CPR for the Undead: Can We Save the Vampires?
It enthralled me, thinking of a 5,000-year-old vampire who had walked the earth with Krishna. I think I was 9. I guess that makes me precocious. Anyway, the next vampire book to snag me was Daughters of Darkness — followed by Secret Vampire — by L.J. Smith. That did it. I was hooked. I wanted Rowan’s sinewy feet and her raw strength. I wanted to see the glow of nebulae with my naked eye.
I’ll admit I’ve still never read Anne Rice‘s Chronicles, but I devoured The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. This book captured me both because of the elusive vampire that haunts just outside the protagonist’s periphery through the entire book and because of her sweeping and single-minded mastery of the detail of Eastern Europe. I found out this weekend (thanks Chuck) that she spent an entire decade in Romania and Hungary learning and studying and recording. That book shines.
Back in the 90s following the advent of Buffy and the explosion of vampires into mass media, people began to think that vampires were a bit passé. They relegated him to the shadows and told him not to catch his swirling cape in the door on the way out.
But then someone dunked him in glitter, and he burst onto the scene once more.
In the aftermath of Twilight, many other vampires joined the party. Enough that I’ve heard some groans — and as I pitched my book to agents, I wasn’t oblivious to the flinches I saw at the mention of the v-word.
My question is — can vampires be resuscitated? Can they still be salable?
You might call me blind or tell me I’m sailing Denial as its queen, but I believe people will always have a bit of bloodthirst for the fangy fiends. Here are my reasons and my caveat in frank, easy-to-follow bullet points! Just follow the bouncing ball!
- Blood is high-concept. Everyone has it. We all know that bad blood and leeches are stuff of the dark ages, but when we feel the pulse of blood, we know we live. Vampires threaten our very reassurance of life.(After writing that and searching for pictures, I discovered that people still use leeches. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about that — or just bleleeeurrrrgh.)
- Vampires are sensual. Our necks are erogenous zones. Even when the vampires are well and truly monstrous, they evoke an allure.
- The “vampire genre” is mutable, always evolving. From the broody self-flagellators like Edward and Angel to Nosferatu and the vampires that plagued Barrow in 30 Days of Night, there are as many interpretations of vampires as there are minds to think them up.
Here is my caveat, without which all of the above becomes pointless drivel:
As Donald Maass put it, 21st century readers crave a blend of elements . They want gripping, engaging plots full of complex, fully-realized characters.
How many thrillers hit the shelves each year? Specifically how many “crime thrillers” or “legal thrillers?” Category romance? Mystery? No one thinks readers are sick of those because readers still devour them.
I believe that the Twihards will grow up still loving vampires. As they grow and mature, I believe they will seek out worlds that reflect their own evolution.
That is why I believe there will still be a market for my books in two years.
Vampires in my world are not omnipresent or gimmicky, nor are they an unnecessary focal point. They exist. They are predators, and they each have their own moral spectrum. The rule — as always — for standing out in a crowded room is to say something interesting. To paraphrase Hemingway (I think it was Hemingway — if you know and can find the exact quote, I’d love you forever), say what’s been said a thousand times over, but for fang’s sake, say it a different way.
Vampires aren’t dead — they just need a little CPR.
What do you think, gentle viewers? Do you think they’ll go the way of the dodo or stage a comeback like the African Elephant? Are fresh voices enough to revive them?
- Why Are the Undead So Popular in YA Fiction? (beyondthepalebooks.net)
- The Recalcitrant Vampire: Immortal Pop Culture Emperor (emmiemears.com)
- Mommy, Why Do Vampires Sparkle? (emmiemears.com)
Posted on January 28, 2012, in Salacious Saturday and tagged 30 Days of Night, Anne Rice, Christopher Pike, Donald Maass, Eastern Europe, Elizabeth Kostova, emmie mears, genre fiction, Last Vampire, Twilight, urban fantasy, vampire, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.