Friday, December 12, 2014

Hay Moon and Chinese vampires

I recently received some reader email about the story "The Vampires of Wallachia," which appeared in the collection Hay Moon and Other Stories: Sixteen Modern Tales of Horror and SuspenseIf you've read the story, you'll know that this tale involves a group of Chinese vampires who have set up base in rural Ohio. 


The reader specifically wanted to know if I had researched the subject of Chinese vampire lore before writing the story. The answer is yes. We tend to think of vampires as a purely Western bit of mythology. Somewhat surprisingly, however, vampire legends appear throughout the world--including Asia.


The Chinese version of the vampire is called jiāngshī (殭屍 in Chinese characters). My research tells me that these aren't vampires as we Westerners understand them, though. The jiāngshī might be better described as "supernatural zombies". They are reanimated corpses that kill the living and thereby absorb their life essence. 


Therefore, the vampires in the story "The Vampires of Wallachia" are Western-style vampires, if you want to get technical about it. 


The larger point, though, is that the concept of the reanimated dead coming back to prey on the living in one form or another is obviously a universal trope of sorts, and one that transcends any  particular religious or cultural tradition.


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