I remember when vampires were fucking cool.
And I’m not talking so cool they sparkle in the sunlight instead of explode into a ball of flame, but rather they were wild hair, big teeth, leather wearing and motorcycle riding cool. They were large revolver, “hate ’em when they ain’t been shaved” spur-wearing cool. Or turtleneck and sweater with nice slacks and a suave haircut, “you’ve gotta have faith for that to work” crushing a crucifix fucking cool.
Because apparently, now, vampires are no longer undead, but dead-dead, killed to death by books such as the Twilight saga, The Vampire Diaries, and a number of other series where the focus isn’t on monster vampires, but hunky, romantic, and steamy vampires. While I’m not a fan of those books, saying that the vampire is dead because of them is bullshit. That’s right, I’m calling bullshit on the statement. If you’re one of those people who think the above mentioned (or any other vampire novel/series) outright destroyed the vampire, not only are you stupid, but you’re not really a fan of vampire fiction.
Some other pertinent thoughts… do vampires sparkle? No. Are they sexy fuck-machines ala the Sookie Stackhouse books? No. Are they bonded to humans and werewolves in some magic/power triangle ala the Anita Blake series? No. Though, in all fairness to the last two series, the vampires in them do kill, and often, but I feel the other stuff overshadows the vampires acting like the kind of vampires I enjoy reading.
So, you’re a vampire fan and you’re disgusted with the current state of vampire fiction. Well, let’s examine things a bit, shall we? Twilight came out in 2005 and since then, more than a few good bloodsucker books have come out. Pay attention, there might be a quiz at the end. The Strain, published in 2009, and currently going into season 2 of its television show; Draculas, published in 2010; the graphic novel American Vampire, also published in 2010; V-Wars, an anthology of short vampire fiction published in 2013, and even my own novel, They Are Among Us, which was published a month ago. And there’s more, of course; I haven’t read every vampire novel released since 2005, but that doesn’t change my point.
Just because Twilight is huge doesn’t mean our kind of vampire novel isn’t being written, if you’re willing to look for it. Horror has always been a bastard child and bastards tends to stick together, hidden and huddling from the masses. You really do have to keep your ear to the ground for these horror vampire novels as the chance they’ll hit the mainstream is slim at best. And while horror fans don’t crave angst-y, blood-semen filled vampires, the creatures are capable of thought, and therefore emotion, so really, it’s not so far out of the box to think they’re capable of falling in love under the rainy sky of Forks. The flip side to the romantic teenaged bloodsucker is, of course, the rage machine vampire. It should be noted that raging vampires killing anything with a pulse should be a rarity, and vampires should almost never be mindless. Seriously, if you want a soulless, unthinking killing machine, go read a zombie novel.
What I’m driving at is something like 30 Days of Night. Those were deadly vampires, purposeful, and bloody as hell. Or take the novel Draculas (mentioned above) where the vampires start out as these savage creatures with large jaws and massive teeth and a blood lust second to none, but toward the ends things begin to change, and we see something altogether different.
Let’s face it, even the classic vampire tales by which most others are truly judged, had nuanced vampires in them: Dracula, I Am Legend (thinking of Cortman), and I think most people will agree that Lestat was a fucking vampire and a half. You hate him in the first book, love him in the second, and by the time Memnoch has him, you wish something would just kill him.
And that’s really the true beauty of the vampire, this ability to be many things to many different readers. The type of vampire you like to read is out there, and all you have to do is look for it.
Vampires are still fucking cool.
Join me next week where I talk about my 5 favorite vampire novels, those that gave me my love for our favorite fanged freaks…
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