Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Vampires or Werewolves?
[SPOILERS: Take note, I have some “True Blood” Season 1 and New Moon spoilers in here, so read no further if you are in the middle of either!]
As a romance author I have certainly observed the rise in popularity of both vampires and werewolves (as well as other varieties of shapeshifters) in romantic fiction. Obviously I’m all over vampires as a romantic archetype, but werewolves were another story. You can probably chalk that up to lack of experience…the extent of my familiarity with werewolves is pretty much Lon Chaney and “American Werewolf in London.” At any rate, I just have never quite gotten the appeal.
I thought maybe you have to be a dog person.
Well rejoice, readers; this past week I got to know a couple of shifters more personally, while simultaneously reading Stephenie Meyers’ New Moon and watching Season 1 of “True Blood.” It was interesting enjoying these storylines that are so parallel in this regard. Edward or Jacob? Bill or Sam?
Well, obviously at first blush a girl is going to go for the flashier choice, the vampire. (Edward is literally flashy, in fact.) With both guys you get someone who is really attractive, complex, interesting, compelling, and deliciously dangerous. What’s not to love?
Well, if only because of sunshine-aversion, a vampire can’t always be there for you. Both Bill and Edward are forced by circumstances to absent themselves at length. And who steps in to fill the void for Sookie and Bella? The shapeshifters. After all, most of the time they can be (more or less) normal boyfriends for you. The fact that they sometimes turn into animals doesn’t prevent them from dealing with you like perfectly nice guys would, the rest of the time.
Meanwhile, in both storylines, Jacob and Sam also function to protect the heroine from madmen and monsters who would do them and their loved ones ill. Sort of like Lassie, only male. (See, I knew this was a dog person thing.) And even though I prefer cats, I have to admit Sam-as-collie coming to Sookie’s rescue was really awesome…and it was adorable how he, in dog form, lay at the foot of the bed guarding her.
Likewise, Jacob’s ability to wax lupine is pretty cool, when the whole point of it is to snatch Bella unharmed from the jaws of some vicious vamp. Wolves are actually really wonderful animals, and giant wolves that stand between you and the bad guys are even better.
So, we really have two classic romantic archetypes here, and each has a unique and powerful appeal. Sometimes a girl is drawn to the anti-hero—someone dangerous, a little deranged, very scary in a sexy way. Other times she simply wants to feel protected and safe, watched over by a fierce and strong guardian creature.
So okay, I get it, I get the werewolf/shapeshifter appeal. They can be attentive, faithful, strong but gentle, and wonderfully protective. I’d love to have a big, powerful, abjectly devoted guy like Jacob around. And Sam can sleep at the foot of my bed anytime.
Just so you understand, if Edward returns from Volterra suddenly, or if Bill comes back from the Tribunal, I’m going to have other priorities. That’s just me.