Many cultures have myths associated with blood-sucking creatures, but the vampire that we are familiar with has its roots in European folklore. Tales of corpses returning to life to seek out fresh blood appear in many stories from Eastern Europe, particularly the Balkan areas. It was the literary work of author Bram Stoker who hurtled vampires into mainstream consciousness through his blending of vampire myth and the legendary Vlad the Impaler of Romania. Vampires have been around for hundreds of years. These stories blend together in our modern world to give us a more contemporary creature capable of withstanding light, who possesses superhuman strength, and has emotion. Today’s vampire is considered to be a powerful, sexy, sometimes even sparkly being. And to a mystery writer, this strange creature adds a supernatural element to a novel as it attempts to live among humans and their modern world in a variety of ways.
The vampire has come a long way from being the heinous villain whose only goal is to stalk human prey to drink their blood. Today, the vampire has a mix of emotions – from the desire to attain enormous wealth and power over humanity to the need to be loved and understood by its human counterparts. It is these wide ranges of emotions that make vampires an interesting topic for an engaging supernatural mystery. As a mystery writer, I am intrigued by the many ways a vampire may add to a mystery.
Vampires can take on the sociopathic qualities of a serial killer, a desire for power and control over its victims driving it to do murderous deeds. Or, a vampire can take on the adventurous spirit of a world traveler with a tumultuous past, as he travels the world and meets human friends along the way who need his help solving gruesome crimes. And even still, a vampire can take the countenance of a child who seeks the love and approval of her parents while desperately wanting to belong among the human children of her town, discovering that only she can protect those very children from an evil bent on taking their lives.
Vampires have come a long way since Bram Stoker’s Dracula and its Eastern European beginnings. Today’s vampire seems almost accessible to us, something to be wary of but not necessarily feared. A vampire in a mystery novel can be a lone vigilante protecting the city, or the ruthless killer that stalks the night in search for food. The theme could include a supernatural story of intrigue, power struggle and the need to belong. Whatever it is that our modern vampire has become, there are endless possibilities to how a mystery writer may portray this secretive creature.