Intimations of Immortality

I’ve come into a love of vampire fiction honestly.  I read Dracula when I was twelve years old (the same year I read Moby Dick and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – I had a thing for 19th century literature back then), and even though (or perhaps because) I had not yet been allowed to see a horror movie, I was profoundly affected.

Although it seems clichéd to us, as adults who’ve been fed a near infinite number of Dracula references, parodies, and pastiches, I approached it innocent of all preconceptions.  And wow: Bram Stoker really knocked it out of the park.  It’s no wonder that his vampire, Dracula, and not Varney, Carmilla, or Lord Ruthven, became the 20th century’s archetype.

To be honest, I was never really that “into” horror, and I’m still not.  I like suspense, sure, and I don’t mind the horrific, so long as horror is not the end goal. I never saw Saw, and the only Friday the 13th movie I watched all the way through was Jason X, a self-parody starring two of the actors from Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda (the first season and a half of Andromeda was some of the best TV I’ve ever watched, but that’s a story for another time).  It was not horror, neither personal or “monsters hiding in the shadows,” that attracted me to vampires.

Although my 16 year old self was quite impressed with Francis Ford Coppola’s take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it was not Dracula in any form that made me fall under the shadow of the fang, but a combination my general love of history and two television series: Forever Knight, which was about a vampire who wanted to repay society for his previous sins (several years before Joss Whedon’s Angel, I might add), and Highlander: the Series.

In fact, the seeds of my fascination with immortality were laid the first time I saw part of the original Highlander film on TV one afternoon.  I saw maybe thirty minutes of it, including “the” scene with Connor and Heather, after so many years together (if you haven’t seen the original Highlander film, stop reading this and go watch it, now.  Seriously.  Okay, so now you know what scene I’m talking about).  The sheer emotion of that scene, even without the overarching context, the immortal, watching the world and the ones he loves grow old and die around him, watching his own emotional youth and idealism fade to a gray, hard-edge cynicism…I’m not ashamed to say that Benedict owes a lot to Russell Nash, Connor MacLeod’s late twentieth century persona (other important influences could probably fill a blog entry of their own).

The fascination with living forever was cemented, chiseled into the bedrock of my personality, as I watched Forever Knight and Highlander: the Series, and saw more and more themes of immortality explored.  The idea of captivity, of being made immortal against one’s will, or perhaps simply without full knowledge of the consequences, of what would be required of your new, immortal life, fascinated me.  The strange condition of immortality (which both subverts and illuminates our mortal fear of death), driven together with the dark urges one hates but cannot ever be free of, loneliness that seems undying, fear and hunger for freedom (which turns, almost inevitably, into a hunger for power), and ancient grudges, swirling together, became the central storm within my creative subconscious.

To be sure, there are elements of action horror, of historical fiction, and even of traditional horror (in the very first chapter, something so alien and horrific appears that it horrifies the vampires themselves), but it is the Intimation of Immortality, to use William Wordsworth’s phrase, that fuels my imagination and forms the undying heart of Blood for Blood, Blood Guilt, and the entire Blood Oath series.