Bloody good time: Dacre Stoker sinks his teeth into family history, “Dracula”

On Sept. 27, the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus hosted Dacre Stoker, who gave a presentation titled “Stoker on Stoker,” a program that offered a detailed discussion of his great-grand-uncle Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula.”

Dacre Stoker speaks at UNG’s Gainesville campus.

In addition to his involvement co-editing works such as “The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker: The Dublin Years,” Stoker also writes fiction. He previously co-wrote a sequel to “Dracula” titled “Dracula the Un-Dead.”

Co-authored with J.D. Barker, Stoker’s current project, “Dracul,” combines biographical research and the unedited manuscript of “Dracula.” The research aspect of Stoker’s work played into his perspective on the story, which seeks to explore lost portions of the manuscript. Set for release next year, “Dracul” has already sold to Paramount, with Andy Muschietti (“It”) in talks to direct the film adaptation.

Dacre Stoker presents “Stoker on Stoker.”

As part of UNG’s Visiting Authors Series, Stoker presented at the Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville and Oconee campuses. His appearance at UNG came about through a meeting at AnachroCon, a convention that centers on history, steampunk and classic sci-fi literature. Dr. Leverett Butts, an associate professor of English at UNG-Gainesville, met Stoker at a panel. The meeting set into motion the events that brought Stoker to UNG. After Stoker signed Butts’ copy of “Dracula the Un-Dead,” the conversation shifted to publication.

“I told him about [my book] ‘Guns of the Wasteland’ and my publisher, Hold Fast Press,” Butts said. “In the course of talking about publishing, we struck up a friendship. When I saw his presentation, ‘Stoker on Stoker,’ I thought it would be helpful for our students.”

In front of a room of students and faculty, Stoker began his presentation with a montage of film clips showcasing the various incarnations of “Dracula.” As the 120th anniversary of the book’s publication took place this year, contemporary interpretations point to the character’s  enduring relevance. Moving from film interpretations to the text, “Stoker on Stoker” featured unpublished images, literary analysis and biographical research.

Stoker often finds inspiration for his projects through the historical contextualizing of “Dracula.” Occasionally, his connection to the author helps this process of discovery. In a cousin’s attic, he found Bram Stoker’s journal, which offers additional insight into the author’s life. Stoker also had the opportunity to view the novel’s original typescript.

From left to right: Dr. Shannon Gilstrap and Dacre Stoker. (Photo by Shea Barfield)

“Anybody worth his salt,” Stoker said, “trying to write a prequel to ‘Dracula,’ better know what is in the novel, what Bram intended to put in but, more importantly, what he took out.”

Another element of  Stoker’s research relates to the discovery of the Icelandic publication of “Dracula,” which differs from other editions. Stoker believes the book to be an early version of “Dracula.”

Throughout the presentation, Stoker considered Bram Stoker’s life experiences as they related to the novel. He noted that Bram Stoker suffered from an early childhood illness that made him a potential recipient of the common practice of bloodletting. According to Stoker, the period’s approach to medicine and the superstitions surrounding death and the spread of disease likely contributed to the creation of “Dracula.” Stoker also mentioned the era’s terror surrounding Jack the Ripper as a potential influence.

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