My Life with Vampires

October 21, 2009 by  

True BloodWhen I hear people talking about  the “new fascination with vampires“, I want to laugh.  Vampires are not new.  And they have always been fascinating.

As a small child, my favorite Sesame Street Muppet was The Count.  My favorite cereal was Count Chocula.  And some of my favorite Scooby Doo episodes were the ones with vampires in them.  When I was about 10 or 11, my hometown’s community theatre group held a production of Dracula, and my neighbor played the part of the Count.  I was terrified of him for weeks afterward, but the story told in the play haunted me, and thus began a lifelong literary fascination which bled (har-de-har) into my choices in movies and television shows as well.

In high school, I found Anne Rice.  I read the paperbacks of the Vampire Chronicles so many times, they were falling apart by the time I got to college.  Louis was the first vampire I truly fell madly in love with, but by the second book, I’d transferred those affections to Lestat and never looked back.  I loved his sardonic wit, his self-confidence, his passion, and his fierce curiosity about the meaning of life, both for the living and the undead.

My favorite television shows have included Forever Knight, Buffy, Angel, Blood Ties, and Moonlight.  My DVD collection includes an entire history of the vampire myth.  The history of vampires has fascinated me, and I have written serious papers on vampires in college and in graduate school.

As a high school teacher, I watched the Twilight phenomenon bloom among my students, and even girls who hated to read, loved the story and quickly became addicted to the books.  One of my students reread the novels five times in one school year.  Some of them branched out to read other vampire series as well, including The Vampire Diaries, the novel series upon which the current CW television series is based, but Edward was definitely their first love.  The vampire fascination spread across all demographics.  Whether the girls were band geeks or basketball jocks, loved hip-hop or emo, they were in love with all things undead.

Currently, my day job is in a college library, and vampires are present there as well.  Vampire novels are the most in-demand for interlibrary loan of all the books we carry.  We have two book clubs, one of which is reading the Russian vampire novel Night Watch and comparing the film to the movie, and the other which is currently reading Charlaine HarrisDead Until Dark and Living Dead in Dallas and comparing the mystery series novels to the True Blood HBO drama.

But teenagers and 20-somethings are not the only ones who have been bitten by vampire fiction and film.  Women I know who are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s all have read Twilight and love it.  While the media has focused on the tween and teen audience when they talk about the upsurge in vampire popularity, I think they’re missing the fact that women of all ages are fascinated by them.  And have been.  My grandmother loved Dracula.  My mother has read and enjoyed Twilight and the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries.  My former college roommate and I send one another suggested reading lists of vampire novels.  And I’ve met women of all ages online who are equally passionate and devoted to vampire stories.

I also don’t agree with the media that vampires are simply a “chick thing.”  While Twilight may have been written with tween/teen female readers in mind, I also saw a large number of high school boys reading the books in secret, and they all were openly interested in other vampire stories and films, including the Underworld series.  And on campus, though they may not come to our book club meetings, there are a lot of football and soccer players whom I’ve overheard discussing the True Blood episodes as they pass in and out of our doors.  Our mailman loves to pause to discuss the episodes with the library staff, and the IT guys in the basement want to know when the next season is going to start.  And not all of the interlibrary loans of vampire novels are being sent to women.  Men may not be as open about their fascination with the fang, but, believe me, women are not the only ones who’ve been bitten.

Though the media would have us believe that we are currently in a “vampire renaissance,” I am not sure that they’re at all correct in their assessment.  Have they really ever gone away?

Thinking back on the last 20 years, I remember a huge number of vampire-related films (Interview with a Vampire, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, From Dusk till DawnBlade, Underworld, Let the Right One In), books (Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Tanya Huff’s Blood Ties novels, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, and Charlaine HarrisSookie Stackhouse series), and television shows (Forever Knight, Buffy, Angel, Blood Ties, Moonlight, and True Blood).  Perhaps our collective memories are simply so short that we’ve forgotten that vampires have always been there.  Or perhaps the media is finally waking up to a fascination that has been lurking in the shadows since Bram Stoker first put pen to paper.  If so, it seems to me that the media has come to the party over 100 years late.

For me, True Blood had me at hello.  Though I can make comparisons to other books, movies, and TV dramas, True Blood truly is not like anything else I’ve seen in the vampire genre.  The show combines so many elements–Southern storytelling, romance, mystery, horror, comedy–and quite honestly, even if there were no vampires in the show at all, the other elements are so compelling in themselves that I would still be addicted to the series.  Vampires add eroticism and danger to an already wonderful story.  I love that Alan Ball is able to keep me on the edge of my seat, wondering what’s going to happen next, questioning everything I thought I knew about the characters and situations in the series.  Even though I’ve read all of Charlaine‘s Sookie Stackhouse novels several times, I can never predict what’s going to happen on True Blood from week to week.  And the entire cast is truly amazing.  As fans, we are extremely lucky to have such a talented group of people all working together.

