Saturday, October 13, 2007


I have a love/hate relationship with vampires. Mostly hate, although hate implies a deep emotional reaction, where my reaction is mostly eye rolling.

To be fair, I've read some decent vampire novels. The ones I like have vampires as characters but the story isn't about being a vampire. Both of M. Christian's novels come to mind as examples of stories I've enjoyed.

I also enjoyed Bram Stoker's Dracula, but for a different reason. The Romanian side of the family was none too happy with "that drunken Irishman's" vilification of the "great Christian leader, Vlad Teppes." Seriously. One wonders what it takes to be considered a bad ruler in Romania. I'd ask Nicolae Ceausescu (AKA Genuis of the Carpathains - I wonder if he picked that himself), but they executed him before the trial, twice. Once in private, and then once again in a dramatic re-enactment for the cameras. Vlad probably would have approved. But back to Dracula... Reading the book was an act of defiance against the family. I didn't care too much about vampires being unholy beings or whatever it was that got everyone's knicker in a twist. What I loved was how incredibly campy it was. Slutty Lucy, who gave into her desires instead of holding onto her virginity, dies for her sins and is buried in her wedding dress as a reminder that she can never fulfill the pinnacle of womanhood- marriage and family- so she steals a baby from a crib and snarls over it outside her crypt while a Van Helsing wields a cross and uses it to bring her to salvation. Campy, campy, campy, campy, campy.

So why am I talking about vampires? Because I'm writing a vampire story, of course. This will be my third vampire story. I always swear them off, but then I get sucked (hah!) in. I've always seen vampires as a metaphor for disease. Invite them to cross your threshold (a worldwide symbol for protection and for body) and you're doomed. Understanding the role they played in folklore doesn't make writing them any easier though.

I have this logic problem. Things have to make sense scientifically to me, even if I'm talking about mythical beings. Vampires are improbable. If they turn everyone they feed from - like members of a pyramid selling scheme- pretty soon the geometric ratio is off the charts and everyone on earth has been turned. Then what? Oh sure, by saying a person has to be bit three times slows down the conversion rate, but still...

Maybe the reason why so many vampire stories have me rolling my eyes is that no one ever brings anything new to the myth. Vampires have these set rules that they live under. No sun, no silver, no garlic. The reason for that is that when you create a super-scary Freudian creature, you have to give average Joe Villager the ability to vanquish it with items that are at hand so that the story can end with human superiority re-established. So we're all playing with an understood set of rules that haven't changed in a couple hundred years. I'm tired of it. If I'm going to write vampires, it has to be something different, because anything that can be said about vampires as we know them has already been said a million times.


Nathan said...

I love vampire stories too. Most good ones I've read do not say that a bite causes someone to turn - they have to actually ingest vampire blood, or their system has to be overwhelmed with the blood, etc. Have you read Christopher Pike's vampire series? It is a truly wonderful series (in my opinion).

Kathleen Bradean said...

Took me a few to figure out who you are. Yes, you can take care of the "vampire conversion rate" problem by making it so that a person has to drink vamp blood to turn. But there's still the problem of bodies.

Not to mention that these vamps who have been alive for 100 + years. Given how you need ID and a SSN for everything nowadays, it's gotta be hard to fly under government radar for long before you have to start tap dancing around identitiy issues. Not to mention modern forensics....

I think about this way too much, don't I?