Thursday 8 October 2020

Interview with Dacre Stoker By David Kempf

When did you first become interested in horror?

I guess it was when I was 14 years old and watched the film "The Fearless Vampire Hunters", which was not exactly a serious horror film, but it did ease me into the genre. I really became interested when I learned about my family's relationship to Bram Stoker; his youngest brother Dr George Stoker is my great grandfather, making Bram my great grand uncle. I became most interested when I was in University and did a research paper and read the book "In Search of Dracula" by R. McNally and R. Florescu.

At what age did you know you were related to Bram Stoker?

It was at the age of 12 during Halloween time, I would be the object of jokes by my friends about coming to my home for trick or treat, when the question was raised if I would take their blood or give them candy. I asked my father what they were joking about and he sat me down and told me about our famous relative.

How do you think that vampire fans are different from other readers?

Many vampire fans are very serious and faithful to the "worlds" created by their favorite authors, and some are also very faithful to movies, TV shows, or streaming series. There are many different vampire fans these days, ranging from true horror to paranormal romance, and everything in between, which is really wonderful. This diversity demonstrates the enormity of the fan base that spreads over, fiction and non-fiction novels, to movies, TV shows and streaming series, RPG games, video games, lifestyle, stage plays, opera, ballet, music… the list goes on and on.

What inspired you to write?

I was contacted back in 2005 by Ian Holt who asked me to collaborate with him on adapting his screenplay into a novel, and to include Bram Stoker as a character, after a few years this became Dracula the Undead (Dutton, 2009)  He was interested in having a member of the Stoker family involved and one that could provide a significant amount of information about Bram and his writing of Dracula. I really did not know much about writing a novel, but I was interested, and the timing was right for me as I had recently moved on from a teaching job. I used my free time to delve into my family's history and of course fully I immersed myself into Bram's life and his research and writing of Dracula. Having the challenge of collaborating on a novel was stimulus for me to take it very seriously. This put me on the fast track to read all the biographies, attend conferences, visit the museums and libraries that had Bram's notes and letters etc. After reading all of these and having access to Bram's personal journal I was hooked; I needed to help tell his story, I chose to do it in a variety of ways, thru writing fiction, non-fiction and giving presentations.

Why are people still so obsessed with Dracula after all this time?

First of all, the novel Dracula published in 1897 is very complex, I have found it has meaning to so many people on so many levels. It is not a straightforward novel, people read it over and over again and keep getting something different out of it every time they read it. It is a novel open to interpretation on many different levels, it just does not get old, even after 123 years.

What are some of your favorite horror books?

I enjoyed reading Salem's Lot by Stephen King, it made a huge impression on me, the presence of a  vampire in a small town in Maine really hit home as I visited Maine a lot in the summer times. It had a very real vibe to it, much like I understand Dracula had to readers living in London when it was published in 1897. I also enjoyed Interview with a Vampire as Anne Rice introduced vampires with more human like personalities, one who struggled with the concept of killing and feeding off humans. I liked the graphic novel 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles, having been to Alaska a few times to fly fish, I thought it was a perfect place for a vampire story.

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

Here is a wide range of my favorite vampire movies, starting with the Dracula, (1931)  with Bela Lugosi,  Nosferatu,  (1922) with Max Schreck,   The Horror of Dracula,  (1958)  with Christopher  Lee,  Bram Stoker's Dracula, (1992) with Gary Oldman,  and Let the Right One In, (2008) the Swedish version.  

Who are your favorite vampire characters besides Dracula?

Here are a few of them: Jonathan Frid, played Barnabus Collins in Dark Shadows, Stephen Moyer, played Bill Compton in True Blood, Kate Beckinsale played Selene in Underworld, and the lovely  Salma Hayek in From Dusk till Dawn.

What are your current projects?

I recently finished an Annotated Dracula with scholar Robert Eighteen-Bisang, it should be out in 2012. I am embarking on an exciting project to adapt some of Bram's short stories into Graphic novels with Chris McAuley and artist Jessica Martin with the UK based Andrews Publishing. I have a few short stories written with Leverett Butts coming out in the next few months, one in Weird Tales magazine, and another in a Sherlock Holmes Anthology. I continue to do my Stoker on Stoker presentations about the mysteries behind the research and writing of Dracula, mostly on Zoom until this darned pandemic is over!   I am also producing replica sets of Bram Stoker's rare papers with Vic Nadata of Gemini Artifacts, these are reproductions of Bram's Dracula notes, his letters, personal papers, postcards, and rare documents; it is sort of like bringing the museum to you. This is a Kickstarter project entitled "Unearthed: The Bram Stoker Rare Papers".

Please in your own words write a paragraph about yourself & your work.

I live in Aiken South Carolina, I am active in my community in conservation of natural resources, I love to fly fish and ride my mountain bike, when I am not at my desk writing. I am serious in my endeavor to find out as much as I can about my family's interesting history. In addition to my uncle Bram, there are famous doctors in the family who are interesting, and my namesake was a famous WW 1 submarine commander, so I have plenty to keep me busy.

I really enjoy bringing family stories and history back to life thru my writing and doing live Stoker on Stoker presentations, which I do all over the world. I am presently working on a film documentary about my search for the location of Bram Stoker's fictional castle Dracula in north eastern Transylvania. I also lead interested fans on tours to Dublin, Ireland to see sites associated with Bram's early life, and to Cruden Bay, Scotland where Bram wrote most of Dracula, as well as two other novels, and to Transylvania to visit sites associated with the real Vlad Dracula and Bram's Count Dracula.  

Check out Dacre Stoker's Website at