I wonder if vampires could be repelled by bug spray.
I know that vampires are more closely associated with bats, which eat mosquitoes in most parts of the world where they exist, so it’s a stretch to make, but the thing that got me thinking about it is that vampires typically do drink blood in folklore and fiction, and mosquitoes are probably the most common bloodsuckers anyone has a day-to-day experience with. It’s starting to be warm here in Massachusetts (though I think I have to use the term “warm” loosely), so mosquito repellent is hitting the shelves and, likely, people are starting to buy it.
Assuming that there was a universe where vampires were as common as mosquitoes–okay, maybe not as common–and people didn’t feel like wearing cloves of garlic around their necks, what would be the next best thing? Well, there are crosses, sure, but what if those only worked on Christian vampires (or vampires who were Christian while they were alive, or whatever)? You can’t just spill rice every where you go and hope that all vampires are compulsively inclined towards counting each grain.
It makes perfect sense, then, in a story about vampires where people know that they exist and they don’t want to open themselves up to the kinds of blood-born diseases you might typically associate with mosquitoes or even maybe used syringes (it’s fiction, pick your poison) or, you know, death, since maybe some vampires don’t know how to stop themselves. I guess they’d probably come up with a kind of anti-vampire spray.
And that’s what I think can be really fun about urban fantasy, and that’s what I’m attracted to when I do pick up something of the genre. There are plenty of serious stories that I’ll read (that I’ll write), but I think even in those serious stories, you need to have something that will make a reader laugh. There are plenty of ways you can play with vampires. It’s not like there’s a single version of them in the world, and as long as you can give a reason for whatever’s going on in your story, I feel like readers are going to give you permission to lead them further. Give the a reason to believe what you’re telling them, I guess. Now could be a good time to take a jab at Twilight, but I’d rather not; it’d feel cheap and trite and Stephenie Meyer did at some point try to give a “scientific” explanation for her vampires (although in retrospect, it might have been better had she not; there are plenty of stories about vampires having babies, and no peasants ever felt the need to try to explain how).
I started rewatching Trueblood earlier this week, and I like the first season because, for all the weirdness that’s there, it’s not really outrageous. Murder mysteries are fun, needing to come up with a blood substitute for a vampire population is cool, and it didn’t get over-involved with itself. When series get too big, I think they run a serious risk of toppling over. The later seasons of the show aren’t great, because for all the expanded mythos of the series, you’ve still got to worry about what’s next. Is it bigger? Badder? Stronger? After a certain point, that gets really boring. Teen Wolf too I think started to fall into that trap. I don’t really care about a sacred tree attracting supernatural beasts. I just want to watch a show about teenage werewolf who plays lacrosse.
What We Do in the Shadows, on the other hand, manages to do this kind of thing really well; I wonder if when a work is more self-aware of itself, it’s better able to avoid the pitfalls it might run into. Maybe not.
In another universe, where vampires are a common nuisance, people are smart enough to remember to put on vampire repellent when they go out after dusk. In this one, I’m rubbing hydrocortisone all over my legs because I forgot my bug spray. The main lesson in all of this isn’t to convince your readers to hang on with you, but to remember that mosquitoes are vicious and that your blood is likely very appealing to them, so cover yourself in DEET this summer.