Vampire Tropes – How I twist them in my works

This piece of my character Goliath is by Gynesis!

When it comes to my writing, what I take the most pride in is how I write my vampires. This blog post will discuss how I twist tropes most commonly seen with bloodsuckers, and why I took the path that I did. I hope to see more people twisting the common western vampire myth, as this article focuses on the typical vampire from works like Dracula. If you’re interested in an in-depth look at my world, feel free to pick up my novel The Dancing Crow.

One thing I don’t tend to write is undead vampires that work like normal undead. Technically speaking, even my ‘undead vampires’ aren’t dead (they really shouldn’t exist, but shit happened in Cobratongue University: Professors & Kings.) I’ll explain that more later, though. For now, I want to talk about how I twist their main feature–blood drinking.

As you can see on my living vampires lore page, I favor biological explanations for many things. In this case, I went with gut bacteria, which is super fascinating. Did you know that our microbiome affects and is affected by the foods we eat, even to the point of allowing some foods, and disallowing others? I nabbed this concept and applied it to vampires, which allow them to digest blood and live off of it. There was the ‘little issue’ of pretty much no fat content being found in blood, however, so they substitute this with creating such a biological storage item, if needed, with mana. A magical excuse for a biological problem, but hey, I’m a fantasy writer! Not to mention, my vampires can consume humanoid flesh in chunks. Have you seen those chompers? Therefore, they can process (humanoid) meat, but blood is their primary, and required, diet. They would not be able to sustain a bloodless diet due to lack of nutrition.

Let’s move onto garlic. Now, vampirism was seen as a disease in some myths, which is neat, but does not apply to mine… at all. From National Geographic, regarding rabies, which was thought to be similar to vampirism: “Infected people display a hypersensitive response to any pronounced olfactory stimulation, which would naturally include the pungent smell of garlic.” Garlic really doesn’t work… at all… against my vampires. I’ll have Ares demonstrate this from a writing segment in Huntsmaster City.

I quickly reached into my pocket and pulled out a clove of garlic and my crucifix. This was the method I knew well. Now I would prove to those idiots in Huntsmaster that our methods worked better than the rest and end this once and for all. I’d be free from The Prophet’s wrath.

 Not a moment too soon, for I heard the door creak open. A low chuckle emitted from my captor, of whom I heard slowly approaching the bed. Bunching up my muscles, I suddenly flung myself out and threw the garlic right at him, then drew my crucifix. “BY ALL THAT IS HOLY, BE PURGED MONSTER!” I screamed.

Ares’s messy bloody hair was, as usual, in his evil face. His hair was styled oddly–a half mohawk but with long, black silky strands. He looked like a biker, in all blacks, chains, and leathers, and had many scars all over him. A force to be trifled with, but I was more frightening. So I thought… He looked confused at first, his nostrils flaring as I stood there, holding my weapon up to his face. His red eyes darted down to the garlic, then to the crucifix. Any second now he’d start burning. Any second now…

But that’s not even remotely close to what happened. The vampire burst into laughter, having to clutch his stomach. His red eyes lit up in amusement, no…no! My hand was shaking, and I stumbled back, shocked. The vampires I’d seen this tactic used against burst into flame! It was in everything I read. All of my training had come down to this. Nothing else I used worked. 

Though… I began to realize that deep down, I knew the truth. I didn’t know why this had gone as expected, and why I was slightly relieved for that to be the case.

“Eh,” Ares began, finally composing himself and eyeing me. “No silver knife, yummy human?! You didn’t keep that one ya were given in that massacre on my people from your ‘friends’. I expected more of a fight! But this?! No no no. This has to be some sort of joke!” 

-Cecelia’s Perspective, Huntsmaster City

A joke indeed. Anyway, the other thing I tossed out was the ‘needs to be invited inside in order to enter’ (a vampire from my works will enter your house and rip you to shreds anytime they damn please), crossing water, needing dirt from their homeland to survive, and needing to sleep in coffins (unless they’re really that edgy). I just… don’t like those aspects of typical vampire lore, to be honest.

