You don’t have to travel far in the publishing world these days to run into a vampire. I have just set down a book about a group of Texas vampires for an upcoming interview, and I wondered anew about the vampire’s evolution from villain to sexy hero. I suppose Anne Rice can take much of the credit, but this transformation was probably inevitable.
Vampires have a lot going for them—superhuman physical strength, immortality, shape shifting, and, (excepting the Nosferatu incarnation), brooding and dangerous sexuality. What doesn’t get as much mention, but which I have always found most compelling about this archetype, is that a vampire is supposedly not allowed to enter a house unless he has been invited.
This detail can crimp a lot of story telling so it usually gets discarded, but it is an essential vulnerability to an otherwise invulnerable character. Yes, vampires dissolve in daylight, which is nice, but to me there is nothing like the emotional power of inviting into your world that which will destroy you.
It reminds me also of that old saying, “Fear knocked on the door, faith answered, and there was no one there.” In vampire stories that faith takes the form of the cross, but faith takes many shapes for many people. The fear we invite into our homes is always the same, a question unanswerable by the mind alone that drains you slowly of your interest in life. Life’s meaning requires no justification, requires no proof, and when you shine that light on the fear that came to you as a question, your vampire dissolves.
I know vampires are abidingly cool and will probably retain their status as forbidden love interest for years to come, but if I were to ever dip my pen into some gothic ink, it would be to paint the vampire as I have always known him: the embodiment of life lived not for life itself, but only in fear of death.