Not an Anti-Vampire Book
I’m touting my newly released Oh Great, Another Vampire Book as a vampire story for people who don’t necessarily like vampires. That is, liking or having an interest in vampires is not a prerequisite for enjoying my book. Based on the title alone, an outside observer might think I dislike the genre or aim to ridicule and discredit vampires. I do nothing of the sort. I’m not anti-vampire, but I am critical of certain conventions I observe in contemporary vampire literature.
For instance, what’s up with vampires returning to high school? In Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, it would be illogical for Edward Cullen to return to high school if the aim is to conceal his identity. Before I sound overly critical of Ms. Meyer, I must say I borrowed her convention of vampires tolerating sunlight, i.e.— they just get sparkly. This is a nice compromise to allow more narrative flexibility if your vampers happen to venture out of doors during the day. Mine do. I wrote a scene where a couple vampires go to Sephora to buy mineral makeup. They find it’s effective at minimizing the appearance of sparkling skin. One vamper remarks to the other how ironic Makeup Forever is as a brand name given their immortality.
Another convention of vampire literature— they’re disproportionately attractive, or sexy in some fashion. You almost never see flabby vampires living in shitty apartments with a landlord to deal with, and some stupid job they hate. The slick veneer of the undead partially explains the social phenomenon dating back to the 1990’s of people choosing to identify as vampires. (Was this an early inkling of the idea that personal identity can be fluid?) I make light of vampires being handsome when my main one, Roman McClary, is being sired on the battlefield at The Battle of Bunker Hill. He is told that yes, vampires are in fact generally attractive. This squelches any hint of their disproportionate sexiness being a coincidence.
Another thing that’s funny— the trope of a Catholic priest wielding a cross as a weapon against vampires. Catholics: literally the only other people who consume blood if you count transubstantiation of wine into the blood of Christ. According to Catholic doctrine, priests facilitate and engage in drinking blood, creating an ironic kinship with vampires.
Did you notice my casual use of the word “vamper” earlier? It’s my aesthetic nod to Charlaine Harris for her very excellent Sookie Stackhouse Series that True Blood is based on. In the text, True Blood is the name of a drink manufactured for vampires. I allude to this in my book when Roman goes to Hawaii with his new wife and soon-to-be-god Sara Fielding. There, they observe an obscure group of Hawaiian vampires drinking a concoction of pig’s blood mixed with poi. It reminds Roman of True Blood, which happens to be one of his favorite shows.
Along with Joss Whedon’s Buffy, I love True Blood for its balance of humor and pathos. With Oh Great, Another Vampire Book, I vied for this balance. Bottom line: it’s hard to take vampires seriously as a concept. But it’s not the point of my story.
Diane Hunter is the author of Oh Great, Another Vampire Book. Visit her at dianehunterauthor.com