Let’s Talk about Vampires

Oh man, Galder did a wonderful job with the art piece of my character holding a glass of blood. It’s of my San’layn in World of Warcraft. For those unfamiliar with the game, they’re essentially undead vampire elves. Hopefully they’ll be truly playable one day!

But I’m not here to discuss vampires in video games. Not now, at least. No, I wanted to talk about common vampire mythos and my personal opinions on each little trope. Now, the thing is, I’m in the ‘unpopular opinion’ crew for many vampire fans, I feel like, and as you read this post, you might see why. For an especially particular reason, of course–I don’t like the ‘undead vampire’ trope. Yet, I have a species of undead vampires in my book! I also love many of the stories that feature undead vampires. So, what am I going on about?

Well, that’s simply one aspect I just don’t like as much. Vampires classically drink blood (I firmly believe it’s not a vampire if it doesn’t) and I feel like that makes them more alive than dead in most cases anyway since they’re processing food. I can understand the undead thing, though; in most cases, they are a magical species. However, I can’t lie and say that when I read lore from a book where the person’s vampires are alive and a species, I get a little bit giddy. My living vampires, for example, are a biological species, however it’s my particular series so of course I’d write to my top preference!

My work was actually inspired by vampires in L. J. Smith’s Night World. Yeah yeah, laugh it up, but really. While my book takes it into a very different direction, Night World is the first time I actually read living vampires. Or, well, “born dead” as one of the characters (John Quinn) puts it in one of the stories, but hey they can at least reproduce which is neat and unusual for vampires.

I’m just a picky person though, the ‘undead’ thing isn’t even that big of a deal, and even in my own series do I break my personal promise of ‘not having undead vampires’. However, there is one element of vampire tropes I hate and I might actually offend some people by saying this. However, do keep in mind not everyone subscribes to the same religion in the entire world. I’m pagan, after all. But the trope that vampires are evil/from the pits of hell/repelled by crosses and churches isn’t something I’m a fan of at all. Here’s why.

In any story, I’m not a fan of a species being strictly and purely evil. I see that as lazy, and yes I know I’m bold in saying that. But it’s true and it gets so old. “This entire race is evil! No matter what, no exception!” It’s obnoxious and I hate it. Yes, my words will probably miff some people, but eh who cares. Every single vampire being evil doesn’t make for a good story if you’re trying to depict them as having any semblance of intelligent. Killing/feeding being in their nature, sure, that makes sense as they’re a predatory species. There’s heavy debate as to that being baseline evil, but I’m talking in a religious context here. Don’t even get me started on demons, because my opinions on those are probably even more offensive. (Granted, there have been a few stories that have made me eat my words, because the ‘all evil’ trope can actually be done well. But still, GENERALLY I’m not a fan!)

Here’s another unpopular opinion, though with a different section of vampire fans. I dislike ugly vampires, the Nosferatu-looking vamps. To me, you might as well just have a blood-sucking zombie if you’re going to ugly-fy them. A healthy mixture of both beautiful and ugly vampires in a story is much preferred for me, and I’ll always favor the noble/regal-looking one. I feel like that romantic allure trope is perfect to lure in prey. Ugly nosferatu have to take the direct approach of just attacking someone. After all, how are you going to lure in someone looking like a zombie that fucked a slug? It’s much more haunting and offputting to have a dark force behind a pretty face.

People complain all the time about vampires being romanticized and turned away from the monsters they once were. I’m sorry, but I disagree. I know a lot of vampire enthusiasts are scoffing at me right now, but I feel like you can have a regal/noble monster yet still. Just like how an angler fish lures in prey with a beautiful light, a vampire that looks good can do the same.

Take this piece of one of my vampires, Goliath Elapid, by Harcloniter:

As he puts it, if he’s going to be a killer, he’s “going to have looks to kill” as well. Goliath here is no pushover, I write him to be rather dark. Several times in my series does he rip someone’s heart out and eat it. He also completely rips his enemies apart. Hell, before he changed into a protagonist, he was a dragon slayer that devoured their blood to grow even more powerful. The ‘beautiful monster’ trope can certainly be done right.

But if someone makes their vampires look good, they have to have the bite to back it up. Twilight fails at this miserably, again in my personal opinion. I’m a firm believer that vampires should be depicted as horrifying predators in many aspects. Giving them personality, emotion, and love, are wonderful, yes. That makes for a good variety of characters, and I do that myself. But even my most ‘innocent’ vampires will rend their enemies into a pulp, and violently, too.

Now, as you can see from the art depiction of my character, I don’t actually embrace the ‘two fangs’ trope. I actually do love vampire fangs, aka their upper and lower canines being longer and sharper. Mine are a bit more brutal since they have no flat or human-like teeth at all. I describe it as ‘having the dentition of a pure carnivore, similar to serpents or felines’. I feel like that makes them a bit more terrifying, and it makes sense too, since in my story they’re a living predatory species.

Vampires being caused by a parasite falls under that category of ‘living species’ technically as well, which is another neat take. Writers embracing that trope will often make it a permanent change, which makes sense. Some parasites alter your entire biology and cycle.

