Mum and I were having a discush earlier today about vampires. I know, shocker, right? I actually have her to thank for my obsession with them to be honest. See, I'd read Bram Stoker's Dracula when I was probably the grand ol' age of 9. Nothing to excite a young girl's imagination. I mean, tall kinda creepy older looking dude with pasty skin, bad table manners and penchant for sister wives. I didn't get it. Or the symbolism of vampirism in general. I was far more interested in Shaun Cassidy and Han Solo. Shut up. Don't judge.
I can't say the "dark side" didn't appeal. It did. I just seemed more caught up in ghost stories, to be honest. Or witches. Yeah. Now THEY were cool. Then one day, age 17, my mother slips a book into my hands. "Interview with the Vampire" by Anne Rice. She crowed about it, said it was, hands down, the best book on vampires she'd ever read. I watched my normally lucid, unflappable and strictly serious mother beam like a kid who'd just discovered that all roads did lead to Willy Wonka's! At this stage, I was more interested in the merits of blue eyeliner vs black, and if George Michael's admission that he preferred "girls in pearls" was true. I didn't own any pearls, so was contemplating being crushed at this teen magazine confession. To humor She Who Birthed Me, I opened the book up. A few pages in, I passed out. This Louis de Pointe du Lac character needed to be bitch slapped..he was boring me to death. All he did was whine, whine, whine about his life and some dick named Lestat de Lioncourt. But to keep my mother happy, I lied and said I read it. Yeah..great book. And that was it.
Til she bought "The Vampire Lestat". I didn't even bother to open a single page. Once she finished it and tossed it my way, I simply set it in my bookshelf and managed to fake my way through a discussion about it with her a few days later. Amazing what a few head nods and carefully placed "Well..tell me how it made you feel" or "Can you believe how it ended?" comments can do.
Then it happened pretty innocuously . On a day, much like any other, my world view on pasty fangers changed for all time. It started with a rather abused looking book that was left on a bench where I took my lunch with my friends at school. It was missing both front and back cover and what remained looked pretty worn out. But as it was a book, it's siren call lured me into picking it up. While my gang of misfits went into their usual round of "Whose Lunch is it Anyway" trading game, I began to read...
"I'm the Vampire Lestat, remember me? The vampire who became the rock star, the one who wrote the autobiography? The one with the blonde hair and grey eyes, the one with the insatiable desire for visibility and fame? You remember. I wanted to be a symbol of evil in a shining century that didn't have any place for the literal evil I am. I even thought I'd do some good in that fashion --playing the devil on the painted stage"
And with those words, I was a goner.
Yes, I can admit it quite freely that Lestat de Lioncourt became the literary love of my life in that moment. It was as if a whole new door had opened. I went home after school, went up to my room and didn't sleep one wink the whole night. Nope, I spent it with my new friends, Lestat, Akasha, Marius, Enkil and Armand, to name a few. Then that very weekend, I proceeded to go back and actually read the first two books. Louis wasn't actually a whiner, he was just lonely and lost. But I was happy to see that my Brat Prince, was indeed a complete jerk. I was an addict for the Vampire Chronicles from that moment on and have no shame in telling you that I reread them all on a pretty frequent basis. Lestat is still, to this day, my number one Vamp. He is, indeed, the James Bond of vampires.
The moral of this story, I suppose, is to not let first appearances fool you. Sometimes, even in the midst of some pretty peripatetic prose, you can find the diamond. And just that one character can sometimes change your whole perception of the book itself.