Few people know that my first career was as a costume designer in theater, film, and television. I studied theatrical design at university, and, thanks to a very lucky break, slid into the business and worked in that position for a few intense, fun years.
For my taste, Eiko Ishioka was the greatest costume designer in the world. She certainly changed my world with her exquisite costumes for Francis Coppola’s’ Dracula. I was always a “Francis Freak,” but it was Ishioka’s shockingly vibrant, wildly dramatic, luscious wardrobe that jettisoned me into Coppola’s Gothic fantasy and made me want to stay there. Forever. The reds were not incarnadine but blood itself. The juxtaposition of bridal white against the ruthless horror of an undead bride seared my imagination. The bizarre confluence of Japanese discipline, Victorian excess, unbridled sexuality, and sheer theatricality stunned me. I couldn’t get the images out of my mind. For decades.
Inside Shakespeare & Co.
2011 has passed entirely too quickly, and what a year it’s been! The world has experienced its share of tumult and crises, and for the many, buying holiday gifts will be a stressful experience. Yet it does not have to be so!
Last weekend in Paris, I grumpily agreed to take a bain de foule (literally, a crowd bath) on the Champs-Élyséesto help a friend purchase books for everyone in his family. The Grinch in me wanted to lobby for ordering online, but once at the store, I realized that I’d virtually forgotten the joys of languishing the afternoon away in a bookstore.
From the first time that I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula in my teens, though I revered the work, I just knew that the character Mina Harker, Dracula’s obsession, was not satisfied with the role Mr. Stoker gave her—the quintessentially compliant Victorian virgin. I knew that there had to be more to her than that. (I knew that there had to be more to any woman than that.)
Anyone who has read my books knows that I am all about restoring grrrrl power to the historical record. In Dracula in Love, I decided to tackle a work of fiction, reexamining an iconic female character that had not been given her due. In a nutshell, my plan was to rescue Mina from Stoker’s sexist fantasy of the nice, cooperative girl, and empower her.
I am the guest blogger today at the superb site “Wonders & Marvels: A community for curious minds who love history, its odd stories, and good reads.” That’s us, right? The post is about my research into Victorian insane asylums and female hysteria for DRACULA IN LOVE.
THE SITE IS ALSO HOSTING A 5 COPY GIVEAWAY OF DRACULA IN LOVE!
More missing sheep, this time in Tuscany! Call it a panther if it makes you feel better…but we know the truth!
Tuscany Trembling over Big Cat
Phantom Panther Gives Italians Paws for Thought
By Hans-Jürgen Schlamp in Massa Marittima, Italy
The village of Massa Marittima in Tuscany, Italy.
A large black cat believed to be a panther is stalking the fields and forests of southern Tuscany, striking fear into residents and holidaymakers. Hunters have angered animal rights campaigners by offering to kill it, but the debate is academic — “Bagheera” is running rings around its pursuer.