Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dark Side

So my son is here for the week, visiting me. He's an avid reader so we've had some lively discussions about where different genres are going and what kinds of story lines are out there. It's been interesting to say the least. Last night we discussed vampire stories. I sent him off with Shiloh Walker's Hunter series. Hmmmm. Next I figure I'll give him NJ Walker's Dalakis series. Heh.

One of the things we've discussed is the way that vampires have evolved from evil, dangerous antagonists to dangerous champion protagonists. How did that happen? What was the driving force behind that move? Roughly the same thing has happened to the werewolf genre. Is it perhaps because the old stereotypes were too inaccessible to us as readers?

I believe that the dark side holds a certain fascination for us, but we need it cleaned up. Instead of embracing the worst of the legends, we've taken those aspects that appeal to us the most and discarded those that disturbed us the most--or we've changed those elememts in ways that allow us to deal with them.

It will be interesting to see how we adapt other legends and story lines to meet our needs. Literature in all its forms is an ever-changing, ever-adapting entity. What will be the next thing?


I apologize for the late, abbreviated post. After losing my blog multiple times, I finally gave up and went to bed. Hopefully, tonight will be better.


  1. I'm of the opinion that humans dislike inbalance. We hate things to create anxiety because it knocks off our balance of well-being. What better way to reduce the tension than to befriend it, make it accessible as something which can either protect us or be on our sides? We found a way to return the balance in our peace of mind about weres and vamps... we make them protagonists.

  2. I think it's because we do not scare as easily as we once did and that things like religion, that used to shroud a lot of things in darkness and mystery, do not hold the same power over people - minds are more open to the 'what if'of things.

  3. There is also the appeal, in romance at least, of having a happy-ever-after ending that is truly happy-EVER-after, if the characters are or become immortal creatures. Also there is a romantic appeal of taming the monster--a fantasy that goes back at least to the beauty and the beast legends, probably further.

  4. I think that as humanity, particularly women-because let's face it, we're responsible for the bulk of the Were and Vamp stories out there-have begun to embrace sexuality we've also begun to embrace the bolder, more blatantly sexual. The link between vampires, blood and sexuality has developed slowly over the years and has contributed to the change in how we see them. The same is happening to Weres. I think it comes down to the deeply seated fantasy most women have about power and control. Taming the bad boy.

    Of course, Carrie Vaughn, writer of the Kitty series once observed, that vampires and Weres were really like choosing between necrophilia and beastiality and suggested we not look too closely or read too much into it.

  5. I agree with Amarinda that people don't scare so easily any more.

    In addition, I also think romance readers like the allure of the dark, tortured hero like vampires and werewolves.

    Heck, Charmed had a demon that was basically good (for a couple years anyway) - Cole. We loved him.

  6. Vampires have always been sexual and alluring, starting with Dracula and moving on down the line. Penetration, exchange of bodily fluids, the dark of night, etc.

    I'm not a keep vampire book reader, but I think Buffy the Vampire Slayer (one of the smartest, most fun TV series ever) had a lot to do with the prevalence of brooding vamp heroes. Angel's character set the tone for almost everything that came after.

    There's also the "redeeming value of the love of a good woman" theme, which is even older than vampires. Bandits turned into upstanding citizens, rakes reforming their ways--it's one of the most common romance stories out there. In the same way the love scenes have gotten more explicit, the bad boys have gotten badder. It's evolution.

  7. There's something romantic about "creatures". I remember reading Bram Stoker's Dracula years ago and finding something so romantic and appealing despite the fact he was a villain. You know that "bad boy" appeal? I think there's something in THAT too? We want to see the edgy, scary creature as redeemable maybe. I think they've evolved into hero material because we want to believe there is hope for his HEA, too.

  8. Ummm. That is ONE SCARY CAT, Anny!!!!