Dracula’s Twilight: The Rise of the de-fanged Vampire
Hi everyone, I’m Clare Willis, author of the December Bite Club read, Once Bitten, which comes out Dec. 1. Please visit me at ClareWillis.com.
I was recently interviewed for our local newspaper. The interviewer asked why vampires are such a hot trend in entertainment today. I said that I didn’t think vampires had ever gone away. They’ve been popular ever since Bram Stoker realized that our tight-laced Victorian ancestors would be thrilled with the idea of a creature that can compel women to do his bidding in the bedroom just with the power of his stare. He would ravish them and they could enjoy it without guilt because, after all, they couldn’t control themselves.
I think there is a hot trend today, in a subgenre of vampire fiction. That trend is the de-fanged vampire. Edward Cullen of Twilight fame is the most obvious example. Stephanie Meyer brilliantly tapped into a similar vein (pun intended) as Bram Stoker when she created a hero for girls who were hitting puberty and feeling their sexual power, but also feeling afraid of it. Edward is the perfect teen boyfriend. He is the hot hunk who every girl wants. He only wants you, but you have so much power over him that he can’t allow himself to be with you, for fear of what such intense pleasure might turn him into. The best boyfriend in the world is one who loves beyond measure, and makes all your friends jealous, but doesn’t put any pressure on you!
Edward is also de-fanged in another way. Even before he meets Bella he has made a decision not to kill people for food. It’s a moral decision, because he’s trying to be a good person/vampire. But as Michael Corleone said in The Godfather, “Just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in.” The bad vampires keep pulling Edward back into violence.
Bill Compton of HBO’s True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse novels is a similar character: a vampire who is de-fanged by choice, because of a moral opposition to killing people. In this he harkens back to one of the uber-vampires of popular fiction, Anne Rice’s Lestat, who definitely killed people, but had a similar struggle with his existential nature. Lestat asked, “Am I a damned creature with no soul, or am I defined by my actions, and can I redeem myself by actions?” Anne Rice was struggling with deeply religious issues using the context of vampirism. I’m not sure that these new vampires’ issues are as overtly religious, but they certainly traverse some of the same good-versus-evil territory.
Two questions for the readers:
Can a vampire be good if he was “born” bad?
Could a human woman love a vampire who embraced his killer nature, instead of fighting it?
Here's the blurb for Once Bitten:
Angie McCaffrey has endured her share of liquid lunches and boardroom shmoozefests to win new advertising clients. But her latest account a cosmetics line for wannabe vampires involves some unusual customer research at San Francisco's hippest private nightclub. The "undead" patrons are about as genuine as Macabre Factor's press-on fangs, but one thing is very real the skin-tingling connection Angie feels with her clients' mysterious friend, Eric Taylor.
Still, there are a few problems with this hot new romance. 1) Eric is rumored to have dated Angie's scheming boss, Lucy. 2) Lucy, missing for days, just turned up dead and bloodless. And, oh yeah, 3) Angie has suddenly developed a teeny aversion to sunlight. Is Eric a real vampire, a killer, or both? Angie's got a lot riding on the answer her heart, her life, and maybe even her soul. . .