The elusive vampire
Folklore and fiction – writing My Swordhand Is Singing
in Open Graves, Open Minds
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The vampires in the older folklore do indeed turn into a rather bewildering array of creatures: horses, dogs, men, pigs, sheep and moths. The accounts of vampire deterrents, for example: millet seed, strewn on the ground, slowing a vampire down, or, in his coffin, slowing his exit until he has counted or picked up every seed. Likewise, a net placed in a coffin requires the vampire to unpick each knot, sometimes at the rate of one a year. Similarly, a stick of charcoal, which must be used up by writing before the vampire can emerge to do his worst. These things were fascinating to the author; their seeming mundanity appeared to him to be a subtle gift, the chance to turn each one into something more sinister. Readers of My Swordhand Is Singing will be aware of how each of these things became evident in the final novel.

Open Graves, Open Minds

Representations of Vampires and the Undead from the Enlightenment to the Present Day

Editors: Sam George and Bill Hughes


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