Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Vampire as a Hero

I like to read and an enamoured of heros and sometimes heroines. The strong, the stubborn, those willing to take risks are often on my hit list. Heroines will have other times here. Today I want to speak of one hero I am not able to love.

To readers -- if you find my least likely hero one of yours make a comment telling me why you find him fascinating.

To writers -- if one of your heroes can claim this status, tell me about him. Either leave a comment here or email me and I'll let you have your say and even post a small except (PG please) that shows why he is entitled to be a hero.

I cannot give my heart to a vampire hero but I'm sure I could be convinced. To me a vampire makes the perfect villain. After all, he'd dead. In my former career as a nurse I came in contact with the dead. Their skin is cold and kind of clammy. Is this the stuff of heroes. Another thing about the dead is the flaccidity of their limbs both before and after rigor has occurred. I ask you, does a woman need a limp hero?

Then there's the blood-sucking aspect. I do not like rare meat. The taste of blood is unpleasant. As a nurse I've dealt with blood including giving transfusions for blood loss. That seems to be the reason a vampire drinks a victim's blood. Except the dead don't need transfusions. What always pops into my mind when I read of a vampire hero feeding is a leech. A creature of the swamp that fastens to an animal or a human and sucks their blood. A leech is not a pretty creature.

I am sure there are more reasons but these are the most important. So tell me why a vampire should be thought of as a hero.


Terri said...

How did I not know you had a blog all this time? Looks great, btw. As for vamps -- their lure has always been that they are forbidden, seductive bad boys, tempting heroines into their night world. Bram Stoker even managed to describe the creepy, red-eyed Dracula as seductive. But for me there has to be an attraction for the heroine that doesn't just smack of some kind of unconscious death wish. One of the reasons Twilight falls short, if you ask me. On the other hand, I'm currently entranced by the underworld, as you know, so you can't go by me! -- Terri

Sara Humphreys said...

Great blog. I do like Vamps as Heros...for the tragic hero. IF they can fall in love, they can never really be with their lover unless they kill her and make her one of the undead. It's the classic I-love-you-but-shouldn't-be-with-you thing.
Women are drawn to them because of their mystery, the danger and ulitmately the You're-so-sad-and-lonely-only-I-can-fix-you attraction. It's a little twisted...but to me that's why Vamps are attractive heros.

Anonymous said...

Ah, a fellow vampire-as-villain- not-hero freak. I fear we're in a minority, Janet, perhaps because we're both retired RNs and have seen our share of dead bodies. For me, dead is dead. Never mind calling it undead, the guy is still stone cold dead in my market. Blood is certainly "the life"--any nurse will tell you that. Unfortunately, drinking blood will not help a dying person, who needs it put into a vein in order to survive. You can tell me vampires are different and can assimilate the blood from drinking it, but to no avail to a person who still sees them as dead. So, like Janet, I just can't find a dead guy appealing. I loved being scared silly reading DRACULA as a kid. But, even in the movie with Bela Lugosi, I didn't find him sexy. In later movies, the actors who played Dracula might have been sexy, but I still cringed when the heroine supposedly fell in love with this dead guy. Shifters, on the other hand, are alive to begin with and stay alive in their animal incarnations, so I'm able to see them as heroes. Vampires, no. But I agree they do make wonderful villains. Jane Toombs

Anonymous said...

To me, there doesn't have to be a reason why vampires could be heroes, they just are. You see, I have a horrible secret that makes me look like a simpleton. I am not a deep-thinker. I don't analyze anything. There are "good" vampires and there are "bad" vampires, just like with people. People like the "good" vampires, so they can be heroes. See, it's simple. Stupid, but simple.
Patsy H.

Donica Covey said...

I LOVE vampires. Give me a vampire hero and I go weak in the knees. Give me a vampire villian I get scared AND go weak in the knees.

I can't tell you why I find them so appealing. I get all the aspects you pointed out: cold skin, drinking blood, but when you think about it, their bodies don't decompose, there is no smell issue, all because techinically they AREN'T dead. They are the UNdead. Immortals but they do have flaws that make them vulnerable.

I just love a vulnerable man who would do ANYTHING for the woman he loves.

But that's just me.

Nancy (Dame Sapphire) said...

Hi fellow Jewel of the Quill. Very nice blog.

I never liked vampire heroes, and I'd read several stories and they did nothing for me, util I read Mary Janice Davidson's Queen Betsy vampire spoofs.

She put such a hilarious spin on vampires I couldn't help but fall in love with her vampire hero in her series. Check her out.

Also, I love tortured heroes, and I can't think of a more perfect tortured hero than a vampire--a man who was a 'victim', bitten by some other vamp, ending his life.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Years ago, Chelsea Quinn Yarboro wrote about a wonderful vampire hero--and he was so sexy! He only took the blood of the bad guys, but oh could he make love!

