Author Kristen Painter On The Lure Of The Vampire Hero

Are vampires the ultimate bad boys? Today Kristen Painter, author of the popular House of Comarré series, weighs in on the debate. 

Much has been written about vampires and their enduring appeal, so no one’s questioning that they’re an enormously popular genre. In fact, as a culture, we’re no different in our love of the creatures than the generations before us. Well, maybe we love them a little more? Whether they be Bram Stoker’s dark count, Anne Rice’s rock stars or Kresley Cole’s sexy immortals, vampires in literature have survived – and thrived – through the ages as befitting their immortal status.

But why are females readers so drawn to them? Here are my own theories about these undead bad boys: I think much of the vampire hero’s allure lies in his excusable darkness. A bad boy without a great reason to be bad is just a jerk. A vampire, on the other hand, has a built-in reason to be dark, moody and dangerous. Depending on what series you’re reading, he might have been born bad, cursed into being bad, turned bad by a bite or infected with badness via some kind of parasite/host.

Regardless, it’s not his fault. And that makes him easier for us to love and forgive.

His brokenness also provides a degree of fascination. Women love a challenge and the challenge of fixing a wounded hero is one many heroines have accepted. As the reader, we side with the heroine, rooting for her to “fix” the hero. Of course, fixing a broken man is much easier accomplished in fiction than in real life, but perhaps that’s part of the appeal too? Fiction is an escape for many and doing the (often) impossible can be a true thrill. What woman can’t understand the wicked appeal of taming a man no other woman has? Of being the one woman who can soothe the tortured hero? Beauty and the Beast, anyone? This fairy tales is an old and dear one.

Then there is the general assumption of beauty, strength and virility that accompanies the vampire. In most stories, he’s a perfect physical specimen in body and face. He’s stronger and faster than his human counterpart, making him the perfect protector, another key checkpoint in the female psyche. And as a lover, the vampire hero is unparalleled. After all, he’s had many years to perfect his techniques.

Lastly, there is the draw of a vampire’s worldliness. Their age and experience gives them an edge no mortal man could ever have. Not only do they understand how the world works, but they understand it in a way that allows them to manipulate it for their own benefit. They’re usually wealthy beyond belief, giving them a lifestyle that seems carefree and unencumbered by the typical troubles of ordinary life. More importantly – and unlike the average mortal man – the vampire hero’s knowledge helps him understand women and their complexities with a skill no mortal man can approach. The vampire hero knows to talk to the heroine, how to romance her in amazing ways, how to appreciate her for every unique thing that makes her important to him. That quality alone is probably enough for most female readers, but combine that with a vampire’s other attributes and it’s no wonder they’ve headlined in some of our favorite books, tv shows and movies.

Ultimately, the vampire male is catch-all for the things many women find appealing in their fictional heroes. No matter how you feel about the creatures, vampires are here to stay.

- Kristen Painter

Are you a sucker for a great vampire hero? Then we suggest you check out Kristen Painter's House of Comarré series which includes the recently released 4 1/2 star rated book Out For Blood. And for more great vampire reads, click on over to our Everything Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Page.