Scrapping the Stake: Modern Changes to the Vampire
Today's guest post is by the very talented Jennifer Rainey, author of These Hellish Happenings.
Get out your stakes, your crosses and your holy water, Buffy! We got vamps to gank!
With the consistent popularity of the vampire in pop culture, you'd be hard pressed to find a person who doesn't think they're an expert. Sunlight's the enemy, they have a garlic allergy, they can turn into bats if they want to and the poor buggers have a hell of a time seeing themselves in a mirror. And how do you kill the bloodsucking undead?
Decapitate 'em! Give 'em the ol' Marie Antoinette!
This is your standard mythology, most of it made popular, of course, by Bram Stoker's famous tale of terror and the plethora of books and films he helped inspire. Much of it comes from folklore, and some comes straight from Hollywood. Either way, many authors are now looking for a way to break out of the traditional vampire mold, myself included.
So, what do we do? We shake things up a little bit. We're seeing more and more vampires who can walk in sunlight, who are unaffected by stakes, who are not only unaffected by garlic, but are afficionados of Italian cuisine. By casting off some of the typical vampire trappings, an author is given an opportunity to examine some of the different aspects and challenges of vampirism as a way to make their mark on vamp lit.
Take Jack Bentley, for instance, my vampire protagonist in These Hellish Happenings. In my books, Jack and his vampiric brethren have no problems with sunlight or crosses. No turning into bats or mist, and coffins are just a little too clasutrophobic. My vampires only have a few of the distinguishing characteristics of pop culture's usual bloodsucking sweethearts: the need for human blood, immortality and a susceptibility to stakes primarily. However, hunters are few and far between in the 21st century, so that last point is a little dated.
They work in the retail industry, in factories, in bars. They mingle and interact with mortals on a regular basis while drinking pre-packaged human blood, and they don't necessarily have that characteristic vampire ability to charm the pants off you, either. Jack couldn't charm an arachnophobe out of my Great Aunt Myrtle's cellar. He's more normal, we'll say, than your usual vamp, an everyman with fangs.
So, why did I choose to strip down my vamps? I wanted to emphasize the human aspects of supernatural beings so that the book is not so much about what it means to be a vampire or a demon or a werewolf, but what it means to be human. Jack is discriminated against in the book because of his vampirism, and I use his situation to comment on the human condition. I'm not the only one taking that route, of course. Many, many books, television shows and movies are doing the same (Being Human, anyone?), and in the last decades, a lot of authors have looked to explore many other venues for vamps outside of the usual folklore, as well.
The vampire has been the monster for so long. While there's nothing wrong with the traditional bloodsucker, we're seeing now what other tricks he can do, and we're only beginning to scratch the surface.
Jennifer Rainey was raised by wolves who later sold her to gypsies. She then joined the circus at the age of ten. There, she was the flower girl in the famed Bearded Bride of Beverly Hills show until the act was discontinued (it was discovered that the bearded lady was actually a man). From there, she wandered around the country selling novelty trucker hats with vaguely amusing sayings printed on front. Somehow, she made enough money to go to The Ohio State University for a major in English.
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/These-Hellish-Happenings-ebook/dp/B004K1F8KM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1295619680&sr=8-2
B&N Nook: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/These-Hellish-Happenings/Jennifer-Rainey/e/2940012372154?r=1&itm=1&usri=these+hellish+happenings&if=N&cm_mmc=VigLink-_-k244266-_-j12871747k244266-_-Primary