Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Auld Lang Syne

I wish my readers a safe and Happy New Year. I'd also like to thank you for your readership, too—but it's time to end this thing.

The posts here have been sparse—nothing since I mentioned the round table discussion I took part in for Real Vampire Life, an independent e-zine. But I haven't been quiet: I've just been blogging elsewhere. Under the same blog name, too. The aim I established in this blog's instigation on September 20, 2011, hasn't changed.

Comments will be closed for this blog, but I'm not shutting this down completely. The blog will stay up. After all, there's a lotta good stuff here: 142 posts (including this one).

One of my favourites is my interview with Edward Meyer, Ripley Believe It or Not's Vice President of Exhibits and Archives. We discussed "antique" vampire killing kits. I didn't expect him to be so candid about their origins.

I say "antique" because they're not. There's no evidence vampire killing kits were produced during the 19th century and sold to travellers. I've written about them on this blog several times: 

I was particularly proud to see my posts on the subject from this blog and its predecessor, Diary of an Amateur Vampirologist, cited in an article by Jonathan Ferguson called "To Kill a Vampire," Fortean Times, no. 288 (2012). 
If you want to read more about the subject, check out Joe Nickell's Tracking the Man-Beasts: Sasquatch, Vampires, Zombies, and More (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2011), pp. 125–9.

On a related note, I've also noticed a lotta hits for "Auguste Delagrange." His name turns up in association with vampire killing kits, because an image of his staked heart in a box has been circulating the 'net. No need to be alarmed, though: Delagrange didn't exist and the heart is only a prop.

Another popular subject's been the Nicolas Cage "vampire" picture. Remember that one? Back in 2011, an eBay seller claimed to have a photograph proving Nicolas Cage was a vampire because he had an old photograph that kinda looked like him. 
It probably goes without saying that the claim was a joke, but nonetheless, I covered that story—and its inevitable imitators—here:
I also unravelled the "Whitby Vampire" hoax—a story perpetuated by Sean "Vebjørn Hästehufvud" Manchester. His highly dubious claims about the Highgate Vampire aside, he also has a penchant for sockpuppetry and identity theft, attested by him ripping off my blog title, my spin-off Facebook group and its banner. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, eh? Not always.

On a lighter note, I've also had the chance to unravel a few other mysteries. For instance, I've long wondered who created this, one of my favourite vampire images:

Commentator "Little Socks" solved it for me. It's called Penanggalan and was painted by Chad Savage in 1994. He also answered some queries I had about it.

I've also delved into a supposed vampire investigation by the Duc de Richelieu—and been left wanting. Niels K. Petersen's commentary on it inspired a post, which I followed with another.

On the flipside, there's also stuff I've stumbled upon—which totally caught me off guard. For instance, I discovered that "undead"—a term virtually synonymous with vampires—existed long before Stoker supposedly coined it. And it initially didn't refer to vampires, either.

I was also surprised to discover a connection between the world's first murderer, Cain, and vampires that significantly predates Vampire: The Masquerade. I also came across a direct link between the plague and vampires, something I was previously skeptical of, due to lack of evidence. Both issues—as well as something linking vampires and bat metamorphosis—are covered here.

I've also been an advocate for certain people and books. I dealt with the theft of author Charles E. Butler's Dracula Facebook group. I used the post to promote a petition asking for it to be handed back to him. The imitative wasn't successful, but did lead to the creation of another popular Facebook group, "Count Dracula." I stepped in as administrator after Butler stepped down. As of this writing, it has 1,423 members.
I also ponied up money for a Kickstarter project: the publication of John W. Morehead and Kim Paffenroth's The Undead and Theology. That effort was much more successful: Pickwick Publications released it last year. It's available on Amazon.

I'd still love to see the papers from the Vampire (&) Science: A Trans-Disciplinary Conference held at Trinity College Dublin's School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies on April 20, 2012, published though. It truly is "The Book That Must Be."

There's so many other things I could cover, but New Year's Eve festivities await and I've gotta wrap this thing up. Thank you to my guest posters, Jane (part 1; part 2) and James Lyon. You both gave great reads.