Today it's the foolish young girls who seem to fall in love with the bad boy vampires.

Good post. Am I going to see you in New Orleans? Maybe we'll have our own encounter with a vampire there.


Eileen Charbonneau said...

Great comments and stimulating topic, Janet. I wonder why vampires are popular? I think it might have to do with the past eight years in our beloved country ... infused with fear. Me? I think vampire hunters are sexy!

Penelope Marzec said...

Hi Janet,

I am not a vampire fan either. I simply cannot believe in the concept of the undead. To me, that's a demon and he's a bad guy.

However, maybe I should read Mary Janice Davidson's Queen Betsy vampire spoofs. Something funny might change my mind.


Gina Rosavin said...

As you know, I love vampire heroes! Not the brooding, regrets-his-existence tortured soul-type. I like a vampire who revels in his strength, power and immortality. Does that make him evil? Perhaps, though I think of it as misguided! With the right woman, any bad boy can be tamed, to a certain extent, including a vampire. Possessing such confidence in one’s self is very exciting, and attractive, and I think, arousing. Do they use that power to their advantage? Of course! Who doesn’t use their strong points to their best benefit? See, they’re not THAT different from us!

They are unique. Personally, I don’t see their lack of a fiery temperature as cold and clammy – it’s cool and smooth to the touch, and can inspire heat of its own! Nor do I mind the blood-sucking. The right vampire knows how to make it pleasurable for a woman, in every conceivable way! It can be very erotic to, ahem, share bodily fluids with your lover! What better way to know the heart of a woman than by tasting her blood? It creates a stronger bond. Life with a vampire hero would be so much more intense - because of his superhuman traits and immortality, every experience can be magnified thousand-fold. And when a vampire loves a woman, he will do anything within his power to see her happy – how could that not be intoxicating and thrilling?

As for vampires that are evil, you can find evil in many mortal humans, and that is no different than with vampires. After all, they started out as human, and do carry those same sensibilities in their undead state. So you can’t call a vampire evil just because that’s what he is. I think who he was before he became a vamp plays more of a role in that.

Margaret Carter said...

"Nor do I mind the blood-sucking. The right vampire knows how to make it pleasurable for a woman, in every conceivable way! It can be very erotic to, ahem, share bodily fluids with your lover! What better way to know the heart of a woman than by tasting her blood? It creates a stronger bond. Life with a vampire hero would be so much more intense - because of his superhuman traits and immortality, every experience can be magnified thousand-fold."

Yes, that. The concept of sharing blood can be used to symbolize the ultimate intimacy.

Even the first time I read DRACULA (at age 12), I resisted the premise that turning undead automatically turned someone evil. To me, a character who has the free will to choose an ethical path is much more interesting. So of course there can be good vampires as well as bad ones.

As for "dead," Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Count Saint-Germain and P. N. Elrod's Jack Fleming (among others) certainly don't come across that way. Also, there are non-undead variants, such as the vampire as a different species, which I love. My own are that kind. Roger, in my DARK CHANGELING and CHILD OF TWILIGHT, is a human-vampire halfbreed with very high ethical standards.

Another appeal of vampires, to me, is the same as the appeal of Spock on STAR TREK. They are almost human, yet they have a skewed perspective on life -- an alien viewpoint, in fact. It's the allure of the Other.

Kathy said...

As long as Tom Cruz and Brad Pitt (as well as many other gorgeous actors) keep playing them in the movies, they will remain seductive and sexy heros.

Liz said...

As long as he's good looking, sexy, and not evil, I wouldn't discriminate.

E. F. Watkins said...

Whether a vampire works as hero can depend on how you interpret the legends. Obviously, if you go with the idea that he's just a corpse possessed by a demon, it's going to be a tough sell. In my novel DANCE WITH THE DRAGON, I have a vampire hero versus a vampire villain. The hero is in a committed relationship with a human woman who is a willing donor. (Trust me--in the context, it works.) Now I'm working on the prequel in which the two of them get together, and he starts out much more like a villain. Evolving him through the course of the book is a challenge, and so is giving the heroine reasons to decide he's not so bad, after all. It's nothing like "Twilight"!


Terri said...

I like it when authors don't rely on standard lore, but invent their own vampology. As long as it's all consistent within the four corners of their story. It also works best for me when the vamp will have an opportunity to become unvamped, rather than the other way around. Even if the human is a willing donor, it's still going to be tricky to get past that Oil of Olay thing -- he's forever 20 or 30-something (give or take 600 hundred years)and she's....not.-- Terri

Terri said...

Here's an interesting male POV on the subject!

(Okay, so I'm posting so much because I'm procrastinating, as usual. Sue me.)