The Lure of the Erotic Vampire
Humans come equipped with
a few basic and fundamentally primal instincts, two of the strongest ones
being the need to mate and the need to survive. Because of that fact, I
don't think it's any wonder, really, that the lure of the erotic vampire
is as strong as it is. What could possibly be sexier, after all, than a
sensually masterful alpha male who can offer his female mate eternal life?
Freud once said that we
need to believe that we will always exist, even after death. The very notion
that once we die we are gone forever goes against the primal instinct all
of us have had imprinted on our genes since the womb, the same primitive
instinct to survive that put our caveman ancestors' bodies into fight-or-flight
mode when they were hunted down by predators. The male vampire offers
the human female a way to continue on, a way to ensure that she always
exists. Better yet, he is the most ferocious predator on the planet so
she can always rest easy that he will care for her well. That in and of
itself is powerfully arousing.
Over the years, vampire
myths and legends have changed from place to place, but what I have found
fascinating in my research is the fact that all cultures have some form
or another of these myths, even if the details differ from region to region.
And what's more, these vampire myths are as old as human civilization itself.
From ancient Manchuria, to tribal Africa, to medieval Europe, the legend
of the immortal vampire has permeated every region of the globe and continues
to evolve as civilization itself evolves.
Once thought of in the ancient
worlds as no more than an animal doing what every other animal does to
feed, the vampire didn't become associated with demons and Satantism until
the rise Christianity became. The myth surrounding the vampire evolved
once again during Europe's Romanticism movement, evolving from the loathed
demon known as the vampire to the mystical, sensual male known as the vampyre.
In the modern age, the male
vampire has evolved a bit more, becoming not just a mystical, erotic lover,
but also a man who has needs and wants, an immortal man who possesses the
strong desire to form a permanent attachment with one special human female.
In return, he offers his female eternal life, fierce protection, and sexual
skill the likes of which human males can't compete.
Again I ask, what could
When I began writing my
work in progress, The Hunger, I combined all of the above elements to create
my own world of vampires complete with my own take on how they first came
into being and then evolved. The Hunger follows the life of one male vampire
in particular, the sexy and brooding Italian count, Dario Giovanni, beginning
with when he is "made" in 1610 and culminating with the human woman he
takes as a mate in the modern day.
The Hunger (due out this
Halloween at Ellora's Cave) is the very first vampire novel I've written,
but from day one I have been completely and utterly mesmerized by it. To
me, writing about vampires is a lot like writing futuristics (my other
passion) in that there are no rules an author must adhere to and I’m limited
by nothing but my own imagination.
Better yet, I can keep bringing
my readers back to the characters they grow to love through sequels because
a vampire never gets old and never dies. Very Freudian, perhaps, but very
Sex and the Modern Vampire
author of several vampire
novellas in the Secrets Volumes
Of all the assorted “monsters”
of fiction, the only one overtly associated with sex is the vampire.
That’s ironic, since the vampire of folklore was not a sexually attractive
figure; he was a dead man who fed on blood, a monster about as attractive
as a zombie. Bram Stoker changed all that with his novel, Dracula.
Stoker used the vampire as a metaphor for the Victorian view of sex as
innately dangerous. In Dracula, sex with the Count transformed women
into seductive sirens and horrific baby killers – the opposite of the Victorian
ideal of chaste and nurturing womanhood.
Stoker’s Dracula was intelligent,
witty, and urbane, but he was not heroic. He was the villain the
book’s noble male heroes had to defeat. That plot is still being
used to this day. If you look at vampire fiction in the past twenty
or so years, you’ll find that male authors almost universally write vampires
as the enemy, the rival, the dangerous monster the hero has to kill.
Women take a different view.
Indeed, women tend to write vampires as attractive, even when they are
overtly anti-heroic. The most famous example of this comes from Anne
Rice and her homicidal vampires, who cheerfully feed and kill without a
I think the reason for this
gender split is that women have unconsciously adopted vampires as an archetype
for the dangerous male. We see men as alien in profound ways, and
our vampire heroes give us a means to talk about our fears and reactions
to men in a way that would be difficult with a merely human hero.
First, of course, we use
vampires much as Stoker did – as a metaphor for dangerous sex. When
a woman has sex with a mortal man, she risks pregnancy and social shame.
When she has sex with a vampire, she risks actual death. In both
cases, women take the chance in trusting men who may not be trustworthy.
In the vampire, so many male attributes are exaggerated, from physical
strength to sexuality. Particularly sexuality. In this politically
correct age, romance heroes are not allowed to display demanding, aggressive
sexuality, but vampires can. Because they need sex to survive in
a way no human male does, their vampirism allows them to demand sex without
being seen as unheroic. His needs also give the heroine a reason
to surrender to her vampire – as an act of self-sacrifice that keeps him
alive. This gives her an acceptable reason to get what she wants
without appearing morally loose.
Another aspect of the fantasy
is that vampires have centuries of sexual experience. My hero in
“A Candidate for the Kiss,” in Secrets, Volume 6 had spent 230 years seducing
women. He had, in fact, become highly skilled at figuring out a woman’s
most intimate fantasy and giving it to her. Almost every female vampire
writers mentions her immortal hero’s extensive sexual experience.
Of course, the problem for
the writer of such powerful and fascinating men is to make sure they don’t
overwhelm their heroines. This is very tricky to do, and I’ve seen
a lot of writers fail at it. Personally, I hate limp little Victorian
virgin heroines paired with incredibly dominant male vampires.
For good conflict, both
opponents must be equal, or nearly so. The heroine must be able to
fight her vampire tooth and nail, and do so believably. Otherwise,
he’ll just walk all over her, and the result will be acute boredom for
him and the reader. There must be something about her that puts her
head and shoulders above all the hundreds of other women he’s had in his
long life. This is, after all, a man who can seduce anybody.
Why does he fall in love with this particular woman?
Given these two elements
– a seductive, superhuman vampire and a heroine who is every bit his match
– you end up with a sexy, delicious read guaranteed to please.