Thank you, Peter Mario Kreuter for your patience and the brilliant interview you gave for this blog (part 1; part 2). It's great that writers like you are truly invigorating the field.

Last but not least, thank you commentators, correspondents, readers and followers. As much as I enjoy writing about this stuff in its own right, it's great to know you're out there, wending your way through my ramblings! Thank you. You're awesome.

Enjoy the New Year, everyone. I hope it bears good fruit. So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, au revoir and don't forget to join me on my WordPress blog. Here's to many more adventures together. 
Peace out!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Round Table Discussion

I recently had the privilege of taking part in a round table discussion called "Vampyre ~ Superstition, Society and Subculture" for Real Vampire Life, an independent e-zine.

Real Vampire Life

The other guests were The Dark Rose Journal's creator and editor, Julia DarkRose Ray; author Gabrielle Faust and Smoke and Mirrors administrator, Tania (a.k.a Hellkat). I was very impressed by the questions on offer. Here's a taste:
Many of the ancient “vampires” were associated with disembodied, or metamorphic, “spirits”, such as the Tagalog (Philippines) Mandurugo and the Impundulu of the Eastern Cape region of Africa, how important do you think it was for the mythical vampire to graduate from these type of creatures to “physical” incarnations to sustain the mythology?
Certainly not the stuff of "So, what got you into vampires?" variety! It was quite a challenge—in a good way. Be sure to check it out! In the meantime, I'd like to complement the host, Tim, for his thought-provoking questions and the fellow participants for their intriguing responses.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Upcoming Books 6

For the previous instalment, click here. Time for another round-up of upcoming non-fiction vampire books! Note: publication dates and titles are sometimes subject to change.

1 August 2013


Vampire Culture / Maria Mellins

The Vampire Community is notoriously prickly when it comes to coverage of their culture—Joseph Laycock's Vampires Today (2009) remains relatively unscathed. Will this "ethnographic study" pass muster? We'll see.

But if anyone wants a taste of her previous work on this subject, I recommend tracking down her 2008 article for the International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics, "The Female Vampire Community and Online Social Networks: Virtual Celebrity and Mini Communities: Initial Thoughts."

15 August 2013

Fanged Fan Fiction: Variations on Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries / Maria Lindgren Leavenworth and Malin Isaksson

The release dates are a bit hazy on this one. Amazon.com lists 30 September; the publisher's website lists "Spring/Summer 2013." I'm using the Amazon.co.uk date.

This is certainly a niche field—vampire fan fic. The book includes examples, apparently. Whether that'll make you want it more depends on your taste. Nonetheless, it's interesting to see a full-length work devoted to that genre.

1 September 2013

Images of the Modern Vampire: The Hip and the Atavistic / edited by Barbara Brodman and James E. Doan

It's rare you'll see a sequel to a non-fiction vampire anthology—and this is it. It follows on from The Universal Vampire: Origins and Evolution of a Legend (2013) by the same editors. According to this H-Net Discussion Network conversation by its co-editor, it
will be an eclectic mélange of essays, including a discussion of evolution and atavism in the vampire film, The Wisdom of Crocodiles (1998); critical pieces that examine the modern Asian vampire, on stage, in graphic novels and in film; images of the Vampire in contemporary Japan (where, according to its author, vampires should be “beautiful”); an analysis of the vampire in popular Russian culture; and the obligatory studies of vampires in The Twilight Saga and the True Blood series.
You had me at "obligatory"! In all seriousness, though, I'm liking the breadth of vampire scholarship Brodman and Doan have added to the genre. Quite eclectic.

11 November 2013

The Vampire in Contemporary Popular Literature / Lorna Piatti-Farnell

Amazon.co.uk lists 23 December 2013 for this one. I'm guessing it'll cover the usual Twilight, Vampire Diaries, Southern Vampire Mysteries stuff. Still, it's good to have up-to-date writings in this field.

20 December 2013

Sexuality in Bram Stoker's Dracula

Amazon.co.uk presently credits to "Greenhaven Press Editor", so I'm guessing it'll be another anthology. I tell you what, though, I'm really getting into non-fiction vampire anthologies. They're easier to digest.

