Vampires have always been associated with evil. Remember that Dracula guy? Yeah, he was the villain of the novel titled after him.
But, somewhere along the lines, vampires became heroes and/or anti-heroes. In Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned, a group of vampires even save the world! Albeit, from another vampire… who the main character was romantically linked to…
But forget about that. How can a writer get readers to cheer for a creature that should be repulsed and hated by all?
While there are some readers who enjoy reading a story centered on a villain’s criminal pursuits, most readers want to follow the tale of someone more noble.
Hence, we have the moral vampire readers can side with.
Anne Rice does this wonderfully. In Interview with a Vampire, Louis is our hero. He is the fledgling vampire who is determined not to feed on human blood. Louis is turned by Lestat, a loathsome vampire who takes joy in killing and sometimes tutoring humans.
The same Lestat is the “hero” of the other Vampire Chronicle books by Anne Rice. We are told by Louis that Lestat is a most detestable creature and aren’t shown many redeeming qualities. Lestat’s one good deed of ensuring his human father has a roof over his head is counterbalanced by the frequent verbal abuse Lestat gives him.
When we get Lestat’s side of the story, he claims he is a very moral person and only feeds on humans who are criminals. But even he admits he’s not what we’d think of as a hero. His choice not to follow what Marius tells him unleashes the villain who jeopardizes the entire world in Queen of the Damned.
As I’m doing another round of edits on Communion before sending it to an editor, I’m carefully considering the actions of my dhampir. I present my protagonists as likable but each dhampir can CHOOSE whether or not to give into their vampiric needs. Morally ambiguous situations arise, and the reader is left to make the judgment themselves.
My next few posts will be on some of the morally gray lines that are frequent in the vampire genre and common ways they are handled.
Check them out: