Xlibris Publishing shares some tips and advice for incorporating vampires into your writing.
Vampires have enjoyed a varied history in modern fiction. Though vampires have figured in human folklore since Antiquity, it is only after the likes of Bram Stoker and similar authors that vampires truly cemented a place in literature. Whether they are the seductive beauties of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles or the worm-ridden horrors of Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain, vampires are here to stay and they’re not going back into the coffin.
Vampires in Folklore
Some of the earliest tales of vampiric creatures can be found in Sumerian mythology, in the Utukku. Utukku were spirits of mortals that either escaped or were raised by a magician from the Underworld. Utukku could be benign or wicked. The wicked utukku inflicted disease and evil intentions upon mortals. According to the old tales, the utukku rode the wind and stole the life out of sleeping people.
It is from Eastern Europe however that we get the most widely known and referenced vampires. In the Balkans and about the Carpathian Mountains we hear stories of moroi, strigoi, vyrcolac, and nosferatu- vampires. While some details may vary, most often, at their most basic, a vampire is a dead corpse that has risen from its grave to prey upon the living. More often than not, according to the stories, the vampire’s first victims will be its immediate family and loved ones. Said family and loved ones will seemingly waste away, day by day, until they join their kin in the grave or worse… become vampires themselves.
Africa too has is its share of vampire stories. In West Africa, the Ashanti people tell of the Asanbosam, who hide in the trees and have teeth of iron. Resident to the Eastern Cape of South Africa are stories of the Impundulu, a creature capable of assuming the form of a great taloned bird and of calling down thunder and lightning.
Across Europe, Asia, Africa, and even certain parts of the Americas, one can find stories of unnatural creatures that feed on the blood and vitality of the living.
Vampires as Predators
Intrinsic to both the horror and tragedy of the vampire is the fact that it must feed on human blood. Even if a story makes it possible for a vampire to subsist on animals, this shouldn’t change the fact that a vampire’s most primal instincts are telling it ‘People are Food.’ In some settings while a vampire can temporarily abate its hunger by feeding on beasts, there is something within human blood that a vampire simply cannot go without.
In your story, think about how vampires might be adapted to hunting humans, both in terms of what abilities they might have and ‘hunting’ methods they might have developed.
Vampires as Inhuman
Too often in modern fiction, vampires are treated simply as people with superpowers as well as dietary and lifestyle restrictions. This should not be the case. Some writers even treat vampirism as simply a way to gain superpowers, without anything of value lost in the transformation. What too few writers address is how so many aspects of being a vampire could potentially distance that person from their humanity.
Consider how a vampire would interact or even look at a human without their instincts screaming ‘FOOD!’ Consider how outside the human experience it would be to no longer even have the option of walking in daylight. To no longer have a heartbeat? To no longer be able to enjoy regular food? And perhaps most beyond the human experience of all, to no longer have to worry about growing old? All these things and more (depending on your interpretation of vampires) should distance a vampire from what it is to be human.
Xlibris Publishing will return to Vampires in Fiction in Part 2.
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By Ian Smith