On the surface, it’s an unnecessary question since, with Twilight and True Blood all the rage, everyone seems to have a keen sense of the undead. Yet that’s one question writers of vampire stories must contend with, and it’s one question I had never considered.
I had never thought much about vampires. I was never into the paranormal genre, the main reason being I’m not a fan of horror. I’m not a fan of violence, real or pretend, and since vampires have traditionally represented violence, I didn’t care to know them. I won’t go into the story about how one of my students gave me Twilightto read here. Suffice it to say, I liked what I read enough to begin seeking out other vampire stories. I eventually found my way to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire, and Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampiresseries. The more vampire books I read the more I realized that there was no one way to describe a vampire. The question of ‘What is a vampire?’ is answered differently according to what authors want or need from their preternatural characters. What a grand revelation as I embarked on my own vampire stories.
I had a decision to make. Would I go the more traditional route and keep my vamplings asleep during the day, unable to go out in the sun, or would I take the more modern route of sunbeams and sparkles? In the beginning, I had no idea. I hopped on the computer (God bless the Internet) and searched vampire folklore to see how the undead have been traditionally defined. I was fascinated by what I found. Turns out that vampire legends have abounded for as long as there have been people to tell them, long before vampire stories were ever published. Who knew? There are vampire legends from all over the world, and while there are cultural differences, there were more than a few commonalities, and this is what I focused on—the commonalities.
So what is a vampire to me?
I tended to stay along more traditional lines. One similarity between almost all vampire legends is that they’re nocturnal creatures. My vampires are as well, sleeping during the day and living at night. My vampires drink blood. Now, how they chose to drink blood differs from vampire to vampire, but let’s say that they do drink human blood. Their human bodies die as they are transformed (by the bite of another vampire) into a preternatural, immortal being. Again, pretty traditional. As to garlic and silver, well, I don’t know what to say about that. It’s true that traditionally (especially in the Slavic cultures) those are considered supreme weapons against the undead, but it seems to me that if you can live forever a little plant bulb or metal won’t harm you much. But that’s just me.
Part of the fun of writing in the paranormal genre is the ability to create your fantasy creatures however you want. If you want your vampire sitting on the sofa in broad daylight eating pizza (as Aidan does in the BBC series Being Human), then do it. There is no right way to create a vampire. As long as authors believe that the world they’re describing is true, then readers will follow. What is a vampire? The fun part is, we all get to decide for ourselves.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Meredith Allard is the Executive Editor of The Copperfield Review, an award-winning literary journal for readers and writers of historical fiction. She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from California State University, Northridge. She has taught writing to students aged 10 to 60, and she has taught creative writing and writing historical fiction workshops at Learning Tree University, UNLV, and the Las Vegas Writers Conference. Her writing has appeared in journals such as The Paumanok Review, Moondance, Wild Mind,Muse Apprentice Guild, The Maxwell Digest, CarbLite, Writer’s Weekly, and ViewsHound. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
How long would you wait for the one you loved? James Wentworth has a secret. He lives quietly in Salem, Massachusetts, making few ties anywhere. One night his private world is turned upside down when he meets Sarah Alexander, a dead ringer for his wife Elizabeth. Though it has been years since Elizabeth’s death, James cannot move on. Sarah also has a secret. She is haunted by nightmares about the Salem Witch Trials, and every night she is awakened by visions of hangings, being arrested, and dying in jail. Despite the obstacles of their secrets, James and Sarah fall in love. As James comes to terms with his feelings for Sarah, he must dodge accusations from a reporter desperate to prove that James is not who, or what, he seems to be. Soon James and Sarah piece their stories together and discover a mystery that may bind them in ways they never imagined. Will James make the ultimate sacrifice to protect Sarah and prevent a new hunt from bringing hysteria to Salem again? Her Dear & Loving Husband is part historical fiction, part romance, and part paranormal fantasy. With elements of Twilight and The Crucible, Her Dear & Loving Husband is a story for anyone who believes that true love never dies.
Finally, after many long and lonely years, James Wentworth’s life is falling into place. Together with his wife, Sarah, the only woman he has ever loved, he has found the meaning behind her nightmares about the Salem Witch Trials, and now they are rebuilding the life they began together so long ago.
But the past is never far behind for the Wentworths. While Sarah is haunted by new visions, now about the baby she carried over three hundred years before, James is confronted with painful memories from his time with the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears. Through it all, the persistent reporter Kenneth Hempel reappears, still determined to prove that the undead walk the earth. If Hempel succeeds in his quest, James and Sarah will suffer. Will the curse of the vampire prevent James and Sarah from living their happily ever after?
Melissa Rheinlander is a Momma to a beautiful, spunky, fun loving little girl. Lover of family, friends, books, Mexican Martinis, sometimes Bloody Marys or Margaritas, & Wine. Melissa has worked in publishing for years, helping International Best-selling authors. She is the owner of MSRheinlander Consulting as well as Biblio Babes.