Chelsea Quinn Yarbro Guest Post: The Incredible Durability of Vampires


An Embarrassment of Riches by Chelsea Quinn YarbroChelsea Quinn Yarbro has given us stunning displays of dark fiction teeming with vampires for more than two decades. All her Saint-Germain novels, which feature vampires in a historical setting alongside famous figures (yes, with historical accuracy), and they’re plenty dark. We’ll skip the crash course on her writing, because, really, Yarbro knows how to write vampire novels. That’s what you need to know.

Her 24th book in the Saint-Germain series An Embarrassment of Riches hit shelves March 1, and, yes, you want it. (Order from Book Depository or get it from Amazon.) She was kind enough to write this post for Vampire Book Club explaining just why vampires won’t let hold of their space at your local bookstore any time soon. Plus, make sure to read to the end for your chance to win a copy of An Embarrassment of Riches.

by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

There is something very perdurable about vampire stories. Every culture, current and historical, has some kind of vampire myth. Ask any librarian and he or she will tell you that in terms of horror archetypes, the vampire is the most enduring, the one more readers seek out habitually than any other; readers of the genre are inclined to stick with vampires tenaciously, as if the very act of reading infects them with the on-going fascination that is the characteristic nature of this kind of improperly dead mythic creature. Used book dealers also know that vampire stories will always have an audience and are a good product to have on the shelves, part of the literary vampires’ way of rising again and again.

That’s not an entirely facetious observation: Dracula has been continually in print for 114 years, an accomplishment equaled by no other novel in English. Right at present, vampires are riding a crest of popularity that will peak and drop off for a time, but will not become a lasting backwater, as some other horror sub-genres have done; in spite of everything print writers and screenwriters have done to the sub-genre, it has not fallen into the dusk of perpetual quaintness, which, for horror stories, means that the grue is gone.

Yet although the examples of the vampire’s continuing popularity are all around us, there is no consensus as to why that should be so. Theories abound, and some are probably nearer the mark than others, though over time even the academic perspectives change. Vampires are based on those two compelling elements — death and sex, which has a lot to do with it. But if those were the only reasons vampires are popular, there would be none of the lingering fascination that is the hallmark of vampire stories, and far less speculation about the reason for it.

Hotel Transylvania by Chelsea Quinn YarbroMy own theory on that, at least for the time being, is that the vampire is a figure of extreme ambiguity. The vampire is neither truly living nor truly dead, a state that is unique among folkloric archetypes. Unlike zombies and mummies, vampires are more than reanimated corpses, for they did not actually die, but entered the vampire state that is covered by another ambiguous word: undead. The ambiguity is present in most folklore, at least for male vampires — although this is not always the case in fiction — they are usually impotent and sterile. My own assumption about this that since they aren’t truly alive, they cannot do that which creates life. That does not mean that they aren’t sexual, for it is apparent in all the mythology that because the vampires must rely on the living for sustenance — blood is usually the sought-after substance, but there are exceptions to this — it brings about a close relationship with the supplier of nourishment. Some folkloric, as well as some fictional vampires are less attached to their providers than others, viewing the living as livestock, not partners. But just as predator is dependent upon prey, so vampires, even in the most sociopathic form, must remain with the herd if the vampires are to survive.

One of the more perplexing attributes of the vampire — and one that exists in most folkloric forms of the creature — is a lack of reflection. In some cultures, vampires also lack shadows. This not only reinforces the ambiguity of their state, it is a reminder that there is something very different about them and the way in which they manifest themselves. Such a lack is less plausible in these highly scientific times, and leads to questions about images caught by cameras, but when the myth first evolved, some 35,000 years ago by current reckoning, having no reflection would have been less noticeable, there being fewer mirrors about. The one place a lack of reflection would be apparent in millennia past, is on the surface of water, which is, I suspect, part of the reason for mythic vampires’ traditional avoidance of water.

There is another factor in the archetype, one that is not always present in the vampires of popular fiction, and that is age. Most mythic vampires are unnaturally long-lived, and this brings about a perspective on human events that is dissimilar to what the living experience. Folkloric vampires are grown-ups, no matter what their apparent age. They may look youthful, but their viewpoint is ancient, and that juxtaposition adds to the ambiguity of the vampire, and as readers, draws us in, for there is a difference of experience that can be mesmerizing. This is a device I use a great deal in my own work, and one that I find not only provides me with a wide swath of history to deal with, but layers the character of Saint-Germain, giving him a complexity that I, for one, find intriguing.

However writers tell vampire stories, all of us are drawing on myths that go back a very long way in human experience. Vampires are powerful figures, packing a psychological wallop that few other archetypes possess. And it is quite true that once they get their teeth into you, it is very difficult to get them out again. More than a third of my work has been vampire fiction (33 books out of 87), and, unless the publishing market for vampire fiction completely crashes, I don’t see that changing any time soon.

The AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES contest is now closed. Thanks to all who entered!

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and her publisher Tor have kindly provided one copy of her latest Saint-Germain novel, An Embarrassment of Riches, for a Vampire Book Club reader. To enter, leave a comment on this guest post explaining what draws you to vampire novels.

In An Embarrassment of Riches, the vampire Count finds himself a virtual prisoner in the Court of Kunigunde in Bohemia in the 1600s. Rakoczy Ferncsi, as Saint-Germain is known, passes his days making jewels to delight Queen Kunigunde and trying not to become involved in the Court’s intrigues. In this, the vampire fails. Handsome, apparently wealthy, and obviously unmarried, he soon finds himself being sexually blackmailed by Rozsa, an ambitious lady-in-waiting. If he does not satisfy her, she will denounce him to the priests and he’ll be burned at the stake, resulting in his True Death. Despite his care, the vampire makes more than one enemy at the Bohemian Court, and by the end of An Embarrassment of Riches, the Count can see only one road to freedom…through death.

1. You must leave a comment answering the question: What draws you to vampire novels?
2. This contest is only open to U.S. and Canadian residents.
3. Contest is closes at 11:59 p.m. CST on Thursday, March 24.
4. The winner will be selected using Random.org. Then they will be contacted via email and given 48 hours to claim their prizes. If we do not hear from the winner within that time, a new winner will be selected.
6. Entrants must be at least 18 years old, or have their parent’s permission to enter this contest. Please review our privacy policy, if you have any questions as to how Vampire Book Club uses your information. (Short version: we’ll only use it to contact you for this contest.)
7. Though unlikely, Vampire Book Club has the right to change or cancel any giveaway at any time without prior notice.
8. Thanks to Tor for providing this book!

36 Responses to “Chelsea Quinn Yarbro Guest Post: The Incredible Durability of Vampires”

  1. Nicki says:

    Oh, such a shame it’s a US only entry. Sigh. I am such a huge fan of the Saint Germain novels and will be getting myself a copy of the new one as soon as possible! Thank you, Chelsea, for so many wonderful stories!

  2. Stephanie says:

    I would say what draws me to vampire novels is the longing. I would want to live forever and reading those books makes them seem just barely out of my reach.

    Stephanie- thegirlonfire
    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

  3. Vivien says:

    What draws me definitely has to be the idea of immortality. To live forever, to not age…it’s undefinable how much that draws me in. Couple that with reading and it’s a winner.

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  4. Sarah says:

    I read to “escape”. I don’t want to read about real life, I want to read about things that don’t happen in real life. Vampires live forever, have a range of powers, and generally darkly romantic.
    I have never read anything by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, this book looks good!

  5. For me, it’s the delicate and contradictory balance between life and death. He could kill me, and yet he makes me feel so alive.

  6. Teawench says:

    What draws me to vampire novels/movies/whatever is definitely the idea of living forever. There are so many things I’d like to do, places to see, books to read that I’ll not touch even a fraction of them in my short lifespan.

  7. Naomi says:

    I think we all wonder, when we read of historic events, “How would I have reacted, were I there?” A vampire, such as St. Germain, has lived for centuries, and I read of his experiences in different cultures and circumstances and consider how our reactions would differ.

  8. Saint Germain more so than other literary vampires inspires me to want to know and understand history and humanity as well as a human can understand it, by one who has lived through it. I’m hoping some of his charisma will rub off. One can hope.

  9. Leanne says:

    I’ve been a fan of SG for over 10 years (back when finding the older books was an adventure). I hope to see CQ Yarbro continue the Counts adventure well into the future!

  10. Karen says:

    I love vampire stuff because..vampires are immortal and so enticing! It makes me want to know more about them!


  11. What draws me is the fact that by enhancing the human to make a vampire makes the problems we have to be more in the spotlight and more interesting. Plus, it shows that even the supernaturals have problems. It’s just fun.

    books (dot) things (at) yahoo (Dot) com

  12. Lynne says:

    What draws me to vampire novels is trying to find writing as psychologically acute, historically accurate and sensually exciting as Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s work. The being dependent, yet removed, from humankind plays a large role in the appeal of vampire fiction.

  13. Lindsay Hardy says:

    I love romance reads and when you throw a vampire or any supernatural in the mix it adds a twist of danger and excitement that normally can’t be found in just regular romance novels. Vampire novels have this forbidden feel about them that make great quality literature.

  14. Kristin says:

    Ms. Yarbro is a legend! Thanks so much for the post!

