MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Friday, October 3, 2008

Undead in Toronto Globe & Mail

DRACULA AUTHOR'S DESCENDANT
JOSH WINGROVE

October 1, 2008

As a child, it was easy for Dacre Stoker to pick a Halloween costume.

Mr. Stoker said he knew he was a blood descendant of Bram Stoker, author of the iconic Dracula, as a boy growing up in Montreal.

"When Halloween time came, it was like, 'you're a Stoker!'" remembers Mr. Stoker, 50, who now lives in South Carolina.

"But that's the one thing about being Canadian. We're a little more humble than our American neighbours. You may be related to one of the greatest writers in history, but you don't make a big deal about it."


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He later confirmed that he was, precisely, the great-grandnephew of Abraham (Bram), and left it at that.

So, it came as a surprise when he got an e-mail from Ian Holt about five years ago. Mr. Holt, a New-York-based Dracula historian, wanted to "resurrect" the classic tale - which has been the subject of dozens of subsequent novels and films, none of which appeared to bear the Stoker name.

So Mr. Holt, 39, recruited the living Mr. Stoker to take part. Today, they have finished The Un-Dead, a 568-page manuscript set to see daylight next fall.

"I got in touch with Dacre and he thought I was this nut job. But after listening to me and discussing my vision of what I had in mind, he got very interested," said Mr. Holt, an actor who originally pitched the idea as a film.

"He came up with the idea that if we really want to honour Bram, we should do it like a novel first. And it took off like a rocket."

The novel is set 25 years after its famous predecessor, and follows the story of Quincey Harker, the son of original characters Jonathan Harker and Mina Murray. It ills in the back stories of the original characters while advancing the story of young Quincey, Mr. Holt said. He refused to go into specifics, saying only that a slew of characters reappear. Mr. Holt and Mr. Stoker have sold the Canadian, British and American publishing rights for several million dollars, their publishers say, and shooting is scheduled to begin on a film adaptation next year.

The Un-Dead has since swept up the lives of Mr. Holt and Mr. Stoker, a former teacher and Canadian Olympic pentathlon coach. He now works as a seminar instructor of, among other things, blood-borne pathogens.

"I've got a fascination with the body, having been a coach and athlete ... the role of getting your blood in really good condition to compete. And here I am with this other side of me," he said in an interview late yesterday evening.

"Yeah, I've got a lot to live up to."

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