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Amy McCaw: Why the obsession with vampires?

Amy McCaw: Why the obsession with vampires?

I’ve always been fascinated with vampires, and I’m certainly not alone. Written descriptions of them first appeared around a thousand years ago, and cultures all over the world have told stories about blood-drinking creatures through history. So, what keeps us coming back to vampire stories time and time again?

I’m not sure which particular vampire ignited my obsession. I can recall reading Point Horrors, The Vampire Diaries, Fear Street and of course Dracula in those formative pre-teen years, and I’ve never looked back. Then Buffy the Vampire Slayer burst onto television when I was in my early teens, quipping and slaying and looking fabulous while she did it. That is still my favourite depiction of vampires, and the one that cemented my fascination.

I think the general appeal of vampires comes down to a variety of factors. Unlike other supernatural creatures, such as ghosts and werewolves, vampires are subject to relatively few limitations. There’s the obvious blood drinking and aversion to daylight, but the flipside of that is the ability to live forever. Werewolves are limited by that pesky wolfing out and having to restrain themselves for a few days each month without the extended lifespan. Ghosts have the problematic qualities of being incorporeal and potentially moving on to whatever comes next.

Vampires, on the other hand, are generally depicted as strong, intelligent, often incredibly wealthy (which can’t hurt) and they get to live forever without becoming sick or old. Some modern fiction gives vampires a conscience about their actions, but still that doesn’t seem like too great a price to pay.

This leads me to the other reason why I think vampires are so fascinating. There is a lot of room for variety and reinvention, so vampire stories are able to move with the times and tap into whatever it is that readers and viewers are thirsting for.

Children can enjoy gently spooky creations, such as the beautifully drawn and written Isadora Moon by Harriet Muncaster and Amelia Fang by Laura Ellen Anderson, whose vampires generally drink red juice and have fun adventures with cute sidekicks.

The YA space is really exciting for vampire fans, with plenty of variety. YA authors write about everything from the sparkly, romantic vampires of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer to the deadly and terrifying predators of Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan. Some other YA favourites of mine include the new Buffyverse books by Kendare Blake, Big Bad Me by Aislinn O’Loughlin and the brilliant Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine.

If you prefer adult fiction, the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries by Charlaine Harris, the Anita Blake books by Laurel K Hamilton and My Roommate is a Vampire by Jenna Levine are great fun.

When it comes to movies, there are also plenty of options, and it’s exciting to see different screenwriters’ takes on vampires. Some of my favourite vampire movies include Interview with the Vampire, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Lost Boys.

I think vampires are here to stay in pop culture, and I’m very happy about that.

Mina and the Cult, the third book in Amy McCaw’s YA series, is out now via UCLan Publishing

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