I’ve been thinking a lot about vampires lately. It seems that nearly every urban fantasy novel out there (including my own) has them. Why is that?
Glad you asked.
Well, for starters, I think it’s because vampires blend the best out of the paranormals. Sure, shifters like werewolves can look human, but in order for a shifter to really do anything kickass, they have to use special effects. Take a bar fight, for example. In a bar fight, a vampire can use all of his powers and he still looks human. A shifter might be stronger than a normal human and have keener senses while in human form, but to really rip things up in a bar fight they have to change forms.
The vast array of powers a vampire possesses is also appealing. Let’s do a quick laundry list of vampiric abilities:
- Super strength
- Super speed
- Night vision
- The ability to crawl on walls (which also gives them the opportunity to go as a badass Spider-Man on Halloween)
- The ability to control/become mist
- The ability to hypnotize/dominate humans
- Shapeshift into bats or wolves
- Control swarms of rats or packs of wolves
- Accelerated healing
- And, they’re usually damned stylish with designer clothes and a propensity to be suave and correctly pronounce words in French
What does a shifter get?
- Animal form
- Slightly better senses while in human form
- High clothing bills because they’re always ripping/losing their clothing
- Doggy breath
It’s kind of a win/lose for the shifter on this one. Sure, you’re a force of nature while in animal form, but you also can’t talk and you lose your opposable thumbs. Vamps can feign fancy foreign accents whenever they want and I’m willing to bet that if you looked closely at a vampire’s paws while in animal form, you’d see a tiny, spiteful thumb. Additionally, you never hear about Animal Control being called on a vampire.
There are other, more genuine reasons, though. Vampires were human once. They still remember what their hopes and dreams were, and that makes them relatable. It’s really hard to do that for other paranormal creatures. You could try to write a paranormal romance with Bigfoot or a hard boiled chupacabra detective, but it’d be tough because their minds are too foreign to readers. You can’t do it with other kinds of undead like zombies or liches, because let’s face it, they’re gross and they’ve lost their humanity. Sure, you can do it with a shifter, but see above reasons (FLEAS) on why a vamp might be a more appealing choice.
Even a vampire’s weaknesses are cooler. Vampire – “I can’t meet you for lunch tomorrow because I’d be immolated by the sun.” (Spontaneous combustion = cool). Shifter – “I can’t meet you for lunch tomorrow because I’m having a flea and tick bath.” (Awkward hygiene = not cool)
So until we come up with another paranormal humanoid that can hand out dish after dish of supernatural smackdown and look cool while doing it, I think we’ll be seeing vampires as main characters/antagonists for a long time.