As a child, Kristi Cook took her nose out of a book only long enough to take a ballet class (or five) each week. Not much has changed since then, except she’s added motherhood to the mix and enjoys penning her own novels as much as reading everybody else’s. A transplanted southern gal, Kristi lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.
Thanks, Lori, for having me! I’ve always been fascinated by vampires—wait, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been fascinated with them since I first read Anne Rice’s Interview With a Vampire, way back when. I think I first read it somewhere around 1985, when the second book in the series, The Vampire Lestat, came out. I was a teenager then, and I was totally hooked after those first two books in the series. I eagerly awaited the sequels with the same urgency as modern-day readers waited for Harry Potter or Twilight or Hunger Games sequels.
The only difference was that we had to wait much longer. Forget that whole “We have to wait an entire year?” agony. Three years for The Queen of the Damned. Another four for The Tale of the Body Thief. Yes, people, this is the way that publishing used to work.
Anyway, back to Anne Rice and her vampires. I loved them. Loved the lore she created, which basically followed most of the traditional mythos (cold skin, super-human speed and strength, could be burned by the sun, etc.), while adding unique contributions, as well.
While her vampires weren’t huge departures from popular mythos, they do mark a shift from the vampire-as-a-villain to the vampire-as-the-hero. I cared about Louis, the angsty, self-loathing vampire. I cared about Lestat, too–arrogant, selfish Lestat. I was fascinated by Armand, charmed by the tragic, perpetual-child vampire Claudia.
Anne Rice’s vampires set the standard for me—they became the “real” vampires in my mind. I wasn’t really interested in reading others. I never read LJ Smith’s Vampire Diaries, and have never seen the TV show based on the books. I haven’t seen Buffy or Angel or even the more recent True Blood.
So when it came time to define the vampire mythos for Haven—to define the “rules” that my vampires were going to live by—I turned to Anne Rice. I didn’t re-read the Vampire Chronicles, didn’t study them or anything like that. I just sort of followed my gut, going with what I remembered, and making up stuff that I didn’t. I wanted to put my own stamp on the mythos, while mostly following tradition. I mean, it’s kind of hard to imagine a vampire who isn’t cold to the touch, who can’t move faster and stealthier than humans, who doesn’t feed on human blood, who doesn’t hide from the sun.
Because these are the basic things we all “know” about vampires. We also know that people hunt them with stakes, and that they aren’t big fans of crucifixes or garlic. It’s a part of our cultural zeitgeist, even if we’ve never read a single book about vampires.
Which is why I’m always a little puzzled when I get accused of “ripping off” Edward Cullen because my vampires are cold or fast or eschew the sun or read minds. I always want to answer, “No, I’m really ripping off Louis de Pointe du Lac!” Louis was the most human of Rice’s vampires, rejecting his immortal nature. He wants to be human again. And I’m pretty sure that he—and all of Rice’s vampires, really—could read minds. He’s my basis for Aidan Gray. Or, at least in my mind, the literary vampire he’s most like. When my vampires start to sparkle, then you can accuse me of ripping off the Cullens.
And let’s remember, folks, Louis and Lestat came before Edward. No, really. And Bram Stoker’s Dracula came before Louis and Lestat. They all pretty much share the core mythos, the stuff we’re all familiar with. Rice added her own touches. Meyers did, too. I can only hope I’ve done the same.