Like many others before me, when I finished my degree I went into commerce rather than following my first love, literature. I now write for the web and run creative writing courses, but like many I am always working on a novel. My site www.vamplit.com is new and still under construction, but please visit and share your vampire literature with me and get free advice on submitting manuscripts and writing skills.
If you've never read a vampire novel, then this list if for you. In compiling this list, I asked myself a question; which ten books would I recommend to someone who had never read a vampire novel? From the classic Gothic, Post-modern Feminist to Chic lit and Detective novel there really is something for everyone inside vampire literature. If you're a writer, the vampire offers you a plethora of material for the creative grist. Hero or villain, predator or prey, the vampire jumps from genre to genre, perfectly adapting itself into each new text. For more information on vampire literature visit my site www.vamplit.com
Vampyres, Lord Byron to Count Dracula by Christopher Frayling
This book isn't a novel, but does give the reader a fascinating insight into the genesis of vampire literature and the huge jump the vampire has made from mythical being to modern cultural icon.
Dracula by Bram Stoker (Broadview Literary Text) (Paperback)
Bram Stoker's Dracula was celebrating its centenary the year I wrote my dissertation. I am not sure if this influenced me, but I knew, from the moment I was asked the subject I would write about, that vampire literature was the only candidate. This book is a great read for all those wishing to read the seminal vampire novel. This book isn't to the taste of all modern readers, but, if you wish for a knowledge not based on Hammer Horror or some of the poor cinematic versions of the book, then it is a must. Don't be fooled by poor imitations, the original novel is so much more than any of the films it has spawned.
The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy Mckee Charnas
I loved this book when I read it, tapping into, as it does, the world of therapy and mental illness. This vampire is for those looking for a hero. Dr Weyland is a deeply flawed human, but he is a survivor, running on instinct. He takes no joy from his existence. There is no reference to vampire mythology, how he was made or vampire society. What this book gives the reader is perceptions of truth and power within an unnatural relationship.
The Gilda Stories, A Novel By Jewel Gomez
Think of The Colour Purple and interweave a vampire narrative. Gilda witnesses 200 years of slavery and racism in America. All that Gilda witnesses and suffers doesn't make her evil and one never struggles to empathize with Gilda. This vampire novel asks questions of society that are at times hard to answer.
Salem's Lot by Stephen King
Before I ever read this novel, I saw the made for TV version with David Soul and was blown away. I would recommend this book to anyone for whom a novel written in 1897, like Dracula, is too far removed from our modern world. Stephen King took the vampire in its purest form and transported it to middle America and shows us what happens when old horror is introduced into the new world.
Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite
This isn't my favourite Poppy Z Brite novel, Drawing Blood is, but Lost Souls is a gripping vampire novel. If you are looking for an easy read then this book isn't for you. Some of the truths Ms Brite tells make difficult reading as she shows that the true horror lies in the real world rather than in the fantasy of horror. This book was written at the end of the last millennium and shows the maelstrom of emotion typical in a 'fin de siècle' novel. This novel is set in a youthful subculture of drug taking, music and blood. Blood, sex and alienated youth are the themes for this excellent vampire novel.
Complete Vampire Chronicles: 4 in 1 (Paperback) by Anne Rice
I am a complete fan of the first four novels and think that anyone who reads vampire literature should read Anne Rice because her mythology and characterizations are sublime. If you ever doubted how much research a writer does, read this book; history and mythology abound.
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
Only one story in this collection is a vampire tale, but it is so beautiful that it is a must read book. The famous story in this book is The Company of Wolves and was made into a film in the 1980s. The Lady of the House of Love is a charmingly sad tale that takes the vampire into the realms of feminist writing.
Blood Price by Tanya Huff
Historical and detective novel rolled into one, not surprisingly this novel ended up as a TV series. Canada is now home for Henry Fitzroy the illegitimate son of Henry VIII. A five hundred year old vampire who decides to help private detective Victoria Nelson rather than kill after they meet. It is definitely a page turner.
Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson
If Bridget Jones became a vampire then maybe it might be funnier than when Elizabeth (Betsy) Taylor does, but I doubt it. Elizabeth Taylor, and yes people still laugh even after she is dead, is a chiclit vampire and the novel is just a wonderful read. In life, she is an under achiever and that doesn't change, but, in death, it transpires that Betsy Taylor is the most important vampire in the world.