Friday, October 23, 2009

Vampirologist, anyone?

Today's guest post is by Anthony Hogg, a self-proclaimed Vampirologist.  For more info on Anthony, and his study, check his website at:

Why I'm an Amateur Vampirologist

When I was a youngster, I had a common interest in the supernatural. Be it monsters, ghosts, aliens, it all fascinated me to some degree. At one point, I even gave consideration to becoming a parapsychologist. Youthful dreams.

From this cauldron of bogies and beasties emerged an interest in vampires. The thing that galvanised them to me, leaving the other entities in the wayside, was a movie that screened at 8:30pm on Channel 9, the day before I started Grade 6.

When I saw Fright Night Part 2  (1988), I was hooked. All the trappings were there - mirrors, crosses, holy water, stakes - wrapped around this modern day fairy tale of a college student besieged by the undead.

It didn't scare me in the slightest, but I enjoyed the creativity of not simply having to watch a guy with fake fangs in his mouth, standing around, looking all mysterious. What we had, was a rollicking tale of ghastly transformations and a ripper of a climax set in a basement and an elevator shaft.

Soon after, I began devouring all I could on the subject. A few books that I particularly enjoyed at this time were Lynn Myring's Vampires, Werewolves & Demons (1979), Colin and Jacqui Hawkins' Shriek! A Compendium of Witches, Vampires and Spooks (1985) and I even attempted to wade my way through Paul Barber's Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (1988), even if a lot of it went over my head.

We had a class called "Process Writing", in which we'd write, illustrate and bind our own books and then present them to our fellow students. I wrote one called Vampires: Fact or Fiction? It incorporated bits and pieces from the previously-mentioned books, as well as Terry Deary's True Monster Stories (1992) and an article called "Vampires: Myths and Reality" in The Unexplained 26 (1992). One of the subheadings in that article, "Terror from Beyond the Grave", even served as the title of the first vampire story I ever wrote.

When I got to high school, I found a copy of John Skipp and Craig Spektor's Fright Night novelisation (1985). After tracking down the first Fright Night  movie (1985) on video, I got a lesson in the art of novelisations: they don't always stick 100% to their source.

I later read Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) and borrowed Bram Stoker's Dracula   (1992) on video. I noticed it stuck fairly closely to its source, except for that whole love story subplot.

At this time, I was also buying and borrowing non-fiction vampire works. I got Manuela Dunn-Mascetti's Vampire: The Complete Guide to the World of the Undead (1994) for my thirteenth birthday. Later, it'd be accompanied by works like Matthew Bunson's Vampire: The Encyclopædia (1993) and J. Gordon Melton's The Vampire Book: Encyclopedia of the Undead (1994).

Throughout that duration - even now - I yearned to write my own contributions to the field. But at that time, I was more focused on writing fiction.

Just before Dracula's centennial year, I bandied about ideas for a sequel to Bram Stoker's work, which would involve reincarnation and/or a seance. Another potential story involved a vampire-infested town, tentatively titled Population: 666.

One story I did manage to write was called "Anemia" and was partially based on the "Fare Tonight" episode of Tales from the Cryptkeeper .

But let's fast forward a bit, shall we?

My excursion into vampire studies would partly manifest on the 'net. One outlet for this, was my membership on an MSN Group called The Cross and the Stake . It was founded by affiliates of Sean Manchester, who'd been described as "Britain's only full-time vampire hunter." Under my username, "The Inquisitive One", I enjoyed some discussions on vampires and other metaphysical matters.

Now, I should state, that I didn't necessarily join it because I actually believed in Manchester's claims (or in vampires, in general), but it served its purpose. However, when it came to discussing certain matters on the Highgate Vampire case , I found my voice being somewhat restricted, so I founded my own forum  to discuss it. This would later lead to a blog of the same name .

But, more in keeping tune with vampire studies of a broader scope, the 'net proved to be a valuable resource. I even began looking into tracing older vampire works like Karl Ferdinand de Schertz's Magia Posthuma (1704).

This, in turn, led me to a blog  by Danish vampirologist, Niel K. Petersen. We both shared similar interests in vampire folklore and classic vampire studies. His blog was part of the reason  I started my own, Diary of an Amateur Vampirologist .

In the midst of all this, I've enjoyed correspondence with authors whose works I've read - and/or read about - like Bruce A. McClelland, Martin V. Riccardo, Jan L. Perkowski, Jeanne Keyes Youngson, Paul Barber and J. Gordon Melton.

So why the "amateur" tag?

Well, at this present time, I'm more of a collector of vampire resources. The knowledge I've gleaned from that, I occasionally share through my blog and comments made on others. But, I've never had anything like an article or book published on the subject, myself. I've never taken a course in vampire studies. I'm very much an armchair scholar.

In this light, I've discussed the wonky Porphyria Theory on the origins of vampire belief, exposed  a falsely-attributed "vampire" picture, attempted to catalogue my own vampire book collection, chartered through the Vampire Apocalypse subgenre, bantered with Theresa Bane, been invited  to post submissions on other blogs and reviewed Drakula İstanbul'da (1953).

Among other things.

One day, though, I'll publish something more substantial. Until then, the "amateur" tag remains. But, when I start getting stuff out there, they'll be a doozies.


Unknown said...

Hi Anthony!

Nice to have you at VampChix today!

Thanks for a great guest post! So much interesting information, I spend a lot of time reading stories/books involving vampires in one form or another. I love how the genre has expanded.

Dottie :)

Anthony Hogg said...

Thanks for the welcome, Dottie!

The genre has indeed expanded significantly, especially within the last 30 or so years.

As to this present age, I've never seen vampires become so...mainstream.

Stephenie Meyer has a lot to answer for! Well, her and Robert Pattinson.

Not a bad effort from someone who had "never written even a short story before Twilight [...]" (as per her Wikipedia entry).

Jacki C. said...

I am enjoying that the entire paranormal genre has expanded. My "knowledge" has been expanded in the fields of Vampires, Shifters, Ghosts, etc.

Asylumgirl said...

Fascinating stuff! I truly had no idea of some of these things. I too am a connoseur of all things vampire, so I see some research in my future.


E.J. Stevens said...

Excellent guest blog! Very interesting.

Anthony Hogg said...

Hi Jackie C,

Yes, it's quite interesting to see how much the paranormal romance genre has expanded, as you say. What's more interesting to me, however, is the various strains that led to paranormal romance, in the first place.

I mean, we could be looking right back into Greek myth, incubi and succubi stories and even certain alien abduction cases if that tickles your fancy.

Hi ddurance,

Vampire research is certainly an interesting subject. Personally, I find it bogged down in too much literary criticism and not enough on folklore, but that's a personal bias.

Hi E.J. Stevens,

Thanks for the kind words! It was one of my favourite blog entries to write, as it took me for a little stroll down memory lane. I could've written more, but I didn't want it too take up too much space on this blog!

Anonymous said...

I love this blog post.

Interestingly enough in the US, Stoker's book is public domain because he failed to give the Copyright Office the necessary 2 copies of his book back in 1898.

Anthony Hogg said...

Hi Lou,

It's somewhat amusing in light of the lengths Universal had to go to in acquiring the rights to the book.

If only they knew...

I highly recommend David J. Skal's Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1990), which chronicles the whole saga.

Bertena Varney said...

So, I find you again. Check out Vampire Awareness Month -

Sorry it took a little while to find this one:)