Bad Girl with Teeth: Writing about Vampires
Confession time: I think vampires should always be a little bit bad.
Better yet, a lot bad. I came to love vampire stories during the age of Gary Oldman as Dracula, Keifer Sutherland leading The Lost Boys, and Tom Cruise preying on innocent throats in Interview with a Vampire. Vampires were villains. They were beautiful, romantic, immortal, and utterly lost in wash of darkness and evil. That's why loving them was so dangerous. And, why it was so exciting. By the time I started writing about vampires, it had become the trend to "remake" them, redefine them. So many vampire stories asked us to "forget everything you think you know," and introduce a new version of the classic myth. There's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes the new face of vampires is a swing and a miss, but sometimes it's a winner in its own right. I won't say playing with the palette is a bad thing. I still love the old gothic darkness of vampires. I still crave the seriously dangerous and the damned. The vampires I write about can't escape the need for human blood. There's no feeding on lesser creatures like rats or alligators, no raiding cold pouches of A-positive from the blood bank. There's no getting around it. It's human blood from a living, breathing host, or a slow starvation and collapse into insanity. Because bad boys and girls don't eat rats. They don't get to hide their darkness that easily. Because it's the darkness we love. It's the danger, and the struggle for redemption when the soul is so steeped in shadow. It's a question of honor in the face of a curse, and it's a high stakes game (har de har har). Nobody does bad like vampires.
But I think the ultimate appeal of vampires, when you get right down to it, is not that they may reach out from the shadows to save us, but that, in spite of all they've endured, despite centuries of a wicked existence and hard choices, we might be extraordinary enough to save them. If powerful, mysterious billionaires with a dominant streak are desirable, how much moreso is an immortal, unaging antihero possessed by a predatory hunger just for you? And how gratifying. How seductive. How incredible, to be desired in return, be the soul for whom that wicked darling finally emerges from the darkness? We love them because they're bad. And it feels so good.