps being saved from the temptation of the bite by the dark, brooding hero...

    Of course, this from the girl who didn't sleep for three nights after seeing DRACULA in the late sixties at the movie theater...

  13. Just speaking as a 15 year old, I have to say that I find vampires a really interesting subject, and one I could talk about for a while. :)
    I know my class mates enjoy vampires for a few reasons, not all of them good ones.
    a)living forever.
    b)the assumption that vampires have soul mates and that if they were to somehow become one, they wouldn't have to worry about finding the "one true person"
    c) just the general awesome 1800's manners that any decent, non-sparkling vampire would have *ahem*
    and d) the fact that they are considered very SEXY! :D