Interview with Bram Stoker

November 10, 2016

bram-stokerThis month, my dear readers, authors and why not? Publishers, I want to offer you an imaginary interview with a very famous and brilliant British, rather, an Irish horror writer. Maybe he is the most famous horror writer of all times. I am saying about this, because he was the first author to create a fictional character that inspired, later, other novelists. And so, ladies and gentleman, I am discussing about the father of Dracula, the famous vampire known all over the world by every person who read a book, at least, during his/her lifetime. He is Bram Stoker. The full name of the author is in reality, Abraham Stoker, shortened into Bram. To him, in April of 2012, on the occasion of the anniversary of his death happened on April, 20, 1912, Google also dedicated an online Doodle. Now, however, it is time to talk to Mr. Bram Stoker.

Howdy Mr Stocker, as usual, I am engaged again to interview a British author and I am Italian, instead! Can I ask you my questions?

Sure, Mrs Rosalba Mancuso, I am a writer who is eager to be interviewed by an Italian colleague.

Okay, very perfect, then, Mr Stocker. Let’s start the interview. Can you tell us information about you your life and your literary career?

It is my pleasure, Rosalba. Mine was a very normal life. I was born in Clontarf, Dublin, in 1847. I was sickly until I was seven years, later I recovered and never suffered from other diseases.

I know you were raised by a very religious family. All this influenced your writing?

No, at all. I attended a religious school during my childhood, and on the following years, The Trinity College, that was a Protestant university, but No, my education didn’t influence my writing particularly, I think my passion for writing depended on my job experience. Indeed, I graduated to Bachelor Arts in mathematics.

That has nothing to do with writing and literature.
Right, Rosalba. My writing was influenced by my job as a personal assistant for the theatre actor Henry Irving and as a business manager of the Lyceum Theater in London owned by the same Actor.

I know you also worked as a ticket seller at this theatre.
Yes, I also worked to mark the seats for the public that watched the theatre representations. I was very busy at that time, but it was due the dramas I witnessed during my job that I discovered a deep passion for writing. Indeed, I wrote during my spare time.

Who are the writers who influenced your writing?
Maybe you don’t know that during my job as theatre assistant I wrote the screenplays for my favorite actor and employer Henry Irving, and I often edited theatre dramas as Othello and Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Always during my job I also met Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde. The latter was a former suitor of my wife , Florence.

Obviously, Doyle and Wile were not famous like today at that time. And you wrote a horror and gothic book , namely Dracula, which is fully different from their novels.
Exact, Rosalba. My passion for writing depended on my journalistic skills. Always during my job at the theatre, I also became a theatre critic at the Dublin Evening Mail, co-owned by the author of Gothic tales Sheridan Le Fanu. I was an acclaimed critic for the quality of my reviews. In the meanwhile, I nursed the passion for gothic literature.

Hence, you did reviews like the one I do today?
I wrote about theatre plays, but yes, I did a similar job.

And what do you think about these?
I think they are a good way to raise the interest in a literary product, both play or novel. In my epoch, theatre critic was kept in low esteem, sometimes bad esteem, but thanks to my reviews, this opinion was completely reversed.

However, today’s authors meet only book reviewers for a fee. What about this?
In my time, reviewers were paid by journals, I understand that today there are very few journals that pay reviewers to write reviews . And so, many reviewers ask authors to pay for support them, otherwise their job would end.

Very well, Mr. Stocker you have centred the issue: paid reviews are to support reviewers who don’t work for any journals but only for their own blog. But, now, I want to talk about your famous novel, namely Dracula. How have you had the idea of this book?
Before writing Dracula I met Ármin Vámbéry, a Hungarian writer and traveller. Dracula was inspired by Vámbéry’s dark stories of the Carpathian mountains. In 1890 I also visited the English town of Whitby, a place with an ancient abbey that helped me get inspiration for my novel.

Can you tell more about this book?
Dracula is an epistolary novel written with a particular technique, namely a collection of realistic but completely fictional diary entries, telegrams, letters, ship’s logs, and newspaper clippings, which added a sort of detailed realism to the story, a skill which I developed as a newspaper writer. The plot tells about a young British lawyer Jonathan Harker, who is sent to Transylvania to handle the sale of a castle owned by the count Dracula. The latter is in reality a vampire, a terrifying monster also called the un-dead.

In your view, today Dracula would get the same global success?
I don’t know, if it would, but I am sure that since I was the first author to create this gothic character, success was granted in my time.

But Dracula is a real horror masterpiece!
Maybe, Rosalba, maybe…

It is. The characters are well detailed, Mina Murray, Lucy Westenra, Abraham Van Helsing , everybody surrounded by the fear to be bitten from a supernatural monster.
Yes, the gloomy landscape and the creepy sensations inspired by a monster that can kill you with a bite while you are sleeping are ingredients capable to capture any readers.

In addition to the vampire, Dracula contains many weird characters, Renfield, a mad guy who ate beetles and flies or Quincey Morris, one of the three vampire hunters who defeated Dracula. These people resemble persons you met in your real life?
Yes, during my life I went to the U.S and met just a person called Quincey Morris and a poor man affected from mental illness. This poor man trapped flies in the bottle to eat them and inspired me the character of Renfield.

I know you also wrote other novels.
Yes, I started my writing career with The Snake’s Pass in 1890 and Dracula in 1897. During this period, I was a member of the literary staff of the The Daily Telegraph in London. In that period, I also wrote other fiction, including the horror novels The Lady of the Shroud  (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911). Furthermore , after the death of Henry Irving, I published his Personal Reminiscences in 1906.

In 1902 You published also the Mystery of the Sea, a political thriller with other compelling supernatural elements and another horror novel titled The Jewel Of Seven Stars, which tells about a mummy and an Egyptian mysterious queen. Why these books didn’t have the same success of Dracula?
I got many positive reviews for all my books, also, but evidently, over the centuries, scholars and modern critics have overlooked the importance of these books.

Indeed, from Dracula many movies were drawn.
Yes, the first movie was filmed in 1914 but my wife sued the filmmakers because they didn’t ask her for the authorization to make it. The most important adaptation of my book was in 1931 with the movie titled Dracula and starred by Bela Lugosi.

Nothing to say, when an author inspires movies, it is surely a successful writer. And today, what do you advice to other aspiring horror writers?
I believe today it is harder to create original monsters, but everything only depends on the good writing. If you write well, you could also write a vampire story capable to overcome the success of Dracula. There are no magical solutions for this, the secret is only in your writing. Keep writing then, and you’ll see results soon or later. This is a promise by Bram Stoker.

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