Monday, August 04, 2008

Dragons to Vampires

Two weeks ago the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy blog tour featured DragonLight by Donita K. Paul. The question was raised if dragons were an acceptable subject matter for Christian fiction authors. I had some good response, and everyone seemed to agree that dragons could be used as good or evil depending on context and not contradicting something clear in the Bible.

My question of the week plays off of this topic and the hot book for the weekend - the fourth book in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, Breaking Dawn. For those who have been in a cave recently, the Twilight series is the hottest thing in youth fiction that has crossed boundaries into all ages. It features a love story between teens Bella and Edward. Bella is a clumsy, ordinary girl, while Edward is a typical hero - fantastically beautiful, pleasantly scented, and he's a vampire. Oh, that last part may not be so typical...

The question: Can vampires or related creatures (werewolves, etc.) be a viable component of Christian fiction? Specifically, can vampires be considered good? Would it be acceptable to have "Christian" vampires?

Is there a conflict with vampires generally considered from an evil origin? If they are undead, how can they fit in a worldview that entails heaven and hell?

I didn't realize until searching Amazon for this post how many vampire novels are out there. I know of one considered Christian: Never Ceese, by Sue Dent, who had werewolf and vampire leads. I didn't read it when it was featured for a blog tour, I just posted the promotional info. Apparently there is a sequel (Forever Richard) coming out soon.

What say you? I just started reading Twilight, so I am far from knowing what Meyer does with the characters, and I haven't really thought about this before. Can it be done? Should it be done? Fantasy has the advantage of being able to re-write rules when world-building, but are there rules for Christian fiction that shouldn't be crossed, other than heresy and explicit depictions of sin?

(BTW, my wife happened to be at our local Barnes and Noble on Friday night when the release party for Breaking Dawn was going on. Wow. There were a ton of folks, with many girls and young women decked out in prom outfits or Gothic/black clothing, along with the scattered classic vampire. For sleepy Idaho Falls, there was a lot of interest. Quite the stir caused by a stay-at-home mom in Arizona!)


  1. Wow! Thank you for the mention here on your blog. First off let me state, that clearly I think vampires and werewolvers are appropriate to write about. :) But you asked were they appropriate for Christian fiction.

    To answer that one has to consider what Christian fiction is. Christian Fiction has come to be known as work published by CBA and ECPA, two gatekeeper affiliations setup to protect a market of conservative evangelical readers. There are writing restrictions and guidelines in place, (which are difficult to find and nail down) to protect this market. Specifically, no mention of Halloween or anything related. ie vampires etc . . .

    I write for the general Christian market though not the restrictive CBA and ECPA markets. Oddly enough I've been wonderfully accepted by readers from both markets!

    Unfortunately, I don't get to take advatange of one very nice perk CBA and ECPA publishers get to take advantage of--my book, despite being traditionally published and written by a Christian, will not automatically go in a Christian book store. Christian book stores primarily only stock books published by the "safe" CBA and ECPA market. They only carry books published by other Christian publishers when they can't be ignored. (sales folks. That's the only thing that matters to them. So get out there and buy.)

    So are werewolves and vampires and zombies and dragons etc . . . safe to write about in Christian fiction. Sure. If you're referring to the general Christian market and not CBA and ECPA. These two affiliations are are working to protect a particular market.

    BTW, Stephanie Meyers is very outspoken on her faith. She's a Latter Day Saint. :)

    Forever Richard is going to blow your socks off. Watch for the suprise release date and ginormous booksigning with The Writers Cafe Press(my publisher) and Shoutlife!

    God Bless!

    Indie Presses rock.

    Sue Dent - a Christian author who spins stories about vampmires and werewolves.

