How Dead Are Vampires?

Wait, I’m deader?

I love vampires.

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but it was Christopher Pike‘s Last Vampire series that did it for me first. I was about eight years old (I know, precocious) when I read them, and I loved all of them. I was entranced by the idea of someone old enough to have been around when Krishna walked the earth, and at the time I didn’t even know who Krishna was.

Throughout the 90s, there were tides of vampires. From YA writers like L.J. Smith and the Night World series to Anne Rice‘s Interview With The Vampire, a steady stream of bloodsuckers existed for most of the decade.

And then came the twenty-first century, and with it the craze of Twilight. Fast on the heels of Edward and Bella came the Southern Vampire books, The Vampire Diaries, The Passage, vampires, vampires, more vampires.

Vampires who could walk in the sun, vampires who couldn’t sneeze, vampires who ate grizzly bears, vampires who ripped spinal cords through chests, vampires who snuggled. Vampires who brooded, vampires who didn’t brood, and mostly vampires who brooded.

Are you annoyed yet?

I thought I’d never get sick of them. I really didn’t. My first two and a half completed books were vampire-adjacent, and the protagonist of the last one was one. But after realising they’d be damn near impossible to sell these days, I put them aside, expecting to come back to them later.

One novel later, I found that something crazy had happened. I was feeling a bit sick of suckers myself.

You don’t love me anymore?

Here’s the thing. I still think vampires can be done well. The Passage is a perfect example of something fresh and interesting. The Historian is another phenomenal vampire novel. The Vampire Diaries is one of my favourite shows on the air for its attention to character development and its attention to Ian Somerhalder.

The problem is that shows like True Blood have gotten so far into tropes that I’ve lost a lot of investment. I felt this season fall flat with the vamp blood drug and Lilith standing around wearing only viscous fluids. And because of the tropes that have taken over the genre, each time I see something new with vampires, my brain gets a little drained of blood.

I want it to be good. I want it to steal my soul and whisk me away to a land where the shivery sensations of the sexy vamp still reign. I want it to terrify me with guttural beasts like those in the 30 Days of Night graphic novels. I want to see the scope and depth of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

But lately I’ve seen half-hearted twists on the old themes, and with the exception of The Vampire Diaries, not much to keep me watching.

My opinion, however, isn’t the one that matters most. It’s yours!

What do you think?

For me, I hope vampires go into hibernation for a little while and then return with a vengeance. And hopefully less glitter and teen angst. As much as I feel they’ve been overdone lately, they will always have their place staked in my heart.


Dry your tears, Sniffly Vamp. You can come back someday.


What were your favourite vampire books when you were growing up? What are some of the best interpretations of the vampire mythos you’ve seen?


About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on September 28, 2012, in urban fantasy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Fads burn bright then burn themselves out only to be rediscovered again. It is cyclical afterall.

  2. I’m with you on this one–the new vamp craze is unsettling, but I find most new crazes unsettling, partcularly ones that butcher (ahem) our time-honored villains. However…I can’t say vampires are dead(er) just yet. The Historian is a perfect example. It is one of the most brilliant vamp novels to come along in many a year (well, it’s a brilliant novel, period, like wow). But the beauty of The Historian is that it is a new novel done in an old way. Shades of Stoker and Nosferatu. Dark, creepy, slow-moving and just plain good. If a first-time novelist can pull that one off, we have hope for our undead. Other faves? Certainly Rice’s Interview (which was a movie in the 90s, but actually came out quietly as a novel in 1973 or 1974 I think). And most of Rice’s Vampire Chronicles hold up pretty well. Of course Stoker’s original, but how about Richard Matheson’s truly horrifying I Am Legend? 30 Days of Night is another example of something new-ish that does not rely on dreamy eyes and cute dimples–dear lord, the movie unhinged me. Also on the new-ish side, Nancy Collins has done some interesting things, but that may be the adolescent boy lurking inside. And anyone who loves the vamps must read Christopher Moore’s stellar comic novels, Blood Sucking Fiends (A Love Story), You Suck, and Bite Me. Actually anything at all by Christopher Moore, because damn.

    Another great post, Emmie. Keep ’em coming!

  3. Emmie, you and I grew up reading the exact same vamp books!
    I didn’t think much of the past season of True Blood and am hoping TVD will have a better season this year. I thought season 3 was its weakest.
    I really hope people aren’t totally sick of vampires cause that’s what I write.

    • Ahahaha, we really did. I think we’ve discussed this before.

      I wasn’t a fan of this last season at all. It fell flat. I hope TVD will be interesting — I actually liked last season, so I have high hopes for this one!

  4. Think of vampires like fashion. Say the 1960’s hip-huggers. They were done and over done and then disappeared from sight. They waited patiently out of sight for a few decades and then came back re-imagined in their current low-rise incarnation.

    I think the same will happen to vampires. Heck, vampires were a craze as many decades ago (as hip-huggers), what with the whole Dark Shadows thing. Then nothing … until Interview with a Vampire and Twilight.

    They’ll be back. But probably not looking too much like Arnold. We hope!

    • I wonder what the next incarnation will be. Maybe a return to the Polish upierz, which was a bloated purple corpse with little sentience? That could be interesting.

  5. Bunnicula, the vampire bunny that sucked the juice out of vegetables, was one of my fave vampire books as a child. The cartoon deviated from the book, but was still cute.

    I think the hard-core vampire fans will always be around so there will always be a niche market for vampire fiction, but the vamp in popular culture does seem to go in and out of style.

    Once there’s a shelf just for teen vampire romance novels at Barnes & Noble, I think the fad has run its course.

    Unless you’ve written something totally unexpected with a huge mass-market appeal, then, by all means, go with vampires.

  6. The basic concept is as old as humanity’s awareness of its fears. Someone will find a way to evoke that chill again. Maybe vampires need to return to the dark unknown for awhile. But when someone finds the right spell again….

  7. As long as we are anxious about our mortality, I think there will always be vampire stories. It used to be were were anxious about not being able to transcend our mortality — ie., that a vampire, neither alive nor dead, could turn us into a creature like itself and deny us our ascension to heaven.
    Later, with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I think it was a fear of sexuality but also of foreigners — especially Eastern Europeans — that the story played upon.
    I can’t speak for all vampire trends, but I think Twilight captivated its teen/tween audience because it offered a fantasy of perpetual adolescence coupled with power. Middle-aged readers, anxious more about the fear of old age than the actual fear of death (given the preponderance nowadays of total denial of middle- or old age), have also been a huge audience for vampire stories.
    I know I’m generalizing a lot — and skipping the many aspects of Buffy and Angel that could be brought to bear on this — but I think vampires, like superheroes, have been stretched enough as templates to be a canvas for many, many types of stories. They’re probably going to be with us narratively for a long time.

  8. Reblogged this on The Waking Den and commented:
    Join the wonderful Emmie and a host of toothy smileys on the path to poking that Vampiric genre…

  9. Pretty much everything wrong with True Blood is where the show diverged from the book. TVD is still fantastic to watch. I think it is about needing to put a twist on things and do something different with something we are familiar with.

  10. I think certain aspects of the vampire thing are dead – the vampire as sexual superhero has been done and done again, for sure – but they’re too useful, there’s too many ways to spin the characters, for them to go away for good.
    Nice post!

  11. Raiscara Avalon

    I said kill them with fire, except the Vampire Diaries cast…err you know, Ian. :p And Caroline, I like her. 🙂

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