It'll be interesting to see what they can squeeze out of a book Maurice Richardson once famously described as a "kind of incestuous, necrophilious, oral-anal-sadistic all-in-all wrestling match."

31 December 2013

Open Graves, Open Minds: Representations of Vampires and the Undead from the Enlightenment to the Present Day / edited by Sam George and Bill Hughes

Its publisher, Manchester University Press, lists "December  2013" as the publication date. "Open Graves, Open Minds" was briefly mentioned in my previous blog. It also made a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance—as a poster for a conference held on 16–17 April 2010. Yep, the conference's papers are finally being published. Going by its contents, though, there's precious little in the way of the vampire's evolution from the Enlightenment era. The concentration's on the literary aspect from the 19th century onward. As most vampire books tend to be.

1 July 2014

Written in Blood: A Cultural History of the British Vampire / Paul Adams

This book is so far along the line, that not even its publisher, The History Press, has a listing for it. However, I was able to dig up the book's description via JS Campus:
Vampires, chilling supernatural creatures of the night - do they really exist? The British Isles has a remarkable association with the realms of the undead, from the nineteenth-century world of Croglin Grange, Varney the Vampire and Stoker's Dracula, through to Hammer Films and the modern phenomenon of the Highgate Vampire. In this new and thought-provoking book, illustrated with many never before seen photographs and drawing on extensive original research, is a detailed and fascinating exploration of the history of British vampirism in both fact and fiction; a modern guide where every page is truly written in blood ...
It sounds pretty generic, but the promise of it being a "thought-provoking book, illustrated with many never before seen photographs and drawing on extensive original research" has got me on the hook. Here's hoping it lives up to its promise.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Nice Try, Parasite!

Vebjørn Hästehufvud is up to his old tricks again. Not content with ripping off my blog title and Facebook group, he's now trying another tack: suggesting I ripped him off. 

My friend, Angie "Blackorchid" Watkins, posted a link to my exposé on her Facebook group, "Highgate! Highgate! Highgate!". Here's what Hästehufvud had to say:


On the surface, that's pretty damning—only if you completely ignore the times the respective groups were founded. Here's mine:


And here's Hästehufvud's:


If you don't see the same times appear when you check the links out, there's a reason for that. Fellow "Vampirologist" member, Roger Peterson, explains:


Hästehufvud also failed to explain how my time travelling capabilities were responsible for the way his fellow admin, Veritas Aequitas, was able to crib my banner design:

Fortunately, Hästehufvud addressed that issue—by not acknowledging the theft, retaining the title design, changing the background pic and adding another shitty filter on top:


Apart from this pathetic attempt at revisionism, Hästehufvud has also edited out references to Sean Manchester in the banner. Pretty timely, in the wake of my outing Manchester as one of the group's admins.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Parasite Strikes Again!

Readers may be familiar with a parasitic plagiarist who has tailed my online writings for several years. If not, read on

Not content with stealing my blog names, the parasite in question has now ripped-off my Facebook group's name, too. This shady character masquerades under several usernames, including "Demonologist", "Vampirologist", "Dennis Crawford", "The Overseer" (ripping-off a username I used to use), "Gothic", "Arminius Vámbéry", "B.O.S.", "British Occult Society" and "Vebjørn Hästehufvud". And those are just the usernames I can confirm. I'm sure there's many others.

For the record, I established and promoted my Facebook group on 25 June 2013. Hästehufvud's rip-off was formed on...26 June 2013. The shifty bugger doesn't wait long, I can tell you that!

As per usual with Hästehufvud's Facebook group rip-offs, it has three admins: himself, "Veritas Aequitas" and Bishop Seán Manchester—the unholy trinity of dodginess. His group also apes postings I make on my group. For instance, when I shared a link on Jewish vampirology, Aequitas did the same thing, shortly after.

My group's banner—wonderfully designed by David MacDowell Blue—was also ripped-off. Compare the original...

...with this mess:


Pay close attention to the title fonts. Here's a close-up of the original:

Now here's the rip-off, close-up:

That's right: all he's done is cropped and copied my group's title and added some shitty filter to it. 