    I think what draws me to vampires is of course their immortality, and in the case of the “romantic” vamps, that dark sexuality…

  15. Doreen Riopel says:

    What draws me?
    It’s kind of sexy. Like, will the vamp take her, to be with him forever or have her stay as she is. Always, a little, what if, I suppose.

  16. Victoria Zumbrum says:

    What draws me to vampire novels is the immortality and the sexuality the vampires have. I like a vampire who is very sexy and good looking and who is good. I love when they fall in love with a human but fight their feelings because they don’t want them to become like them. They are trying to protect them because they love them. This shows that not all vampires are evil. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

  17. A lot of things draw me, the “what if” factor, the history, their immortality and of course the SEX.


    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  18. Emily H. says:

    I like vampire novels because they are unique in their characters.

  19. Brian says:

    I am drawn to the mysterous and darkness of vampires, and their role as outsiders.

  20. Lingeorge says:

    I am sure that the idea of living forever is a great draw. I tend to be drawn to the Urban Fantasy type of Vampire tale. With a strong woman that can hold her own.

  21. I like the immortality aspect. Also, vampires are sexy! They’re strong and pretty much invincible, they can protect you from anything if they want to or destroy you in a second.

  22. Tarra says:

    Um… the wanting i would say and the forbidden romances. It just sucks you in lol. And they always have to make the vampires so sexy lol. Then ther is always the history of the vampires life previous to being turned that is always interesting. And the temptation. Just the whole Vampire package. =)

  23. Amy says:

    I have always been drawn to vampires, even as a child watching Saturday afternoon horror movies. The reason for this, I believe, is that they are fundamentally different than the other Saturday afternoon “monsters”. They are mysterious, knowledgeable, (mostly) sexy, rich, and desirable in every sense. How could you not love that? The final nail in my coffin was learning about the historical link between Dracula and Vlad Tsepesh – I just cannot get enough vampires, fictional or historical – I’m insatiable. Does that make me a kind of vampire too? LOL

  24. The way I feel when I read a good tale or when I am writing about them in my own books. It’s a combination of sensuality, mystery and fear.

  25. Gina M says:

    I have love vampire tales as long as the story is good. What else draws me is the sexy male characters. 🙂

  26. Julie Ann Witt says:

    I think I love vampire novels so much because vampires are immortal and the thought of finding somebody who will love you for all eternity is as romantic and sexy as it gets!!

  27. Diane says:

    I have been an admirer of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s St Germain since the first book of his adventures was published many years ago. and have been attracted to vampires even longer. It would be fascinating to hear their first-person accounts of the historical times they experienced and how they take advantage of their immortality, how it affects them emotionally.

  28. Elecia Jones says:

    the reason i luv the vampire novel is becuz i luv hw the author describe them everytime i read a vampirenbooks i just cant put the book down isnjust i got attach 2 it i luv vampire since i was kid im trying 2 read all the vampires books asni can

  29. Laura says:

    what draws me to vampires in books are their physical description of course, their abilities and their immortality, its mid boggling how much they can live for a long time and sustain themselves with blood.

  30. Erin Fetters says:

    i started reading vampire stories when i was in elementary school…dracula was my first…i’ve always been drawn to the night and the thought that some things live and breathe there…it never scared me, i just always been curious and love the idea of living forever

  31. Emily H. says:

    I was drawn to vampire novels because of the occult history of the original vampire stories.

  32. catherine says:

    what draws me to vampire books is the hot, vampire guys. the ever lasting and strong life they have and the sex appeal to o damn that gets me. i love how they fall in love w a human and threw the book they fight to be w. them.

  33. Trilliumgrl says:

    One of the reasons I am drawn to vampire novels is the wide variety of tales that can be told. There is so much variation in the vampires themselves as well as how the tale can be told – mystery, suspense, romance, historical, etc. Vampirism can be a metaphor for something, or nothing, all of which keeps me coming back.

  34. David says:

    I like the manner in which authors take the vampire myth and (usually) make it uniquely their own. Some vampires are benign (Saberhagen, Yarbro) while others are much darker (Stoker) – and the full range in between. That means they reflect humanity while not being human: what the author does then to build a story can be very exciting!

  35. Maria S (pronounced Mariah) says:

    I like the look on everyones faces when I tell them I read paranormal romances (specifically vampires)! They think it is some big no-no! Besides that the charachters are dark and gritty and draw you in like none other can do! Maybe because they are supposed to be forbidden…idk!



  1. Contest Roundup: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Ann Aguirre, Sonya Bateman, Rachel Hawkins & more | Vampire Book Club - [...] the last day to enter our Chelsea Quinn Yarbro contest. If you want to score a copy of the…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by WordPress | Designed by Elegant Themes
Malcare WordPress Security