Today is an interview of Christian author, Mike Duran. I found his website about seven and a half years ago when I was writing my Master’s paper and was working on the section about, “Vampire Used as Religious Icons”. The thought of vampires and Christianity having anything in common was very foreign to me and when I found authors who loved vampires and were writing about it from a Christian perspective I was intrigued. It has now taken a little while but I have found that offer and he has graciously agreed to do an interview for me explaining this whole concept of a Christian Vampire literature genre.
Question: What is your academic and writing background? Where are you from?
Answer:Â Well, Iâve lived in SoCal my whole life. Iâm an ordained Protestant minister currently working in construction and moonlighting as a novelist. Meanwhile, Iâve served as an editor for Coachâs Midnight Diner, contribute monthly commentary for Novel Journey (which was again selected by Writerâs Digest as one of the 101 best sites for writers) and manage my own website (http://www.mikeduran.com). My first novel, a supernatural suspense, has recently been contracted by Strang Publishing for their Realms division and is slated for a Spring 2011 release.
Question: When or where did you get the idea about Christian vampire literature?
Answer:Â For one, the horror genre has always trafficked in moral and religious themes. Good and evil, life and death, angels and devils, heaven and hell, human nature and depravity. These themes are staples of the horror genre. They also happen to be intrinsic parts of a biblical worldview. Which is why the genre of horror actually creeps into Christian fiction so often, although itâs not called that. Nevertheless, there is a certain compatibility between biblical themes and classic horror.
After reading Bram StokerâsÂ Dracula,Â I realized how eminently âreligiousâ the book was. For instance, Christianity is portrayed in a positive light throughout Dracula. The protagonists pray, quote Scripture, seek Godâs guidance, and ultimately prevail. Religious imagery, ritual, and practice are explicit throughout the story. And there is a redemptive resolution which even hints that Dracula finds peace. Take this quote from the storyâs climax:
âI shall be glad as long as I live that even in that moment of final dissolution, there was in the face [of Dracula] a look of peace, such as I never could have imagined might have rested there.â
Did Dracula find peace? Could he? And despite their bloodthirsty nature, do vampires actually pine for peace? Which leads to other questions, like what of the person who was a Christian before being bitten? Do they suddenly lose their salvation? Or what about the vampire who yearns to be redeemed from his curse? Is she automatically doomed without any choice or can she choose to battle her appetite? These kinds of questions seem to naturally arise from the subject matter. But maybe the bottom line is this:Â If vampires are fictional constructs, then why canât they be Christian?
Question: What exactly constitutes a book to be labeled – Christian Vampire?
Answer:Â That question is still in flux; as far as I know, there is not a lot of points of reference. And it needs to be looked at from two perspectives. One would be Christian publishers and their audience. Secondly, the general market. Both of these markets approach the topic differently and hold a tension between those two words â Christian and Vampire. Readers in the general market probably want more vampire content than Christian, while readers in the Christian market probably want more Christian content than vampire. This kind of tension dooms the concept to perpetual controversy, especially among devotees of either camp.
So to answer your question, the Christian vampire concept is still in transition. It might never gain traction. Then again, there are avid readers of the genre who like this sort of speculation and re-imagining. In fact, many contemporary renditions of the vampire motif tweak the classical view. So nothing is set in stone.
In the basic sense, a Christian vampire story would probably involve redemption or view the vampireâs moral, existential struggles through a biblical lens. Anne Rice, author of the Interview with the Vampire Chronicles, says as much. On her blog, in a post entitled On the Nature of My Earlier Work, the author discussed that concept. Since returning to her Catholic roots, Ms. Rice has been repeatedly asked to renounce her earlier vampire works. After tracing the history of âdark storiesâ â from Danteâs Inferno, to Shakespeareâs Hamlet and Macbeth, to Flannery OâConnor â she stated her belief that many such stories are âtransformativeâ in nature. According to Rice, the gist of her popular series is the ânear despair of an alienated being who searches the world for some hope that his existence can have meaning. His vampire nature is clearly a metaphor for human consciousness or moral awareness.â Anne Riceâs Louis Pointe du Lac may be the first vampire to grow a conscience, but that âmoral awarenessâ has forever altered the literary landscape of the undead.
The idea that the vampire figure holds a mirror to âhuman consciousness or moral awarenessâ could be foundational to constructing a Christian vampire. Historically, the vampire motif is often used to portray Original Sin, wherein fallen man is viewed as an addict, thirsting after wickedness. Add to this the Gospel message that no one is outside the reach of grace and you have the workings of an interesting speculative scenario. But whether or not these elements could come together in a book or film that satisfies both Christians and fans of the vampire genre is another story.
Question: What has been your experiences with trying to publish a book of this type?
Answer:Â Well, I havenât made a huge run at it, to be honest. I pitched the idea past my last agent who liked the concept but, like me, was well aware of the risk. One hesitation I have is the current marketâs saturation. It may be leveling out, but between Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, HBOâs True Blood, and many, many others, there is no shortage of vampires in film and fiction. Jumping on a bandwagon, especially when itâs over-crowded, is not something I want to do. Another reservation I have is the trepidation on the part of Christian publishers to touch the subject. The Christian market is notoriously conservative, so trying to push through stories about vampires carries a built-in frustration factor.
Question: Why do you think that there have been such resistance and rejections to Christian Vampire Literature?
Answer:Â Thatâs pretty easy to answer. First, evil. Second, erotica.
Although there are various cultural legends, the vampire has always been associated with evil. She feeds on others, steals their life to sustain her own. Many have pointed out how the vampire myth reverses the symbolism of the Christian Eucharist. Whereas Christ commanded His followers to eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:53), the vampire turns that around and feeds on the flesh and blood of her victim. Thus, the vampire is an archetype for something antithetical to Christianity. It is anti-Christ, if you will.
The second reason thereâs been such resistance to the notion of a Christian vampire is the erotica. Somewhere along the way, the vampire âkissâ â the biting of the jugular vein â took on increasingly sexualized connotations. Instead of frail, pathetic parasites, vampires became Casanovas, refined and aristocratic men about town. Nowadays, the erotica has been replaced by teenage angst and forbidden romance. Either way, Christian audiences are still suspicious of the vampire motif for these reasons.
Question: What do you think is the future for authors who would like to publish in this genre?
Answer:Â Hmm. Theyâre probably in for a rough road. Iâm not saying it isnât worth traveling. Thereâs just a lot working against them. Again, your audience matters a lot. Frankly, the person exploring the Christian vampire concept may have a better chance in the general market. I just donât know how ready the religious community is to embrace the notion. But bottom line: Writers are often encouraged to write whatâs on their heart, share their story and damn the torpedoes. So that would be my advice. If your story is about a Christian vampire, then write it.
Question: Where can our Lexington readers go to contact you or get more information?
Answer:Â My main contact point is my website:Â www.MikeDuran.com.