Vampire novels should not be romances.
Pansy Vampires Suck – and not well.
I like vampires. As far back as I can remember, they fascinated me.
I don’t believe they are real. I understand they a fictitious. Being products of imagination, they vary from one person’s head to the next. There are, however, some limits that violate all logic when it comes to vampires.
The most famous vampires, prior to Anne Rice were bad-ass and scary.
Dracula didn’t try to woo Wilhelmina – he used mystical powers and his blood to subvert her with the goal of taking her as his vampire bride. There was no romance in this classic 1897 vampire tale.
I like vampires enough that I’ll watch anything to do with vampire, but I draw the line at “sparkles in sunlight.” I sat through one of those movies because my wife and her girlfriend were watching it so my wife could show her girlfriend how bad the movies were. I hear the movies are better than the books.
Vampire Diaries, I won’t read the books, but my wife managed to convince me to watch the TV Show. It does contain several of the aspects I don’t like to see in vampires.
No vampire is going to live over a century and be moody and self loathing. Sometime in that time, if they’re really that depressed about being undead, they’d take a sunbath and save the world from suffering from another god-frakking-damned pansy vampire.
Vampires are stronger, faster, don’t age and possess supernatural powers. They need blood, have to stay out of the sun and they don’t cast reflections are the traditional downsides. Being able to totally control people means they never have to step foot outside, night or day, to get everything they need. Where is the real downside to that – especially since we can now buy anything and everything online. I know several people who have a vampire’s pallor because the only UV they encounter is whatever may be leaking from their monitor.
Humanity and all its many downsides such as mortality, is not something a vampire will ever aspire to. While they cannot traditionally produce genetic offspring, they can sire other vampires and procreate that way. Love? How is it that these romance novelists always first go the direction of having the vampire wish they were human to be with a human? The solution is simple, make the romantic interest a vampire…duh. Eventually, even the bad vampmances figure this out. But why is there a journey to get to that obvious conclusion?
Vampires, with all their strengths will be inherently corrupt by human morale standards. Human morality exists to make life easier for all involved. Vampire morality would not be the same. Few vampire legends require them to kill their prey. If they did have to kill to survive then they would kill to survive. It’s not amoral for any creature to kill for food. The only thing that makes it bad about vampires is that we’re the food. Coyotes are pretty scary, if you’re a rabbit. A vampire will not normally put any exceptional value on human life, but it will usually be in a vampire’s best interest to not leave a trail of bodies leading to a deep investigation.
Otherwise Vampire morality would be what it had to be to help guarantee the vampire’s survival. It would never allow for immersive contact with a human population such as attending high school just to fit in. A vampire that doesn’t leave the safety of their refuge, be it a crypt or dark basement or room with tin-foil over the windows, has no need to blend in during daylight. There may be a need to blend in to hunt for prey and Vampires may get lonely and need to spend some time in the company of people. The solutions to both of these problems would become apparent to a vampire in far less than a century. Hunt the stragglers and if you’re lonely, make more vampires – but don’t make so many as to endanger the food chain.
Vampires would not fear people, except during the daylight. Therefore they’d build homes with immense levels of security or just hide themselves well. Alternately they’d have a hoard of mind controlled people guarding their tombs or mansions or castles or whatever.
The modern vampire cannot have to kill regularly. Modern investigative techniques would track that down too fast. To maintain believability, the vampire has been forced to evolve into a creature that just takes a little. Even so, the vampire may not see the human life as precious and would refrain from killing so as to not leave a forensic trail. Likewise their extraction of the victim’s blood must be covered up in some manner. Either a smaller needle than their teeth must be used or they must have a method to heal the bite marks. I know it’s silly to talk realism with such fantastical creatures, but modern readers require a fully believable myth.
Well that was the theory until Edward started going around sparkling. What makes Edward appealing to hyper-hormonal folks such as teenagers, is that he’s willing to risk so much for love – and that it’s forbidden love – and that he fights it in a very cliché formulaic manner.
Anne Rice, when she still embraced her vampires, figured it out in the process of writing “Interview with a Vampire.” Pansy vampires suck. Louis was never again the protagonist in any of her many books. We get a much better modern vampire in Lestat, the rebellious vamp with a bit of an Oedipus complex. (NOT oedipal complex as humorously misstated by Bill Preston of Bill and Ted fame and then used seriously in lightly researched fiction since).
The problem with Lestat is there can only be one. After that all vampire writers must find another way to create a proper vampire without cloning Lestat. Why so many clone Louis is a mystery to me. But romance readers are generally loyal and seem to like mopey vampires.
Vampires must be, by human morality, evil. They must feed on people and to do so they must use either force or manipulation. By modern standards either is evil. Seduction is another option, but to create a believable food source, the vamp must be serial Casanova or whatever you call a female version of Casanova without being rude, which, by modern standards is also amoral, if not evil. Even with seducing a person to willingly give their blood, they still must forget afterwards and mind manipulation is evil.
But even evil, a vampire can be a protagonist. A good novelist can set the rules of the vampire view of society and then create drama by creating situations where the vampire must face the possibility of violating those rules. A lazy writer will fit their vampire mythos into human rules.
Listing the poorly designed fictional characters who happen to be vampires would take more words than I can type this year.
Some of the well thought out vampires of the Modern Era:
Dracula is the defining standard.
Lestat and pretty much anyone of the Anne Rice covens that isn’t Louis.
The Television version of the Vampires in Vampire Diaries, excepting Stephen, but not totally. But Damon is the epitome of what a modern vampire “good-guy” should be in fiction. I’m not commenting on the books. I have not and will not read them.
Angel, Spike, Dru and the other Buffy vamps.
True Blood(again as seen on TV) vamps, except Bill. Eric is also a great modern “good-guy” vamp.
One last bite at modern vamp incarnations. This one even the Buffy-verse fails at. Staking a vamp through the heart is not a death sentence. It merely renders them immobile so they can’t fight back while someone cuts off their head – which kills them. Silver is not bad to vampires. So please, if you someday take up Vamp Slaying when you stake Edward, finish the job and remove the sparkly head too.