This past week, I was sorry to learn about the passing of Jonathan Frid, the actor who portrayed the vampire Barnabas Collins on the soap opera Dark Shadows from 1966 to 1971.
To my mind, Barnabas, as portrayed by Frid, stands alongside Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Anne Rice’s Lestat, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Le Comte de Saint-Germain as one of the great vampires.
I was introduced to Dark Shadows and Barnabas Collins by a fellow vampire enthusiast from Phoenix named Edouard Mesert. We often enjoyed talking about vampires when we met at conventions and he introduced me to many great books and movies. Sadly, Edouard passed away shortly after I saw him at Denvention in 2008. All through that year, I had been working with him, helping him to edit his first novel. He was only 51 years old. That hit especially close to home, since my dad was only 52 when he died suddenly of a heart attack back in 1980.
Periodically, I’m asked why I write about vampires. I think a lot of the reason is that I have lost members of my family and good friends at relatively young ages. Although I believe that each person has an immortal soul, I am a trained scientist and a bit of a skeptic. I have been trained to question my beliefs.
I admit, the certainty of death scares me as does the uncertainty of what comes after. If vampires were real and could offer certain immortality, I have to admit, I’d find the offer tempting.
I see that Cemetery Dance issue 66 with my story “The Vrykolakas and the Cobbler’s Wife” is shipping this week. The story brings to mind another good friend, gone much too soon. This friend was Les Reese from Tucson, who died in an accident in 2007. Les heard me read a draft of the story at TusCon a couple years before he died and told me how much he loved it and hoped it would be published. His expression of confidence in the story meant the world to me. I’m sorry he’s not here to celebrate the story’s publication with me, but to my mind this story is dedicated to Les and Edouard. I feel as though their spirits are out their celebrating with me.
I was fortunate enough to publish one of Les’s vampire stories in issue 20 of the magazine Hadrosaur Tales. Many of us write as a way to extend our presence on this earth a little longer than it would be otherwise. If you’d like to read Les’s story and experience his words, the issue is available here: http://www.zianet.com/hadrosaur/tales0304.html
I’d love to hear your comments about why you write or read vampire fiction.