My love for vampire lore began in childhood with a neighborhood friend, who introduced us classic monster movies.
But my personal fascination for vampire stories took off in the eighth grade when I read "Dracula" by Bram Stoker for the first time.
So when I had the opportunity to interview Stoker's great-grandnephew, Dacre Stoker – well, how could I pass that up?
Dacre Stoker will be appearing at two area events. One is "What's Vlad Got to Do with It? - An evening with Dacre Stoker," Sept. 18 at the Downer's Grove Library.
The other is VampCon 2019, Sept. 20 ti Sept. 22 in Chicago.
Baran--Unland: So it turns out we both read and enjoyed "In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires" by Radu Florescu and Raymond T. McNally. I first read the book at age 15. How did that "stoke" Your interest in both the topic and your family history?
Stoker: That book actually was my first exposure, from an academic perspective, to "Dracula" and my great grand uncle Bram. Up until this point all I knew about Bram was strictly here-say at the dinner table and most of that turned out to be untrue. McNally and Florescu’s work was later found to be a bit of a stretch itself, nonetheless it was very helpful in focusing my interest, it was an excellent starting point for me.
Baran-Unland: Did some of this knowledge build the foundation for the tours?
Stoker: The knowledge I gained from reading “In Search of Dracula” made me aware of some of the places in Romania that pertained to both Prince Vlad Dracula lll and Bram’s Count Dracula. I have to credit Hans de Roos for leading me around Romania while we were planning a specialized tour guide for Bram Stoker/Vlad Dracula fans in 2014. It was on this tour that I realized where the best places in the country were to take people to show them places associated with Vlad and the places where the action in Bram’s novel takes place.
Baran-Unland: What are people most seeking to experience at one of these tours?
Stoker: Most of my clients over the past three years have come on my tours to soak up the atmosphere of Romania which in a strange way hatched the vampire myth in popular culture.
Some are more educated in the origins of the vampire superstitions and also in Vlad Dracula’s real historical background. For the most part clients have been very open minded and eager to see the interesting old castles associated with Vlad the Impaler as well as the sites that Bram Stoker chose to set some of his novel "Dracula."
Baran-Unland: What inspired you, a sports enthusiast, to become a vampire novelist?
Stoker: I felt it was important as a Stoker family member to assist in highlighting Bram Stoker as a man and as a writer so the world knows more about him. His writing of "Dracula" is a very interesting story which I love to share with interested listeners of all ages.
Baran-Unland: What did you learn about writing along the way?
Stoker: In a funny way, writing is similar to training for an Olympic event. Both take a lot of preparation, focus and determination. Once you are ready to get published, one must be ready for scrutiny and editing, which is a lot like coaching.
When the book comes out, the writer better have a thick skin and control their emotions as reviewers can be tough, just like judges or your competitors and spectators.
Baran-Unland: What have you learned about vampires along the way?
Stoker: Deep rooted in historical past, these superstitions were extremely widespread. Vampires continue to remain popular because writers constantly find creative ways to make their vampires evolve and stay fresh. Change is good as long as the “world” and the rules that writers adhere to are well thought out and consistent.
Baran-Unland: Would you consider writing a vampire novel without a co-author?
Stoker: Possibly, but at this stage in my life I realize my own strengths and those of others, I really enjoy writing with authors who are more skilled than I am and are willing to collaborate on literary projects.
Baran-Unland: Please share some details about your role at VampCon?
Stoker: I am very keen to help make this first VampCon a huge success. I am assisting Christopher Davis in attracting authors to serve on and moderate panels. I have a lot of author friends in the Horror Writers Association who enjoy going to cons and in particular authors of vampire novels who think that a con focused on just vampires is a really cool idea. I am also going to be giving a few of my signature presentations, with a few surprises for the attendees.
Baran-Unland: What can attendees expect at your presentation at the Downer's Grove Library?
Stoker: My Stoker on Stoker presentation is a multimedia presentation utilizing slides of original notes, film clips, images of people and places that influenced my great-granduncle in his writing of Dracula.
I delve into Bram Stokers life starting with his childhood and explain how events throughout his life, both personal experiences and extensive research contributed to his writing of Dracula.
I will also provide some of the research behind the wring of "Dracul," the origin story of Bram writing "Dracula," a novel I co-authored with JD Barker.
Baran-Unland: What else would you like to add?
Stoker: If you would like to find more about my writing, presentations or tours to interesting places please visit my website dacrestoker.com
Come meet me and many of my fellow authors at VampCon.. we will not bite…much!
IF YOU GO
WHAT: What's Vlad Got to Do with It? - An evening with Dacre Stoker
WHEN: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 18
WHERE: Downers Grove Public Library, 1050 Curtiss St.
ETC: Take a tour through both medieval and modern day Romania investigating the fact and fiction surrounding Bram Stoker novel's "Dracula." This event includes an optional book signing.
INFORMATION: Call 630-960-1200 or visit dglibrary.org.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: VampCon Chicago
WHEN: 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sept. 20, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sept. 21 and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 22
WHERE: Hyatt Regency O’Hare, 9300 Bryn Mawr Ave. Rosemont
INFORMATION: Visit vampconchicago.com.