Raising the Stakes – On Writing About Vampires and their Paranormal Buddies
Once upon a time, there was a reluctant vampire. He didn’t want to be like all the other vampires, who lurked in the darkness and preyed on poor, innocent humans. So he decided to live on animal blood instead. He found ways to walk in the daylight. He took on the noble cause of living a life of abstinence from his inhuman nature. He “reformed”. He’s the Good Vampire, and he’s the boy all the human girls want.
And I’m sick of him.
The first “Good Vampire” I ever met was Angel, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Back then, his story was pretty much the best way to incorporate a redeemable bloodsucking vampire into the role of a protagonist. It was a good story for all of about two seasons of the show—and if you’re a Buffy fan, you’ll know that Season 2 turned Angel the Good Vampire into Angel the Vicious Bloodthirsty Villain anyway. After his stint as the Buffy Big Bad, however, Angel just never had the same bite.
Other notable “Good Vampires” include Louis, Bill Compton, Alucard, Vampire Hunter D, and of course, the goody-goodiest of them all, Edward Cullen. A lot of people claim that Edward Cullen has emasculated the vampire genre because he’s so clearly a dashing romantic hero lead, but that’s not why I have a problem with him. Rather, I take issue with the facts that:
· He’s a “vegetarian”; his bloodsucking in no way harms or endangers any human beings. No human must be afraid of him.
· He has no reason at all to fear the sun. “Sparkling” isn’t a danger, it’s just an inconvenience.
· He enjoys all of the benefits of being a vampire (and even some extra benefits), and absolutely none of the drawbacks.
· For Edward, being “the Good Vampire” is about as hard as being “the Vampire with Brown Hair”.
As an avid fan of vampires, I don’t so much care that Edward is a protagonist, or a romantic lead, or physically perfect. I don’t like him because as far as vampires go, he’s the privileged, whiny, spoiled brat of the bloodsucking family. He broods, but why? Stephenie Meyers created vampires with nothing to brood about. Their worst concern is being caught sparkling in public. What in the world does Edward have to be repentant for, why should he worry about his soul, what does he have to be afraid of, what conflicts does he have to face because of what he is?
It’s not just Edward who over-tropes the Good Vampire, though, and I’ve lost interest in vampires with such low stakes (har de har har). A vampire who drinks True Blood or hunts down animals for his blood supply is zero threat and incidentally, has nothing to brood about or repent of. A vampire who walks in the sun has no reason to feel imprisoned by the night or separated from humanity. A vampire who has no struggle with his inner leech, is not compelling.
This is why my Blood and Fire vampires are forced into conflict with so many classic vampire stakes.
In the Blood and Fire world, a vampire can’t opt out of drinking human blood. Animals and blood bank fare will not meet their needs. Whether the vampire wants to be a hero or not, she’s going to have to drink from the veins of a living human being in order to survive, and learn to somehow live with it.
The only way a vampire can emerge—temporarily—in the sun, is if there’s heavy cloud cover from horizon to horizon and not a ray of sunlight in sight. And even then, she won’t be hunting humans or going about any normal business because she’s still going to burn...just less quickly.
Vampires in Blood and Fire have no souls. The moment a human being dies and becomes a vampire, their soul is gone. They can’t get it back, like in Buffy. This also means they don’t have an afterlife. They don’t even get to leave a beautiful corpse.
“Good Vampires” aren’t just scoffed at. They’re black marks on the Nation’s honor. The very creedo that demons live by makes them reprehensible and loathsome to their people. If they aren’t enslaved, they’re put to death.
Why do I do this to my creatures of the night? Why not give them a break? Because I believe real heroes are the ones who struggle against the highest odds. I like vampires that are frightening, and intense, and truly mired in a battle of good and evil. If their conflict is to matter it must be real conflict. They don’t get a lot of extra chances and they don’t get many breaks, and you know what? It’s the ones that still manage to redeem themselves, when all odds are against them, that are the truly good vampires.
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When she isn't visiting the worlds of immortals, demons, dragons and goblins, Brantwijn fills her time with artistic endeavors: sketching, painting, customizing My Little Ponies and sewing plushies for friends. She can't handle coffee unless there's enough cream and sugar to make it a milkshake, but try and sweeten her tea and she will never forgive you. She moonlights as a futon for four lazy cats, loves tabletop role-play games, and can spend hours watching Futurama, American Horror Story or Buffy the Vampire Slayer while she writes or draws.
In addition to her novels, Brantwijn has self-published erotic short stories available on Smashwords or Amazon. She's also had a short story published in the Cleiss Press Big Book of Orgasm and the anthology Coming Together Through The Storm. She hopes to have several more tales to tell as time goes on. She has author pages on GoodReads and Amazon, and loves to see reader comments on her work. Her short stories occasionally pop up at Foreplay and Fangs, her blog at http://brantwijn.blogspot.com.
Book cover and blurb
They say love ruined her. It's time to prove them wrong.
