Vampires Can Help: J.R. Ward on the (Sexy) Bloodsuckers That Shaped Her Life
J.R. Ward's The Chosen was released this month, the 15th book in her beloved Black Dagger Brotherhood paranormal romance series. Since the bestselling author has now spent more than a decade writing about vampires, Goodreads asked her to share her thoughts on the enduring appeal and power of the "children of the night."
OK, it just so happens that I love talking about vampires. Which is kind of handy, considering how much time I spend with them! And the question which is most often posed to me is this: Why? Why are these dangerous, sexy, mystical creatures so fascinating both to authors and readers?
Vampires also come with a commonly known lexicon. Instantly most folks get the gist of these marvelous creatures: the no-sunlight thing, the possible immortality, the taking a vein, the seduction. All of these particulars, and more, can be tweaked by the author, but there is not a lot of explaining and setup that needs to be done when you're jumping into a story with them. People get it, instantly, and are intrigued and excited. Exposition is the kiss of death for any story—the old adage of "show, don't tell" is as true now as it ever was—and when a vampire arrives, he or she carries the weight of all that have gone before. As an author, I don't have to explain much at all to get your attention and hold it with vampires.
And then there's the leather pants (!!!!) thing. There is a lot of romance in my books, and when you're trying to present a hero that makes readers think, "YASSSSSSS, absolutely I'd swipe right on that," you can't go wrong with a vampire. Seduction is their calling card, the air of deadly power their cologne, their glowing eyes and descending fangs the stuff of both nightmare and fantasy. They are the wild predator walking among us, only partially camouflaged by the trappings of civilization. The beast that is tamable by love.
But for me, there is also one other reason I like to have them in my books. (Not that it was a choice. The Brotherhood showed up and took over more than a decade ago, and they're still driving my bus!) Life is so hard. It can be brutal and cruel and mercurial. Because of this, people need an escape, and sometimes it's better to step into the shoes of something Other than us. We can watch things that have perhaps affected us personally through a prism of Otherness. It's like a buffer. Vampires have many human characteristics, good and bad, and in their struggles we see insulated reflections of ourselves. It's vivid but not glaring (if that makes any sense).
At the end of the day—or the night, as the case may be—vampires have shaped my life, and I will always be forever grateful to them (and my readers!) for lighting my way as I do what I love for a living!
J.R. Ward's latest book is The Chosen. Follow Ward on Goodreads and discover more of her books here.
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