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Vampires have undergone an evolutionary change since their early days in mythology across the globe. In the oldest myths, vampires were disgusting corpses, undead fiends clad in their tattered grave clothes, clawing their way out of the ground to terrify and prey upon the unsuspecting.
Bram Stoker took that image and modified it. Count Dracula was a solitary creature who lived apart from humans in a dark spooky castles and abbeys, preferring to stay close to his natural element where he was nearly invulnerable. From his home bases, the vampire launched his dark stalking of Lucy, Mina, and others. Sure, he still slept in a coffin, but he was sophisticated enough to wear evening clothes.
Ann Rice took the vampire evolution a step further, giving the vampire a secret society where they lived alongside humans, still apart, and hunting only in the dark of night or in shadowed alleys. They remained social outcasts though they occasionally mimicked humans.
Both authors also changed the physical appearance of vampires, making them visually appealing and even romantic. Their ugly sides only appeared when they were ravenous. Even Joss Whedon’s vampires lived on the fringes of society, and were alluring creatures whose prey usually came to them. They only turned fierce and horrifying when they were on the attack. The character of the Master was the only permanently ugly vampire, and he was forced to live as his ancestors, entombed underground. The price of ugly, it seems.
More recent vampires have evolved even further and they now live right next door to humans, going to the same bars and high schools, existing out in the open as with Charlaine Harris’s vampires. In both fiction and television, today’s vampires seem more human than vampire. They have shed their ghoulish selves to put themselves in close proximity to us. Perhaps to be near their food supply?
In our book, The Greyfriar, the first book in the Vampire Empire trilogy, we push the evolution a step farther and, in a way, bring it full circle. Our vampires become tired of hiding and stealing meals to survive, so they rise up and conquer huge swathes of human society. They are not terrifying shadows in graveyards, fearsome outcasts, or languid Bohemians. Instead, in the vampire territories, they are power incarnate, striding boldly through that which they have destroyed, feeding when and where they wish from enslaved human herds, much as we dine on herds of beef. The decaying remnants of human society serve merely as the framework for vampire culture.
It seems each metamorphosis has brought vampires closer and closer to being human. Vampires have gone slowly from monsters to neighbors to lovers. They are no longer the gruesome recluse, but the beautiful predator. In our book, though still beautiful, they are back to being horrifying monsters, but this time, they rule. They don’t dig out of their graves to attack human society; rather, they have taken human society and turned it into a grave.
Clay & Susan Griffith are the authors of The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire Book 1 (Pyr Books, Nov. 2010) They are a married couple who have written and published together for more than a decade. Their credits not only include several books, but also numerous short stories published in many anthologies, some featuring noted genre characters like Kolchak the Night Stalker and The Phantom. They've also written for television and published graphic novels featuring characters such as The Tick and Allan Quatermain.
Find us both: Facebook/clay griffith and Facebook/susan griffith
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What other prizes have we to give away today during the VampBash? Check it out!
Vampires by Joules Taylor
An ARC of JANE AND THE DAMNED by Janet Mullany
Lynsay Sands' BORN TO BITE