by Camela Thompson
Vampire mythology has several common constructs in literature, television shows, and movies. As a rule, vampires are humans who have been converted to vampirism by either a bite or exchange of blood. The moment of transformation kicks off with the infected human's death. While vampires have a varying degree of humanity depending on the writer(s), they've remained intolerant of sunlight, drink blood, possess inhuman strength, have poor impulse control, and often become inappropriately enamored with the worst love match possible. Because vampires are fictional, there has always been some variation in the details, particularly around how they are converted and how much they enjoy hunting humans. In my own reading I've noticed a trend: authors are drastically deviating from the norm.
Philip Burne-Jones [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, 1897
The first time I remember thinking, "Woah, they broke the rules," was when I watched Blade. A pregnant woman was infected by a vampire just before giving birth. The child was a vampire hybrid, inheriting the vampire's strengths but none of the weaknesses. With the help of others, he fought his thirst for blood and kicked much vampire ass. Since then, there has been a streak of change-ups to the myth. Twilight vampires could abstain from human blood if they had the necessary willpower. They avoided sunlight because they sparkled like Liberace's piano. J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood has a fantastic hereditary vampire mythology with a race of warrior vampires. Kresley Cole has some traditional vampires and others who were born that way. Then there is The Strain, which has roots in Romanian mythology with a virulent twist.
Why the variation? Why are there rules if people just break them?
Because it's more interesting. Because there are more options. If we stuck to the same rules every time, there would only be so many options, and that gets old really fast. I personally enjoy it when an author takes liberties and changes vampires to fit the world they've created. The flavors have become very interesting and make me wonder what the vampire will look like in twenty years.
Do you prefer it when authors stick to tradition, or do you like it when an author comes up with a legend of their own? What is your favorite flavor of vampire?
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.