Today’s Brew: I may or may not break into the Seasonal Nog, and I may or may not doctor it with some Kahlua.
When I began writing Immortal Dilemma, I needed to come up with a mythology to back up my undead darlings. While the reading masses want originality, it seems like too much originality is frowned upon. After all, real, masculine vampires do not sparkle in daylight, right?
What makes a unique yet compelling vampire story? What are we willing to accept, and what will always be true?
Julie has done some amazing posts on vampire myths and legends around the globe (see below for linkage). Mari Wells writes a compelling column exploring common vampire traits every Wednesday on her blog. I am reading an anthology of vampire accounts and stories from the 18th through 20th centuries. What strikes me most about these tales are the common themes, especially in the ancient myths. They didn’t have the luxury of Google to compare their stories against those on the other side of the world. But yet, they are all eerily similar.
Most vampire legends seem to stem from the unfortunate practice of burying people before they were dead. We didn’t have the scientific explanations that we did today about aging and disease. People just knew that their fellow villagers were getting sick by the boatload. They didn’t have the sophisticated medical equipment to detect heart beats, or medicine to make all of it just go away. So when people appeared to be dead, their loved ones did the Christian thing (if indeed they were Christians) and buried them. Unfortunately, some of them weren’t dead, and they weren’t ready to spend the rest of eternity in a coffin.
Our medical and scientific knowledge has evolved, why can’t vampire mythology evolve as well?
In early lore, vampires were zombie like beasts, attacking innocents for blood. But now, thanks to Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris, and Stephenie Meyer, vampires are beautiful creatures to be desired. With familiarity and allure comes a comfort level. Would you be frightened to find out someone was a vampire, or just simply intrigued? They no longer rank with murders, thieves, or even charlatans. Would they be more fearful if they weren’t attractive?
I’m thinking survival of the fittest here.
Wouldn’t a race of vampires that could go out in sunlight be stronger than those creatures of the night that lost half the day worrying about burning to a crisp? Stephenie Meyer had a dream about a sparkly guy. He became Edward Cullen. Dreams, as interesting as they can be, are not evolution. After all, we evolved from a race of hairy cave dwelling beasts to become the awesome species we are. Dracula didn’t burn in sunlight. Even some of Anne Rice’s characters aged to the point they could withstand the sun. I have not been able to find an explanation why the sun is vampire kryptonite. Why do we have such a hard time accepting ‘Daywalking’ (which is even the proper term for it) vampires?
Now let’s move on the blood. In days before CSI Las Vegas, New York, and Miami, vampires had it made in the shade, so to speak. When Big Brother wasn’t all over our collective shit, it was pretty easy to make someone disappear. Just ask the Mafia. Now, we know the minute someone is missing and we almost immediately begin tracking that person down. If they’re found dead, science can trace back to the exact time it happens and they’ll probably be able to figure out the body is missing all of it’s blood. If vampires have DNA, they are so screwed. At the very least, the four, five, and six o’clock news are going put a rash of neighborhood vampire attacks on blast. There’s no place to run, no place to hide for our friendly bloodsucker. Drinking blood is no longer an efficient means of vampire survival. You just can’t get away with these things like you used to. So unless we let vampires feed on death row criminals or they somehow can line up some willing kamikaze type victims, they’re up the creek without a paddle. Charlaine Harris introduced Tru Blood, a synthetic blood substitute that everyone seems to accept, but again, the poor Cullens get their asses handed to them for only feeding on animal blood.
As someone who is scratching at the door of the paranormal writing community, it interests me to find out why people are willing to accept certain liberties to legends while we reject others. After all, we’re talking about stories about dead people doing very human things. That has become accepted in mainstream culture, so why do we resist their changes?
Julie’s Vampire Mythology Series:
The Japanese Do It Right: Gashodokuro & Hagoromo Gitsune
The Reason NYC is The City That Never Sleeps
Vampires, Eh? What’s That All Aboot?
Bonjour! French Vampire Mythology and Sightings
The Rhode Island Vampire Girls