Saturday, I attend the Fresh Fiction sponsored panel at our
local Barnes and Noble. The topic discussed: getting fresh with vampires.
No, not that fresh (although Robert Pattinsonâ€™s name did come up more
than once). Instead, the panel explored the sensuality of the vampire, the
appeal of the bad boy and the evolution of the trope that began with vampires as
Fresh Looks, Fresh Thoughts
Some of the questions asked included why do vampires appeal?
Particularly as romantic leads? Does your first experience with vampires color
the rest? For example, if you watched the Lugosi vampire films or Langella,
would you have a different perspective from the person who may have read Anne
Riceâ€™s angst ridden gothic vampires?
Potentially, the answer is yes. In the 80s, vampires were still very much
powerful, creatures of the night. It was rare to trust one and rarer still that
the vampire would be worthy of the trust. No matter how good their intentions,
their blood lust was a biological imperative â€“ they had to have blood. Grief
could send them into a tailspin or make them go dormant. Many vampires went to
ground or to the sun when they could no longer bear their existence. Yet the
bane in those days was not the drinking of blood or taking of lives â€“ the bane
was their longevity.
It was the endless nights without the kiss of the sun to mark time and watching
civilizations decay while they remained ever the same. It was living as
observers in a world where ever-mercurial humans changed in fashion, music, the
arts and even religion on whims. Time was the bane of the vampireâ€™s existence.
This angst ate away at his or her sanity, driving them to connect with other
vampires to assuage the loneliness within and finding that even that was not
Modern Tropes and Incarnations
Time is not the enemy of the modern vampire. While some experience this angst,
their need to connect with humans compels them. Stefan returning to Virginia,
desperate to connect with Elena because she looks like Katherine, Henry Fitzroy
driven to connect with private investigator Vicki Nelson in spite of himself.
Angel wanting to love Buffy and be a part of her life, but forbidden because of
the high cost. Then there is Spike who undergoes such a metamorphosis because of
his love for Buffy, willing traveling to the ends of the Earth for a soul so he
could be with her.
The modern vampire longs for the human connection, the connection of a partner
or a lover who can share his or her existence. Yet, they do not want that
partner to be a vampire necessarily â€“ for some it is a curse, for others it is
the competitiveness of the vampire. For others, the act of becoming a vampire
leeches away the very essence that attracted their lover in the first place.
Like Romeo and Juliet before them, the concept of the doomed
lovers appeals to
romantics. A vampire with human lovers is the perfect example of doomed lovers
who play with fire. Beyond the doomed lovers is the bad boy/girl appeal.
Vampires are the ultimate loner and outsider, they epitomize that misunderstood
and hard to connect with individuals. The right person, the right lover, can
save them. They can be saved and they can be changed.
I cannot remember where I read the speculation about vampires representing the
desire to control ones environment and in a world where we, as a society,
confront numerous social and economical challenges, the vampireâ€™s appeal is
heightened. I donâ€™t know if I agree with that theory. I think the trope of the
vampire answered the psychological need for that which is forbidden, for freedom
from timeâ€™s constraints. What is recession to a vampire? What is the shifting of
ideologies and demagogy? What is disease? Vampires are beyond that. They are a
safe bet â€“ right up until Buffy or someone like her sticks a stake through their
Vampires are a challenge to the modern writer because they have so saturated the
pop-culture and modern consciousness. They are a challenge to create for, to
write about and to read. Once upon a time, every vampire book that comes out was
to be savored â€“ now, every vampire book is weighed and measured â€“ amusingly
enough, the greater the difference between the multiple types of vampires, the
greater the appeal.
Food for Thought
Love them or hate them, the Twilight novels took a new approach to the vampire
trope. They challenged modern conceptions of vampires and embraced a whole new
generation to their way of thinking. Now, like the White Wolf game, multiple
camps of vampire purists sprout up. Each convinced their particular brand of
vampire is the worthy one.
I want to thank Candace
Clement-Moore and Gwen Reyes for getting me thinking. I know what my type of
vampire is, what is yours?
A lifelong writer turned author, Heather Long
's first book
available for purchase at Sapphire Blue Publishing. Coming soon is the urban
fantasy: Prime Evil
explores books, television, writing and more -- all topics
that Heather enjoys.
7 comments posted.
NPR this past weekend compared the difference between werewolves and vampires. I liked learning about translucency with vampires and that they select their victims kindof like a list made for grocery shopping.
(Alyson Widen 2:22pm November 16, 2009)
It amazes me how the image of the vampire has changed in a relatively short period of time.
(Rosemary Krejsa 8:19pm November 16, 2009)
I'm not by my books right now but I'm pretty sure that Sherrilyn Kenyon writes the style I like best. I prefer the stories with vampires start out as carpathians who fight for good and sometimes have to kill pure vampires to protect others. Those stories take you along on the carpathian's struggle to remain good and not turn vampire (which only happens when they feed on someone human or carpathian until death). I can't get enough of those stories although I enjoy nearly all paranormal stories whether they have vampires, were-species, psychics, or people with any other gifts/talents.
(Dawn Detkowski 2:45am November 18, 2009)