The Vampire Secret
I am Romanian on my father’s side, so you’d think I’d be steeped knee deep in vampire lore.
But in fact, apart from being scared to death on viewing Dracula in my early teens, I never gave vampires a half a thought until I was looking for an idea for my thirteenth book. And even then, and in the subsequent vampire book I wrote, the hero was not a vampire. In Sinful Secrets, the whole English parliament were vampires; in Forever Kiss, the vampire had a doppelganger who pretended to be him, so that when the vampire finally returned to his stomping grounds, he had to pretend to be the doppelganger pretending to be him. Believe me, he was royally peeved -- for lots of fun-to-write pages.
However, I couldn’t find a way to wrap my head around vampire as romantic hero. So when I was thinking about my next book, which it was going to involve vampires, I really was at a loss. I needed an idea and I needed this vampire to be a hero.
And I really needed to figure out some real ways a woman would feel an attraction to a vampire -- because all I'm thinking is blood, gore, dessication and rot. Coffins and graves. NOT very sexy.
I was in a local store one day, talking about this current project, when the teenaged clerk overheard me say, vampires, and she exclaimed, “Oh, I love vampires.” I asked her why and she said, because they were sooo Romeo and Juliet.
Right: yearning for something that powerful and never to have it? And it all ends in bloody gory death? Murderous immortality. Not hardly romantic. Not quite the jump-start I was looking for.
So I listed all the reasons why a vampire is supposed to be seductive:
He is the love that cannot be
He has super-powers
He’s dangerous to love
He’s super sexual
He’s protective (paternal and sexual)
You yearn for what you can’t have
Reckless endangerment: death is but a kiss away
Still -- nothing in that list sent plotlines roaring in my head.. I was discussing it with my husband one night and I read him the list. Then I asked him why he thought vampires were so seductive. I mean, there’s nothing like the male perspective, right?
He said, “they’re victims.” He said, “they have no choice.” Of course. Genius. But my husband always says genius things just when I need to hear them.
A whole other side of the vampire. Immediately plot questions swirled through my mind. What would he do, feeling like that? How could he take anyone else’s life? How would he live? Did he want to die? How would he survive? What lies would he tell himself? AND, if he’s a victim, you then have a heroine wanting to somehow help, make it better, change it. If you have the love that cannot be, one might feel the call to sacrifice for the other at some point.
And there was the bedrock of the story -- vengeance and sacrifice. Maybe. We're talking vampires, after all.
The Darkest Heart, June 2011, from Gallery Books.