Vampires. Can you remember when you got into vampires? I’m imagining that everyone has been, at one point or another, ‘into’ vampires. My first foray into the world of the un-dead was when I was six or seven. I was in the kid’s section of our local library and found My Babysitter Is A Vampire by Ann Hodgman.
I took that book home and I read it, then I read it again, and again, and again. I didn’t want to take it back to the library but take it back we had to. But that wasn’t the end. After reading My Babysitter Is A Vampire I noticed how much our dressing up box resembled a coffin, and I used to pretend to go to sleep in there, arms crossed over my chest, of course. I liked to pretend I was a vampire and at school would – when I’d remember that I was supposed to be one of the undead – scoot into the shade so I didn’t get ‘burned alive.’
We moved houses not long after Babysitter, and a new home meant a new library to explore. I mined everything about vampires that I could find, and a few years after we moved, I was about eleven, I was allowed to have a teenagers library card so that I could take out a book about Vlad The Impaler and one about Elizabeth Bathory. I felt so proud of that card and the books I could get with it. So proud.
My Granddad bought me an abridged version of Dracula from a carboot sale, and I read it in a few, frenzied hours. I was in love with the idea of Dracula’s Castle, high up in the Transylvanian mountains, surrounded by dense, black forests haunted by his singing children of the night. I fell in love with the village folk who feared him and their rituals to keep themselves safe. And of course, when the story found itself in Whitby, a place so close to home, I almost burst with joy. When I used to stay in Whitby with my Nanna, she rented a place that overlooked the harbour and the abbey, and at night I used to pretend that I could see a great hound running up the 199 Steps.
Around this time, I started to notice my auntie’s VHS horror collection and stacks of Ann Rice novels. I’d study the cases of the videos and became utterly obsessed with Interview With The Vampire. I was allowed to read the novel before I watched the film, and while I was still a few years away from being able to fully appreciate it, the fact I’d opened the pages and read them was like having a badge of honour.
When I was 12 my auntie said I could choose a VHS to watch…any that I wanted. Of course, I plucked up Interview and I lapped up every second of that bloody excellent film. For many years after, I inhaled everything vampire. I remember watching Nosferatu and finishing it, then rewinding it and watching it again, finishing it, rewinding it, watching again…
Now, at the age of thirty-two, it’s been a while since I’ve watched a decent vampire film. It’s been a while since I’ve read a decent vampire story. I think the last decent vampire things I encountered on the box were Hellsing (the anime) and Shadow Of The Vampire. And nowadays, I tend to be more interested in the people who’re afraid of vampires, rather than vampires themselves. (I intend on reading into the folk traditions in Europe surrounding vampires, and what people have done – and do – to keep themselves safe.)
However, there’s one artist whose work I’m obsessed with, and who creates that ‘the undead and the children of the night are afoot…’ mood that I do love, and that artist is Yuri Hill. I hope you enjoy his work as much as I do.