Ever since Anne Rice released “Interview with the Vampire” in 1976, the title has been alluded to in the titles of articles referring to real Vampyres being interviewed. We thought it might make a refreshing change to interview some journalists who have interviewed Vampyres, so SAVN sent out a questionnaire to two journalists who wrote articles on topics of vampirism and the real Vampyre community in South Africa. These are the responses we received.
We interviewed two journalists via email, and for the purposes of this interview, we will call them Michael and Jill. Despite a week of correspondence, and a telephone conversation, Michael didn’t bother to respond to the questions – hence the title of this piece being “Interview with the Journalist”, singular. All assumptions aside about why Michael declined to participate, we got a reply from Jill, whose responses are recorded below.
SAVN: Have you ever written previous journalistic articles on vampirism, blood drinking, energy work or real/self-identified Vampyres, and if so, how many?
Jill: “No, I haven’t, this was my first time.”
SAVN: Do you believe that it is important to portray an image of impartiality/objectivity when addressing topics such as vampirism?
Jill: “I think it’s important to be objective about people that are different from you, as we live in a very diverse world.”
SAVN: Have you ever met, known or interacted with self-identified Vampyres online such as in social forums etc?
Jill: “No, I haven’t. ”
SAVN: Have you ever met, known or interacted with self-identified Vampyres in real life?
Jill: “No, I haven’t. ”
SAVN: How would you describe the experience?
SAVN: What are your personal feelings about the Vampyres you have interacted with, and their version of events, description of their experiences etc?
SAVN: Were the individuals you interviewed easy or difficult to interview (open, guarded, cautious, reticent etc)?
Jill: “The two people I interviewed, I interacted with them by email, and I think they were very cool, and open. I understand why they were cautions about not wanting to use their real names, or have a face to face interview. ”
SAVN: Were the interviewees believable, or did you find their claims hard to believe? Why?
Jill: “I found them to be believable as they didn’t claim to have super natural powers.”
SAVN: Thinking back, how does your present perception of self-identified real Vampyres differ from before you either interacted with or met some of them, either online or in real life?
Jill: “Before I wrote the story, what I knew about vampires was from movies or books. I wasn’t aware of the SA culture that exist. At first I was a bit skeptical about their realness. After interacting with them, I see them as normal people with a normal social life, but have needs different from mine, and I respect them for that and would assume they don’t discriminate too. ”
SAVN: Were you apprehensive before such a meeting? If so, why, or why not?
Jill: “Since it was an email interview, there wasn’t anything to be apprehensive about, maybe I would have if I was to meet them face to face.”
SAVN: How did you feel about the meeting afterward?
SAVN: Having interviewed people who consider themselves to be real Vampyres, do you consider yourself better off, more knowledgeable for the experience, or apprehensive and cautious?
Jill: “I now think I’ve had a glimpse of their world, and more tolerant of different people.”
SAVN: What are your feelings about people who call themselves Vampyres, and the Vampyre Community?
Jill: “I think they are people with different interest and needs, but I don’t think they are strange or scary. I believe we are all different, and associate ourselves with different cultures or social groups.”
SAVN: How important do you think sensationalism is in writing articles about real life Vampyres?
Jill: “I believe if people are looking for sensationalism they watch Twilight or Dracula. In my story, I let them tell their stories in their own words.”
SAVN: Did/does sensationalism play a part in your motives for writing articles on vampirism?
Jill: “No, I was curious and wanted to find out more this culture I didn’t know existed in South Africa, and I did get more insight.”
SAVN: Some articles on the topic use a humorous approach, which might be taken as disrespectful or even offensive – how do you see this?
Jill: ” I suppose writes have their reasons for writing vampire stories, I enjoy telling people stories, about different communities, races, and cultures, and I prefer to give them a platform to tell it in their words, without forcing my opinions on the story.”
SAVN: Have you ever been criticized, intimidated or ridiculed by colleagues or your superiors for writing articles on vampirism and real Vampyres?
Jill: “I did get a strange looks when I pitched my story, but eventually convinced them to let me explore things you don’t regularly see on the media.”
SAVN: What are your thoughts on anonymity and the implications for self-identified Vampyres if they were to be exposed publicly in South Africa?
Jill: “I understand why they don’t want to use their names or photographed. But I feel it will help me tell a better story if I were to interact with them face to face, because you are able to pick up things as a writer by how someone speaks, carries herself, dressed. and with photographs, you can take pictures that are unidentifiable. It makes it more real to the reader, if they are able to see a photo, otherwise they might think we made the story up.”
SAVN: Would you ever like to write articles on this subject again in future?
Jill: “Yes, I would be keen to.”
SAVN: Many in the Vampyre Community feel reluctant to speak to journalists about their vampirism, or to meet with them in the open. What would you say to this?
Jill: “I think they should consider it, this will give a more insight into their lives and personalities. I would like to interact with the vampire community, with emails and phone interviews you don’t get that opportunity to get to know the person, during a face to face interview you are able to think of questions you wouldn’t think of, as you are having a conversation with that person. It’s helpful when it comes to little details.”
SAVN: What sort of guarantees do you offer to those you would interview anonymously in order to protect their nightside identities?
Jill: “As Journalists we are governed by the press code, we protect the identity of our sources or those who do not want to be identified. I personally live by it and wouldn’t want to put anyone’s lives in danger, building good relationships is a lifeline for Journalists.”
SAVN: Is there anything you would like to say to the community of Vampyres in South Africa?
Jill: “I think they should be willing to put their community out there, a lot of people are clueless that such a culture exists, this will encourage people to me more tolerant about people who are different.”