Shape of fangs to come as writer gets his teeth into vampires

It was during the blackouts of the 1970s that GP Taylor first realised the true potential of vampires.

After watching the original Dracula film, starring Bla Lugosi, as an 11-year-old, he'd asked his mother to make him a black cape with red lining. She duly obliged and when the streetlights went out, as Britain tried to ration its coal reserves, Taylor would grab the cloak and spend hours leaping out on unsuspecting passers-by making their way home from work.

"I loved that cape, I imagine the lining was nylon rather than silk, but it didn't matter to me," says the Scarborough author. "From that I point on, I was fascinated."

Taylor wasn't alone. There have been endless Hollywood remakes of Bram Stoker's Dracula, a book inspired by the writer's own trips to Whitby and recently the vampire myth has been reinvented for the 21st century.

Stephenie Meyers' Twilight novels have sold more than 100 million copies, they've turned Robert Pattinson, the star of the film adaptations, into a global teen pin-up and it's small screen counterparts, True Blood and Being Human, have both proved to be ratings winners.

"Twilight isn't really about vampires, it's a teenage love story with a few fangs thrown in," says Taylor, whose latest novel Vampyre Labryinth is an attempt to blow the Hollywood gloss off the myth. "It's certainly not true to the vampire tradition. Bram Stoker is credited with bringing vampires mainstream popularity and to a large extent that's true, but, like all good ideas, he borrowed heavily from stories that already existed in many different culture. Societies everywhere from Africa to North American and Eastern Europe have vampire stories that date back many hundreds of years. It's part of human nature to wonder what happens after we die and the idea that someone could come back from the dead and survive by drinking other people's blood is the stuff of nightmares.

"However, these tales are not just frightening, women in particular find a character like Dracula deeply attractive. He's good looking, he's dangerous and impossibly irresistible."

The seeds of Taylor's latest novel, aimed at the over nines, were sown many years ago. However, the idea was shelved when he became the vicar for Cloughton, near Whitby, and it's only now, having retired from the Church of England, that he has felt able to put his thoughts on paper. "When I was at Cloughton, I used to put on special services for the goths who came to the resort to follow in Bram Stoker's footsteps," says Taylor, whose first novel Shadowmancer turned into a bestseller. "We would serve red grape juice and it was just a really lovely time. However, I didn't want to write anything that might damage the Church and I just felt people might not approve of a vicar writing vampire stories

"Now I have the freedom to do what I want and when I sat down to write Vampyre Labyrinth it just flowed. I didn't have a fully fleshed out plot when I started, but honestly it was like downloading something from the internet. It's the easiest book I've ever written and in six weeks it was done."

Vampyre Labyrinth is set during the Blitz and sees 15-year-old Jago Harker, the name a nod to Stoker's hero Jonathan Harker, evacuated to Whitby. The town is desolate and with a vampire and serial killer on the loose it proves far less safe that Jago had hoped.

Taylor has already had offers from film companies to buy the rights to the book, but he has other ideas.

"I see it as a musical," he says, having just sent a copy off to Andrew Lloyd Webber. "One of my other books Mariah Mundi – the Midas Box is currently being made into a movie and I've written a screenplay called Lenin Athletic about a Russian oligarch who thinks he's buying Manchester United, but ends up with a club which bears more than a passing resemblance to Scarborough, so it would be nice to do something different.

"If I was a child a vampire musical would seem to me to be the perfect entertainment."

n GP Taylor will be signing copies of Vampyre Labyrinth at The Whitby Bookshop on September 18 at 1pm.