Carmilla Voiez on Vampires

Guest Blog by Carmilla Voiez

Carmilla Voiez headshotCarmilla Voiez is a proudly bisexual and mildly autistic introvert who finds writing much easier than verbal communication. A life long Goth, Carmilla lives with a daughter, two cats and a poet by the sea. She is passionate about horror, the alt scene, intersectional feminism, art, nature and animals. When not writing, she gets paid to hang out in a stately home and entertain tourists.

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On Vampires

Image may contain: 1 person, flower and plantVampires are both elusive and seductive. They look like us, but they are not us. They can be monstrous or they can be liberating. But the real attraction of the vampire genre for me and the reason I wrote Basement Beauty is how much these undead creatures say, historically and currently, about the world we inhabit and society. Vampires have been representing political tensions since the 1800s. The fears their lore reflects are as relevant today as they were over a century ago.

 

The Class-struggle: an aristocratic vampire feeds on peasants who inevitably rise up led by the middle-class hero (Van Helsing for example), to finally destroy the predator. This storyline could have been lifted from Marx or Stoker equally. Or the fear of immigration: Dracula comes to England from Romania, bringing terror and destruction, a narrative that British fascists UKIP are fond of repeating. Or the empowerment of women v the destruction of rational men: the female vampire, frequently portrayed as lesbian (as in J Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla), embodies a fear of female agency and female sexuality that is not controlled by men. The female vampire penetrates the male (or female) victim with her mouth, this vampiric sexual organ is both a soft, inviting hole and a phallus (penetrating and dangerous fangs), the ultimate vagina dentata. I doubt the emergence of lesbian separatism and the prodigious rise of the female vampire in cinema during the 1960s and 70s are unconnected. Movies empower the male viewer with the presence of the vampire hunter (Helsing) or the male narrator (in the Vampire Lovers) to help contain the genre within a box guarded by the rules of patriarchy. So whether class, immigration or feminism, the vampire is representative of the “other” in popular fiction, the one that is not us. A force that preys on us and that we feel both seduced and repelled by.

 

I am fascinated by the current shift of the fictional vampire from monster to romantic Image may contain: Angel Harkinshero/heroine. I suspect this is indicative to the shift of attitudes toward sex and sexuality in modern society. In Twilight, for example, the vampires’ humanity and vulnerability is part of their attraction. It is as though we have begun to defang these monsters.

All this is the background noise in front of which I wrote Basement Beauty (the novella featured in Broken Mirror and Other Morbid Tales). In my book the vampires believe they are a superior race and are separatists using humans only for food. One rogue vampire disobeys the clan and dares to mix with filthy human pigs. His behaviour is seen as a threat to the other vampires that must be destroyed. The fear and hatred could reflect homophobia or Nazi style racial purity. Weaved into this story of hatred and eugenics, is a human story. Heroes, not victims the two tales merge until, hopefully, the reader does not see any one as the other, but instead as individuals and forces to be reckoned with. The political struggles are personal struggles for survival rather than something abstract that cannot be understood.

Do you agree with my thoughts on the politics of the vampire? Do you have any other thoughts of your own as to why they are so important to our popular culture?

Do you find yourself siding with humans or vampires in films and books? Why?

Male writers tend to show vampires as outsiders while many modern female writers show them as lovers and partners? Why do you think this is?

My favorite vampire stories –

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Necroscope by Brian Lumley

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

 

Photos by Angel Harkins

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~ by Sumiko Saulson on June 30, 2018.

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