VAMPARAZZI: Ten MORE Fun Facts About Vampires

- by Laura Resnick

Everything you think you know about vampires is wrong…

That’s what urban fantasy heroine and struggling actress Esther Diamond discovers in her latest misadventure, Vamparazzi, while playing a vampire victim in a (fictional) stage adapation of The Vampyre, a (real) neglected gothic classic, as well as being hounded by wanna-be vampires, pestered by a fake vampire, stalked by a real vampire, and chased by an ancient cult of ruthless vampire hunters.

In honor of Esther’s trials and tribulations, I herein present ten more fun facts I learned about vampires while researching Vamparazzi. (The first list-of-ten was posted here a few days ago.)

1. Vampires in European folklore don’t have fangs; this is an invention of fiction and film. Bram Stoker’s Dracula popularized the notion of vampires having protruding teeth (and then Hollywood really ran with the idea), which had previously appeared in some popular 19th century fiction.

2. Stoker originated the concept, still popular in many vampire portrayals today, that a vampire has no reflection in a mirror. This trope doesn’t exist in folklore or in fiction before Dracula.

3. Sunlight being fatal to vampires is also a fictional invention. Vampires are active by night rather than by day in Slavic folklore, but there is no tradition of them bursting into flames, melting, or turning to ashes if exposed to sunlight.

4. The detailed written reports of the Austrian officials investigating the vampire epidemics in Serbia in the 1730s were read and discussed with fascination, and their contents were widely disseminated and repeated. This was how the vampire folklore of Slavic villages started spreading through Western Europe in the 18th century.

5. During the rest of the 18th century, vampires started making appearances in German-language poetry, including Goethe’s “The Bride of Corinth” (1797). They first became popular in English poetry via Lord Byron’s “The Giaour” (1813) which was both a critical and commercial success. Byron learned about vampires on his Grand Tour of Europe.

6. The grandfather of modern vampire fiction is The Vampyre, a gothic story published in 1819. Its author, Dr. John Polidori, adapted it from a fragment written and abandoned by Byron during a summer in Switzerland in 1816, when Polidori was employed as Byron’s personal physician, and when Mary Shelley began work on Frankenstein in response to Byron’s suggestion that everyone staying at his rented villa write a ghost story.

7. The Vampyre was the first narrative fiction in English about vampires, and it originated many concepts still in vogue today, such as its portrayal of the vampire as aristocratic and seductive. In Slavic folklore, by contrast, vampires were ordinary peasants, and they were grotesque, mindless, ravening monsters.

8. Polidori’s Vampyre was a big commercial success, reprinted many times throughout the 19th century. It influenced other portrayals for the rest of the century, including Bram Stoker’s interpretation of the vampire as a shrewd and manipulative aristocrat. In Vamparazzi, Esther Diamond is working in a (fictional) modern stage adaptation of Polidori’s tale.

9. The vampyre in Polidori’s story is identifiably based on Lord Byron, with whom he had parted on bad terms. Byron didn’t want to be associated with the story’s authorship and took active steps to correct rumors attributing it to him (despite how unflattering to him it was). Nonetheless, rumors persisted for decades that Byron was the author of this story which has so heavily influenced concepts of the vampire.

10. Vampirism is alive and thriving on the internet today, as this page of resources, references, and social links demonstrates.

To read an excerpt from Vamparazzi, click here.

2 comments

  1. So the original vampires were zombies, but moaning “Blood! blood!” instead of “brains! brains!” Which makes more sense. The only real-life villains I see wanting to suck out your brains are the ones required by law to tag their works as paid advertisements. But ones wanting to suck out your blood abound.

  2. There’s also an interesting corollary between vampire folklore and zombie mythology, in that both have roots (particularly zombiism) in the longtime problem of people being buried alive in places (and eras) where there is (was) no sophisticated medical equipment to make sure someone is REALLY dead before you bury them. Burial of people MISTAKEN for being dead was a widespread problems for centuries (or millennia) and contributed heavily to various legends of undead beings rising from the grave.