Friday, February 08, 2008


You've read the myths, the stories, the legends, and you've read the books where vampire characters emerge as heroes and heroines. Movies and even TV series have become huge hits in this genre. So what draws us to the dark and spooky?

Is it truly a psychological safe zone to examine our inner demons or is there a group consciousness this genre triggers? Cell memory or even past life recall? I've been studying this field for more years than I care to claim and the one common thread I've seen in the paranormal tapestry is every culture regardless of geography has a similar story of most of these creatures, all with different names, but all with similar characteristics just as most cultures have a story of a great flood.

Have you stopped to wonder how and why most cultures have some form of a vampire, demon possession and disembodied spirits legends? It's understandable when these cultures are on the same continent. But how is this possible when many of these civilizations were on continents across the world, separated by large oceans and their legends predate seafaring to their land? Does it make you wonder if perhaps there is something more going on than human psyche and unfounded fears? Could it be that vampires do exist and these are the stories handed down through centuries?

Since I could write a book about all of these creatures, I'm focusing on my favorite. Those blood-sucking creatures- Vampires. Could it be the continents are not so far apart because the symptoms of disease have been historically misunderstood? When I wrote, All I Need, I used a French vineyard as a backdrop in the story where my vampire king Armond├ęs runs a very successful wine company and also bottles blood for his clan.

In researching this novel, and All I Want, a Scottish Time Travel, I discovered many of the vampiric symptoms could be explained as medical conditions. For instance, Porphyria is a disorder of enzymes found in heme and can make a person sensitive to sunlight. A very severe case of anemia could contribute to the gaunt deathlike paleness associated with a vampire combined with sunlight sensitivity, and the making of a powerful legend begins to emerge. The fear of water as in holy water can be explained by a little understood disease until the 19th century-Rabies. So any person bitten by a rabid animal would become fearful of water and could easily bite anyone trying to help. The spread the disease would imitate the vampire tendencies of biting to spread the disease before the infected would die. Could this have played a part in the creation of the vampire legend? And of course there is vampire bat which would not be in every environment.

The fear of garlic. There are some people who are allergic to garlic. The allergic reactions can vary from skin irritation to stomach problems and in some cases exacerbate asthma symptoms. Such reactions could account for garlic being included in the mythology as well as the long held belief that garlic is a blood purifier. If the vampire's blood has been tainted, made impure, then garlic would be a potential cure or in the extreme, could harm or even kill whatever was living inside the vampire.

And finally, it has not been that long since the practice of bleeding a sick person was believed to help cleanse the person and rid them of the disease. So if all of these are tied together into a nice neat package of a legend, the frightening tale of a creature emerges. That is until modern literature started romanticizing, tall dark and vampire.
I love vampire romances and it is the bad guy trying to be redeemed that entices me. I think the bad boy persona always attracts because he is the forbidden and taboo. When combined with a vampire, it makes for the perfect genre hero. Angst galore and wanting to rescue the broken vamp.

When I wrote All I Need and Last Resort, I wanted my vamps to embrace their immortality. So they don't walk about in the angst and crying, "I wanna be a human". They are beyond all that. In fact, they are taking advantage of immortality. In All I Need, Armond├ęs has created a renaissance for his clan inspired by Chaucer. In Last Resort, Alex is working to make a vampire beach resort for his kind and in All I Want, Jeanne, a scientist, is trying to convince 13th century Scotsmen that vampires can be medically explained.

So these heroes and heroines have adapted and now move through the world enjoying what they are because hey, they no longer have to hunt for their food. And certainly that is true of our modern world where we are free from the task of hunting and dressing our kill in preparation of cooking. When the task of survival is taken away, we, like the vampires are free to explore our lives and enrich ourselves with the arts and other cultural pastimes.

With technology adding more conveniences almost daily, I often wonder how our fictional vamps will survive in the next century. Being immortal, I'm sure they will simply reinvent themselves and become the future's bad boys, too.


Sahara Kelly said...

Wow! This is neat stuff, Sally! Weren't there a few cultures that believed drinking the blood of their victims transferred their strength? That sort of thing helps build legends too!!!

I agree - I don't think those toothsome bad boys will EVER go out of style!!!

Ciana Stone said...

I agree - vampiric bad boys are here to stay :)

Thanks Sally!!

Julianne said...

A vampire bad boy is the best kind of bad boy there is. He's immortal, sexy as all get out, and since he's been around forever, he knows how to use it. LOL! He may have accepted his immortality, but he's still just going through the motions until he finds his sould mate.

Sally Painter said...

Oh yeah, Sahara! I forogt to include that one! Definitely a major one. (g) Thanks!

Sally Painter said...

Yup, I believe they are too, Ci.

Sally Painter said...

That is such a great point, Jules!

N.J.Walters said...

Love the vampire bad boy! I'm really not fond of romance books where the vampire wants to be human again.

Whether from truth or legend, the vampire is here to stay in both folklore and romance books.

Nicole Austin said...

Fantastic post, Sally! I love vampire lore and I agree they will adapt to the future. In fact, I think in the future they may even be more common since they can survive things we humans can't.

To me, vamps are the ultimate in dark, tortured bad boys! I'm still trying to find my vamp to convert me.