Published September 6, 2010 in Publisher’s Weekly
During an auction for the audio rights to my new novel, Dracula in Love, my editor forwarded me an e-mail from one of the bidders. “This book is so hot that I can’t wait to get home to my wife!” he proclaimed, and then outbid everyone else and presumably went home and made his wife happy.
We were delighted to hear that feedback because during the writing process, we had tortuous debates over just how much sex would be too much. My most trusted readers are my agent, my editor, and my manager (yes, I’m lucky), and each had very different responses. Without giving away proclivities, two on the team kept begging for more, though what one thought erotic, the other sometimes found terrifying. The third loved every sensual drop, but kept reminding us of the puritanical level of the basic American reader, specifically, the literary reader, that elite creature who relies on a host of signifiers to be distinguished from the genre reader. She pointed out that the book had the elements that discriminating readers look for in a literary work: a strong, authoritative voice, painstakingly composed prose, and serious themes. “This book is too rich to have its seriousness dismissed because of the sex scenes,” our cautionary voice reminded us. “You know how readers are! They see some sex on the page and assume it’s a bodice-ripper.”
In honor of the official publication date of Dracula in Love, the vampire’s muse has broken her century-long silence in an exclusive interview with Fangoria Magazine. Read what the once quintessential Victorian virgin has to say about 21st century rehab, Internet porn, and her nostalgia for velvet:
EXCLUSIVE: MINA HARKER SPEAKS!
Meanwhile, one of America’s top mortal voices, the esteemed Bruce Feiler, New York Times columnist, peripatetic historian, and repeated New York Times Bestseller list offender, has posted his thoughts about Dracula in Love on Amazon:
I am hanging onto my rain hat here in London as August 10th, the pub date for DRACULA IN LOVE approaches. Reviews thus far have been absolutely amazing, more than I dared wish for. From book bloggers who compare it to novels by the Brontës and Anne Rice, to a veritable rave in FANGORIA Magazine, the number one horror publication in the world, I’ve been gratified and humbled by this outpouring of generous words.
Let me assure you that THERE WILL BE BLOOD AND THEIR WILL BE PARTIES. The kick-off celebration is on September 20th at Fraiche Santa Monica, and you are all invited. We will provide delights of all kinds, including special appearances by the Undead. The festivities will move through Southern California and then across the country, culminating ‘round Halloween in New Orleans at the Vampire Film Festival.
||After forty-three months of research and writing, and a lifelong fascination with the esoteric, I am happy to announce that DRACULA IN LOVE, my fifth novel, will be published by Doubleday in August 2010.
There is blood on the pages, faithful readers, but it is not only from the vampire’s bite. I would like to share with you just a little of the bizarre process of writing this most rebellious of books. It was as if a supernatural being had taken possession of my research and my typing fingers for its own purposes.
In the early stages, the protagonist refused to appear on the page as I had imagined her and came forth with a personality and agenda of her own, speaking to me in a voice I did not recognize. For months, I wasn’t sure that I even liked her! She and the rest of the characters defied my painstakingly constructed one hundred twenty-page outline and forged their own paths, which they would only reveal to me in stingy little increments. I burned a thousand candles and listened to sacred music in my London flat hoping to persuade the writing gods to give me back my book, but ultimately, I had to capitulate and allow them to do as they wished, though I had no idea where they were taking me. In the end, it is a far richer, more surprising, and more thrilling novel for the characters having taken stern control of their destinies.
I was moved by the monument of the Victorian boxer Thomas Sayers, who wanted his faithful dog, Tim, commemorated as well. Though boxing was illegal in the 19th century, Sayers was enormously popular, and his funeral was attended by 10,000 people—a larger funeral than the Duke of Wellington’s.
“The Victorians had very small weddings and very big funerals.”Thus said our cheery guide by way of explaining the elaborate monuments of Highgate Cemetery, where I and my friend Caroline Kellett-Fraysse, fellow writer and journalist and connoisseur of all things esoteric, recently spent a sunny Tuesday afternoon. We had wanted to inspect this final resting place of Karl Marx, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and a host of other famous and infamous folks, and discovered that the older and more interesting part of the cemetery was only open by tour (unless one actually dies). Immaculately kept, it has a studied overgrown quality, the sort perfected by English gardeners over the centuries.
We specifically wanted to explore Highgate because it is the fictional resting place of Lucy Westenra, the vixen/victim of the vampire in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” though Stoker changed the name of the place to Kingstead. As we walked past the more ornate monuments like the Egyptian Hall, done in a style reminiscent of the Valley of the Kings, or the many-sided Circle of Lebanon, a many-vaulted tomb sitting dramatically beneath an ancient Cedar of Lebanon tree, I imagined poor Lucy buried within the vaults, only to be disentombed and subsequently slain and beheaded by the vampire hunters.