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How to Be a Vampire

Oh, hi.

I'm Amy Gray. I like smoking, carbs, and words. I live in the (currently) sleek humidity of Melbourne, Australia. When not lying horizontally on my life partner, the couch, I write. Just recently I wrote a book about vampires. I know. No, really, I know. Right now your eyebrows are raised, your hand clenched on the mouse or touchpad ready to click away in indignation. It's true: I have contributed to the glut of vampire books on the market.It's true: I have contributed to the glut of vampire books on the market.

But I am unrepentant.

Some eleven and a half months ago, I celebrated Christmas with a self-hosted, 40-hour vampire film festival. It started with the sublime Nosferatu and ended, somewhat inexplicably, with the first installment of Twilight.

At the time, my housemate and I nearly came to blows over the film. I was apoplectic over the characters, enraged by the original novel and smug about the slathering fans. How could a vampire book series ignore all the rich, velvety lore surrounding vampires?How could a vampire book series ignore all the rich, velvety lore surrounding vampires? It was the vampire equivalent of a diet shake — it slaked a thirst momentarily but felt achingly incomplete. How could a new generation unfurl into a love of stylish monsters without the seduction of Carmilla (Dodo Press) by Le Fanu? The lyrical Dracula by Bram Stoker? The complete story arcs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Just what would you give to a fledgling intrigued by these lusty creatures of the night?

That's how the book came about. Presented as a manual for aspiring demons, How to Be a Vampire attempts to cram in over 3,000 years of history about one of folklore's most intoxicating bogeymen. Given almost every culture has a blood-sucking variant in the dark alleys of archetypes, it's a jumping board into a wading pool. There will always be greater and murkier depths to explore.

That's the other thing: I love monsters. Classical myths to men-in-a-rubber-suit films from the fifties and all that lies between. This week's blog posts will not be about the exquisitely ethereal gossamer of highbrow. We're going down, people, down to the heady lowbrow of monsterland and myth, where folklore rebirths as gaudy neon viscera.

Light a smoke and take my hand. It'll be fun.

÷ ÷ ÷

Amy Gray is a writer and photographer who is fascinated with art, literature, and the murky side of life. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her daughter.

Books mentioned in this post

Amy Gray is the author of How to Be a Vampire: A Fangs-On Guide for the Newly Undead

6 Responses to "How to Be a Vampire"

    georgielew December 15th, 2009 at 10:30 am

    So I guess I shouldn't ask you whether you are Team Jacob or Team ... what is his name? The sexy British boy who does the "Blue Steel" (see zoolander) poses? So who is your favorite vampire -- the one you want as your boyfriend, a la Sookie and Bill?

    Marie December 15th, 2009 at 10:45 am

    I tell my Twihard friends that I'm team Charlie. What? Divorced, single dads need love too! ;)

    Amy Gray December 15th, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Miss Georgielew, you pose a conundrum. I'm neither Team Topless nor Team Cheekbones. The majority of modern day vampires are just a little too whiny for my liking. Give me a chap with quips, cuddles and cojones: give me Spike!

    Schnootle December 16th, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    'Twilight' makes 'The Lost Boys' (blood-sucking hoodlums with mullets) and 'Interview with the Vampire' (Tom Cruise's one bite at cred - sorry Tom, thanks for playing and here's a stake through the heart for being such a good sport) look like high art.

    And Amy Gray makes all three look and feel like a Thai dancing pole at 4am: messy, unnecessary and slightly embarrassing.

    Rachel January 7th, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    I am Team James 100%

    Ps. ya I know he's dead

    Amy Weaver March 31st, 2010 at 11:30 am

    A friend's daughter just read "How to Be a Vampire". Said friend and a few others on Facebook were disappointedly discussing that the book told her daughter the RPGs were on-line games. As Vampire fans ourselves, we gravitated to the role-playing game (RPG) Vampire: The Masquerade by White Wolf Publishing, but the trouble is this wasn't an on-line game, it was played using the imagination and paper and pencils. We really wish you would have included this creative outlet in your writing Ms. Gray.

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