INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE:
An "Interview" with Saint-Germain
Conducted by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro: You've had a long, long past to draw upon, and Midnight Harvest (Warner, 2003) explores your life seventy years ago. How does your longevity influence your view of America in the 1930s?
Saint-Germain: It is not only America that engaged my concerns in the 1930s, it was the insidious spread of fascism throughout the world, which I saw firsthand in Spain, and precipitated my departure for the United States. I had hoped that no such forces would be encountered in America, but, given the economic conditions of the 1930s, and the subsequent social unrest, the climate was rife with fascistic influences, which, fortunately, never found a central core around which to rally.
CQY: Surely there was more than a political situation that held your attention?
StG: Certainly. I had been in South America before, of course (Mansions of Darkness, 1996) and found that produced a very different kind of society, for Spanish colonialism was quite unlike English and French colonialism; I could not help but notice the contrasting approaches of the Spanish as regarded local peoples in the 1600s, and that of the predominantly European population of the United States, three centuries later. The country itself was intriguing, being more open to the presence of foreigners than a great many others have been presently and in the past. That very openness created its own kind of what seemed to be xenophobia much more than simple ethnic prejudices. I had not understood American regionalism until I had the opportunity to see it for myself, and then I found it both instructive and ironically entertaining.
CQY: You also had the opportunity to spend time with Rowena Saxon (Writ in Blood, 1996) in San Francisco, more than twenty years after your first affair with her what was that like?
StG: It was a fine opportunity to renew our friendship and to make the most of an unusual development: frequently, when I and my intimate companion part company, it is the end of our association, unless she comes to my life, as a few have done over the centuries. To have had the opportunity to know Rowena Saxon at two different stages of her breathing life was a remarkable experience for us both, and one that brought a great deal of insight to me, and, I hope, to her as well.
CQY: Your relationship with Dona Inez turned out strangely, didn't it?
StG: No more so than many of my other relationships in the past: think of Demetrice (The Palace 1979, Warner 2003), or perhaps Xenya (Darker Jewels, 1993). By comparison, Dona Inez was not remarkable. She made the most of what life presented to her, and for that, I am delighted.
CQY: If you hadn't been willing to help
her, things might have turned our very differently for her.
StG: I would like to think she would have been helped by someone else. It was my good fortune to have an airplane business to make her departure easier. I might have had an easier exit, myself, had my airplanes been available to me. Still, I took an airplane to America, which was the fastest journey over water that I could arrange dirigibles might have been more fashionable, but they took much longer to cross the ocean, and for me, that was the deciding factor.
CQY: What did you like about America, once you arrived here?
StG: The openness was most reassuring, what with the European countries going through a spasm of mutual distrust well-deserved, but lamentable which led to the fascistic regimes in Spain and Italy, and the dreadful NSDAP, or Nazis, in Germany (Tempting Fate, 1982). America was isolationistic, but the regionalism did not lead to the kind of conflicts that developed in Europe. Also, the country was astonishing to see. The expanses reminded me of some of my more extensive travels (Path of the Eclipse, 1981, Dark of the Sun, 2004) in China and Central Asia. The wildness and grandeur of the country was amazing. Fortunately I took a train to Chicago and bought a superb automobile to drive the rest of Route 40 to the West Coast, rather than having to caravan with camels, ponies, and mules; the travel was truly pleasant. I enjoyed the San Francisco region in spite of all the running water that surrounds the city. It made my life much easier once the Golden Gate Bridge was open. That was an impressive accomplishment. I have a few of Rowena's sketches of the building of the bridge most illuminating.
CQY: How did you return to Europe?
StG: Roger and I drove from California to Canada, and took an airplane to Paris. I then drove with Roger to Montalia and occupied Madelaine de Montalia's (Hotel Transylvania, 1978, Warner 2002) chateau until the end of World War II, and then resumed traveling. I returned to the United States in the 1980s and for a time ran a resort in the Rocky Mountains (The Saint-Germain Chronicles 1983) but I have not been back recently or recently by your standards.
CQY: Given your four thousand year perspective, what sort of changes do you anticipate for this country, and the world?
StG: If I have learned nothing else in my long life, I have learned that change is inevitable, and its nature is generally unlike what it is assumed it will be. Think of the Rome of Nero (Blood Games, 1980, Warner 2004) and then look at Rome during Karl-lo-Magne's time (Night Blooming, Warner 2002). Would anyone in Nero's time have foreseen, or believed, that Rome could become such a ruin? I would hope that such a long, dreadful alteration might be avoided again in the world, but I realize it is possible that it and many other unimaginable things may happen in the future. That is the nature of the future.
CQY: What would you like to be learned from your experiences?
StG: That every day you are as old as you have ever been, that every time is the present for those who live in it, and that the only difference between the past and the future is that the past is established and the future is unknown, but at the point we call now, where the present melds the past and the future, all experience occurs.
CQY: Isn't that an odd philosophy for a vampire?
StG: Hardly; those of my blood, who exist between your life and the True Death, are bound to life as much as any of the living. Perhaps, considering how long we live, we are more bound to it than many of you.
CQY: Thank you for your candor.
StG: Is that what you think it was? In that case, thank you.
Copyright © 2005