The Guide to Becoming a Byronic Vampire

Welcome to the vampire life!

Now, it may seem rather bewildering that I’m welcoming you to the life. ‘But I’ve been a vampire for so long already,’ you cry. But darling, that… that wasn’t being a vampire. That was being a shambolic cursed ravenous beast with the sex appeal of a bent spoon covered in week old yoghurt. Now that you’ve managed to fulfil the terms and conditions  of your malediction and devour all your delicious family, it’s time to become your true vampiric self: a Byronic vampire.

You’ve spent the better part of your undeath snacking convulsively on lowly peasants, dressed in the rotting tatters of your grave clothes and gorged with blood like a giant slug. Now it’s time to grab the maiden by the throat, start choosing your victims, get a decent wardrobe, begin working on your mystique and cultivate a reputation as an enigmatic cad with a dark past and hypnotic powers. We should perhaps note that being a Byronic vampire isn’t a ‘man’ thing. You’ll still be attached to your old rigid and bizarre human categories, no doubt, depending on your provenance, but we don’t really bother with that here. Don’t fight it. Just leave your out-dated binaries at the door.

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First: The first step to becoming a Byronic vampire is getting rid of those disgusting rags. Sartorial elegance is the keynote to any true vampire. Your current attire of rotting and disintegrating grave clothes may be, for this first meeting, accepted as a necessary evil, but you must be found from this moment on in nothing that does not spark the term ‘magnificent’ in the mind of any mortal walking past. You may as well pull out your fangs as turn up in those repulsive items the humans insist upon referring to as ‘sweat pants’ as if the sight of the monstrosities wasn’t enough without that repellent appellation. While there is no set colour palate, we recommend beginning with blacks, blood reds and creams. It is hard to make a mistake with this colour combination. Any experimentation with pastels, you should be warned, is only to be attempted by experts with considerable field experience in Byronic dressing.

The following items are recommended for purchase: cravats, bustles, corsets, flowing shirts, leather trousers, intricately designed waist-coats, capes (be careful here, many a novice has accidentally ended up in an unfortunate tangle situation when attempting to make a suitably dramatic exit) and expensively form-fitting coats (ideally you should need a servant to shrug you into the thing – you may devour them at your leisure after the task is accomplished).

The following items are strongly discouraged: trainers/sneakers/tennis shoes, cargo shorts, capri pants, ugg boots, flip flops, speedos, granny knickers and, of course, SWEAT PANTS.

Second: While living in a crypt is considered by some to be de rigueur (although I personally prefer something more palatial), you must certainly remove yourself from the immediate environs of your own grave. Nothing makes you easier prey for over-zealous young hunters or more terribly cliche than residing in the half-shattered remains of the cut price pine casket you were buried in and rearing up out of it every night like a cheap children’s entertainer.

The following are all acceptable choices of residence and many have been used to great effect, and quite famously, by the venerated trail-blazers of our vampiric movement: a towering castle perched upon a harrowing precipice and surrounded by miles of forest, jagged rocks and roaring waterfalls; a decaying mansion, preferably at the outermost edge of a dilapidated town; an echoing town house whose shadowy corners hide secrets which must remain unspoken; a lavish house which stands beside the sea, pummelled by its angry waves; or a small residence at the end of a winding path through a looming wood and begirt by a wild mix of ivy and roses that close off the light of the sun from reaching the interior.

If you absolutely must live in a flat, be sure to decorate it with suitable aplomb by deploying a monochromatic colour scheme or by filling it with extravagantly wrought antiques, rich velvets and luxuriant hangings.

Third: To fund the purchase and maintenance of your residence (or residences), you will need to decide upon a source of income. While it is far from glamorous, ultimately the vampire’s most secure form of capital comes from investment. We have the luxury of time and small investments early on in a company’s growth can yield substantial and life-style providing gains. However, it is vital that you have both an immediate form of garnering wealth in order to start your career and a more glamorous apparent source of money. While being a ‘tradesman’, ‘man of business’ or ‘investor’ must be an anathema to the Byronic soul, one must be practical. However there is no need to appear in such a banal guise and the true source of your immense wealth should be obscured.

There are several methods by which you may attain the riches which provide the ostensible justification of your lifestyle. The most traditional of these is, of course, the seduction of a human target, followed by binding contracts. They, I believe, call it marriage. I (just my little joke) call it signing the menu. These binding contracts will result in your inheriting their, presumably vast, properties or store of material goods (what is the point else?). A string of such arrangements will bring you pleasing notoriety as spouse after spouse mysteriously… disappears. There are also other benefits which I am sure I need not elucidate at length.

A second option with a significant history of success is reckless gambling. You will want to combine this activity with the corruption of innocence, so do be sure to win from young persons of sizeable fortune and minuscule brain. Hardened gamblers, cheats and card-turners should be encouraged. Do be free in losing to such rogues. Thus the wheel of iniquity turns and word of your mysterious habits only grows.

