"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

Saturday, August 01, 2009 05:11 AM Cameron & Pamela Koller Fearful Features

To scholars of gothic and classic horror literature, the idea of writing a sequel to one of the crown jewels of horror culture, Bram Stoker’s original text Dracula, must sound like literary rape of the most criminal sort. Yet, this is not the simplistic cash-in that some may accuse it of being. The duo of Stoker descendant Dacre Stoker and screenwriter Ian Holt acknowledge monetary value as a motivating factor, but have more complex goals alongside the obvious one.

Holt had initially tracked down Dacre’s uncle to tackle the project of writing a screenplay-sequel to Dracula. However, the Stoker family’s relationship to Hollywood had always been very negative, since Bram Stoker and his lawyers had failed to procure a worthwhile exchange for the book’s copyright. One search through ancestry.com later, Michael, Tim, and the family were put in contact with one another. The uncle unwilling, Holt tracked down Dacre from the next generation and set about writing a book instead over the next five years.

Copyright, as well as the deteriorating quality of Dracula’s cinematic adaptations, lie at the heart of this project’s objectives. Since Coppola’s adaptation of the story, adaptations since have abused the copyright and lost sight of what makes Count Dracula such a compelling character. With this book, Ian Holt hopes to put the rights to the novel back into the hands of the Stoker family. In addition, there are plans to found a Bram Stoker foundation with a portion of the proceeds, which will fund a bust for Stoker in Dublin and at the Lyceum Theater where he made his living to go up on the one-hundredth anniversary of his death in 2012.

Perhaps most importantly, however, the team wishes to bring a new fandom to Dracula in the wake of such vampire franchises as Buffy, True Blood, and Twilight. While there are plans to subtly update the themes of the first book, they plan to keep the core of the novel intact for this younger crowd. Plot strands left untied in the first novel will be explored this time around, with new mysteries to replace them. After all, the primary purpose of this novel for its creators is to preserve the essence of the character that is so dear to them for future generations to experience and explore.

Despite the odds and ambitions, Dracula: The Un-Dead seems destined for success. Reviews have been widely positive, even among scholars of the character. Independent sales have been successful beyond the dreams of its creators, greatly outselling Twilight in certain circles. While the process of writing was “harder than we thought,” each of them seem confident. “Hopefully, this is what people remember me by,” says Holt. “When I want something, I’m like a bull in a china shop.”

For more information, visit www.draculatheundead.com.
Dracula: The Un-Dead will be released October 13th in America, with an earlier release in Europe.

Written by Cameron Koller
Interview by Pamela Koller

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