Leon’s last vampire

—How did the idea arise and why to create Amancio?

—Amancio emerged as an audiovisual project seven years ago. We wanted to make a short halfway between black comedy and horror. The intention was to portray solitary characters who have remained unchanged over the years, anchored to their land, to their home and in the case of Amancio, who is also an alcoholic, also to the bar. In some respects he could be considered the last of his kind in these liquid times. Since he is immortal, when Amancio rejoins the present time after his years of solitude, his diametrically opposite vision of life will collide head-on with the present times. That contradiction will generate tensions and, I hope, also comedy.

—How did you go from the visual image of Amancio to the one you show in the book?

—As a result of the success of the short during its national and international distribution, I considered the possibility of turning it into a series. However, and despite several meetings with production companies and audiovisual platforms, the project did not come to fruition. This process coincided with the pandemic, so I decided that all that material I had developed would not be left in the inkwell and I decided to transform it into a novel, an idea that I had caressed many times but had never brought to completion.

For me, writing the novel has been more pleasant than writing the script because there was no budget or logistics that limited me when creating. The character is really the same although literature allowed me to expand. I could let my imagination run wild and that allowed me to take Amancio further in every way.

—The chapter on the birth of Amancio already gives us clues as to what will happen at the end of the work.

—Honestly, I had never considered it that way, although I have always been attracted to circular structures for what perhaps, unconsciously, it has been reflected in the novel. Amancio for me represents a series of values, the same ones that my grandparents transmitted to me, typical of a world that is disintegrating before our eyes and, somehow, does the only thing it can do (besides biting people), which It is what they taught him as a child.

—Amancio was born at the beginning of the last century, which gives you the opportunity to take a historical tour of the 20th century. How do you tell the civil war in León through their eyes?

—The civil war is present in the novel as it could not be otherwise because the story narrates the life of Amancio from 1902 to the present day. However, I have preferred to stick to what I know from my family and this meant treating it tangentially. Amancio comes from the Órbigo area and that region was not a war front. Also, Amancio is not called up due to his flat feet. What they do appear portrayed are the consequences of Franco’s victory: the executions, the prison sentences, the fines or the ostracism to which people of the opposite political sign were sentenced. Amancio will also be separated from society, although his case is due more to the fact that he is an amoral misfit with no possible fit in a community governed by the new national-Catholic canons prevailing in the postwar period.

—In the novel you had to create the character of Amancio from the beginning. How did you go about articulating the story?

—I started from the present moment in which the short was set and decided to go back to its birth. Usually in the case of vampires, his life beyond the moment of conversion is not usually told, but I wanted to narrate where Amancio came from. My idea was that the vampire transformation should not change the human character of the protagonist and that is why I wanted to project it into the past. From there, it was easier for me to fit the pieces together because, despite the time ellipses between some chapters and others, the story progressed in chronological order to the present.

-The book has two parts. The first ends with the death of Rosenda, which gives rise to the second part, which is the actual script for the film. Tell a little about how it is structured.

—The first part recounts the human life of Amancio, from his birth to his death in 1964. The second recounts his existence as the living dead from the time he was resurrected until the death of his sister-in-law Rosenda in 1992. The third and last part covers from the moment in which he remains in complete solitude until the Coronavirus pandemic. Since the short film, I found it very interesting to show a vampire naked of artifice. My role model was never Dracula or any other bloodsucker with superhuman strength or the ability to transform into other animals. My idea was closer to the vampires of Central Europe, where victims condemned to eternal thirst returned from their graves to torment their loved ones. As Amancio lacked a mentor to show him the vampiric idiosyncrasy, he has been dealing with his new condition based on trial and error. At the same time, his family was forced to help and protect him even if that made them his necessary collaborators because that is what they were also taught. So no one was left behind, that will be lucky for Amancio, although not so much for his family. He only pays attention to himself, which in the long run, will sentence him to perpetual loneliness.

Leon’s last vampire