I love vampires. They are by far one of my favorite monsters to write about. In fact, I enjoy them so much that I’ve visited the vampire myth in two different ways in two universes: the Blood Mercy series (co-created with Julia Busko) and a personal project, The Jack Lovarn Tales (entirely different approach than Blood Mercy–if you want details, nudge me in the comments).
What I don’t believe is that vampires have to be saved.
It’s fine if they are–or they are trying to be. From the character of Angel on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to Ben Wolf’s redemption story Blood for Blood, there’s a place for the vampire myth to be used as a story of overcoming the demons inside as well as outside.
But what about if you can’t? What about if, no matter what you do, those demons won’t just disappear? What if they aren’t something you can control? What if it isn’t solely a spiritual issue?
Confession time: one of my inspirations for this view of vampires is the Cullens from the Twilight series. Say what you will about the love story, but Stephanie Meyer did some solid work on the world-building of her vampires, including exploring the idea of having to live with a curse. Having to live with a need, a hunger that can never be fully satisfied if you are to try and be a better person.
Having to live as eternal misfit.
Sure, the Cullen vampires have some ‘extras’ – they’re beautiful, they have superpowers, they live forever. But they live forever as tombs. They live forever having to deny what tastes good, feels good, what is completely natural to what they’ve become. They live isolated, outside of the rest of the world. They can’t have children. They can’t have a real family. Bella Swan might feel “destined” to be one through her skewed, teenage pipe dream lenses (and Meyers totally pulled a wish-fulfillment on her, so Bella almost doesn’t ‘count’) but logistically?
That kind of life would really suck (yup, couldn’t resist). Just ask Rosalie or Jasper or Alice, who totally deserve their own spin-off books or stories that would be way more interesting than Bella’s. Or read The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.
Those are the kinds of vampires I like exploring. The interesting, tortured ones who are trying to find hope amidst the darkness. The ones who aren’t necessarily always metaphors for evil, but are instead metaphors for the eternal struggle to resist evil and choose the light, even when everything in you wants to give in.
Not all the characters in Blood Mercy are true vampires. But all of them could give into their vampire side. All of them are making deals within themselves to find ways to balance the need for blood and the desire to not be psychotic killers (well, except for the actual psychotic killers and narcissists and sociopaths and etc). Some turn to magic. Some turn to faith. Some turn to science. Some try to drink a little on the side or make a path in the middle.
But all of them are real, authentic humans who struggle to work and grow through their issues and make sense of life.
And isn’t that all of us?