Most serious writers of short horror fiction avoid writing about vampires like, well, like vampires avoid sunlight. The vampire is an easy trope to reach for. Most short fiction markets these days stipulate NO VAMPIRES, WEREWOLVES OR ZOMBIES UNLESS GIVEN A NEW AND INTERESTING TWIST, or words to that affect. As for sparkly vampires…we won’t even go into that! Having been scared shitless by the movie version of ‘Salem’s Lot when I was about eleven years old, I’ve always had a soft spot for the old garlic-dodgers. I’ve even written a handful of vampire stories myself – a few of which I’ve published, and others which I’ve deemed too derivative to see the light of day (see what I did there?). Occasionally, you do come across a short story which manages to give vampires a new breath of life (and again?). Below are five of my favourite vampire tales.
Sit the Dead by Jeffrey Ford.
Ford – in typical fashion - essentially reinvents the vampire mythos for his own ends here, with a tale of a young man getting embroiled with the wrong kind of family. This story walks a line between humour and horror.
Find it: Crackpot Palace by Jeffrey Ford
Endless Night by Barbara Rodin
Set in the world of 19th century Antarctic exploration, Rodin’s vampire tale is heavy on atmosphere and suggestion like an old-fashioned ghost story. Her vampire is a weary soul looking for a way out.
Find it: Northwest Passages by Barbara Rodin
Let the Old Dreams Die by John Ajvide Lindqvist
A short story sequel to Let The Right One In, this was the last story I can remember reading that had me checking all doors and windows were locked before I went to bed.
Find it: Let The Old Dreams Die by John Ajvide Lindqvist.
The Drifting Snow by August Derleth
The second time I read this I was surprised at how clunky the writing style was, though on first read I was totally drawn into this tale of a family gathering and the beckoning ghouls outside in the falling snow.
Find it: The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories by Alan Ryan
Sunbleached by Nathan Ballingrud
Joshua discovers a vampire hiding from the sun in the crawl space under his house, and decides he wants to be a vampire too. Can he trust this creature of the night?
This story is available to read online here.
Find it: North American Sea Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud.