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Interview with an Almost-Vampire:

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Vampire 101: The
Complete Guide to
Becoming a Vampire
By: Darnell Jefferson
Outskirts Press

booksI didn’t take it as a coincidence when Lady Gaga’s “Show Me Your Teeth” blared from my car stereo as I received an e-mail alert from my editor about my next assignment. She asked if I wanted to cover the emerging work of Wilmington‘s newest author, Darnell Jefferson, who has written the first “how-to” guide on becoming a vampire. Yes—a vampire.

So, I detoured home, gathered my cross, a wooden stake, a bottle of Holy water and shoved them into my Chanel. I felt as readied as any Buffy to dig into “Vampire 101: The Complete Guide To Becoming A Vampire.”

Jefferson is not that far off kilter with his new book. Strewn across the publishing world are mountains of titles devoted to all things vampiric. In my research I found a book focused entirely to just knitting like a vampire! Modern literature has also formed a new movement of the vampire as our hero. This vampire only sucks blood as a total last resort or only hunts animals to ease the unbearable anguish caused by their insatiable hunger. With Edward shimmering his pale physique across movie screens around the world, vampirism is undoubtedly hotter than ever—and it’s not just for tweens anymore.

As a woman creeping toward her 30s, I find the danger of vampires strangely captivating. Jefferson believes that to understand the fascination with vampires, one only has to gaze into the mirror. We all want to be seductive, to possess the ability to have anyone or anything we want, to be strong, intelligent and eternally young, filled with energy. Now there’s a literal manual.

“Vampires are everywhere!” Jefferson assured me during our interview. Somehow he read my mind and saw the doubt forming around my brain. I wondered if there was something supernatural going on. “Set aside your vision of the popular vampire,” he directed. “Set aside the black hair, black clothes and lipstick. That’s not what it’s all about. That’s not what my book is about. True vampires today are really just people who want to be who they are without question. Vampires don’t apologize for who they are and neither do those who want to be vampires. It’s a persona to be who you want to be without feeling bad for it.”

Consider “Vampire 101” like a self-help book geared toward the soul-less. Its premise focuses on applying basic everyday meditation rituals to better ones in life and to live to the fullest capability. Touching on subjects ranging from dating to how to control one’s finances, Jefferson promises “Vampire 101” is not about the darker regions or the sadistic extremes many make about the vampiric occult. In fact, Jefferson is quite adamant about rejecting those twisted notions.

“I spent three and a half years doing research for this book,” he noted. “I felt like I had to write this because so many get the idea of vampires all wrong.”

In the end, being a vampire does not mean one doesn’t have a moral compass. “So many get thrown off,” he added. “I’m hoping that when someone reads this they‘ll see [that], yea, it’s a fun read, but it’s more than that. It’s not like other books that tell you how to live your life. Other self-help books explain how to live the author’s life. They’ll tell you something like, ‘Go try two crazy things a day!’ [That’s] not my thing. ‘Vampire 101’ shows you how to find your own path and how to live your own life. And that’s just the issue: A lot of people are afraid of living; vampires aren’t.”

Will the casket ever be eternally closed on the vampire mania? Not likely. The fascination with vampires is actually doing the opposite. It’s growing and evolving greatly on a daily basis. Just take a look at the video games, manga and social networking sites that encapsulate our lives. It has assimilated just as Stoker’s “Dracula” learned to navigate London.

There isn’t a lack of cultures or media formats for the vampire craze to adapt to or inspire. Jefferson is right. Vampires are everywhere. As for Jefferson‘s whereabouts, when the sun sets on October 28th at 7 p.m., he’ll be signing copies of of his book at Pomegranate Books. It’s an event he promises won’t suck.

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