I have a friend (not mentioning any STEVE names, ahem) who doesn't like it when I mix up the myth. If vampires can go out in the day, aren't afraid of crosses, and don't live forever...they're not vampires. Does he have a point?
A whole set of politics and restrictions come along with the usual vampire concept. They've been done to death. I'll never do them better than Buffy or Angel. I wanted new avenues to explore (that weren't girl parts); new ideas. So here's a quick rundown of my vamps:
1) They don't live forever, but they age veeeery slowly. They're immune to disease, but not to being wounded.
2) They're stronger and faster than humans, in order to catch prey and protect their mates. They can hear the thoughts of those who desire them--also to aid them in catching prey. (This is disturbing if dogs desire them, as my hero discovers).
3) Besides those few factors, they're basically humans who need to drink blood once a week or so to survive. They have a pulse and a heartbeat. Some of them even have tans.
4) They hate the taste of blood...unless it comes from their human blood mates, who age at the same rate once they are bonded to them.
5) They're governed by an advisory board that forbids them to kill humans.
6) They're only allowed to turn people with the permission of the board; they have to drink someone dry and just hope they're strong enough. Too weak, and the human just dies. There's no way to predict whether someone will turn or not.
There's a lot of other conflict and backstory wrapped up there--as well as some blood-magic warlocks, or Wielders--but I'm curious: do readers prefer that authors stick to traditional myths? I'm probably not the first person to perform all these tweaks and twists (indeed, my favourite vampire novel, I AM LEGEND, does a good job of that), but does the "special-ness" of the vampire diminish if you remove some of his more famous characteristics? Would it put you off a book? Any recs for vampire novels that mess with the genre a bit?
Looking forward to your input!