Once Upon A Time:
There was a Japanese cartoon on TV, which little Ana loved to watch. Brazilian TV was populated with Japanese cartoons back then and they were my favorites alongside Thundercats and Dungeons and Dragons. The Japanese ones had a huge differential – they were adventurous and quirky yes, but also very emotional and many times so so sad. I lost count of the times I ended up crying whilst watching Japanese cartoons. It was the same thing with Don Dracula – the first time I ever heard about vampires.
It’s been a long time since I watched this series but I still remember very clearly how odd, weird, funny and yet sad this was. The premise had Don Dracula moving from Transylvania to Japan with his daughter Chocola. While she attends high school and tries to avoid the bloodlust (this is the sad part) her father starts to realise that life in Japan is even harder than back home. In my memory there were many episodes that were REALLY scary but the scary was always counter balanced by Van Helsing who in this version, although still a crazy Dracula stalker/maniac, suffered from haemorrhoids and every single time he was close to killing Dracula, he would suffer an attack of it. Seriously.
So first, Vampires were funny. Then, as I grew older, they became scary. TV Shows, old movies all had the bloodsucker being evil and by then, I was truly terrified of them. In my mind, vampires truly lived up to their dictionary definition, after all a vampire is nothing more than:
A reanimated corpse that is believed to rise from the grave at night to suck the blood of sleeping people.
A change is gonna come:
When I was 15 though something changed. Up to that moment, Vampires were things to be either scared of or laughed at. Until this came along:
Bram Stoker’s Dracula marks a very distinct moment in my life for many reasons. Firstly, as soon as I watched Coppola’s movie I understood the concept of “art” – I already loved movies, I already loved old Hollywood classics but Dracula was much more than entertainment, it went beyond beauty, horror or grandeur: all of those things I was already acquainted with. No, Dracula was the first time I paid attention to photography, cinematographic, figurines and make-up. Its special effects, which I learnt later, were all done using old magic tricks left me spellbound. I watched Dracula at the movies more than 10 times – a record still to be broken.
Then, there was the fact that all of a sudden, vampires were no longer things to be scared of – I was never scared when I watched Dracula. It was a mix of attraction and repulsion, but never fear. And with Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Dracula:
It was not even a question of hate either – no, for the first time, I lusted after a vampire, after Count Dracula himself and I wanted Mina to be with him. I wanted Dracula to win! Which also marks the point where I first noticed those grey areas in movie and literature and realised that sometimes, I could cross that fine line between right and wrong when it came to fiction. Dracula even if doing despicable things also did good deeds and his story is more of a tragic anti-hero searching for peace and love.
The movie also prompted me to start reading other stuff from English literature – it was when I read Wuthering Heights for the first time. Another book that is one of my favorites and which also depicts a hero who sits firmly on the grey area of morality. Another tragic hero, another love for Ana. (But Heathcliff is not a vampire – at least not in the classical sense although he does suck the emotional energy of the people around him when he comes back from his journey. )
The natural progression then with the Vampire love, was to read the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. I read the second book, The Vampire Lestat, first and oh.dear.lord.
To my 15-year-old mind, that book was mind-blowing. Not only these vampires were not mindless bloodsuckers, they were also tragic misinterpreted figures that had existential despair, that loved and were loved – I was fascinated by Lestat and his tale that span centuries and most of all by the almost incestuous relationship with his mother Gabrielle and how he loved both men and women. The next book, Queen of the Damned, still remains one of my favorite although, I haven’t read it in years and I am not so sure it would stand the test of time. But back then? It was a grand portrayal of vampiric life and their sorrows with the added bonus of adventure, suspense, a long fantastic cast of characters in a story that came to a fantastic climax and stand-off which I still remember very clearly. And on top of that, I thought the historical background that Anne Rice created for her vampires was unique, creative and fun.
But then there was this:
Tom Cruise as Lestat was so wrong in so many ways, it put me off vampires for a long time, until…..
And if Dracula showed another side of movies and marked my life, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was also very important. It is a perfect example of how good TV Shows can be, with amazing writing, storytelling, wonderful acting, amazing episodes and a heroine who is a kick-ass warrior and the epitome of girl-power.
And of course, there was this:
And most importantly, this:
I became a TV addict after Buffy and Angel (the spin-off) but also, Internet addict. This was when I was so desperate for finding out if Buffy would hook up with Spike that I started to search online and found the crazy world of forums, of shipping and the concept of “spoilers”.
When Buffy and Angel were over, there was about a 3 year break where I read very little fiction. Until 2007 when I started reading Romance, and then Paranormal romance and then I fell in love with Colin Ames-Beaumont, Eric Northman, Eric Sinclair, Conrad Wroth and many others and the rest, they say, is history.