VAMPIRES SUCK AND THAT'S WHY WE LOVE THEM
I was asked me to stick up for vampires since a guest blogger on THE DEMON WHO STOLE MY PENCIL did the same for zombies. First off, let me say I like zombies just fine and dandy. I've written a zombie story that you can find in my hardcover collection of short stories, DARK MATTER. (This story will soon be in an e-book collection.) But I've written about all sorts of paranormal creatures, so I'm an equal opportunity lover of the non-human. These sorts of characters give writers the freedom to explore completely different worlds and even emotions that might be different from what we feel as humans. So I love them all, take that as a given.
Until I wrote LEGIONS OF THE DARK, I had written only of the vampire in a few short stories. I was contacted by DAW Books to write a trilogy of vampire novels and I had to think it over a little while. Though I had admired Anne Rice's INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, recognizing it as a book that would become a classic, and though I had written vampire short stories, the thought of an entire trilogy of novels seemed a daunting task. And did I love the vampires enough to want to live with them through three or four years of writing? Most importantly for me, did I have anything at all to say new or fresh about vampires? I couldn't answer the last rhetorical question until I wrote the books, I knew that, so that left the questions of how much I cared about vampires and was it enough to sustain me through lengthy works? I finally answered yes and dove into the first of the VAMPIRE NATION CHRONICLES in LEGIONS. I discovered I loved the characters—which is the most important thing to me when writing—and the fact they were vampires had a lot to do with it. They could live forever, given they did not meet some unforeseen accident. They were the repositories of vast amounts of historical knowledge. They had heft, they had weight, they even, in some instances, had duties to preserve and even help mankind. No, they do not sparkle. No, they are not weepy and weak. No, they are not just creatures to represent sex, either gay or heterosexual. These are unhelpful stereotypes. My vampires were great creatures, nearly god-like, with longevity that boggled the mind. It always seemed to me that whether you were alive as a human or dead as a vampire, you would still be beset by all your earthly problems and desires. That would not change.
CNN interviewed me by phone for their CNN site when I was writing VAMPIRE NATION CHRONICLES and asked me why I thought people loved vampires so much. I said I thought it was because we are mortals and we live with the notion we would die. The vampire does not die, his immortality is what the mortal longs for deep in his soul, therefore the vampire mesmerizes us; we admire and envy him. For we will all die. We will lie in a grave or become ashes in an urn. We know this and it is a thought we must live with—the hardest reality any human faces. As we read the novels of vampires for a small time we become that immortal being. We live his long, long life, we follow him through centuries, and we revel in his life, even if he is among the “undead.” For that time immersed in the novel we, too, are immortal.
Except for an angel, the vampire is one of the only fictional creations that is truly immortal. Now that I am writing about fallen angels--ANGELIQUE and the forthcoming novel, BLACK WINGS—I have a large overview of writing about the immortal and after a long career of writing realistic suspense thrillers, I've discovered that the immortal is more fun. Whether he has fangs or wings, whether he can disappear or fly, he is not me, he is not US, and as a writer I can explore all sorts of avenues that are blocked to me when writing about real people.
In LEGIONS OF THE DARK I was able to explore and examine the vampire life of a young girl just becoming vampire. In RISE OF THE LEGEND the story progressed with her son, Malachi, whose father was human, making him a half-breed—a dhampir. In HUNTER OF THE DEAD Malachi has to hunt down the monster vampire who killed his wife and took his only child. The trilogy gave me a broad canvas where I could carry through and follow generations of vampires. I grew to love these creatures more than ever before because I recognized their humanity and that is what we care about most in our fiction. In subsequent lifetimes do we grow more moral or less? It was a question I wanted to explore and a trilogy of novels afforded me the time and space to do it.
So I have no quibble with the zombie or the werewolf or the vampire or the angel or the ghost. I love them all equally well, but so far my work has concentrated on vampire and angel so I can say for sure that we don't have to settle for one or the other, pin all our love on one, or disrespect those who choose an immortal that is not the one we have chosen to write about. We can have them all. We can love and enjoy them all. I know I do.