  2. Sorry about any mis-spelled words in post above. My laptop is ancient and likes to play tricks on me! Vampmires-hmmmm. LOL

  3. Thanks for bringing this topic to the forefront with an open mind. Maybe you have an opinion one way or the other, but you've done a good job of wording your post in an objective manner.
    I adored the Twilight Saga, but I wouldn't recommend it for young teenagers despite its emphasis on saving sex for marriage and even valuing human life.
    As with the Harry Potter series, which I also love, I find a more likely danger, not in the magicical elements, but rather in the subtle attitudes of the characters. As far as HP goes, I'll read it with my kids when they're interested and discuss the things I find a bit troubling.
    With Twilight, if I had a daughter, I'd prefer she wait to read these books until she's emotionally mature enough to not be swayed by the heady passion between Edward and Bella.
    As far as subject matter for Christian novels, I'm a strong believer in metaphor, symbolism, and allegory. Vampire myths belong in these categories and they can be useful for exploring the topics of good and evil, even redemption. Isn't it possible that Edward and his family do in fact redeem themeselves (not, of course, in the terms of salvation) by choosing to be hunters rather than murderers?
    I have finished Breaking Dawn and it concludes with a strong message for peace and love, not to mention the protection of life at all costs. That is a message I can get behind.
    For me, what it comes down to is motivation. When I write a scene that involves violence or passion, my aim is still to bring glory to God. If I could write a book about vampires and honor my goal, I would. Maybe I will.
    Thanks again for being willing to discuss these fantastic books!

  4. I just think of Hebrews. Jesus came to save man. He was born of man so he could become son of man and save man. So if one has a vampire who gets saved, it seems that we would need to figure out how manly a man a vampire actually is. If at the heart of it, a vampire is merely a human male and the other stuff doesn't much matter, then Jesus could be the savior of the dead and the undead. Wasn't the gospel preached to the dead too when Jesus harrowed hell? And vampires are really the dead with flesh.

    But if vampires are demons, then Paul's admonition about Jesus not being an angel but a man sent to save men...would mean that the vampires would need an angelic savior. I think.

    All these vampire stories generally fall into the old trope of women needing to save a bad boy. A bit of religion and he loses his bad boy habits for the right good women. A very worldly need for women, Christian or otherwise. Am not up on vampires. Are there many female vampires out there who need saving? Or are they too close to the idea of the evil temptress succubus for us to care? Seems kinda sexist to have all these hot male vampires around...and so few hot female vampires. Just a thought. -C

  5. Hey, great comments so far. Thanks everyone for taking time to write thoughtful stuff. Sue, thanks especially for stopping by.

    I am at a conference, so when I get a few minutes to write, I have some more thoughts on the subject. I wanted to see what type of responses I'd see first though. :D

  6. I hope you don't mind my late comment; I've been interrupted with half a comment posted, out of town guests, etc.

    After talking about this whole vampire in Christian fiction thing, I'd been thinking about how there is a clear distinction between life and death. Originally, in the Garden, I think it was God's intent that we not die at all (at least that's how I read it). The fact that the Tree of Life was there certainly seems to suggest that. And then there's the trees of life in the prophetic scriptures, whose leaves are for the healing of nations, etc. Something to look forward to!

    So, I asked myself, what is it that creeps me out about vampires? I think it's this:

    1. There's some kind of dark power behind vampires that lets them across the barrier of death, back into life

    2. Even worse, they can "infect" us normal humans and make us like them

    3. I am also not tremendously reassured by the presence of the religious person with religious symbols (usually a very ornate crucifix, or a simple wooden cross) ...

    Next, I asked myself, what would it look like if we had a story where God started to go after the power behind the vampires, the agency that gives them that creepy ability. What if the underpinnings started to become un-pinned? What would that look like in a story?

    I admit, at this point it started to remind me of a Frank Peretti novel. Don't know if you want to go there or not.

    Then it started getting interesting--someone brought up the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus tells the story of how the rich man dies and then has a conversation with Abraham about how bad his situation is.

    He asks Abraham to send Lazarus (who was in a better place) to warn his five brothers about the after life. Abraham says, no, they have Moses and the prophets. But, he objects, a dead person will get their attention! They'll believe a dead person!

    And Abraham says, no they won't, if they don't believe Moses and the prophets, they won't believe someone come back from the dead.

    It's a great story just waiting for someone to make a great tale out of it!

    If you write this, please send me a copy, ok? :-)