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On Vampires

Vampires have lurked in our worst nightmares since time began.  The early vampires were all evil, skulking through the darkest night, dooming those who were bitten.  In 1897 Bram Stoker created Dracula, who has to stay in his coffin all day and terrorizes the world by night.  But imaginitive story-tellers didn’t leave it there.  They asked the question, what if?  I am fascinated by how so many writers have created such different kinds of vampires.

Stephenie Meyer created a radically new vampire, the gorgeous Edward Cullen, who goes to school on cloudy days, doesn’t have to breath, can’t sleep, and exercises a mighty self control in order to have a ‘normal’  life and stay with the girl he loves.  To become a vampire, (and she made a lot of people wish they could!) you need to be bitten, and the painful venom spreads and changes you into an immortal being with stone-like qualities.   L.J. Smith’s vampires walk among us undetected in the daylight, prohibited by their laws to reveal the Night World.  They sip a little blood here and there, but it doesn’t kill their victims – they use humans like cows.  You become a vampire by exchanging blood.  Romance with a vampire is a very euphoric experience, but it is strictly forbidden.  Then there are the vampires created by Charlaine Harris, who must sleep buried in the earth during the day, but go out and live their complicated, violent, lusty lives during the night, living in a world that has legalized being a vampire — as long as they live on bagged blood.  In Patricia Briggs’s novels, the only good vampire is a staked vampire, except for Stephen, who wishes he was more than friends with Mercy Thompson.  The vampires in her world barely pass for human, become like dead during the day, and are created through a grim, complicated process.  Robin McKinley’s vampires are gray skinned, thirsty, and evil, intent on killing us and overtaking the world — except for Constantine, who walks the unseen magical paths at night, assists a human girl (who turns out to be a wizard), and falls in love with her.

There is no one right way to create a character or a world.  The possibilities are endless, which makes for a vast, delicious smorgasbord for those of us who love to read a good story.

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