When I tell people I'm a vampirologist, the usual reaction is bewilderment or jokes about biting necks.
What is a vampirologist? Quite simply, someone who studies vampires. You don't even have to believe in 'em to do it. I mean, how many folklorists actually believe in pixies, unicorns and ogres?
Nor do you actually have to be a vampire. As Stephen Kaplan, founder of the Vampire Research Center, said in Vampires Are
". . . being a criminologist does not make a person a criminal; being a bacteriologist does not make you bacterium; so why would being a vampirologist make you a vampire?" (3)
Vampirology is a much more complex field than you'd probably think. There's a variety of perspectives and disciplines under this umbrella heading. In one of my blog entries
Still interested? Then let's move onto the basics.
My first piece of advice is to read, read, read and don't forget - read. There's no escaping it, folks. To be somewhat informed on the subject, you'll need to read as much as you can.
For a solid introduction into the field, I recommend J. Gordon Melton's The Vampire Book: Encyclopedia of the Undead
Despite its horrible title, Jay Stevenson's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vampires
Bibliographies are a handy resource to this end, whether they're the references that appear at the end of the book, or bibliographic monographs like Martin V. Riccardo's Vampires Unearthed: The Complete Multi-Media Vampire and Dracula Bibliography
"I have already pointed out that it were impossible to better such a chapter as Mr. J. C. Lawson has given us in his Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion, a book to which as also to Bernhard Schmidt's Das Volksleben der Neugriechen und das Hellenische Alterthum, I am greatly indebted." (xii)
Summers' own work, along with his The Vampire in Europe (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd., 1929) are considered to be classics in the genre. Both have been reprinted multiple times since their original publication.
2. Choose Your Discipline
As I said, there are many perspectives and disciplines in vampirology. So what interests you about vampires? Is it the novels? The films? The folklore?
I'm personally into the latter. If you are, too, then I suggest Paul Barber's Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality
However, literature studies take up the bulk of the field. The Library of Congress has 110 listings
Psychological perspectives are moderately popular, too. Nina Auerbach's Our Vampires, Ourselves
Now that you've chosen which approach you want to take, why not write something about it? This can be an essay, a journal article, a book or even scribblings in a blog (heh).
Niels K. Petersen's Magia Posthuma
Truth be told, I was initially threatened by his blog. Its wanton sharing of resources felt like a dangerous incursion into my own "secret" studies. But, over time, I came to appreciate his approach. After all, why hoard everything like a dragon on a mound of gold coins, if it's just gonna sit there and get dusty?
If you write or seek enough, you'll find other people with similar interests. I originally stumbled onto Niels' blog when I was conducting my own search for de Schertz's Magia Posthuma (I found a copy, by the way).
Thanks to a commentator on my blog
In not-necessarily-blog-related matters, I've also had the fortune of corresponding with authors I grew up reading (or reading about), like Paul Barber, Jeanne Keyes Youngson, Rosemary Ellen Guiley and Bruce A. McClelland. I even landed an interview with Martin V. Riccardo (which you can read here
It's also been interesting discovering what got other people into the field. Inanna Arthen's account
And, hell, why would Michele have even invited me to provide my contributions, at all, if I hadn't started Diary of an Amateur Vampirologist
But, a couple of words of warning before I wrap this thing up. Firstly, don't get into it cos of the money. Vampirologists aren't exactly millionaires.
If you really wanna make money with vampires, your best bet is to write novels. And even then, notably few actually hit paydirt, unless you happen to be Bram Stoker (who didn't even get to enjoy Dracula's overwhelming success until after his death), Stephen King, Anne Rice, Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlotte Harris and, of course, Stephenie Meyer.
Second, there's a high chance you'll come across nutters and other nasty folk [link edited out at VampChix's discretion]
If you think you can handle these things, by all means, go ahead with vampirology. We could always use young blood!