I had the pleasure of interviewing Arlene Russo author of The Real Twilight and the founder of Bite Me magazine. Her new book includes a look into UK's vampire underground and the real vampires that can't be found on the big silver screen.
What is The Real Twilight about?
Basically The Real Twilight is about true vampires and every aspect of their culture. This includes the many different types of vampires, including lifestylers, sanguine (blood-drinking) vampires and psi (psychic) vampires- and everything in between! The book highlights global trends in vampirism, tracing American and UK connections, the heritage of the vampire legend, as well as modern factors which have shaped the nature of the vampire community such as HIV and the impact of the internet. Readers are also given a glimpse of the reality of the vampire covens and societies that exist today, and this covert information is perhaps not so widely known. I was privileged to be given an insight into these 'secret' worlds.
What was your goal in writing Real Twilight?
My goal was to present an overview of modern vampire culture and its various historical and global influences. I wanted to highlight modern day vampires in all their forms by speaking directly to real vampires themselves. I also wanted to celebrate the rich folkloristic history of vampirism that goes back thousands of years as well as focusing on the contemporary vampire scene. I also felt it was important to pay heed to the darker facts of vampirism such as blood drinking safety and vampire crime. I have included as many vampire specialists as I could, in addition to the vampires themselves and these included the resident vampire agony aunt of Bite me magazine, academics specialising in Gothic literature, and vampire ‘fangsmiths.’
How do you feel about the current vampire craze?
It is always good to see vampires in the media- in a positive light- but I am not sure how much the Twilight craze has to do with vampires per se, or the movie stars themselves. Time will tell, when these teens grow older, and we can see how many of them still profess a fascination with vampires...
When did you first become interested in vampires?
As a child, I was fascinated by horror movies and the paranormal (the film star Christopher Lee was my main inspiration). I have to thank my mother for letting me stay up late to watch the Hammer horror double bills when I was 10. I was also a member of a school book club and the books I ordered were suitably horror film titles and such like!
Do you have any favorite vampires movies, books, or music?
Well, I am a traditionalist and it has to be Christopher Lee in any Hammer horror that featured him as Dracula. I also like other Hammer Horror without him- like Twins Of Evil. I am a twin so that's another reason to like it! I have also been enjoying True Blood.
With your time at Bite Me magazine, what have you learned about today's vampire culture?
I have learned about all the different types of vampire fans - from vampire lifestylers to real vampires, to vampire haters! I have also learned that vampire fans have always been prevalent- but every so often they come out in droves- like with the Twilight craze. I can remember for example, the previous one- following Bram Stokers Dracula in 1992. Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1999 also brought vampire fans to the fore. Every so often they need to come out of the shadows!
Is there anything you wish people would know about the vampire culture?
I hope The Real Twilight celebrates vampire culture in all its forms and thus appeals to vampire fans in all THEIR forms, from the newest to the most established vampire aficionado. It is a book as much for people who wish to peep into a new lifestyle as it is for practising vampires looking for a point of reference. Or perhaps for those whose interest in vampires has been piqued by the Twilight and True Blood phenomenon.
Big thanks to Arlene for taking time out of her busy schedule to visit! The books seems super interesting and offers a unique insight into the world of real vampires.
To purchase Arlene Russo's The Real Twilight, True Stories of Modern Vampires, click HERE.