Christopher Farnsworth on The President's Vampire
There are probably some people who wonder why I decided the world needed another vampire novel, let alone one about a bloodsucker who works for the president.
But to me, changing the War on Terror to the War on Horror didn’t seem like that much of a leap.
My vampire Nathaniel Cade even has his birth in U.S. history. I got the idea when reading a weird factoid about a sailor pardoned by President Andrew Johnson after being accused of killing two men and drinking their blood. I wondered: What would a man sitting in the Oval Office do with a vampire?
Then it hit me. That was the wrong question. The right question is: What wouldn’t the president do with a vampire?
Since 9/11, it seems that the United States has struggled with one nightmare after another. There’s a feeling that the ground isn’t stable under our feet; that it might crumble at any moment and the graves will open and all kinds of nasty, hungry things will spring out.
You can see how we’re handling it in our hunger for stories of zombies and vampires and conspiracies. John Connolly’s Charlie Parker is a detective constantly fighting ghosts and demons, both symbolic and literal. Jonathan Maberry pits soldiers against what can only be called mad science; F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack is a street-level fixer forced to confront undying evil. Meanwhile, Justin Cronin and Max Brooks have imagined worlds that show us what happens when humanity loses to horror.
This is where Nathaniel Cade comes in. He’s our front line and last resort in this war. He makes sure the nightmares never infect the brightly lit world of the American dream. He’s able to fight terror with terror.
There are two sayings that constantly go through my head when I’m writing Cade. The first is the old aphorism from Nietzsche: “Whoever fights monsters must take care not to become a monster himself.” The second I read in Shibumi, one of my favorite books of all time: “Who does the harsh things? He who can.”
Cade has already lost his humanity. He’s never going to get it back. So he knows the cost if he fails; he knows how easy it would be to slip into the future as it exists in The Passage. But he’s able to go into the shadows and survive precisely because he isn’t human. The shadows are where he belongs now.
To paraphrase Franklin D. Roosevelt, Cade might be a monster, but he’s our monster. And in a world filled with terror and darkness, it’s somehow comforting to think that we’ve got something with teeth on our side.