Naturally, the group's admins are banking on none of its members noticing their pathetic identity-thieving behaviour. Hopefully, with this exposé, they'll get a better appreciation for it!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Vampirologist on Facebook

Soon after writing the previous entry, I decided to do something I've been holding off for a while: create a Facebook group spin-off of this blog. It's now set up and you can join it by clicking here.

David MacDowell Blue, editor of The Annotated Carmilla (2011) and author of Your Vampire Story (And How to Write It) (2012), created the group's banner:

Nifty. I've also created a Facebook page, too. Feel free to like that. Although there'll probably be a lot of crossovers, I'm aiming to feature different content on the group and the page. In the meantime, hope to see you on either of them!

Bite This!

I've been intermittently reading Kevin Jackson's Bite: A Vampire Handbook (2009). Bought it at a local book stall for $5 on the 10th. 

Anyway, there's a passage which caught my attention: "The word 'vampire' entered the English language in printed form in May 1732, in an article in the Gentleman's Magazine entitled 'Political Vampyres'" (p. 33).

No, it didn't. The article Jackson's referring to is actually an extract from another periodical. Indeed, if the author had actually consulted the Gentleman's Magazine issue, he would've seen its source writ large:

Google Books

Though the article in question is popularly titled "Political Vampyres", that wasn't its original name. It was the title Gentleman's Magazine bestowed upon it. It must've been for convenience, because the original article was untitled:

Eighteenth Century Collections Online

But most importantly, both sources point to an earlier source for the word: the London Journal's 11 March 1732 issue. This is the relevant portion of "Extract of a Private Letter from Vienna":

The issue incorporated a report from "Medreyga in Hungary [sic]" dated "Jan. 7, 1732", detailing a vampiric outbreak in the Serbian village of Medvedja, then under Austro-Hungarian rule. Savvy readers will recognise this as the famous Arnod Paole case.

So, to correct Jackson's assertion, The London Journal 's 11 March 1732 issue was actually responsible for the word's introduction to "the English language in printed form".

Monday, 17 June 2013

Who Is Peter Stan?

Al Giovine, a fellow Count Dracula Facebook member, posted a particularly impressive image on the group recently:


Fans of the Stephen King miniseries, Salem's Lot (1979), will immediately recognise the riff on Kurt Barlow's Graf Orlok-like head, hovering over the Marsten House.

I was so impressed by the pic, I decided to do a search for the source. The "Peter Stan 2010" signature was the obvious starting point.

It turned out "Peter Stan" is actually Bulgarian artist, Peter Stanimirov. He's also famous for illustrating Stephen King's works. His illustrations appear Knowing Darkness: Artists Inspired by Stephen King (2009) and Черно-бели илюстрации, вдъхновени от Стивън Кинг (2011). You can view his other artworks here.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

I'm a What?

While googling about, I came across an article on Smashing Lists, titled "Top 10 Real-life Vampire Hunters." Let's say I was quite surprised by the fifth entry:

Smashing Lists

Certain readers may recall my former blog, Diary of an Amateur Vampirologist. I stopped writing it in 2011. As far as I know, I never gave the impression that I hunted vampires. I don't. Never have. Hell, I don't even believe they exist—sorry to disappoint.

I'll admit though, I used to fantasise about being one. When I was younger, I used to collect crucifixes. I once bought a special bottle from a $2 store, with the intent of putting holy water in it. One Hallowe'en—2006, I think it was—I  dressed as vampire hunter and walked the streets of Melbourne... but no, I've never tried to hunt them.

When I started this particular blog, I wasn't upgrading to Van Helsing expert-level. I just wanted to shrug off the "amateur" label: "The 'amateur' tag was a self-imposed albatross 'round my neck, which left me wanting to branch out into something a little more...professional." I didn't mean professional vampire hunting.

For the record, vampirologists study vampires. Not necessarily the real deal, but vampires as a subject. You don't have to believe in elves, pixies or fairies to be a folklorist—same deal for vampirologists.