Half a century ago, Rhiannon lost the woman she loved. Since then, unlife has held little meaning for her, and she's fallen from grace among the vampire nation. She once swore to throw herself into the sun the day Aijyn died...but it turns out she's no good at keeping promises.
Sometimes the best cure for heartache is surrender. There's a demon in London with new promises: darkness to run in, pleasures to hunt, rules to break. Sent to track down a dangerous traitor, Rhiannon is caught up in a game of murder and treachery between three warring races...and the sinful, seductive shadow-walker who could be her redemption, or her ultimate undoing.
In a blink, the demon disappeared into the silhouette of the smoke stack. Then, Rhiannon felt slender fingers brushing along her shoulder, slow and coy. She spun to find Vivienne lounging happily on her stomach atop another chimney, slipped there through the shadows without a sound.
“What we have heard about you,” she said, “is far from rumor.”
Rhiannon jerked away. “Don’t touch me.”
The corner of Vivienne’s smile twitched, for a moment becoming hard, an irritated scowl.
“Yourkind is only the Fourth Blood of the Drogh Lord’s kingdom,” she hissed. “The werewolves and shadiil came long before vampires. We are older than even the oldest of your race, gravespawn, something you and your mother would do well to keep in mind.”
Rhiannon bristled at the insult. “Older than vampires, but still the spawn of beasts,” she spat. “Rife with a touch of madness because of it, I’d say.”
Vivienne fell silent, searching Rhiannon carefully. “They say you have been mad once.”
Rhiannon’s spine straightened. A wary prickle traveled through her shoulders and a low growl started deep in her throat.
“Drank the blood of another vampire, didn’t you?” the shadiil purred. “Drained a rival warrior to death, just as a rabid thrall does, and lost your pretty little mind.”
Rhiannon’s hand returned to the hilt of her blade.
“You haven’t exactly been the same since then, have you, Rhiannon Donovan?”
“It’s a lie,” she muttered. “I am not a thrall. I know my own mind and I am notrabid!”
Vivienne’s smirk returned, as if renewed by the anger she’d provoked. She slid her knees out from under her and dropped to the rooftop, backing Rhiannon down.
“You were expected to become the first Archon in the history of the Blood Circle Council to bear four fangs,” she said. “A vampire colder and crueler than any ever squirted out from between her dam’s thighs. Colder and crueler than most who were sired with a bite, perhaps. What happened to you, Rhiannon Donovan? Where did your strict, disciplined focus and cold-blooded dedication go? Where is the tigre méchant et sanguinaire, the malicious and bloodthirsty tiger?”
“Back away, shadiil,” the vampire spat. “I am still a Weapons master.”
Vivienne stopped, tilting her head, scanning Rhiannon up and down with giddy cruelty.
“They were wrong about you,” she said. “You are no Archon.”
“It no longer matters to me if I am.”
Green eyes glittered. “Myrace knows better, little Rhiannon. My queen knows better. You will throw off every expectation the bloodsuckers have of you. You will throw off every expectation everyone has of you. You are no Archon at heart.”
She stood close enough that her pretty, elfin nose almost touched Rhiannon’s. The vampire realized she’d stopped growling, caught off guard by those glowing, hypnotic eyes.
“Non, non, Rhiannon. At heart, you are nothing less than a Councilwoman herself.”
“Youare the one who is mad, shadiil,” she muttered, turning to slip down the way she had come. “Run off. Let me hunt in peace.”
“I am not teasing you, ma chérie,” Vivienne said with a smile. “This is what the seers have told us: you will become the greatest vampire among allvampires.”
“Your seers are blind.”
With a cold rush of shadows, the other demon appeared out of the darkness before her, materialized in the silhouette of the window casement.
“Enough of grand talk then, since it bothers you so,” she murmured. “Reconsider hunting with me. We will find this beast and put it in the ground. You can go back to your race a hero and get back on the path you pursued so hungrily before you lost your mind.”
“I didn’tlose my mind!” Rhiannon insisted, pushing past her.
“The shadiil prides of London and our werewolf allies will be far more helpful to you than your own kind. We are not so busy prattling about the blame and covering up our blunders. You will find us to be far more pleasant company.”
“I don’t want company.”
“Arrêtez, ma cher...wait.”
Rhiannon paused, another growl escaping her.
Vivienne strolled up to her side. “May I see your teeth, ma beau chérie?”
Rhiannon sneered. “What?”
Vivienne lunged, putting her soft hands to Rhiannon’s face and nudging her lips away from her teeth. As the curious beast inspected the bracketed fangs in eyeteeth and canines, her smile quirked up at the corners even more. She started to purr, her tongue peeking out to run over her dark lips.
“Oh...they are most lovely, bastard child,” she murmured, stroking one hand along Rhiannon’s cheek. “So lovely, I could almost bite you myself, and send you home to your mother with my naughty teeth marks all over your tight little body.”