For my fourteenth birthday, what I wanted more than anything else was to go to Barnes and Noble on my own. (This should give you a good idea of what kind of kid I was.) So my mom dropped me off, leaving me to explore the store and pick out a few books with my birthday money.
This was in December of 1994, right after the movie adaptation of Interview with the Vampire had debuted, so all of the books in the Vampire Chronicles were prominently displayed. There is no other way I would found them—I certainly wouldn’t have gone looking for them. I was very sheltered as a child, with my parents enforcing strict rules against violent books and R-rated movies. It wasn’t that my parents were conservative—quite the opposite. The rules were in place mostly to preserve their sanity, because I am and have always been a complete nervous wreck. A single glimpse at anything vaguely scary would give me nightmares for weeks, which meant my parents didn’t get to sleep for weeks, either. I was happily complicit in my own sheltering.
But now I was fourteen—practically a woman. I picked up a paperback copy of Interview with the Vampire and read the back cover. Yes, it was a book about vampires, and vampires are pretty scary! But the blurbs made the book sound intriguing. “A chilling, thought-provoking tale, beautifully frightening, sensuous, and utterly unnerving,” said the Hartford Courant. “A magnificent, compulsively readable thriller,” said the Chicago Tribune. “Unrelentingly erotic,” said the Washington Post.
I looked at the promotional display, which featured a vampire with blue eyes, which seemed to pierce my very soul. I looked back to the book, and made my decision.
“What did you get?” my mom asked when she picked me up.
I hesitated but didn’t see any real way around concealing the truth. Besides, my mom was one of my best friends! You don’t lie to your best friend, right? I showed her the book.
My mom didn’t say anything for a moment. Perhaps she was reflecting on how her little girl was now a woman. Or maybe she was thinking how her frizzy-haired, bespectacled daughter had just spent her fourteenth birthday by herself at a Barnes and Noble, which was already pretty sad and would only be made sadder by getting a lecture from her mom.
“Well, I hope you enjoy it!” she said with a smile.
And I did enjoy it—very much. I shut the book after reading the last page, completely astonished by what I’d read. It was all so…adult. Characters wrestled with good and evil, the meaning of life, the nature of love…and despite there being no actual sex, I totally understood where the Washington Post was coming from.
Emboldened by my success at getting the book, I mentioned to my mom that I would like to see the movie. That was a hard no. I found it very unjust, but what was I going to do—break the rules? My parents were capable of terrifying things, like shaking their heads at me and sighing. They might even actually say “I’m disappointed in you,” which was too horrible to contemplate.
But I was able to read the sequels, which I did in quick succession. I needed someone to share my obsession, so I gave the books to my best friend to read (not my mom—my other best friend). She, too, was amazed. We were both hooked.
Months passed. Interview with the Vampire was released on VHS. Seeing it was easier than before, but I was still too nervous to attempt it. Then one night, I was invited to a group sleepover with a friend whose parents my mom did not know very well. Her mom was a lot more relaxed about movies—she was fine with us watching whatever we wanted. I spied a copy of Interview with the Vampire.
“How about this one?” I said casually.
The other girls weren’t very interested, but I manage to persuade them. And so I finally got to watch it, and it was glorious. Even better than I had imagined.
I felt bad that my best friend didn’t get to see it, since her parents also had strict rules about movies, and there never seemed to be a good time at school to convey to her the full experience. I didn’t want my parents to hear me over the phone, though, so I wrote her a letter and sent it to her in the mail. She was pretty impressed at how I’d pulled it off.
My love for vampires has never really faded. Part of me is surprised that it took me this long to write my own vampire story. There are a lot more goofy moments than you’d get in an Anne Rice book, but I still included all of the elements of the vampire genre that I find compelling—the nature of good and evil, the struggle with mortality—and, of course, unrelenting eroticism. (Okay, maybe not unrelenting—more like intermittent eroticism.) I think you guys are going to like it!
What was your first exposure to vampires? Are you a Louis person or a Lestat person?
Me, as a frizzy-haired, bespectacled child
Me, transformed into a woman!