With Halloween not so far away (I’m already ready to put out my Halloween decorations), I’ve been thinking a lot about vampires.
When I decided to write my first vampire novels with the Loving Husband Trilogy, I realized I knew very little about vampire myths and legends. But do you have to do research to write about vampires, I wondered? Since vampires are imaginary creatures, I thought there wouldn’t be much studying I needed to do to write Her Dear & Loving Husband. The vampires I would be writing about are products of my creation, and I didn’t need to read books to understand them.
Still, being a curious person, I had a lot of questions. Where did vampire stories come from? I thought Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the beginning of the craze, but it turns out he had been inspired by stories of the undead too. In fact, vampire legends have been around for as long as there have been people to tell them. In earlier years, people explained whatever needed explaining through supernatural beliefs. If good things happened it was because of good spirits, and if bad things happened it was because of evil ones. In the years before science could explain medical oddities—like why some people sweat or cry blood or how someone could stop breathing and “come back to life”—people would say they were possessed by evil spirits. They had come back from the dead and they were to be feared. Stories about dead friends, neighbors, and family members who had come back to life circulated throughout villages, beginning our fascination, and our fear, of vampires. Societies all over the world have some stories in their legends and folklore about the undead. I had some fun taking what I learned and putting it into the classroom scenes in Her Loving Husband’s Curse where James teaches a vampire literature class.
For those of us writing vampire stories today, we have the freedom to create our preternatural characters however we wish. The possibilities are endless. As I considered the vampires for the Loving Husband Trilogy, I decided I would stick mainly to conventional ideas. James Wentworth, the vampire protagonist in the stories, sleeps by day and lives by night. He’s immortal and will stay looking thirty years old forever. He drinks blood. He has to learn how to live among humans without revealing his true nature because he knows how people can react when they’re confronted by things they don’t understand. As for garlic bulbs and signs of the cross, well, those are just Eastern European legends after all. And if you can live forever, I don’t see how some garlic can hurt you, though it might give you bad breath.
I had never been into the paranormal/urban fantasy genre before. As someone who wrote historical fiction, which is based on fact, I didn’t think I could enjoy writing about such imaginary, fantastical characters. But once I allowed myself to try it, I realized I love writing vampire novels because I can mold the vampire legend in my own way. If you’re continuing on the journey with James and Sarah in 2013 (around March, I’d say), you’ll see exactly what I mean. Geoffrey (and Olivia) have a few vampire truths for James to learn in the third and final installment.
By stepping out of my comfort zone, by allowing myself to explore a genre I had never considered before, I had a whole paranormal/fantasy world open up for me. More than anything, I have been able to spend the last three years with characters, namely James and Sarah Wentworth, who are near and dear to my heart. And I’m glad I still have one more story to share with them.