DISCLAIMER: I know that vampires are a fad right now but I’ve been thinking about this for years.
What I’ve noticed about portrayals of vampires in media and fiction-writing is that most writers choose a type of vampire to portray. Over the years, after having read and seen much paranormal fiction, there is a common concept of a vampire and what that means and looks like; most of the time, pale, pasty, white, European, blood-sucking, holy-object allergic, coffin-dwelling, sunlight-evading,vicious, below-normal-body-temperature, and sometimes bearing varying levels of preternatural powers/abilities.
Offhand, I can think of several blood-drinking varieties that I am familiar with and what works they hail from: Christine Feehan (her Carpathians novels and related works), Laurell K. Hamilton (primarily the Anita Blake stuff), Anne Rice (my first cover to cover was Vittorio the Vampire), the ones in Night Prayers (by P.D. Cacek); Young Adult (YA) stuff like The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause, Look for Me By Moonlight by Mary Downing Hahn, Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde; manga and anime like Vampire Hunter D, Blood the Last Vampire, Vampire Knight, and Vassalord (one of my favs); films like 30 Days of Night, Queen of the Damned, I Am Legend, Underworld, Cirque du Freak, Dracula 2000, Bordello of Blood (maybe I shouldn’t mention it…), Bram Stroker’s Dracula, a host of the classics thanks to my mom, and, I hate to mention it, Twilight (haven’t seen or read it, I refuse to actually, but I did watch Vampires Suck, lol, lol); and some from historical romance and contemporary paranormal romance novels too numerous to name (including but not limited to Teresa Medeiros and J. R. Ward *ewws*). You cannot forget that among the greatest vampire movies, I must add, are the Blade movies (though I have my issues with that Wesley Snipes after I found out about him abusing Halley Berry during their relationship, so disappointed) if only because the main vampire is Black and so very badass. Also there’s Vampire in Brooklyn, with Eddie Murphy (another problematic Black male celebrity/actor/comedian) though it seems to me that this movie is often forgotten (and maybe for good reason…?).
Laurell K. Hamilton’s ABHV series is probably one of the most interesting and ongoing paranormal series I have ever read though portrayals of people of color lycans and vampires and women frustrate me to no end; Hamilton is in no way free of guilt in typecasting Black characters or excluding them altogether from the ABHV books in her heavy-handed exaggeration and perception of overrated white beauty. With the exception of Blade, most of the Black vampires I have ever read or seen are portrayed as villains or sidekick-movie extra-flunkies; this is true of both Eddie Murphy in Vampire in Brooklyn and Aaliyah as Akasha in Queen of the Damned (in the case of villains).
The only book I own that is about Black vampires is an anthology entitled Dark Thirst edited by Angela C. Allen. Out of fear of being disappointed, I never finished reading it and have had it for years. The tag on the front is by Tananarive Due and reads, “A shot of blood with a twist… Vampire mythology has crossed the color line for good.” I don’t really know how true that is and I have my doubts. Not enough published Black writers are on the market producing quality paranormal fiction. Paranormal fiction just seems beyond the Black imagination and as a paranormal/general literary fiction writer, I find that disappointing. At least it’s not very common or popular in the community as I know it. Are Black characters so poorly portrayed by writers like Laurell K. Hamilton because we as Black people do not imagine ourselves in this realm, or do we as a community view vampire stories as for “white folks” like so many other genres of writing and art? Are some things just plain anachronistic and countercultural to Black people that it manifests itself in their work which floods the writer’s market while Black writing remains a small, underrepresented, underfunded, and neglected niche? Or do most white writers just have a screwed up racist perception of Black people? I’ll write another in-depth post about this soon.
I am fascinated by all the types of vampires I’ve read about and seen, both the classical/quintessential and the newly crafted. I am particularly interested in the ones I myself am developing. I hope someday not to have to choose between the types when writing paranormal vampire work and am crafting a world where they all exist simultaneously. Sounds exciting, complicated, and like a lot of pints of blood, yes? ^_^
ever more creative,