All those of you who, like me, are working on vampire plays may appreciate a short list of the books I’ve found useful among many that were not:
Despite its garish cover, Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s Encyclopaedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters (Visionary Living, 2005) has a beautiful six-page bibliography and is written in matter-of-fact prose, with photos that are excellent and well chosen. It’s almost scholarly.
Mark Collins Jenkins’ Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend (National Geographic Society, 2010) offers a breezy narrative style along the lines of the Discovery Channel’s tomb-raiding specials, yet manages to convey a wealthy of information, with good endnotes. Its thesis about the origins of vampire legends takes awhile to unfold but strikes me as persuasive: it all had to do with the clash of ancient pagan cultures with newfangled Christian ones, and a general lack of information about putrefaction.
Studying the topic was much more fun than I had expected, partly because history gets absorbed in myth and myth in history; if anything it was too absorbing, so different from quotidian life that I found it tough to emerge into the sunlight every few hours. I’ve drafted “Rainbow Round the Moon,” a vampire coming-of-age play that I find touching and serious, though it remains to be seen if others will. Stay tuned.
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