What Do We Really Know About Vampires?

Last week’s giveaway was pretty cool. Again, thank you all for participating. But if you’ve been here a while, you know that it’s not the last you’ll see of giveaways.

Anyway, because I write about vampires, I am sometimes asked questions about the characters—specifically, what they can or cannot do as vampires.

Dracula1
Bram Stoker’s Dracula

“But how is she out and about in daylight?”

“I thought vampires couldn’t cry.”

“Why is she eating?”

While Fiona, my vampire in Twice Bitten, doesn’t eat anything, she does go out in daylight and cries. In my opinion, as a writer, I can take creative license and allow my vampires to do whatever they want. Of course, they must survive on the consumption of blood; otherwise, they’re not vampires. In order to keep within certain parameters of what people expect of a vampire, I make it clear that Fiona goes out in daylight only when necessary and takes all precautions to protect her skin from the sun. After she’s been out in it for a while, she begins to suffer.

Nosferatu
Nosferatu

But beyond what makes a vampire a vampire, I think the subject is wide open. I mean, has anyone sat down and interviewed a real vampire? Does anyone know a real vampire personally? I’m not talking about those people—human people—who are part of vampire clubs and cut people to drink their blood. I’m talking about the undead.

No? I didn’t think so. Without any real vampires to tell us what they’re about, we make assumptions about vampires based on centuries-old superstitions and beliefs. Not to mention Bram Stoker’s interpretation of them. And we see the differences in pop culture. Stoker’s Dracula is very different from the vampire in the 1920s film Nosferatu, which is different from the vamps in the Underworld movies, which is different from the vamps in the recent Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which is different from Edward Cullen in the Twilight series. These are all interpretations of the creators.

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Underworld

From Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
From Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

So, who can really say what a vampire can and can’t do? There seems to be no question about vampires having sex—if they can have sex, why can’t they eat? If they can survive intense heat, even fire in some cases, why can’t they go out a bit in the sun?

When you think about it, nothing about a vampire makes sense (aside from the fact that they’re undead). When they drink blood, where does it go? Into their bloodstreams? But how does it get there if their hearts are not pumping? For that matter, how does it go down their throats when the esophagus doesn’t push it down? Everything inside a vampire’s body is dead. Non-functional. If their brains aren’t working, how are they even moving around?

Of course, these are all pointless questions and they shouldn’t be brought up to readers, since it would demystify the vampire character. But as writers, how much do we need to confine ourselves to readers’ expectations.

Not much, I say.