"What is it with all the vampire P.I.s?" One reviewer grumbled about the current crop of vampire novels straying from the familiar canon of undead lore. He wanted a return to fanged nogoodniks prowling the shadows, wearing capes, and speaking in Transylvanian lisps.
My sources in the undead world assure me that today's vampire says good riddance to the traditional ghoulish creature of the night. Let's face it, merely hanging out in shadows and fanging unsuspecting necks lacks panache and the modern vampire is all about style and attitude. Vampires want the finer things of unlife--comfortable digs, cool wheels, nice threads, the occasional blood martini. What's the point of having supernatural powers if you can't enjoy the perks? The hell with lurking in the sewers and biting people. You might as well be a rat.
When you write a story about vampires you have two choices considering the vampire is such a kick-ass character. Either he's the villain--in which case he shouldn't win (i.e., getting staked at the end)--or the hero, who has no business being the hero unless he does kick ass.
So you got this blood-sucking monster as the protagonist. Now what? Why is he the hero? Why should he care? The hero needs a quest, a mission, otherwise it'll be a boring read if all he does is sip blood toddies and lounge in the coffin wearing his jammies.
There are a lot of possible hero quests. But the most versatile role in the modern urban world involves the P.I. A private gumshoe can be the good guy without being squeaky clean like an FBI agent or an airport security screener. People come to P.I.s to get their problems solved. That's the hero angle. But there's always more. The client lies. There are secret agendas. The detective is set up. Mix in guns, molls, stolen money, contraband, all that fun stuff, and shake. Plus P.Is are shady characters in their own right--sneaking around getting the dirt on everybody--so the vocation is a good match for vampires.
The challenge for the writer is that a vampire accountant, program manager, soccer mom, isn't enough: you need a story. Something with roller coaster plot movement. The reader wants fangs and bone-crunching roundhouse punches. And the modern vampire wants you to have that, just as long as he's on an expense account and drives an awesome car. Like a clever P.I.