Monday, May 11, 2009

True Confessions: I heart monsters

I thought I'd share an article that I recently wrote with you this morning. It's a short little piece about one of my fav subjects - monsters and why we love them. Especially those dead sexy vamps!


As little girls we dread the dark and fear the monsters under our beds. Then we grow up and find ourselves wishing they were in them.

Today there are plenty of sexy shapeshifters, demons, and other dark antiheroes living on women's bookshelves and providing fodder for their fantasies. However, the dynamics that make these fringe creatures so attractive seem to be most clearly defined and celebrated by the biggest bad of them all-the vampire.

Modern creatures of the night may be rooted in classic mythology and vampire lore, but they're different, they have to be. In order for authors to set themselves apart in the genre, they must take liberties. They must create something fresh and unique, while at the same time retaining the familiar. That's the balance that keeps old fans of the genre coming back and attracting new ones.

The tremendously successful Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer is a prime example. Other interpretations include Bram Stoker's traditional one depicted with cape, Laurel K. Hamilton's lace and leather-clad version, Charlaine Harris' down-home vamp with his southern charm and pressed khakis, and my personal favorite, Joss Whedon's duster-wearing slayer-loving Spike.

So why do we swoon over Dracula, Jean-Claude, Bill, Spike, and Edward?

First let's cover the obvious. Vampires are immortal. That means they get to stay young and drop-dead (no pun intended) gorgeous forever. Although their youthful appearance is preserved, they become wise as a result of the passage of time and through a collection of worldly experience. Talk about an intensely winning combination.

Then there's the other really compelling paradox, vulnerable but dangerous. In most scenarios, the vampire was once a human who became an unwilling victim. Relegated to an existence not of their choosing, the vampire has to avoid discovery, sunlight, and the pointy end of a stake while searching for and procuring sustenance. We feel just a little bit sorry for them, even if they are evil, blood-sucking fiends. Now it gets a little weird.

Vampires require blood to survive. Humans are a readily available source of blood. Vampires need us. We like to be needed. We know we're taking a huge risk and that in the end the vampire is probably going to lose control and bite us, right? Maybe even kill us? Yes! And that's actually some of the appeal.

It's not so much that we want to die or be bitten, it's that we like to be afraid. Fear causes the release of endorphins in the brain, a natural opiate. Endorphins are also released during orgasm. So let's take this one step further and assume for a minute that the bite is sexual, the encounter erotically charged. Our vampire is getting hotter by the minute, isn't he?

Now let's kick it up one more notch and talk about reformation and transformation. This is the idea that our big bad vampire is capable of changing his big bad ways and that suddenly he wants to. Why? Because of you. Your love has saved and transformed him. And what can your vampire give you in return? Only eternity together.

What an intoxicating happily-ever-after.

Samantha Sommersby is the author of the critically acclaimed Forbidden series, including her newest book "Forbidden - The Temptation." Sam happily spends her days immersed in the world of the Forbidden, a world where vampires, werewolves, and demons are real, where magic is possible, and where love still conquers all. To learn more about Sam's books or to sign up for her monthly newsletter visit http://www [dot] samanthasommersby [dot] com

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