James Wentworth, and What Does it Mean to be a Vampire?

Her Dear & Loving HusbandIn my Loving Husband Trilogy, James Wentworth is a vampire. But what does it mean to be a vampire?

On the surface, it’s an unnecessary question since with the popularity of vampire stories everyone seems to have their own ideas of the undead. Yet it’s a question writers of vampire fiction must contend with, and it’s one question I had never considered before sitting down to write the trilogy.

I had never given much thought to vampires. I was never into the paranormal genre, the main reason being I’m not a fan of horror. I’m not a fan of violence, real or pretend, and since vampires have traditionally represented violence, I didn’t care to know them. But then I was introduced to the vampire genre in a less gore-filled way, and the more I read about them the more I realized that there is  no one way to describe a vampire. The question of ‘What is a vampire?’ is answered differently according to what authors want or need from their preternatural characters. What a grand revelation as I embarked on my own paranormal stories.

I realized I had a decision to make. Would I go the more traditional route and keep my vamplings asleep during the day, unable to go out in the sun, or would I take the more modern route of sunbeams and sparkles? In the beginning, I had no idea. I hopped on the computer (God bless the Internet) and searched vampire folklore to see how the undead have been traditionally defined. I was fascinated by what I found. Turns out that vampire legends have abounded for as long as there have been people to tell them, long before vampire stories were ever published. Who knew? There are vampire legends from all over the world, and while there are cultural differences, there were more than a few commonalities, and this is what I focused on—the commonalities.

So what is a vampire to me? How did I craft James’s vampire nature?

I tended to stay along more traditional lines. One similarity between almost all vampire legends is that they’re nocturnal creatures. James is as well, sleeping during the day and living at night. He drinks blood. Now, how he choses to drink blood differs from other vampires, but let’s say that he does drink human blood. Their human bodies die as they are transformed (by the bite of another vampire) into a preternatural, immortal being. Again, pretty traditional. As to garlic and silver, well, I don’t know what to say about that. It’s true that traditionally (especially in the Slavic cultures) those are considered supreme weapons against the undead, but it seems to me that if you can live forever a little plant bulb or metal won’t harm you much. But that’s just me. Geoffrey, James’s “maker” (as they would say on True Blood), tends to agree. And since, as a vampire, James lives forever, he loves forever, which is the focus of the trilogy—how he has never forgotten his one true love and the joy he feels when he’s finally reunited with her. On the surface, the Loving Husband Trilogy is a vampire story, complete with witches and werewolves, but it’s really a love story that spans the ages.

Part of the fun of writing in the paranormal genre is the ability to create your fantasy creatures however you want. If you want your vampire sitting on the sofa in broad daylight eating pizza (as Aidan did in the BBC series Being Human), then do it. There is no right way to create a vampire. As long as authors believe that the world they’re describing is true, then readers will follow. What is a vampire? The fun part is, we all get to decide for ourselves.

2 thoughts on “James Wentworth, and What Does it Mean to be a Vampire?

  1. I am so tickled you have time to read my blog. I have read all three of your “Her Loving Husband” books. I waited on pins & needles for the last one.
    As to the notion of what a vampire should be, your right, it is rather confusing. When I went to do some research for a book I am working on (always working on), I was referred to the Kappa. After reading everything about the Kappa, I seriously didn’t see the similarities, but I guess some researchers want to stretch all folklore to fit into tidy boxes (Kappa=Vampire type qualities, thus it is a vampire). I have the ‘Encyclopedia of Spirits, but Judika Illes for the beginning of much of my research. I just open the book, saying ‘oh holy and great…’well no really, I just open the book and see what I find on that page. It has been a useful book in that it offers clues to origins, others legends like it, and in the case of the Kappa, just plain fun reading which took up most of the day.
    I did read a couple of times on vampires that the garlic was not to protect from vampires but used by vampire hunters and gravediggers to dissuade the smell of the dead. In early times they did not have our handy formaldehyde to use for the dead.

    Please, when you get a chance, keep reading my work and give me your appraisal. Thanks for following my work.

    • Hi Navaara! I did enjoy reading your blog, especially where you talk about Debora Geary. I’ve heard so much about her witches lately, and I can’t wait to start reading her books. It is definitely confusing, trying to figure out how to create your vampires. As you point out–there is so much out there about vampires it can be hard to sift through it all. I actually wasn’t familiar with the Kappa. I will definitely have to read about them. One book I found helpful was called Vampire Forensics. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I will definitely keep reading your blog!

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