<![CDATA[darkside1 - S.J.Ford's Blog]]>Sun, 13 Dec 2015 03:17:21 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Vampires are some of my favourite people.]]>Wed, 14 Sep 2011 09:29:21 GMThttp://www.darkside1.com/sjfords-blog/vampires-are-some-of-my-favourite-people     I grew up in the 1960s in the suburbs of Brisbane, Australia, with a wealth of distractions; from Black and White television to books, comics, bikes, war toys and fireworks. My most used toys were my 72nd scale plastic soldiers. I had a cardboard box with 4,000; mostly Airfix, with the numbers fleshed out by some cheap pressings from Hong Kong. After seeing Zulu on the big screen I often built a replica Rorkes Drift, from Lego, and garrisoned it with my plastic version of the men of Harlech.

    Then there were comic books. One was either a devotee of Marvel, or DC; you couldn't be both. In my neighborhood we were Marvel kids. My favourite super-hero was the Invincible Iron-Man. I also had a secret guilty pleasure; one I loved with equal fervour - the Gold Key mystery comics – Chilling Tales and such. The darker the better.

    All things considered; we fortunate boomers, who grew up in sleepy, Australian suburbia, during the Menzies/Holt/Gorton years, were truly blessed. (For my non-Australian readers that was the time of LBJ and Vietnam, but we were too young to care about that stuff) I think we all look wistfully back on that time as something magical, our own belle epoque.

    Of all the monsters, heroes or villains in my child's fantasy repertoire, none fired my imagination quite like vampires. I remember the exact moment I became fascinated with these remarkable creatures. I watched a 50s B-movie on late-night television. I think it was called the Curse, or the Mark of the Vampire. I was about five years old; so even now I can't be certain of the exact title. How a five-year old came to be watching a monster-movie at that hour (remember this was the 1960s) is a matter for another article.

    From that seminal moment I was an addict. Thanks to True Blood we now have a name for this state – fangbanger. I soon heard about another vampire and just had to find out everything I could about it. It's name sounded so intriguing and screamed for attention – Count Dracula

    I pestered my father relentlessly to tell me all about the Universal monster movies he saw when he was a boy, in the 1940s; especially Dracula. I sat in thrall hearing about the exploits of this bizarre vampire, in these wondrous films that I was never permitted to see. They were restricted and banned form broadcast on television – why you ask? Back then they were deemed too horrific for tender Australian TV viewers. Many years later I finally saw them and, not unlike the Wizard behind the veil, they'd not aged well and proved to be something of a disappointment.

    Anyway, back to my childhood. One Christmas when I was about seven, I think. I opened a present and inside were two oblong boxes. Aurora model kits of – who else ? Dracula and Frankenstein. You can find out more about these crazy model kits here.
    I set to with styrene glue and the wide-eyed wonder of the child and carefully assembled die-cast pieces. The experience was sublime. Over the course of a childhood I ended up owning a vast array of these kits. I bought the Aurora Dracula about three times. They brought out new versions with glow-in-the-dark pieces. Wow. They remained my most prized playthings until I discovered girls, around age eleven. Girl parts didn't glow in the dark but they were certainly fascinating to play with. That too is a discussion best left for a different article.

    My childhood was rounded out by a wealth of reading. I grew up on a diet of anything to do with history as well as Ian Fleming, Conan-Doyle, H.G.Wells, Jules Verne and Bram Stoker. To no one's surprise my most cherished read was Dracula. I first read it when I was ten, or maybe eleven. I never found vampires frightening, and always thought of Dracula as more a constant friend and accomplice. Whether it was Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Frank Langella or Gary Oldman it was always Dracula who was the voice of my subconscious.

    It's no surprise my first novel, Silo Nine, is about vampires. And like me, the vampires of my imagination have matured. I like to think they'll feel completely at home in the 21st century. I'm certain Dracula will still be here when I'm long gone. So in that respect I suppose he really is immortal. No wonder some of us envy him so much.