Mar 11 2011 5:00pm

Literature That Sucks 101: A Course in Vampire Fiction

Twilight Entertainment Weekly CoverRun! They’re everywhere! You cannot escape!

Immortals . . .

Night Walkers . . . 

Count Dracula . . .

Vampires . . .

The dead dude creeping over your bed . . .

True Blood Rolling Stone CoverThe bloodsucking menaces have taken over movies, books, magazines, television, and even music. Music, you say? Yes, music. Whenever I put the car radio on my tweener reaches over and changes the station. She claps and hoots, “OMG, Mom, this song was in New Moon,” or “OMG, Mom, this song is sung by someone who dated that guy who is the brother of the girl in Twilight.”

I roll my eyes, something I tell her not to do at least one million times a day.

This is my life as the mother of a tweenage vampire lover. Mmm, maybe that will be the title of my first YA novel . . . I digress.

Paranormal novels are not my thing. Not for any reason, really. I LOVE True Blood—I mean who doesn’t? Team Eric, thank you very much. I grew up hearting Keifer Sutherland in the Lost BoysInterview With a Vampire was a great movie. Pitt, Cruise, and Banderas . . . gimme some of that Bite Me Sandwich, please. With extra-extra bite.

I enjoy watching the genre, but never wanted to read. Recently I baptized myself into the world of fang fiction. I read Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire. I had no desire to read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Didn’t feel the need; I know that story inside and out. But it had me wondering about the genre. How did Stoker get the idea? Wait, back up a second. I did read Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. But it’s not considered fang fiction per say. It’s about the search for the remains of the real Vlad Dracula. And peeps disappear, get bitten . . . oohh, scary . . . I highly recommend it.

Anywho. I go on an internet search about Vampire novels and such. I could not believe the history of this tried-and-true genre. Buckle up—this is going to be a bloody post.

The first recorded works consisted mostly of poetry. The genre was labeled Gothic Fiction. Lord Byron’s The Giaour, written in 1813, is the most famous poem. That inspired his friend and personal physician, John William Polidori, to write the novel The Vampyre in 1819.

[Side note—the following is a truly unbelievable story.] 1816, the infamous year without a summer, found a group of literary geniuses chillaxing in rain-soaked Geneva. They decide to write ghost stories for entertainment, competition, or both. Varying sources debate this fact. The ensemble included Lord Byron (it was his summer villa), James Polidori, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and a few other friends. Rumor has it—again sources differ—that copious amounts of alcohol, opium, and debauchery took place. Byron was accused of getting his half-sister preggers, but again, it's 1816 and you just never know. This child went on to bear a mathematical genius and is credited with creating the language that made computers possible. Again, I digress, but you’d think after all that sex, drugs, and literature (don’t forget the incest), any offspring may not be the ripest in the bunch. Apparently not.

What came out of this 5-day laudanam-induced coma was the groundwork for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and James Polidori’s The Vampyre. Not bad for a couple of six packs and some doobies. These works gave birth to the paranormal genre. Stoker was greatly influenced by them as he penned the mother of all vampire novels, simply titled, Dracula.

NosferatuSince then we’ve seen this mythic creature evolve, from the gangly ghoul like creature in the 1922 movie Nosferatu, to Bella Logosi in 1931 with his suit, red-lined cape, and slick-backed hair with a widow’s peak, to Brad Pitt in Interview With A Vampire with his long hair in 1994, then most recently to Edward Cullen with his sparkly skin and amber eyes. You also have Bill Compton and Eric Northman from HBO’s True Blood Series. They do have one thing in common, though: they’re all pretty pasty and the most recent ones are all pretty dang hot.

In literature, there were novels here or there that dabbled with the fanged villain. But in 1975, Stephen King wrote the horror tale Salem’s Lot, bringing it back with everyday people turning into vampires, not just weird European dudes in penguin suits. In 1976, Anne Rice romanticized vamps in Interview With The Vampire, thus creating the modern day romantic vampire. Since then, you’ve got the Sookie Stackhouse novels, TwilightThe Vampire Diaries, and coffins full of other titles.