A third option, taken on by those few of our number whose bloodlust is more pronounced, is that of mercenary. It is a fine way of seeing the world and, of course, bathing it in blood. We recommend the passionate espousal of doomed causes, treachery, and bezerker battle fury as methods of distinguishing yourself.

There are many other options, of course, including, but not limited to: dandy highwayman; landlord of a string of haunted properties; brooding estate manager; warlord; theatre proprietor; painter and many more. We must insist, however, that any musical proclivities are left firmly within the province of ‘hobby’. It is quite acceptable to attempt the seduction of a delicate maiden upon a moonlit beach at the midnight hour with the haunting strains of a violin. It is QUITE another thing to become that most vulgar of all professions: a rock musician.

Fourth: Here we step upon delicate ground but we must (we absolutely must) insist upon the development of an exquisite proficiency in the art of dalliance and seduction. If you are wishful of engaging in sexual liaisons of any description, we must likewise insist that you develop considerable skill. We have a reputation to maintain and the rumour of any one of our number flopping about in the bedchamber (or other location of your choice) like a dead fish beset by a horde of rabid eels is enough to ruin the repute of us all. A number of us wish to abstain from such relations entirely, feeling no attraction whatsoever to the meals-on-feet we share this world with. It is very understandable but we really must insist upon developing seduction techniques. You only need the humans to fall helplessly in love with you (and this, of course, with skill can be done at a considerable distance). We simply cannot, however, have vampires mooching around like living potatoes causing no reaction whatsoever in the living. Develop a penetrating eye and resistless stare or you may as well pick up your funereal rags and throw yourself head first back into your blood soaked grave.

You are also queer now. I don’t make the rules. I just enjoy them.

Fifth: Although the vampiric life is largely solitary, you would do well to adopt a few companions to give yourself a certain eclat. Traditionally, you should maintain at least one tense, often erotically charged, relationship with another vampire in which love will alternate with vituperative hate and an enmity to mark the ages. Werewolves are also traditional companions, however, we cannot recommend them in the role of anything but servants. Even then, they should be employed only in outdoor settings. The smell of wet dog is hard on the nose.

To fully embrace the Byronic life, however, you will need to find an innocent young thing (well…young in comparison to you, inevitably) who you will lead into a bewildering web of lies from which they ultimately cannot hope to escape. Although this may seem like a great deal of exertion, I can only comment that after several hundred years of vampirism, it does one good to set oneself a challenge. In order to entrap this youth, we recommend one of the following: inviting them to your lair under some pretext (possibly as a lawyer, secretary or companion); sending your servant out to gather travellers stopping at the local fountain in your nearby deserted village; accompanying a young person of very little brain on a world tour; attending balls dramatically, locking eyes with your target and beguiling them into an erotically charged hate-dance before enigmatically disappearing; or approaching travellers on abandoned roads with offers of food and a store of quaint lore. Once you have enticed your innocent, you may play the game as you wish. The more innovative, the better. But do beware leaving any stakes around the house. Some of them are desperately foolhardy and there’s nothing more irritating than a splinter to the heart when they make a misguided attempt to assassinate you.

Sixth: The Byronic vampire cannot exist without crisis. You must have depth. You must have soul. You must be tortured. The easy option is, of course, to have a series of existential crises over your mode of life and sustenance. This is very well for those beginning their undead life but we do most sincerely recommend developing more interesting strategies as you advance in age. A classic, which we cannot recommend enough, is the tale of thwarted love. If you already have such a story, all that is needed is more epic framing. I would also leave out the almost inevitable fact that unless your lover predeceased you, you devoured them like a lurking fiend sucking greedily on their blood and gnawing on their bones among the screams of your family. Some things are best glided over gently with an air of mysterious sorrow. You may also, of course, choose the mode of a deathless friendship which was not, after all, quite so deathless. Other favourites include: revenge for betrayal in love/war/property disputes; mourning the loss of the political system of your youth; failing to seduce the one object who ever warmed your heart; and the inability to avenge your father’s death on account of the fact that you were the one who ripped his throat out with your bare hands.

We hope that with these tips and tricks, you can begin your Byronic undeath with confidence. For further tutorials, guidance and assistance, please survey our other informational pamphlets or our selection of limited place courses including ‘Table Manners for Messy Drinkers’, ‘How to Start a Poly-Murder Family from Scratch’, ‘Basic Card Games’, ‘Predator or Prey: Avoiding Annihilation by your Mortal Enemy’ and ‘Investment 101’.

Published by SamHirst

This started off as a story blog to share the little fictions that I like to write but it's turned into something a bit more Goth! I'm Dr Sam Hirst and I research the Gothic, theology and romance and at the moment I'm doing free Gothic classes online! We also have readalongs, watchalongs and reading groups. And I post fun little Gothic bits when I have the chance. Find me on twitter @RomGothSam

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