Have you ever entered the word “Vampire” in your search engine just to see what comes up? Well, I have and besides the normal entertainment sites that promote everything with fangs, it is amazing to see the amount of genuine interest and legitimate lifestyle discussions that come up as a result of that one word query.
These results have me thinking, “What is our fascination with the myth that is the Vampire all about”? What is it about these lifeless creatures who existence was first promoted in the pages of Bram Stoker’s breakthrough novel, “Dracula”, that has intrigued us and prompted us to create a multitude of books, movies , television shows and games based upon them?
With it’s earliest origins dating back to 18th century, the term “Vampyre” comes from the folklore of the Balkans and eastern Europe although stories have circulated for years before and came from all over Europe.
However it is Stoker’s “Dracula” that popularized the term and basically created the beginning of the genre. He can also be credited with bringing a romantic and seductive element to the creatures. Before him, the act of drinking another’s blood was borne out of necessity and had nothing to do with sexuality or pleasure; something Stoker alludes to in his novel.
However, the modern vampire regularly depicted as suave, smooth, conflicted and romantic, can be attributed to only one author, and that author is Anne Rice.
With her “Interview with the Vampire”, the reader was introduced to characters that dreamed, wanted and suffered all the while, craving the blood needed to sustain them. She has given us “Lestat”, “Louis”, “Armand”, “Claudia” and many, many more characters that fulfill our need to believe they exist.
With each new adventure, we feel their pain, their pleasure, their want, and their needs. We know them as we know ourselves and all credit belongs to their creator, Anne Rice.
We spoke to Mrs. Rice about our fascination with the vampire and these are her thoughts:
1) Why did you choose vampires?
It was a whim. I thought what would it be like to interview a vampire? I wrote a short story on that theme, saved it, took it out a couple of times and rewrote it, and then during one of those rewrites it really took off. The novel started to flow. I didn’t really choose. It just sort of happened. I was writing very instinctively in those days, casting around, experimenting, doing lots of stories. And I stumbled on the vampire theme.
2) What was it about them that spoke to you, as an adult, married woman?
I’d always thought them fascinating based on the movies. I’d seen a film called Dracula’s Daughter (1934) when I was a kid at the neighborhood theater, and never forgot the glamorous Countess who was a painter and struggled with her vampire nature. I associated vampires with depth, tragedy, a search for meaning and great glamour and mystery. It was fun to go into one of these beings and explore his soul.
3) Do you ever see an end to the fascination?
——- I don’t know. I do think right now we have a vampire genre in American literature pretty much like the Western genre or the Detective genre or the Police Procedural genre. So the door is open for writers to experiment with this. When I wrote Interview with the Vampire, there was no such established genre at all. My book was a maverick, a freak. People did not know quite what to make of it. One agent rejected it saying that it didn’t seem to be black comedy and it didn’t seem to be tongue in cheek, and if it wasn’t one of those, well, she didn’t know what it was. I understood. What it was — was a full bodied romantic vision of the vampire as “real” and beautiful and meaningful. And of course eventually people accepted it. But now there is the genre. So writers have many precedents and reviewers have ways to talk about a vampire novel, and stores have a place to put vampire books and all that. But will the present craze wane? Probably. But Westerns never really go out of style, and detective novels and other crime novels never go out of style. So I think the vampire novel is here to say, yes.
Over the years, there have been many other vampires novels written (“Twilight”, “The Strain Trilogy”, “True-blood”, and “The Vampire Diaries” to name a few) and everyday more are being written. Obviously, the fascination remains strong and steady.
Personally, the idea of living forever has its perks. Add to that the wealth that a person could amass in that amount of time and the luxury that such wealth can afford them, and that just brings the lure to another level entirely.
Or, perhaps, it’s not the wealth at all, but the idea that you can choose those to take with you on your long journey … or not, that makes it even more appealing.
Whatever the reason, it’s a foregone conclusion; we are fascinated, enthralled and, downright, entranced by vampires. We read their books, watch their movies and T.V. shows, and play their games. And, still it’s not enough.
So, until someone comes up with something sexier, more interesting or just as fun, I’ll stick with vampires. And, who knows, maybe one day I’ll be rewarded with an unexpected knock on my door and an offer from someone who was never given the choice.
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