Guest Post: Charles Yallowitz—Spinning the Vampire Mythos

A big thank you to L. Marie for helping to promote the first book of my newest series, War of Nytefall: Loyalty (see book blurb toward the end). While this takes place in my previous series, Legends of Windemere, it focuses on a world-changing event. Specifically, the emergence of a new breed of vampire called Dawn Fangs. Due to the topic, L. Marie showed me this quote  from Stephen King:

Here’s what vampires shouldn’t be: pallid detectives who drink Bloody Marys and work only at night; lovelorn southern gentlemen; anorexic teenage girls; boy-toys with big dewy eyes. What should they be? Killers, honey. Stone killers who never get enough of that tasty Type-A. Bad boys and girls. Hunters. In other words, Midnight America. Red, white and blue, accent on the red. Those vamps got hijacked by a lot of soft-focus romance.

I both agree and disagree with Stephen King here because I don’t think anyone can really say that a vampire shouldn’t be something. If it works for the story then that’s what they should be in that world. People seem to take their own preferences for vampires and deem them to be the true standard. Look, I prefer my bloodsuckers monstrous and vicious instead of lovey-dovey stalking a high school. That’s just me though. There’s always been a strange seductive aura around vampires, which the romantic series play up more than the monster side of the extensive mythos. Problems come about in any genre when people step up to say that they should ONLY be done this way because that’s gatekeeping and you lose a lot of potential stories when you go down that route.

Edward Cullen from the Twilight series

Now, while my vampire preference is similar to what King talks about, I don’t think his works for every situation. To me, he’s talking about the monster who is terrorizing the heroes and needs to be overcome. Whether it be one or pack, these are the evil and inhuman beasts that lurk in the shadows. If you want a vampire to be the protagonist, then this doesn’t work because they’ll be driven to do evil. Once they begin fighting against their monstrous nature, they start to fall into the previous examples King mentioned. You can’t keep them as the slavering monster or sinister immortal noble that bathes in blood if they’re going to be a good guy. A sacrifice needs to be made to spin the classic monster into something that people can relate to; many times that’s their ferocity.

This is something I had to consider for War of Nytefall because it isn’t a story about mortals fending off vampires. It’s about the rise of a new breed of vampire in a world of magic and the vampire civil war that ensues afterwards. Mortals are merely bystanders, meals, and the occasional agent while the main cast consists entirely of immortal bloodsuckers. I couldn’t make the vampires entirely monstrous because I wanted readers to connect and I felt like such creatures wouldn’t have a complicated war. This required that I design two breeds with one being the Old World vampires and the other being the newer Dawn Fangs, which I’ll explain in brief.

Old World
These are closer to your classic vampires that can’t feed without killing. They can cast spells and hide in cities of darkness. Since this isn’t Earth, I threw out a lot of weaknesses that didn’t make any sense for Windemere. Holy magic is their bane and I went for an older version of the myth where sunlight weakens instead of kills. This is why Old World vampires in Windemere carry night cloaks, which they wear to retain their powers during the day. Doesn’t help against a smite spell to the face, but not much does. These would normally fit into the type that King recommends.

Dawn Fangs
These are the vampires that required a lot of work since they are the “heroes.” They’re still monsters, but they can feed without killing, have pulses, are immune to sunlight, and possess powers beyond that of the Old Worlds. In fact, the civil war is started because the Old World vampires are terrified that the stronger Dawn Fangs are going to wipe them out if they don’t strike first. Because they have these advantages, the Dawn Fangs can exist within mortal society too, but I didn’t want to pursue the “romantic” subplots. Instead, I play with the idea that these powerful monsters have actually become more human (or elf or dwarf or whatever they were before turning) instead of less. They’ve retained their viciousness and show signs that they are fighting to control a bloodlust that dwarfs that of their predecessors. Yet, a part of this is because they might be more at the mercy of their emotions than both mortals and Old Worlds. Even so, I can’t say they fall into the desired category that King describes, but I can say they don’t really fit into the previous ones either.

One thing I’ve learned with vampires is that the type you use depends entirely on the genre and specific story. I think a big issue for vampires recently is that culture has tried to pigeonhole them into one category and it’s caused a big clash between personal preferences. This is something that an author should consider, but not to the point where they make the social conflict the deciding factor of how they portray these monsters. You can, and should, tailor them to your own needs because they should be more than simply “a vampire,” at least if they’re more than the terrifying monster that has to be overcome, which is more plot device than character.

Book Blurb
In the wake of the Great Cataclysm, a new predator will emerge within Windemere’s shadow.

For fifty years, Clyde has remained buried while the rest of the vampires have been battling against their enemies. Only Mab believes that her former partner survived his execution and is determined to bring him back to the city of Nyte. Retrieving the vampiric thief is only the beginning as he comes out of the ground stronger, faster, and demonstrating powers that their kind have never witnessed throughout their ancient history. Thrown into the war, Clyde must be careful to hide his true nature while fighting alongside his old friends. Too bad he is having so much fun that keeping his secret might be furthest from his mind.

Will anyone be ready for the rise of the Dawn Fangs?
Grab your copy of War of Nytefall: Loyalty on Amazon!

Author Info
Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.
Blog: www.legendsofwindemere.com
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com

Author photo courtesy of the author. Book cover designed by Alison Hunt. Stephen King photo found at dreadcentral. Vampire trope image from vampires.com. Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen image from fanpop.com.

26 thoughts on “Guest Post: Charles Yallowitz—Spinning the Vampire Mythos

  1. Interesting stuff! I can’t buy into the whole vampire as romantic lead thing, but I do think they have to be more than one-dimensional evil monsters too. I think my view is coloured by reading things like I am Legend in my youth – I’ve always seen vampires as tragic victims with their humanity unwillingly suppressed. I guess there are as many views of what a vampire *should* be, as there are readers… and writers!

    • Very true, FF. Way back in the day, I read Interview with a Vampire, which introduced the concept of vampires as different from the Dracula type monsters (though they still hunted). Young adult fiction has plenty of the romantic lead vampires. But then there are many adult fiction series with those too.

    • I grew up with them as monsters, but intelligent ones like Dracula. Then I saw ways they could be heroes, which depended on the system and world they existed in. So I guess they could be romantic, but it still brings up the question of necrophilia. I fully agree about the multi-dimensional thing. Vampires are surprisingly versatile if one looks at the term as only a piece instead their sole defining trait.

  2. Congratulations on the new book, Charles! I enjoyed reading about your different types of vampires. I used to work with a Romanian scholar who’d researched the various versions of the Dracula story and compared them to the real Transylvanian king. Twilight horrified him as well.

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