This post about vampires. Actually about a single vampire. But before I say anything else, I have to say this: Vampires DO NOT sparkle! They do not glisten, shimmer, or ripple in the sun! They don’t. Most freaking explode in the sunlight, not shine like they were just rinsed off with Jet Dry. And there is no such thing as a “vegetarian vampire!” That’s the dumbest shit ever! Vampires who eat deer and possum like hillbillies with fangs are as ridiculous as the sharks who swore off fish in Finding Nemo. The shit is stupid.
There. I feel better. Don’t you?
And I digress. Today we are talking about vampires but not just any old vampire, we’re talking about the premier vampire, the original bloodsucker, the prince of darkness (Jeez, this guy has more nicknames than a member of the Wu Tang Clan)—Count Dracula.
There are so many things that make Dracula awesome, as a character and as a villain. Take his powers: he can fly, perform hypnosis, read minds and control people, shapeshift, control animals, walk on walls, turn into fog, control the weather and do your taxes. But it isn’t his powers that get the blood pumping and turn ol’ Drac into a pimp (literally); it’s that he’s so cool about it.
See, here’s the thing: he’s gonna kill you. No doubt about it. That’s his deal. He’s going to see something he likes, stalk it, hunt it down, and eat it like a lion. But the messed up thing is Dracula’s going to make you want it. He has women coming to him, tearing at their bodices, baring their necks, knowing it’s lights out for them. They can’t help it, can’t resist. And he wins every time. It is his seductiveness that makes him such a classic villain.
I think the seduction lies in his immortality. Staving off death is an intrinsically human endeavor and something—anything—that can live forever is uniquely attractive to us. We have to see if the price of immortality is worth it. Would we, could we, do what he does to exist for eternity? Could we steal the life of another if it meant we’d continue to live? But there’s more to it and I think it’s the piece we never seem to touch on: he doesn’t care. His ambivalence is really the prize. Immortality for the sake of immortality is boring and Dracula’s existed long enough to know it. It doesn’t matter. He’s tasted death and life, knows both sides and, I think, is satisfied with either one. There is no fear of the unknown because there is no unknown for him. When he finally “dies,” he’s peaceful.
Desperation isn’t sexy for anyone. Not in bars. Not when the lights come on in the club. Not when you’re trying to convince young women to open the window and let you in so you can chew on their jugular veins. Cool confidence, though, that shit opens doors. Combine that confidence with a demeanor that says time is no object and an attitude that frankly, my dear, doesn’t give a damn, and you have a recipe for the ultimate aphrodisiac. Who can resist? Not your hero. And certainly not your reader.
What does this mean for crafting the ultimate villain? It adds a layer of complexity to your character and that air of calm, cool confidence is chilling. It’s what madkes Hannibal Lecter so compelling, what makes Professor Moriarty so sinister. They’re coming. They’re going to get whatever they’re after. They know they’re going to win. Having such a villain only raises the stakes for your hero. And that, my friends, is good story.
Christopher C Starr was born in New Jersey and currently resides in the Seattle area with his wife; two kids–The Boy and the Honey Badger; and his husky, Rocky the WonderDog. He has a sense of humor like a Gremlin, a trash TV fetish, and telling stories is absolutely what he was meant to do.