Since Mozart's Blood has been released, I'm hearing this question a lot. A musical novel is not new for me, nor even a historical novel, but a vampire novel--that's a change. Authors can only hope that readers will follow them as they explore new ideas, but I have to admit to noticing a few raised eyebrows among my readership. At a booksigning just last week, this was the question I was asked.
Why vampires? I think the answer varies for different authors and for different readers. When I set out to write the story of an opera singer who is also a vampire, I avoided vampire literature for a time. As with other forms of magic, each system of vampirism has its own rules and requirements, and my vampires are no exception. They don't sparkle, and they don't avoid the sun. They can eat fine food--mostly Italian, of course--and drink good wine. They have their own strengths and weaknesses, and they pay a unique price for the nearly-eternal life vampirism grants them.
In some vampire worlds, it's clear that sexual titillation is primary. In others there is a delicious sense of danger, of flirting with the mysterious and exciting darkness of a world in which anything can happen. In some, of course, as with Bram Stoker's vampire, the creatures are evil, and have to be battled.
In my vampire world, and in that of a few others--Barb Hendee's comes to mind--I think vampirism means power. As with the young adult books I wrote (as Toby Bishop) in which girls fly winged horses, power is a currency much to be desired, and to be wielded judicially. When a young girl is on the back of a big horse, she is both beautiful and powerful. When Teresa Saporiti of Mozart's Blood shares the tooth with Mozart, she acquires a musical power she never had--and a long, long life in which to wield it.
The phenomenon is fascinating, and I'm still exploring it. Bookstores have entire shelves devoted to vampire literature, both in adult and young adult sections. Why do you think vampires have such appeal?