Writing a Vampire Hero
In general I’m not a fan of vampires as heroes, at least not
the traditional blood-sucking predator sort. In recent years urban fantasy
authors have taken a variety of new approaches to vampires, many of which have
more or less de-fanged them and turned them less threatening, less predatory,
less…evil.
But those aren’t real vampires to me. Real vampires are the traditional,
evil creatures of the night who’ve traded their soul and their humanity for
virtual immortality, and who survive by stealing blood from unwilling victims.
Think about the implications of that. Vampires need blood to
survive, traditionally, quite a bit of it, at regular intervals. They stalk and
capture unwilling victims, then drain a large quantity of blood from the
person. Most people can’t handle losing large quantities of blood quickly, so a
vampire bite is likely to be fatal.
Yes, I know, a lot of vampire heroes are portrayed as only
taking small quantities of blood, usually from a volunteer donor. But, really,
the concept doesn’t stand up to close examination. Blood is the only substance
that can support a vampire’s life. Given that a vampire is a normal-sized,
human-shaped adult, consider how much blood would be needed to replace the
amount of food a human that size would require. And they would need it every
few days.
On either the physical, literal level – if such a thing is
possible—or on the metaphorical, a vampire survives by stealing life from
others. The price of a vampire’s immortality is the lives of many, many human
beings.
Or as my son once colorfully put it: a vampire is really
just a giant, human-shaped mosquito.
But a few years ago, I agreed to write a Christmas vampire
story as part of a paranormal Christmas anthology, so I needed to find a way to
make a vampire heroic.
I mused on it for a while, how to make a vampire hero
without defanging them (so to speak). Then it occurred to me. The process for
becoming a vampire has been the subject of lots of legends, none definitive.
Vampires would be more interesting if they weren’t just monsters by accident,
if there was some choice involved, even if they were turned without their
consent or against their will. And of course, there is an alternative to being
a vampire. Death. The problem is that as most systems have it, after one has
been turned, death for a vampire can only be a soulless death, final
termination.
So I did some mental work on it and decided that perhaps
vampires might have some wiggle room. Even if they were turned against their
will, they could live on blood from other creatures for a while. For one
hundred years, in fact. But if they didn’t drink human blood by the end of one
hundred years, then they died, but not as a vampire, so they could die with
their soul intact.
Since a story has to be built on conflict and struggle, I
set my vampire story on the last night of the hundred years for my hero, a man
who’d been turned by accident and who wanted no part of immortality at the
price of stealing other lives.  And of
course, by the end of the hundred years, he’s desperately hungry and just wants
it to be over. So I throw in a complication, a woman stranded by an ice storm
on Christmas Eve. An attractive young woman who is pure temptation to him.
But there might be a way she could be his salvation as well.
If you were writing it, would you provide a way for a vampire to regain his
soul and his humanity?  How would you do
it?
Want to read more and learn my take on it?
A Vampire’s Christmas Carol

Blurb: Can Christmas Eve get any more fun? On her way to her family’s home,
Carol Prescott’s car slides into a ditch in a deserted area with no cell phone
signal. The only available shelter is already occupied…by a vampire. To Michael
Carpenter, Carol is the bait of a trap.
In an effort to hold onto his soul, Michael has resisted the urge to drink
human blood for almost a century. Now he hovers between human and vampire. If he
doesn’t drink from a human before the night ends, he’ll die. He’s desperately
thirsty, but Michael has seen the soulless monsters vampires are and he prefers
death. Carol is pure temptation to him, the Christmas present from hell…or is
it from heaven?

Bio:
Karen
McCullough is the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the
mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres and has won numerous awards,
including an Eppie Award for fantasy. She’s also been a four-time Eppie
finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories,
Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in
several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy,
science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, three
grandchildren and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years. She
invites you to visit her home on the web at http://www.kmccullough.com
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