People have always been fascinated by the supernatural. There are hundreds of legends about ghosts, werewolves, vampires, and other supernatural beings. In the past, vampires were portrayed as vicious monsters who stalked and murdered their innocent victims.

According to Associate Professor Erin Collopy, who teaches a vampire course at Texas Tech University, the fascination with vampires comes and goes. Legends about vampires date back to the 14th-century. People created myths about supernatural creatures and beings to explain mental illnesses and other maladies they didn't understand. People would create stories about vampires or spirits to scare someone or to explain an occurrence when there was no logical explanation. An epidemic in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 18th-century caused the deaths of thousands. People in rural regions excavated bodies and determined they still had life due to decomposition. The theory was those who died were vampires.

During the Romantic Era, stories revolved around vampires seducing young women to control them. Instead of being monsters, vampires were portrayed as sophisticated, elegant, and just a bit scary. "The Vampyre" was the first significant fiction work about vampires. When Bram Stoker's classic gothic novel "Dracula" was released in 1897, the fascination with vampires reached an all-time high, continuing into the 1930s with Bela Lugosi's screen portrayal of Dracula.

John Badham's "Dracula," released in 1979, was a stylish production. The performance of Frank Langella as Count Dracula was subtle and captivating. Dracula had a new look, and audiences loved it. "The Lost Boys," released in 1987, was so successful that two sequels and a comic book series followed. The vampire craze subsided until the Anne Rice novel "Interview With the Vampire" was released in 1976, followed by the movie in 1994.

In the 20th-century, when more movies and books about the supernatural were released, vampires were still feared but in different ways. Women see them as seductive and mysterious, while men usually see them as monsters that must be destroyed. Anne Rice has a lot to do with how vampires are currently perceived. The "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series in 1997 - 2003 was based on the 1992 movie. The film and series was the first franchise to appeal to a younger audience. Several other books and movies were released in the 90s, but nothing created a significant fan base among the younger demographic.

Fast forward to 2005. Enter Edward Cullen. Edward was not your typical vampire. He was young, gorgeous, and worldly and every female fan wanted to be Bella Swan. "Twilight" was a phenomenal success, and fans of the supernatural had a new take on vampires. The novel "Twilight" paved the way for three more books and five vampire-themed fantasy movies. "Twilight" is the most successful vampire franchise in history. Part of the reason for the fascination with supernatural and vampire books today is that fans want more than a scary story to read. They want unconventional storylines and dynamic characters. The Cullens are a fascinating family because they all came from diverse backgrounds and had different lives before becoming vampires.

Another reason for the comeback of the vampire genre is that new books about anything are the perspective of the reader. People want to read about characters and situations they can relate to with a supernatural twist. Contemporary fans of the paranormal and vampire genre have an incredible amount of information accessible to them. If a character or storyline is too far-fetched the reader can check sources. If the story isn't well written and compelling the writer will lose their audience. TTU's vampire expert Erin Collopy said it best when she commented that vampires are a metaphor for our desires and anxieties, and we try to work things out through these characters.

Supernatural and vampire novels for teens appeal to them since they deal with issues that contemporary teens around the world face. Bella Swan's character in "Twilight" is a perfect example. Bella is trying to be an ordinary high-school student with friends and an everyday social life. The reality is she's hiding her relationships with a vampire and a best friend that's a werewolf from her friends and family.

Characters with complex storylines fascinate us, especially when there's a vampire or a supernatural storyline involved. Another explanation for the comeback of vampire and supernatural books is the era we live in. When things are going well, readers are happy to delve into contemporary stories. However, when there's a lot of turmoil around us, readers want to escape into a different reality. According to authors who write supernatural books, the fascination with vampires is because they're viewed as being supernatural superheroes. The concept of being an immortal that no one can touch is powerful, especially during difficult times.

Teens and adult women can relate so strongly to Bella Swan because she's not the stereotypical heroine in a vampire story. The earliest books about vampires portrayed the heroine as someone who had no power to resist the vampire. Current vampire books feature female characters that take control of their situation.