Brian Stableford, Author of “After the Stone Age”

Tell us a bit about your story. What’s it about?

It’s about the potential utility of vampirism as a “natural” substitute for liposuction.

What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

The BBC started a “cult fiction website” to support their various offbeat enterprises and decided to do a series of themed packages including short stories that would be broadcast on one of their new digital radio stations and archived on the site. I was invited to contribute to the vampire package, because I’d published a number of novels and stories on the theme. I always find it difficult to do material for themed anthologies and similar enterprises because I worry deeply about the possibility of producing items that are too similar to the other items that might be submitted, so I usually cast around for a hopefully-original way to approach the theme, which often results in my contributions seeming a trifle off-message, if not frankly bizarre.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

They’re all challenging if you try to do something no one else has done before — doubly so if you bear in mind that that 99% of readers only like things that have been done before.

Most authors say all their stories are personal. If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

Most authors say that because it’s so obviously true that it’s virtually a tautology — which means, I suppose, that if one is going to make a fetish out of trying to be original, one really ought to deny it. So, no, it’s not personal. Strictly impersonal, in fact. In fact, I’m not even sure if I have a personality, or, if I have, where I saw it last or how deep-seated its need for psychic liposuction might be.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I had to carry out intense theoretical and practical studies of the psychology of female obesity, the secret Mayfair night-club scene and the esoteric biology, anthropology and history of the highly original kind of vampirism envisaged in the story — although, of course, I had to leave all the fascinating results of that research out of the story, because 99% of readers won’t tolerate anything in fiction that bears the remotest resemblance to intelligence.

What is the appeal of vampire fiction? Why do so many writers–or you yourself–write about it? Why do readers and film viewers love it so much?

It’s probably popular because it imagines a kind of charisma, a subspecies of angst and an insidious variety of violence of which humans are incapable, thus providing a temporary distraction from the charismatic void, ineffably tedious angst and mere brutality that constitute the quotidian human condition. I can’t speak for other writers, readers or filmgoers, but I became interested in it when the history of the subgenre took an interesting turn in the 1970s, when assumptions of monstrosity formerly taken more-or-less for granted were challenged and interrogated in various quirky ways, presumably reflecting — albeit in a distorting mirror — contemporary sociological shifts in attitudes to sexuality. (You have no idea what a dark, horrid and lonely thing it is to be an unconventional intellectual but I JUST CAN’T HELP IT!!!!)

What are some of your favorite examples of vampire fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

Pierre Kast’s The Vampires Of Alfama deftly embodies everything that the revisionist movement of the 1970s involved. Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula is the most brilliantly flamboyant exercise of that sort (and the sequels are terrific too). Fred Saberhagen’s The Dracula Tape is neat and clever. Freda Warrington’s trilogy begun with A Taste of Blood Wine is a remarkably elegant extrapolation of the neo-Gothic aesthetic. Jane Gaskell’s The Shiny Narrow Grin was ten years ahead of its time, which earns it a gold star for getting there first. Paul Feval’s comic-horror Vampire City was a hundred years ahead of its time, which is worth two gold stars. Marie Nizet’s Captain Vampire showed that 19-year-old girls could weigh in with kinky erotic symbolism even in the 1870s, and also features the storming of the Grevitza Redoubt, which is not something you read about every day.