Why are vampires so attractive to readers?
For centuries, throughout many cultures, stories have circulated of supernatural beings (the undead) rising up from the grave to feed on the blood and flesh of the living. Ignorance of the stages of decomposition of the human body furthered the undead mythology. Today, we would call these beings vampires. Of course, that name didn’t always exist; 19th Century poetry and prose are responsible for popularizing the word vampire. In particular, Bram Stoker’s Dracula made the vampire a staple of the horror genre, while 20th Century film turned the vampire into an enigmatic and powerful seducer, the perfect predator. We humans are fascinated with immortality, power and lust and vampires have all of these attributes in spades. Writing and reading about vampires resonates with many because of those compelling qualities. But rarely will I read vampire fiction (with the exception of Dracula which I had read long before I started my series). I travelled to Vienna in 2011 specifically to see Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, a sumptuous portrait of a man devouring the object of his love with a kiss. I intended to take advantage of the time away to work on my fifth vampire novel in an entirely new environment. As it happened, my editor had given me a copy of Oscar Wilde and The Vampire Murders, the fourth installment of Gyles Brandreth’s series featuring Oscar Wilde as a sleuth – credible story, sharp prose, well presented in Wilde’s typical witty manner. His story has less to do with vampires and more to do with crime solving but he brilliantly draws gloomy atmospheres that are the perfect vampire setting. From my perspective, it was clear to me that Brandreth understands why humans created demons; we did it to scare ourselves. Eventually, I had to stop reading his novel. The writing was so damn good that I found myself trying to emulate Brandreth’s style (the bastard!). When I write fiction, I read only non-fiction or poetry, and I especially avoid all vampire fiction. But after writing vampire fiction for years, I can honestly say there is no one-answer-fits-all to the question: why vampires? I touched on some common themes; others have gone so far as to base their theses on the proposed answer. Ask anyone; each will give their own version while others will tell you, as I have heard said myself, “I don’t ‘do’ the vampire thing.”
It’s the dead of night in the dead of winter, and bodies have been found, stacked ceiling-high, in a hillside cave in Ottawa’s Strathcona Park; necks pierced, blood drained – the usual. The city is gripped by a dusk-till-dawn curfew. The press, police and public have whipped each other into a glorious panic over someone or something called the “Vampire Undertaker.” Well, when did a silly curfew ever shut down the kitchen party at the Crimson house? Bring beer, bring smokes, but please bring yourself to meet The Vampires (there are at least four of them) and their quirky human pals. We can take turns feeding the baby vampire, stalling the cops when they come knocking, and tripping out on that time-dream machine up in the bedroom. You’ve got to love people who know how to make their own fun! You’ll never know where Patricia K McCarthy’s “Crimson” stories will take you or guess what’s going to happen next, not that you’ll be complaining! Oh, and of course this novel is well-seasoned with smutty bits – every good plot deserves pepper.
About the author:
Patricia K. McCarthy lives and writes in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Her Crimson vampires series has received extensive media coverage in national and local newspapers, as well as on radio and television. For details, visit her website.
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