Vampire Awareness Month!
“You Can Have My Vampire When You Pry Me From His Cold, Dead Hands”
A guest post by By Erin O’Riordan
A few years ago, when my niece was about four years old, my brother noticed her Barbie doll had no shirt on. When he asked her about it, she said, “A vampire bit Barbie on her boobie.”
Writing a vampire character is kind of like buying a Barbie doll. You can go to Wal*Mart or Toys ‘R’ Us in any city in America and find the same basic choices of Barbies, with slight variations in plastic “skin” tone and hair color, dressed in different outfits, but all basically in the same packaging. Vampire folklore is like those identical pink boxes on shelves in Buffalo, Omaha and San Francisco – it tells us a little about what the vampire brand represents. Just like we can choose between Rocket Scientist Barbie and Milan Fashion Week Barbie, we can choose cruel vampires or noble ones, ugly vampires or pretty ones.
Vampires are not all alike in their strengths and weaknesses. Some can walk in the sunlight, while others are reduced to ashes by UV rays. Some sleep in beds, others in coffins, others in holes dug out of the earth. Some are shapeshifters, able to turn into bats, wolves or both. Others are the mortal enemies of shifters who turn into wolves. There are even self-hating half-vampires who act as vampire slayers.
Every writer has her own take on the traits the perfect vampire should possess. Could there be such a thing as the ultimate vampire? If there were, such a creature would undoubtedly borrow features from some of the great vampires of books, TV and movies. If I were going to create the ultimate race of vampires, they would have:
*The enhanced senses and strength that come along with being a vampire in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. That scene in the film version of Interview with the Vampire where Louis sees for the first time with his new vampire eyesight is still amazing. The fact that vampires are faster, stronger and have sharper senses than mortals is what makes us fantasize about being them.
*The range of eye colors from J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Vamps often have inhuman-looking irises, one of the clues that give away their identity to mortals. Ward’s warriors seem to have the coolest shades, though. Wrath has eerily blue eyes, V has diamond-clear eyes, and Qhuinn has one blue, one green. My personal favorite, Z, has canary-yellow eyes that go black when he gets angry.
The martial arts skills the Brothers use to dispatch their slayer enemies are pretty cool, too. If your vampires are going to be warriors, they should be really well-trained warriors.
*The retractable fangs from True Blood. The other things I’d take from Charlaine Harris and her spin-off TV show include the way vamps glamour humans, but also the way they can heal us with their blood. The Vampire Diaries has the glamour thing, too, but it’s better without the cheesy eyeball close-up.
*The nobility of Carlisle Cullen. At least for paranormal romances, noble vampires are much nicer than bloodsucking monsters. Charlaine Harris did away with the need to feed on animals by introducing the idea of synthetic blood, a very good idea. Another alternative is vampires who only drink from willing donors.
In Marta Acosta’s lighthearted Casa Dracula books, in which vampirism is a chronic medical condition, the characters drink animal blood drawn by a veterinarian and can mitigate their cravings with pretty much any red food. In some stories, it might be nice if some salsa or a handful of pomegranate seeds soothed the bloodthirsty beast.
*Raves with blood raining down from the sprinklers, as in Blade, because that was just cool.
I love you, Stephenie Meyer, but my ideal vampires would not have venomous saliva or skin with a diamond sheen. Most importantly, no venom. The bite should be pleasantly painful; otherwise, why would I want so badly to get bitten?
About the Guest Blogger: Erin O’Riordan’s vampire creations include lesbian stripper vampire Oakley Falls and Oliver, a vampire chef who crossed over during the James Dean era. Both appear in anthologies published by Torquere Press. Find Erin at www.aeess.com.