It’s totally fine with me that vampires are getting more press these days.  I’m happy to see my favorite show continue to get a greater share of the ratings pie.  I’m thrilled to see True Blood win awards and for the actors to get greater recognition for their talents.  And as long as Alan Ball and the cast and crew of True Blood continue to create such fascinating stories, I and all the rest of the vampire groupies, men and women, ages 18-80, will keep watching to see what happens next.  But if one more person tells me that vampires are a new phenomenon, I really will laugh.

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  • Delia Remington

    Thank you all so much for the positive comments! It’s nice to know I’m in such great company! 😀

  • Loleaf

    Delia, I totally agree 100%. It was like you took the words right out of my mouth..
    I also have been fascinated with vampire movies and shows since I was a kid, watching things like Salem’s Lot (witch by the was scared me sh**less when I was around 8). But loved to sit in front of the T.V with a pillow ready at bay when something jumped out on the screen, but I loved every minute of it.
    Then came like you said From Dusk till Dawn(is a favorite of my son and mine). I also liked Buffy and I admit that I was wanting her to end up with Spike because I feel with the love of a good woman any man could turn over a new leaf and change. I feel the same way about Sookie with Eric(yes I am an Eric lover, but will not bash anyone who doesn’t feel the same). True Blood is by far my favorite vampire genera show, I loved the books and am tickled pink that the series is going over so well!!
    With Charlaine’s since of writing and creativity and Alan’s since of a good storyline , we will be on pins and needles waiting for the next installments of what we all know to be a winning combination with these two. All we need to do is keep watching so we could see this great series play out in its entirety.
    Thanks to you guys for writing all of the articles and keeping us posted on all of the news, and keeping our cravings to a minimum. Without authors like you and sites like this we would be lost. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!

    • Hi Loleaf! Thank you so much for the praise! 🙂 All the writers and myself try to feed and quell the thirst for True Blood news while we wait for Season 3’s return by trying to present information we hear about the actors and present interesting articles that helps us all focus on the appeal of True Blood. Even though the show is on hiatus the buzz level has not died down and we want to make sure it doesn’t.

      • Loleaf

        Thank YOU Sooo Much!!! And by all means keep em coming!!!! We’ll all be reading and commenting right along with you.

  • shadowinNC

    Excellent article. Both my husband (75) and I (59) have been reading vampire novels for decades and watched vampire movies of all sorts starting with the super-late night showings of Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922).

    By the way, it’s Forever Knight, not First Knight 😉

    • Delia Remington

      DOH! Thanks for spotting it! I made the correction. 🙂

  • Such a great article, Delia! My life story is very similar to yours (except it started with “Dark Shadows”!). I too have to smile at those who suggest the vampire fascination is something new, limited to teens, or limited to women. It’s a passion that has burned secretly/not-so-secretly in the hearts of humans for a very long time.

    My book “How to Catch and Keep a Vampire” has only been in stores a few weeks and already I’m thrilled to see how it has been embraced by all sorts. Teens have sent me fan email, men are pitching it to friends, the libraries that have it already have waiting lists. It’s simply an irresistible subject to many, many people.

    All that has changed lately, in my opinion, is that now a book on dating vampires is welcomed by every bookstore in the land. But we vampirophiles have dreamed of relationships with the undead for a very long time, and it’s nothing new to us. 🙂

    –Diana Laurence (www.howtocatchandkeepavampire.com)

  • antonio

    A Great Article! Wonderfully written! I agree that the whole vampire genre is Not Just for girls/Women! I’m a Man and I have been fascinated with Vampires,Werewolves Most of the old Universal horror films for Years! Bela Lugosi,Boris Karloff,Lon Chaney,Jr. I remember watching Claude Rains as The Invisible Man with my dad as a child it Always creeped me out!!
    And those Hammer horror films many with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee…Whoa! From watching “Hippie” vampires re-run films from the late 60s to hearing things like Dracula SUCKS in the late 70s It wasnt until Interview with the Vampire film in 93 that the vamp became more refined,cultured got a makeover of sorts. Twilight made them romantic anti-heroes
    While True Blood depicts as libidinous,bloodthirsty Cool guys!
    The Vampire genre is Certainly NOT Just for the ladies!!
    Just as there are gals who are secretly into Star Wars~~pretty much a guy’s domain but Not exclusively Just for guys~~
    There are guys who have read Twilight I’m 1 of them and enjoyed it! Sam Trammell admits to having read At Least 3 of Ms. Harris’ books!
    I think it would be great if Alan Ball would include More Sexy Female Vampires as they Do come in Both genders!!
    The Only thing Most Female vamps do not seem to be looking for lasting love or soul mates like males do!
    They seem to be out for just 2 things….Food and Sex
    Fine By Me!!! LOL 🙂