Sunday, April 13, 2014

Infectious Evil

Posted by: Unknown
The first vampire book I ever read was An Old Friend of the Family. It’s Book 3 in Fred Saberhagen’s Dracula series. Book One, The Dracula Tapes, tells the events of Stoker’s Dracula from Vlad’s point of view. But An Old Friend of the Family is the first book I picked up and I found it incredibly innovative at the time.

An Old Friend of the Family was first published in 1979 and I would have read it sometime in the early 80’s. This was before I’d ever heard of paranormal romance or urban fantasy. In 1985, I was reading Stephen King, Anne McCaffrey and David Eddings. I had yet to discover Anne Rice. My aunt passed it along to me in a box of old books and it blew my young mind.

I recently re-read it and it didn’t hold up as well as I’d hoped, but Dracula still makes for a very compelling anti-hero. He’s unrepentant about his need for human blood. He has a strange sense of honor that has a lot to do with loyalty and very little to do with kindness. He’s not a nice person and this is not a romance. But it so easily could be. 

It started me thinking about the nature of monsters, anti-heroes and paranormal romance, and why monsters make for such appealing heroes.

All of iconic monsters like Dracula are built upon the idea of infectious evil. One bite and a good normal everyday person turns into an evil creature who wants nothing more than to prey on other good normal everyday people. The monster isn't a monster because he started out evil. The monster condition caused the evil, not the other way around. He may be fighting to control his unsavory appetites and so long as he continues to do so, there’s always the sense that he could win the battle.

A lot of paranormal romance is rooted in sympathy for the villain, the outsider and the misunderstood. The concept of infectious evil works really well with that, as does the idea of love as a redemptive force. After all, if evil is infectious then it can be cured too.

I actually just used this concept in my most recent book, Reaper’s Touch, where a bite from a Reaper infects you with a parasite that takes over your nervous system and turns you into a cannibalistic zombie like creature. And while love doesn't cure the infection, it does give my hero and heroine the courage and determination to risk their lives going after a cure. Vampires, werewolves, zombies... What do you think it is about the classic monsters that makes them such great heroes?


Learn more about Eleri Stone and her books at


  1. I love this post, Eleri. I've never thought of paranormal villains this way, and I love the way it frames the whole good/evil question with a strong element of choice. Your new book sounds fascinating.

    1. Thanks! I worried it might be too rambling. I'm still sorting through my thoughts on this.

  2. This is a great way to explain paranormal romance to bewildered SF readers who are used to vamps, etc being the villains.

    1. I was a fantasy/horror reader before I found romance so I can relate. I like the combination in PNR...the scary side and then how romance strengthens the humanity of the "monster."


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