I did find the article amusing. I've got no real beef with it—unless people take it seriously. I hope they don't! But as to wondering whether I've "indulged in a bit of vampire killing", it would've been nice if the author asked first!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

I'm in a book!

Bite Me Really Hard
In the previous entry, I wrote: "I contributed a short essay to the upcoming edition of Vampire News . . . If it sees publication, it'll be the first thing I've ever had published in book form."

And lo, it's come to pass. Vampire News: The (Not So) End Times Edition!, vol. 2, is now available for download (9.20 MB pdf). It's free! A print version will be available soon. My contibution, "A Vampiric Proposal", appears on pages 56—59. 

Other essays include The Vampire Observer's "Giving Back the Vampire to Mythology", Angie Harp's "Vampires in Supernatural" and Matthew Banks' "The Road to Dracula" (props, buddy!).

As an added bonus, a Facebook group conversation between me, Kyle Germann, Stavros Cockrell, James Lyon, Andy Boylan, David Baymiller and Andy Parciorek features on pages 109—120. It was taken from the group I co-admin, Vampire Lore and Legends

There's a lot of goodies inside this thing, including a vampire retrospective for 2012 (I wrote a few entries for that, too). There's something for vamplovers everywhere. Download your copy today!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Update 3

From time to time, I like to write little updates (previous instalment)—when I neglect my blog too long. Sorry to leave you hanging. I've just been distracted with a bunch of things lately.

To make up for that, I'll share a few vampire-related things that've been going on. Thoughts, doings, events and whatnot.

On February 14, Trystan Swale interviewed me for his podcast show, Fortean Radio. Give it a listen. It goes about half an hour or so—and it also happens to be the first podcast I've ever done! Be gentle. It was released on March 2. The episode's topic? The Highgate Vampire case. 

Readers may be familiar with my work on the case, via my other blog, Did a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?. I gave an overview of the case and briefly discussed my thoughts on vampires. The episode was reviewed by Nigel St. Whitehall.

Note: when the podcast was conducted, I was co-admin of The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society. I'm no longer a member of the group, however—I was booted off on February 28.

I have my own Highgate Vampire Facebook group, which you can join here. Its banner (above) was lovingly crafted by David MacDowell Blue, who edited The Annotated Carmilla (2011) and wrote Your Vampire Story (And How to Write It) (2012).

I contributed a short essay to the upcoming edition of Vampire News (previous edition). If it sees publication, it'll be the first thing I've ever had published in book form. Prior that, I've had an article published in the Transylvanian Society of Dracula's newsletter, The Borgo Post

So, what's my essay about? A topic I've previously discussed on this blog—but expanded. I'll let you know more if it sees print. If not, I'll probably post it here.

Speaking of contributions, when I get some free time, I'll be writing a guest entry Kyle Germann's blog, The Demon Hunter's Compendium. You'll see his blog in the "Reading List" on the right side of the page. It'll be a profile on the Highgate Vampire. 

Stay tuned for that, too! In the meantime, you can find Kyle and I discussing vampy things on the Vampire Lore and Legends Facebook group. I'm its co-admin. Drop by, say hi!

I was at a local library on Monday and I came across a vampire book I'd never heard of: Megan Norris' True True Blood (2012). I'd probably never heard of it, because it's a local publication—those don't get much prominence on Amazon. Also, it's not my usual forte: it was in the true crime section. Yep, it's about vampire killings.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

On Plogojowitz

If you're interested in the perfect companion piece to James Lyon's guest blog, pop over to Magia Posthuma and read Lyon's 'In search of Peter Plogojowitz’s grave'.

Plogojowitz—or Plogojovitz (or Petar Blagojević)—occupies a very special place in vampire lore: some contest (including me), that he was the first 'true vampire'. I'll clarify that position: the first 'true vampire' mentioned by name. After all, it's clear from reading the Plogojowitz account—recorded by the Imperial Provisor of the Gradisk District—that Peter was far from the first vampire:
And since with such people (which they call vampires) various signs are to be seen—that is, the body undecomposed, the skin, hair, beard and nails growing—the subjects moved unanimously to open the grave of Peter Plogojowitz and to see if such above-mentioned signs were really to be found on him.

. . . 

