S.G. Redling, author of the new release Ourselves, shares her thoughts on vampires and how they apply to her new book.
I love vampires.
There, I’ve said it. Judge if you must, but I know I’m not alone. And as a kid who grew up in the 1970s and ‘80s, I got to witness some of the finest reinventions of this ancient myth ever imagined. Anne Rice, Near Dark, Lost Boys, and George Romero’s Martin all added new life to the undead, and I devoured every bite.
But something always bothered me – the guilt. Being a vampire was so cool; why did the vampires hate it so much? While this absence of predator-guilt might speak more to my questionable interpersonal ethics, it also drove me to ask “What if?”
What if being a vampire wasn’t a curse?
What if it wasn’t even supernatural?
What if there were a biological imperative to drink living human blood? Not some undead, gnawing-on-throats imperative, but rather a "Let’s do breakfast" thing.
Who would these people be? To us they’d be predators and thus, as nature dictates, they’d be fewer in number. It would make sense that since they drink blood from living people, they wouldn’t be able to eat dead meat. What if they looked at our steaks the way we look at a crow’s road-kill dinner? Perspective really is everything.
It would be impossible to keep their existence a secret forever, so what better way to hide in plain sight than to create a parallel monster myth? Throw in just enough truth among the outrageous lies to remain safe? Traces of their presence could be hidden among rumors and fear. “Give them a monster to hunt and they’ll never look for you.”
Then the fun really began. Here are a few examples of manipulating the myth. Vampires fear garlic! (As vegetarians incapable of digesting meat, they’d shy away from the heavy spices historically used to preserve meat.) Vampires cannot go out in the light of day! (They have pale skin that heals quickly. Sunburns fade in a day.) Vampires create vampires with bites from their magically appearing fangs! (No fangs, nobody turning into anything. Nothing to see here! Vampires – who us?)
Who would they be to themselves? What’s their mythology? How to do they remain hidden among rising technology, surveillance, and globalism? As always, they adapt. They are proactive, creating a Council, centralizing information and resources. But they’re still human; they love and fight and fear just like we do. They have cliques and biases.
In Ourselves, we drop into their world via Tomas, a young man raised within the comfortable and insular Council. His life is laid out for him – he should marry, have kids, and do his part for his people while maintaining his identity in the outside world. But Tomas feels compelled to seek a different life, and we learn that the most secretive people on earth are keeping secrets from each other.
They are the Nahan and they have always been among us. Ourselves is our first peek into their world.