Louis and Lestat’s tale was a gorgeous read—loved it. I’ve ventured onto Twilight and hope to get to a Sookie Stackhouse soon. They’ve sucked me in.

*Sites used for research:

The first documented literature starring The Nosferatu

Charli Mac, Aspiring Author, Mother, Wife & Part-Time Clown

Twitter @CharliMacs

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Louise Partain
1. Louise321
"Sucked me in"? Ouch! There is a movie based on the Byron/Shelley Swiss holiday called Gothic. And a recent film about Nosferatu the 1922 silent movie (Shadow of the Vampire ) from 2000, adds a twist that the actor, William DeFoe, who plays the vampire is (wait a few beats) a vampire. And the cast keeps dying off. Pretty creepy stuff.

My favorite supposed line is Peter Lorre's on gazing at Bela Lagosi in his casket -- "Shall we put a stake through him to be sure?"

Even actors who play vampires can keep sucking you in. As you said, Charli Mac, if Keifer Sutherland hadn't latched onto Jack and 24, we'd still be exposing our necks. Wait, maybe that's why they couldn't kill Jack off!
romance reader
2. bookstorecat
"coffins full of other titles"

There are so very very many. Sigh. If there were as many vampires in real life as there are in fiction, TV, and movies, we'd all be living in Daybreakers-world and supplementing our skinny lattes with extra shots of type-O.

To hi-jack Grandpa's famous last line from Lost Boys, "One thing I never could stomach...all the DAMN VAMPIRES."
Cassandra Cridland
3. rapidlight
This is the first time I've seen the True Blood- Rolling Stone Cover and it made me smirk. I've read all the Sookie books I can get my hands on and I don't believe for a moment that Sookie would pose for such a racey picture. She prefers her relationships one at a time. Besides her Gram would roll in her grave to see such a photo. And Sookie would rather die than upset her Gram.
4. Neal
The fact the author has not read Stoker's Dracula takes away any credibility in this article.
Charli Mac
5. CharliMac
@louise I am putting Gothic on my netflix que. I saw Shadow of the Vampire, so creepy and I loved it. *huh-huh you said jack-off*

@bookstorecat Grampa Joe rocked that movie! Daybreakers had me thinking of a vampire apocalypse.

@rapidlight I am venturing out into the Sookie Stackhouse world soon. With all this hype about season 4 and this infamous shower scene, I have to read it.

@neil clearly you have misread what this post is about. I, the author, wrote this article in search of where Vampire Fiction originated. I could have read all or none of the works I note here and the research would remain the same. If this article were to critique the works then yes, not reading Bram Stroker would be a big faux pas. However, it's not.
K.M. Jackson
6. kwanawrites
Oh my Charli I love this post. That was some crazy house party and what come out of it? Too much. I was in the wine store the other day and had to fight myself not to buy the Vampire wine. It's everywhere!
7. Does it matter?
Neal, did this strike you as a scholarly article? Were you perhaps looking for deep underlying meanings behind Charli's prose? Are you out of pot?

Really man, why be such a douche? You could have been kidding, but I suspect that you weren't. Maybe you have Asperger's Syndrome and have no real idea how to interact with anyone or anything aside from your Star Wars toys. You should probably get some therapy for that. They've come a long way in helping people with disabilities such as yourself. Honestly, there are even foundations to pay for your treatments.

Or ... maybe you are just a douche bag who had nothing better to say.
Charli Mac
8. CharliMac
I am so feeling the cyber love.

@Kwana I was tempted to buy that wine on Friday night! But, I was not glamoured enough to do so.

@Does It Matter thanks for the shout out. Glad the interwebz got my back. LOL.
Louise Partain
9. Louise321
CharliMac -- You caught me LOL! And I agree with @rapidlight about the Rolling Stone cover. You just want to move a few strategically placed body parts so you can see the whole bloody picture.
romance reader
10. bookstorecat
The Rolling Stone cover kinda made me wanna yak. I know it's not real blood, but still... Icky, sticky, gross, gross, gross. (And about as subtle as a sledgehammer.) To each their own.
11. Laura Diamond
Nice article!

I loved The Historian, by the way. Bram Stoker's Dracula was much different from all the film versions, IMHO. Still a ripping good read, though. ;)
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