You’re familiar with vampires. You’ve had to suffer going to dinner with one and not being able to order your favorite pasta dish just because of their allergies. Maybe you’ve been patient enough to even date one. How many times has she asked you to put her makeup on her, or he asked you to give him a shave? They’re always moping around, they upset your sleep schedule, and they’re always hovering over you.
But you stomach them and their incessantly, frustratingly maddening ways because that’s the type of person you are. You’re patient, understanding, and tolerant. You’re not a monster like them.
Yes, in real life they are nuisances, but in books you can’t get enough of them. Why, why, whyyyyyy? is a question real life vampires are always whining about. They disdain the titans of vampire fiction, those who have played a major role in creating, shaping, and expanding the vampire mythos:
- The Vampyre: A Tale (John Polidori, 1819) – The very first vampire story published. Produced during a summer vacation with other writers such as Mary Shelley, who conceived of Frankenstein while there.
- Varney the Vampire: Or The Feast of Blood (Thomas Preskett Prest, 1847) – This story further popularized the vampire. It was published as penny dreadfuls, serialized stories costing a penny in 19th century England.
- Carmilla (Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, 1872) – The first take on a romantic version of the vampire. This influenced Stoker a lot.
- Dracula (Bram Stoker, 1897) – The one that set the world on fire with interest for vampires. It introduced the title character and cemented many of the long-lasting vampire tropes.
- I am Legend (Richard Matheson, 1954) – The very popular modern take on vampires. Presented the reader with a scientific take on vampires with a spread of a virus, and inspired many zombie and post-apocalyptic stories as well.
- ‘Salems Lot (Stephen King, 1975) – The modern and pop-culture and ferocious take on vampires, inspiring loads of future stories and movies. One of the few takes on vampires as straight-up villains and monsters with no redeeming qualities or romantic characterization.
- The Vampire Chronicles (Anne Rice, 1976-2003) – The vampire genre was refreshed with her first vampire book Interview with the Vampire, the definitive modern take on the romantic vampire.
And now, there are brand-new and original vampire stories such as the fresh Let the Right One In (John Ajvide Lindqvist, 2004), the genre mash-up Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (Seth Grahame-Smith, 2010), and inventive stories from great authors such as The Strain Trilogy (Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, 2009-2011).
And these two, which have sold a ton of course: the Twilight series (Stephenie Meyer, 2005-2008) and the Southern Vampire Mysteries/Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood (Charlaine Harris, 2008-2013)What is it about vampires—the fake ones–that has kept them so popular for so many decades? Is there one particular trait? Is it a perfect blend of ingredients? Maybe both?
Although the details and surface-level traits may differ, almost all vampire stories contain parasitic characteristic of leeching something vital from another in order to survive. It could be that they need blood as in Dracula and so many other stories, or it could be something such as strong emotions as in the short story The Mindworm (C. M. Kornbluth, 1950).
This characteristic lends itself well to making them dynamic villains or anti-heroes. Their very nature imbues them with conflict, and before the writer even does anything with the vampire, they have the reader’s interest. No wonder real vampires envy them so.
But a mix of characteristics also makes them who they are a lot of times. The supernatural, sensuality, power, lust, mystery, intrigue, and of course horror always seem to be in style; and maybe that’s the true immortality of the vampire.
Whatever makes them great, there’s enough of them to go around, and enough interpretations of the vampire to please every reader’s preference. Wherever it goes next, you can suspect the genre will remain popular.
So, if you have a vampire neighbor or a vampire butler, just grit your teeth and shoulder on when forced to bear their presence. And take comfort in the knowledge that you are a patient, understanding, generous individual. Then, when the sun is up and you have some breathing room, relax with a good book about the vampires you want to be around.
What’s your favorite vampire story? Let us know in the comments!
Also check out these other interesting vampire stories:
- Anno Dracula
- Fevre Dream
- You Suck: A Love Story, Bite Me: A Love Story, & Blood Sucking Fiends: A Love Story
- The Saga of Darren Shan
- House of Night series
- The Vampire Academy
- Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula
- Children of the Night
- The Keep
- The Last Vampire series
- Vampire Earth
- Mortal Instruments series
- Necroscope series
- Lost Souls
- The Vampire Diaries
- Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series
- American Vampire (comic book series)
- I, Vampire (comic book series)
- 30 Days of Night (comic book series)
- Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer (comic book series)
And a few cool links for you:
- How Stuff Works: Vampires – http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/strange-creatures/vampire.htm
- Why Vampires Never Die (Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan) – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/31/opinion/31deltoro.html?_r=0
- Anne Rice – http://www.annerice.com/
If you noticed any errors, please let us know so we can correct them. Thanks.