Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Rockstar Vampire Who Changed My World

“You know it was the damnedest luck!” I whispered suddenly. “I am an unwilling devil. I cry like some vagrant child. I want to go home.”

I am the Vampire Lestat. I’m immortal. More or less. The light of the sun, the sustained heat of an intense fire—these things might destroy me. But then again, they might not.

- The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice


My teen years were irrevocably shaped by two authors: Douglas Adams and Anne Rice. Theirs were the books I turned to most often, the ones that got me through the day. The short stories I wrote in high school—most about humorously inept fallen gods and seductive creatures of the night—were by-products of my love for The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul and The Vampire Chronicles (the first four books).

Now, years later, if I had to sum up the lasting impact those two authors have had on me, I’d say this:

Douglas Adams irrevocably sharpened my sense of humour and is partially responsible for my habit of looking at the world as though it’s the punch line to a joke waiting to be told.

Anne Rice is the reason I write about people—werewolves and humans alike—struggling with the dark.

She’s not the only reason (all that Stephen King I read as a pre-teen, for example, probably had an effect), but when I think back to how I felt the first time I read The Vampire Lestat*, I remember the feeling of a key turning, of something clicking. An ah-ha moment, if you will.

The books opened up a whole line of thinking that hadn’t occurred to me when reading Salem’s Lot or watching Monster Squad. How do you reconcile the fact that you have to take life to live? What parts of being mortal do you cling to and which do you let go? How do you cope with immortality? Not the strength or the eternal youth but the slow grind of centuries and a world that evolves while you remain frozen. Heck, what do you do with the sheer boredom of it all? I mean, there are only so many games of Battleship a vampire can play...

Maybe rereading The Vampire Lestat and The Tale of the Body Thief until their covers were in tatters (not to mention obsessively carrying around a copy of The Anne Rice Trivia Book ** at sixteen) somehow sealed my fate. Maybe it was always inevitable that when I decided to write a werewolf book, it would be less about turning furry and running through the woods and more about struggling to hold onto the things that made a person, well, human.
*Yes, the picture above is the edition of the book that I had.
** This was in a small town in the days before Twilight and Buffy. It did not make me cool.

3 comments:

  1. Kathleen, your comments about focusing more on what makes your creatures human than what makes them monsters REALLY makes me want to read HEMLOCK! And I can't think of a better title. Love it!

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  2. Aw, but you're very cool now. You were ahead of your time.

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  3. I didn't get into vampires until Buffy and, don't hate me, but I've never read any Anne Rice. I'm thinking maybe I should rectify that! As a teen I was obsessed with Sydney Sheldon. I wanted to become a master jewel thief.

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