I could do what I wanted, but if I did not accord them the viewing and the legal recognition to deal with the body according to their custom, they would have to leave house and home, because by the time a gracious resolution was received from Belgrade, perhaps the entire village—and this was already supposed to have happened in Turkish times—could be destroyed by such an evil spirit, and they did not want to wait for this.1
The report also marks the first time the explicit use of the word 'vampire' ('Vampyri') was used in context with the folkloric attributes described above: an undead, bloodsucking corpse. However, that also isn't to say that there weren't precedents or parallels. 

For instance, certain issues of the Mercure Galant gave coverage to the upior and stryges in the late 17th century. Both terms have an etymological relationship with vampire—and both described bloodsuckers closely aligned with Plogojowitz's characteristics

1. Qtd. in P Barber, Vampires, burial, and death: folklore and reality, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1988, p. 6.

Calmet on eBay: update

On 23 January, I mentioned that a copy of Augustin Calmet's Traité sur les apparitions des esprits, et sur les vampires, ou les revenants de Hongrie, de Moravie, & c. (2 vols., 1751) was available on eBay. At the time, it had 5 bids at £34.33.

It wound up attracting 26 bids and sold for £511.50 (+ £13.65 Royal Mail Airmail) on 27 January.

Click to embiggen

I've got no idea if any of my readers caught the listing - or, better yet, actually bid on it - but if you did, let me know in the comments section. Congrats to the winner, all the same.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Calmet on eBay

Dom Calmet Augustin's Dissertations sur les apparitions, des anges, des démons et des esprits, et sur les revenants et vampires de Hongrie, de Boheme, de Moravie et de Silésie (1746) is one of the all-time most influential works on vampirism. It was a best-seller in its time. A second and third edition were released in 1749 and 1751.

A copy of the latter edition—Traité sur les apparitions des esprits, et sur les vampires, ou les revenants de Hongrie, de Moravie, & c.—is available on eBay

Current bid for both volumes? £34.33. There are currently 10 bids on it and five days left to go. Better get cracking!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Generating names; avoiding clichés

I was larking about on the 'Vampire writers support group' (VWSG) on Facebook yesterday, mentioning how often the word 'blood' appears in vampire novel titles. It also gave me an idea:
Hey folks, let's play a little game - a game of...cliche! Post a word or term commonly used is vampire novel titles. Annnnd go!
There was a huge response. Evidentially, there are tons of clichéd words in vampire novel titles! In the midst of it, I suggested there should be a vampire novel title generator. 

I googled about, couldn't find one, so I thought bugger it, I'll make one myself. And I did. Presenting the Vampire novel title generator! Here's a sample:

The scary thing is, the thing generates a lot of legit titles–which just goes to show how pervasive these words and combinations, actually are.

Seriously, though, 'blood' is such an overused term in vampire titles. I got to discussing it with fellow VWSG member, Donna Michele Fernstrom, after she mentioned Tanya Huff's Blood trail (1992). 'Do you ever notice,' I opined, 'how many vampire stories are puns on 'blood'? It'd be like novels about people, having food-related titles. 'The Importance of Being Edible', 'The old man and the seafood', 'Fifty shades of whey'.'

I also raised the subject on David MacDowell Blue's blog entry, 'Tropes that need to go away' for Vampires.com:
My vote’s for leaving ‘blood’ out of vampire titles. In vampire context, it’s a food pun!
Imagine if novels in other genres were largely food-based puns: ‘Catcher on Rye’, ‘A Farewell to Hams’, ‘The Yeast Also Rises’…
Fellow commentator, Sandrine Scialdone, added
Totally agree Anthony. Any title that seems too contrived or tries too hard to advance some romantic-vampire-+-multiple-other-creatures-”Eternal Kiss of the Dark Gift Under a Doomed Moon….Trilogy” is what turns me away.
So how about it, authors? Think you can steer clear of the clichés in 2013? Put it this way, some of the most successful vampire novels of all time completely avoided them. Don't believe me? Try I am legend, 'Salem's Lot, The historian, Twilight, Let the right one in–and, of course, Dracula, on for size. You can do it!
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