Related, there’s the garlic trope. I don’t use it myself, and it’s based on the idea that vampirism is a disease of which is repelled by the antibacterial properties of garlic. Vampirism being a disease (beyond porphyria) is a cool trope to me, honestly. While I don’t use it myself, I love the scientific basis. In that sense, I guess garlic does make sense. I just, well, do find it kind of silly. Wouldn’t, in that case, most herbs with antibacterial properties repel vampires? Why is it only garlic?

Unpopular opinion number 3, but again with a different section of vampire fans, because I’m on a ‘WHAT IS SHE SAYING!” roll today! Although, I feel like I’ll have many agreeing with me either. Just not…this particular fanbase. I. HATE. TWILIGHT. So much. The vampire mythos in that novel series is one I’m shaking my head at. First of all, apparently they sparkle because their skin has a similar consistency to stone. It really sucks that every time I say I’m a fan of vampires, someone immediately is like “Oh you love Twilight?” No, Jerry, I fucking hate it, go jump into a dumpster.

The whole “I drink animal blood therefore an a ‘vegetarian'” thing is dumb as fuck, sorry not sorry. In many vampire books, some vampires can sometimes drink animal blood for a time before snapping and having to go feed upon humans. That’s the proper way to do it, in my opinion. But you’re not a vegetarian if you’re still drinking animal blood, that’s absolutely ridiculous. And any self-respecting vampire species would snap eventually to feed upon humans. Otherwise, what’s the point? You’re just a glorified meat enthusiast at that point, you might as well be a human.

Anyway, the needing to be invited into a house is an interesting trope that I enjoy the idea of. Some sort of magical deterrent for vampires, and while I don’t use it, I’ve seen it done very well. Particularly with those that include witches in their stories, actually. It can force the character to play a game of cat-and-mouse. “Little pig, little pig, let me in!” sort of thing. But here’s an interesting thought–what if the vampire somehow manages to destroy one side of the house, or the house itself, without harming the resident? Causing the walls to whittle away, for example. At what point does a sanctuary no longer protect the one inside?

As for the trope of not being able to cross moving water, well, I find that one silly. I can’t really explain why, it just makes me roll my eyes. Not a fan of it, and won’t ever use it in my mythos. Same with the “needing dirt from birthplace” thing. While that one has merit to be interesting, I’m still pretty iffy on it.

One thing I wish people did more in vampire fantasy was emphasize a behavior often seen in vampire bats, or reciprocal altruism. If a bat comes home hungry, a friend (they don’t have to be blood related) will regurgitate blood for them. Now, I don’t think that exact behavior should be reflected in vampires, more like “you help me hunt prey and I will return the favor”. Sure, vampire covens or clans are pretty commonly seen, but they often are at each other’s throats (pun intended).

Vampires turning every single person they bite is kind of silly to me. That makes no sense, they’d run out of prey so fast. The people that either give vampires the ability to control such a thing, or put other methods on turning someone else into a vampire have props from me. Stories make way more sense in that respect.

Now, to burn in the sun, or not to burn in the sun–that’s the question. Vampires in many, many books ignite when sunlight hits their skin. Heck, I even use that trope for my undead vampires, as a magical side-effect to the ritual that created them. I feel like the sun should either burn or inhibit the vampire in some way, or do nothing at all. Other effects like sparkling are silly. It’s a hindrance to my living vampires since they’re a nocturnal species, and therefore more sensitive to it. They, however, do not ignite.

Not being seen in a mirror has always been silly to me, and I don’t see it used much these days. Apparently it’s due to silver being a “pure” metal in a religious context, and therefore vampires couldn’t see their reflection if the mirror had silver in it. As I mentioned before, the religious tropes in vampire mythos make me roll my eyes. I gave that sort of thing the middle finger by causing my undead vampires to burn when touched with objects ‘blessed’ by Hades. Irony down to the blood.

However, silver as a poison to vampires is a solid trope that I use myself. I have it so that it inhibits vampire healing in my book. I’ve seen some others doing so as well, which I give a nod to for sure.

The ‘turning into a bat’ trope is something I really love, not going to lie. First of all, I find bats pretty awesome. Second of all, being a bat hanging there in the middle of the night doesn’t seem all that unusual. Ominous, sure, but you wouldn’t suspect anything until it’s too late. Apparently, Dracula could turn into a wolf and rat as well, in some mythos, which is also pretty neat. That one I don’t see often in vampire stories, though.

I didn’t touch every single vampire trope in this post, but I think I covered quite a bit of my thoughts. In conclusion, I’m a HUGE fan of vampires and love reading the different pieces of lore people have created for them in their stories. I’ve been reading a few different takes and have enjoyed my time. Yes, I know, most people make all of their vampires undead, which is fine. Like I said, just a personal preference.

I’ll probably do a post on its own about the vampires v. werewolves trope. It might be done over so many times, but I think it can have merit when people use newer takes rather than just copying past authors.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this article! In the dead of the night, don’t let the vampires bite!

Published by Des M. Astor

Heya, I'm an author. Typically I write Urban Fantasy, and I only usually read in that genre as well. My author's website is both a writing blog and a showcase for my work. Check it out if you'd like.

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