I had nightmares about vampires the whole time I was a kid. I managed to transform that fear to love.
I'm a staunch vampire traditionalist. My favorite vampire novel is "Dracula." I love "Lost Boys." I wrote a scene with vampires in my novel "Rebirth," but they were out to kill the good guys. I love love love "Buffy," but hated Angel, whatever TV show he was on. I couldn't help but love Spike, but they gave him a much better character arc, though I felt as though they copped out a bit at the end of the sixth and the seventh season. And I never did like that they could drink pig's blood. Everytime a vamp movie comes out, my dad and I go to it. That's how we bond. Through horror.
Vamp movies I didn't go see: Most of the "Twilight" saga. I tried reading the book but gave up. Having pop culture embrace but subvert one of my all consuming passions left me feeling like someone else was playing with my favorite toys and DOING IT WRONG.
So I waited. I watched. I read a few Harris novels. I read Peeler.
There's this theory that vamps become popular when sex is equated with death. When Stoker hit it big, sex could mean you would get syph and die. Vampires started rearing their heads again when AIDS hit the scene.
So then I started thinking. . . .What if? That classic question.
These new novels had created a trope in which the novelist moved. Similar to the rather tight forms of, say, medieval poetry (yeah. I took a class). One of these, for instance, involved describing how amazing a lady was from tip of the head, moving down her body.
In writing almost any genre fiction, we work within specified rules. Fusion Fantasy spends a lot of energy attempting to subvert those rules. Within fantasy, horror, paranormal romance, whatever blender concoction I could make of those led me to ask, how would I work within the vampire rules? What would it be like if it was MY game again?
That was the thing about medieval poetry forms. The real art of them was to stay within the rules, or bend them a bit, in order to create something creative, and beautiful, and new, and yet still works with those rules. For instance, going with my previous example, one poem describing a woman moved all the way down to her waist, skipped to describe her lovely legs, but then came back to put the final emphasis on her (cough) golden treasure. Shakespeare's famous sonnet 130 begins "My mistress eyes are nothing like the sun," in a poem where he compares his love in a negative sounding tone against the standard praises (for instance, he should have said her eyes were brighter than the sun).
So I mulled. I read about vampires. I watched a few "Buffy"s for the millionth time. I tried to read "Twilight" again, all while little bits and pieces coagulated in my brain until there it sat: what I would do if I were to write a novel with vampires who were not evil, were in fact, the good guys. What could I give up on my traditionalist view to make this work? Where were my sticking points on silly shit I would not put up with?
Brooding. I refuse to put up with brooding.
Animal blood. I refuse to put up with animal blood.
Sparkling. Christ no.
Threatening that their violent and barely controlled nature could be taken out on their lover at any time in a so emotionally abusive, creepy, stalker way. Fuck that.
What I could change?
I gave them souls. That was my big concession. They are, in fact, dead bodies animated, but they house a soul, not a demon. Most of them still go around killing people without remorse because the vampires have taken a step up the food chain and, like many of us, we think the cow is cute and all, but we don't feel like being vegetarians.
So how do I square human blood, a soul, and a good character? Ah. For that, you may have to read.