There’s sunlight, and typically western vampires burst into flame or have some sort of magic to enable them to avoid this. In my lore, they’re nocturnal humanoids, so the sun really isn’t as big of an issue with common myth. However, they have REALLY sensitive eyesight in bright light, especially the sun, that I actually wish I explored more in my works. Oh well, it really isn’t too late to do so. But their skin is sensitive to it, they are more prone to burns(regardless of skin tone). Sunscreen negates this, for the most part, but needs to be powerful.

I mentioned the fact that I have living vampires a lot, but I do have an undead variant. This article explains how I play the vampires in a certain video game, and I snatch a similar concept for my undead vampires. TLDR is that they’re more frozen and do NOT rot. They maintain themselves with necromancy, and mana-flow substitutes the heart for them. They therefore have blood flow and working organs if they wish.

Why exactly did I do this? Well… I just don’t like the idea of a walking corpse, and I do form ships and explicit content with my characters, so I’m trying to avoid the obvious and obnoxious taboo people bring up more than it needs to be when it relates to vampires. I also am sensitive to rot-smells, and I don’t like describing them. At all. So if it’s going to be a main character that has a ship, in my writing, it’s not gonna rot. Just not my thing, ugh. Generally speaking, average vampires, living or undead, in my works are very hygenic.

When it comes to silver, I made it poisonous to their natural biology. It slows my vampires’ healing, which can be super detrimental. It can be painful, and it can weaken them. The reflections thing, though, I didn’t utilize. It’s one aspect of vampire lore I’ve always found super silly and pointless.

Speaking of ‘super silly and pointless’ (to me), I don’t like how in some lore one bite can turn someone else into a vampire…every…single…time. I mean, that would constantly cause a ridiculous population burst if even one vampire went out of control and didn’t kill their prey. I’ll always have a requirement/ritual for the turning of my vampires if it’s even possible, which we see happening in my books. It’s quite the restriction.

I’ve stripped virtually all religious influence in my vampire lore. I’m not Christian and have no interest in including that in my lore, so crucifixes don’t work. The only thing that works against the new species undead vampires are objects enchanted by Hades, or his blood, since his blood was utilized in an ancient ritual to create them. Otherwise, my world isn’t monotheistic, and the gods’ trinkets generally don’t have an effect on specific creatures.

My vampires can vary in looks, but my main characters tend to look aesthetically pleasing to me personally. Just a me-thing, it’s what I like to write. Them being a humanoid species, though, they vary just like humans when it comes to appearance. Aside from one key thing–their teeth. All of them are sharp, and they can regrow after damage.

When it comes to age, mine will stop aging around their 20s-30s and start up again toward the thousand mark. Most of my characters are adults and certainly not hundreds of years old. One way I like to laugh in the face of the implied trope is simply have humans magically enhance their age. People might think I should make that hard to do, but…why? We see it as a trope on a constant basis, so if my vampires can live a while, so can my powerful humans, with magical, not biological means. Because I said so!

I do stick with the super strength, speed, and senses typically seen with vampires. It makes them pretty powerful entities, especially royals (who get additional powers based on their bloodlines), but the consequence is that they can’t get to legendary magical-use like humans. Theoretically, if humans train enough with magic (over decades), they can combat the most powerful of vampires as a legendary mage.

Another thing I tossed out the window was ‘hope for humanity’ and ‘we need to hide from humans’ in The Kingdoms of Blood series at least. I made it very clear that there’s no hope for humanity to take the mantle of Earth again. Generally, we see vampires hiding from humans due to population difference, but I turned this on its head in a very dark manner.

All in all, my vampires are extremely violent living humanoid entities. They take the dominant species mantle of the planet in my works, and I don’t hold back with the gore. Oh…and they definitely don’t sparkle.

Hopefully this gave some insight as to how I change things up in my lore! Feel free to check out my works if you like how I twisted things.

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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