Vampires. Finally!

Okay, here’s that post I promised regarding the panel I went to at Wiscon called The Care and Feeding of Your Vampire.

As I noted over on Facebook this morning, I’ve been thinking about vampires of late. I’ve been watching reruns of Moonlight on Scif-Fi Channel, I’m reading the first of Chelsa Quinn Yarbo’s Saint-Germain vampire novels, I recently watched my copy of the anime vampire movie, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and I sat through Underworld: Rise of the Lycans this past weekend. I say sat through because it was a bit of a disappointment. Well, the Underworld movies have never been my favorite vampire movies anyway.

Now, my notes are not that great but below is what I was able to get down. As I mentioned previously, it was a very good panel. One of the better panels I attended at Wiscon.

The panelists were Fred Schepartz, Alex Bledsoe, Suzy Charnas, Alaya Dawn Johnson and Jordan Castillo Price. All of them have written vampire novels and had a lot to share about how they went about doing so. Again, forgive the paucity of my notes.

The Care and Feeding of Your Vampire How do our favorite undead heroes come to life? Vampire writers reveal their dark secrets and give a blood to fangs description of how they create unforgettable vampires.

There was discussion and generally positive reviews about a vampire movie called Let the Right One In.

Suzy Charnas, author of The Vampire Tapestry, commented that her vampires were never human beings. They had adapted to look like human beings. They were more like parasites or mosquitoes. They become more human as a result of pretending to be human.

The panelists acknowledged knowing the vampire “rules” and to tweaking or playing around with them. But the panel also stressed that it’s important to at least adhere to some of the conventions surrounding the vampire mythos or why call them vampires.

Which is not to say one should not be inventive but that an author should not go too far off the beaten track or you might lose reader interest or destroy even their ability to suspend disbelief.

Here are some of the strengths and liabilities of vampires that the panelists discussed:

Unable to go out in sunlight
Reacting negatively to religious icons, i.e crosses.
Unable to cross running water
No reflection in mirror
Needs to drink blood
Susceptible to garlic
Needs to sleep in coffin or earth where buried
Unable to enter a dwelling without being invited

Mind control
Superior strength
Hard if not impossible to kill
Eternal life
Doesn’t need to sleep
Preternatural healing powers
Control over animals

Again, these are general conventions regarding vampires that have evolved over the years. Some authors use them; some authors disregard them. The important thing is to pick a “rule” for your vamp and then remain consistent regarding that rule.

There was discussion regarding the predator/prey relationship and behavior between vampires and their victims.

Some of the panelists commented on the issue of “passing”. That is, a vampire pretending to be human. Most agreed that this was often a very important survival tactic for vampires in order to keep from being staked or burned or having their heads cut off.

Some of the questions the panelists asked themselves when creating their vampires and that they tried to answer before writing their books were as follows:

What is the vampire’s relationship to humans?
What are the vampire’s strengths? Its weaknesses?
How does a vampire see humans? As prey? Is the vampire envious of humans?
What about sex and vampires?

The panelists agreed that in their stories sex for vampires ranged from fevered interest to cold indifference.

Their was general agreement that due to the fact that vampires are predators, they generally should be stronger, faster, bigger and/or better at blending in.

And that’s it. I wish I had taken down more.

Oh, the pictures in this post are from Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, that anime vampire movie I mentioned. Which I own because I love it so much. The vampire is Meier Link and he’s one of my favorite vamps.

I should mention that there is another Vampire Hunter D anime movie out there but it’s not nearly as good. Just make sure that you see the word Bloodlust in the title if you decide you want to check the movie out.

Okay, enough vamps for now. I have to write. 🙂



8 Responses to Vampires. Finally!

  1. Thanks for the report! It sounds like it was a good one.

    Suzy McKee Charnas’ VAMPIRE TAPESTRY is my absolute favorite vampire book.

  2. Trisha says:

    Great post and lots of good info.
    I really enjoyed Moonlight, especially compared to True Blood, which I didn’t care for.

  3. Digital Dame says:

    Awesome, thanks for the write up!

    It’s been very interesting to me to see where some of the vampire attributes came from, now that I’ve been reading up on the whole genre. Not all of them are unable to be out in sunlight (Carmilla for example rises late in the day, but is never harmed by being out in the daylight). The more I read, the more it seems like most of the tropes about vamps originated with Stoker’s Dracula. Before that there seems to have been a lot more latitude in what they could/couldn’t do. But, lots more research to do (darn, right?) 😉

  4. jennareynolds says:

    Victoria: You’re welcome. It was a great panel. I’ll have to pick up that book since I’m currently on a vampire novel reading streak.

    Trisha: Thanks! I have to say I too preferred Moonlight to True Blood. I don’t have HBO anymore so can’t watch it anyway. I wasn’t overly fond of Beth in Moonlight but I did like Mick St. John. (Whom I believed I called Nick in a prior blog post. Mea culpa).

    Digital Dame: Thanks! Well, Dracula certainly had no problems roaming about in the daylight in the book and the Francis Ford Coppola version of the book.

    I’m actually reading a nonfiction book you might find useful called The Vampire: A Casebook edited by Alan Dundes. The essays in the book deal a lot with Romanian, Greek, and Serbian vampires, the physical attributes of vampires, the killing of vamps and the psychoanalytic underpinnings of vampires (which is quite the essay!).

  5. Digital Dame says:

    Thanks, Jenna, I think I will have to pick that up. It sounds fascinating, especially the psychological aspect. It is a curious phenomenon, and it’s evident in so many cultures. Hollywood has of course cheapened it, reducing it to the base level of horror, but it seems like there must be far more to it than that.

  6. Thanks for the report, Jenna!

    Has anyone read Polidori’s, “Vampyre”? (1819) It’s on my (very long) reading list.

  7. Digital Dame says:

    Tasha, not yet, but like you it’s on my list.

  8. jennareynolds says:

    Digital Dame: It’s a pretty good book. It definitely deals more with the source material regarding vampires as opposed to what hollyweird has done with the legends and lore. I’ve been dipping into it but I plan to sit down and really read it all the way through.

    Gypsyscarlett: You’re welcome! I haven’t read it yet but, as you say, I have a very long TBR list.

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