Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Vampire Week: The Symbolic Vampire

Posted by: Jax Garren
When talking about romance trends this summer, Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches Trashy Books said she had a theory that werewolves in paranormal romance, with their rough and tumble pack mentality, are the reading-candy equivalent of motorcycle clubs in contemporary novels and that, in the same way, vampires with their cool elitism and centuries to amass fortunes, equate to contempory CEO billionaires--like Edward Cullen and Christian Grey. Of course there are many examples where this parallel doesn't work out perfectly, but I still think she's got a point. For many of us, we love paranormal romance (and science fiction and fantasy) because it allows us to talk about modern life in symbolic ways. Vampires in particular make fabulous figurative language, and I think that's why they remain impossible to kill as a fiction staple.

Vampires must bleed someone else to live. They are, by their nature, unable to escape harming others. In my current work in progress, Seduced by the Vampire, Javier Reyes, a newly turned vampire who grew up in and out of the foster system then became a doctor, compares the circumstances like this:

Years ago, Javier had proclaimed that he would make it, with “it” as some undefined idea of wealth and class. He’d been doing all right for himself with grit and caffeine until a one-night stand with the woman beside him. Now, ready or not, this world of complete privilege was his. All he had to do was let other people bleed for him.
In all his determination to prove himself, he’d never thought about the consequences of flipping to the other side of the highway, of knowing that resources were finite and he had more than his share. Even as a human, life was like that; the fangs merely made the relationship down the economic food chain more literal. It didn’t sit well with him.
Seduced is book two in the Austin Immortal series, and I've used the two novels and a novella in the line to explore modern themes of socio-economics, drugs, LGBTQ rights, and feminism. Vampires, being centuries old predators originating in Europe, are the embodiment of privileges, prejudices, and social constructs from eras gone by that still haven't died. The clash of their slow-evolving society with modern life has been both fun and challenging to write as I pondered modern social issues.

Before I sound too serious, I'll also say that a wealthy, handsome, alpha male with dark past and a thing or two to learn is sexy as sin!

What sorts of symbols do you see in vampires or other paranormal fiction?

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