Obviously, I have not read every single source about vampires. I cannot even claim to have read every single paranormal romance featuring these mythical creatures. However, having written a vampire romance myself, I can direct you towards some very useful books on the subject. Have I left something out? If so, feel free to email me and tell me about it at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below! Your input is valued.
Let us start with what a vampire is. We've all heard of them, mostly due to popular books, movies, and television series like Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, or the ever popular Dracula. But how would you describe a vampire?
The Dictionary of Mythology by J. A. Coleman (Arcturus Publishing Ltd., 2007) describes a vampire as:
a monster leaving the grave to suck blood from the living: the spirit of one excommunicated, a heretic, etc.
It is said that a vampire can be killed only by driving a stake through its heart or by shooting it with a silver bullet.
But that brief quotation doesn't really describe vampires. After all, while it may tell of certain ways to kill one, it speaks nothing of a vampire's supernatural abilities, or the fact that it roams the night and not the day.
You could turn to classic literature for that answer. If you were to take a peek at Bram Stoker's Dracula, you would learn several fascinating things about vampires. They cannot cross running water, they can turn into bats or wolves, they can control your mind. Reading between the lines of your favourite poem such as Christabel by Samuel Taylor Coleridge or Der Vampir by Heinrich August Ossenfelder can also help to discern what exactly a vampire is, and what it can do.
In my opinion, a vampire is whatever you want it to be. I prefer to take bits and pieces—such as its being harmed by sunlight or the ability to control other people—and work that into the story along with my own ideas. Myths have been skewed over time, after all. So long as you maintain an internal consistency, feel free to let your imagination take you wherever it will.
Some other good sources when looking for vampire lore are:
- The Monster Hunter's Handbook by Ibrahim S. Amin
- The Vampire Slayers' Field Guide to the Undead by Shane MacDougall
- The Vampire, His Kith and Kin by Montague Summers (find the abridged version by clicking here)
- The Book of Vampires by Dudley Wright
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- Interview With A Vampire by Anne Rice (along with her other books in that series)
- The Wikipedia page on Vampires
- simplysupernatural-vampire.com - A great site listing books, poems, etc. on vampires.
- Everything You Need to Know About Vampires - A great site, another one listing lore and abilities.
And, of course, the most enjoyable part of research—seeing what others in the genre have written about vampires! Below is a list of some of my favourite vampire writers and their books. Please note, if the entire series featured vampires, I listed the series name. However, if only one or two books in the series featured vampires as main characters, I listed the titles of those books instead. Have a good read!
Lara Adrian, Midnight Breed series
Kresley Cole, Immortals After Dark
"The Warlord Wants Forever" (in Playing Easy To Get, anthology)
A Hunger Like No Other
No Rest For the Wicked
Dark Needs At Night's Edge
Untouchable (in Deep Kiss of Winter, anthology)
MaryJanice Davidson, Undead series
Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dark Hunter series
Katie MacAlister, Dark Ones series
The Vampire Who Loved Me
Lynsay Sands, Argeneau series
Maggie Shayne, Wings in the Night series
J. R. Ward, Black Dagger Brotherhood series
One Bite With A Stranger. (formerly Fantasy Fix)
You're So Vein.
What are your favourite vampire books?