Writing a Vampire Hero
In general I’m not a fan of vampires as heroes, at least not the traditional blood-sucking predator sort. In recent years urban fantasy authors have taken a variety of new approaches to vampires, many of which have more or less de-fanged them and turned them less threatening, less predatory, less…evil.
But those aren’t real vampires to me. Real vampires are the traditional, evil creatures of the night who’ve traded their soul and their humanity for virtual immortality, and who survive by stealing blood from unwilling victims.
Think about the implications of that. Vampires need blood to survive, traditionally, quite a bit of it, at regular intervals. They stalk and capture unwilling victims, then drain a large quantity of blood from the person. Most people can’t handle losing large quantities of blood quickly, so a vampire bite is likely to be fatal.
Yes, I know, a lot of vampire heroes are portrayed as only taking small quantities of blood, usually from a volunteer donor. But, really, the concept doesn’t stand up to close examination. Blood is the only substance that can support a vampire’s life. Given that a vampire is a normal-sized, human-shaped adult, consider how much blood would be needed to replace the amount of food a human that size would require. And they would need it every few days.
On either the physical, literal level – if such a thing is possible—or on the metaphorical, a vampire survives by stealing life from others. The price of a vampire’s immortality is the lives of many, many human beings.
Or as my son once colorfully put it: a vampire is really just a giant, human-shaped mosquito.
But a few years ago, I agreed to write a Christmas vampire story as part of a paranormal Christmas anthology, so I needed to find a way to make a vampire heroic.
I mused on it for a while, how to make a vampire hero without defanging them (so to speak). Then it occurred to me. The process for becoming a vampire has been the subject of lots of legends, none definitive. Vampires would be more interesting if they weren’t just monsters by accident, if there was some choice involved, even if they were turned without their consent or against their will. And of course, there is an alternative to being a vampire. Death. The problem is that as most systems have it, after one has been turned, death for a vampire can only be a soulless death, final termination.
So I did some mental work on it and decided that perhaps vampires might have some wiggle room. Even if they were turned against their will, they could live on blood from other creatures for a while. For one hundred years, in fact. But if they didn’t drink human blood by the end of one hundred years, then they died, but not as a vampire, so they could die with their soul intact.
Since a story has to be built on conflict and struggle, I set my vampire story on the last night of the hundred years for my hero, a man who’d been turned by accident and who wanted no part of immortality at the price of stealing other lives. And of course, by the end of the hundred years, he’s desperately hungry and just wants it to be over. So I throw in a complication, a woman stranded by an ice storm on Christmas Eve. An attractive young woman who is pure temptation to him.
But there might be a way she could be his salvation as well. If you were writing it, would you provide a way for a vampire to regain his soul and his humanity? How would you do it?
Want to read more and learn my take on it?
A Vampire’s Christmas CarolBlurb: Can Christmas Eve get any more fun? On her way to her family's home, Carol Prescott’s car slides into a ditch in a deserted area with no cell phone signal. The only available shelter is already occupied…by a vampire. To Michael Carpenter, Carol is the bait of a trap.
In an effort to hold onto his soul, Michael has resisted the urge to drink human blood for almost a century. Now he hovers between human and vampire. If he doesn’t drink from a human before the night ends, he’ll die. He’s desperately thirsty, but Michael has seen the soulless monsters vampires are and he prefers death. Carol is pure temptation to him, the Christmas present from hell…or is it from heaven?
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006G36AXG
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Karen McCullough is the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres and has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy. She’s also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, three grandchildren and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years. She invites you to visit her home on the web at http://www.kmccullough.com