So, what do you know about vampires?
With all the books and films out there, you’d think by now people would be well acquainted with the critters, both historical and fictional. After all, we have dark vampires (Nosferatu – Klaus Kinski), comedic vampires (Dark Shadows -- Johnny Depp), traditional vampires (Dracula – Bela Lugosi/Christopher Lee), gothic romance vampires (True Blood), sparkly teen vampires (Twilight – Robert Pattinson), contemplative mature vampires (Lestat), and romance novel vampires (any attractive bare-chested male with six-pack abs). We also have lots of vampire slayers, from Abraham Van Helsing to Wesley Snipes in Blade.
So by now everybody knows everything there is to know about vampires, right?
Here in the Balkans (Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro) people have centuries of experience with vampires and take them quite seriously. Did you know that there were vampire trials in Dubrovnik (Croatia) between 1736-1744 (shades of the Salem Witch Trials!), that there are documented accounts of medieval vampire slayers in the 1660s, and that there is a famous law from the 1300s (Serbia) that forbids digging up bodies to kill them? Today, many people in the Balkans are amused by western pop-culture depictions of vampires, which they feel have nothing to do with reality. Of course, there are no such things as vampires. They do not exist, at least, not anymore. Or so they say…
Yet since it is a well-established historical fact that vampires originated in the Balkans and that Dracula was a late-comer to the vampire scene, let’s take a short (20 questions) vampire quiz to see what we know about real vampires.
1) What shape and color are a vampire’s eyes?
2) What are a vampire’s teeth made of?
3) Where does a vampire’s power reside?
4) What do vampires look like?
5) Which side of the body do vampires feed from?
6) What are vampires made of?
7) How does someone become a vampire?
8) How do you kill one?
9) Where do they sleep?
10) Are they afraid of daylight, or can they solve their problems with sun block and Ray Bans?
11) What time of year are vampires most active?
12) Where do vampires like to hang out? (not the blood bank)
13) How many vampires can gather at once?
14) What do vampires eat?
15) Where can you always find vampires on Good Friday?
16) What are the most common professions for vampires? (telemarketers, attorneys and IRS agents do not count)
17) Can vampires have sex?
18) What is the relationship between a vampire and a butterfly?
19) When did the word “vampire” enter western languages and from which country?
20) When was the first recorded reference to vampirism in the Balkans?
Please remember that we are not talking about Hollywood vampires. So don’t tell me that vampires sleep only in coffins, that you become a vampire after being bitten by one, or that you can kill a vampire by driving a stake through it’s heart. With answers like those, the vampires would have you for supper.
The answers to all of these questions (and more) are in my new novel, “Kiss of the Butterfly”, which is based on my academic research and 18 years experiences in the Balkans. Although it would be unfair to readers to give away all the answers to the questions at once (spoiler alert), let me note that vampires must always return to sleep in their graves on Good Friday. Therefore, I would strongly suggest that you avoid all graveyards at Easter. But if you must go visit the grave of a loved one, make sure you take a sharpened Hawthorne wood stake (other types of wood and metal won’t work), a hacksaw, as well as matches and copious quantities of lighter fluid. And avoid any butterflies you see hovering around the graves. Just in case.