Every year on May 26th, a marvelous vampiric event occurs annually: World Dracula Day. The occasion marks the date Bram Stoker’s notorious gothic novel, Dracula, was published in 1897. I thought, what better way to celebrate the holiday than with a chat with Bram Stoker’s great grandnephew, Dacre Stoker!
A few months back, I had the pleasure of attending Dacre’s lecture on his great granduncle and meeting him. He has spent the past two decades immersing himself in the history of his ancestor and keeping his legacy alive by hosting presentations, tours to Ireland and Romania, and other events promoting Bram’s life and work. In addition to managing the Bram Stoker Estate, he’s also coauthored a prequel and sequel to Dracula.
His efforts are not only educating audiences about Bram Stoker but also enriching vampire history. And there’s more on the horizon as you’ll soon discover in the following interview. Our conversation runs the gamut from his favorite vampire fiction to burning questions he wishes he could ask his great granduncle.
Enjoy this Q & A with Dacre Stoker, and Happy World Dracula Day!
Q: Before we start talking vampires, many people may be surprised to hear that you have an academic background in Physical Education and Sciences, and your career was dedicated to that field before you started focusing your attention on your great granduncle. What is a memorable moment from this time in your life? Although the worlds of athletics and horror differ, do you feel it prepared you in any way for the work you do now?
A: I devoted myself to become an Olympic athlete in the sport of Modern Pentathlon, running, swimming, pistol shooting, fencing and equestrian. I fell short of my personal goal due to the boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. I refocused myself on my professional career as a P.E. and Science teacher and also coaching. Over the next 30 years, I taught in two different private schools, coached a wide variety of sports to middle, high-school and Olympic athletes.
I have to say that the highlights were the successes I helped two athletes achieve; Lynn Chornobrywy of Canada won the Ladies World Championship in Modern Pentathlon in 1983, and Camden Riviere won the World Championship of Court tennis in 2016 and 2022. There is no question that the hard work, dedication, success and failures that I experienced in sports did help prepare me for similar failures in writing. For instance, not making a team or losing a match is much like receiving rejection letters, and reading harsh reviews and participating in sports also prepares one on how to keep these successes and failures in perspective.
Q: You’ve taken on quite the responsibility of keeping Bram Stoker’s legacy alive. How has this mission impacted the way you view and connect with your ancestor and his work?
A: First of all, it is a great honor to be the member of the Stoker family who has embraced the responsibility of promoting Bram’s life and his literary legacy. I try my best to get the facts straight, to separate speculation of biographers who tend to sensationalize in an attempt to sell books as opposed to give a factual account. Through 12 years of intensive research, I have developed a great understanding of the person that Bram was and the many facets of his interesting life.
Q: Your wife, Jenne, also helps you manage the Bram Stoker Estate. What are her thoughts on Bram, Dracula and vampires? Does she ever join you on your tours and lectures?
A: Jenne is a tremendous help with my research and also with contractual review for Bram Stoker Estate licensing deals. She is not a fan of horror or vampires, but she enjoys Bram’s non-horror stories. She has joined me on my lecture circuit to Ireland and England where we have both done significant research into Stoker family history.
Q: Let’s imagine you have a time machine that could either take you back to when your great granduncle was alive or bring him to the present with you. Given the opportunity to meet Bram Stoker in person, what is one thing you’d be dying to ask him or talk to him about?
A: The first seven years of Bram’s life are shrouded in mystery as he suffered from some undiagnosed illness that kept him mostly bedridden and isolated. I would love to ask Bram about this illness and what went on in his life during these seven years, and how he recovered to become a champion athlete while at Trinity College only 10 years after his recovery.
Q: There’s no question Dracula has had a major influence on vampire fiction, and subsequent authors have reinvented the nocturnal creature in interesting ways. What other vampire stories have you read that you really enjoyed?
A: Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, and David Wellington’s vampire series starting with 13 Bullets.
Q: There have been countless Dracula film and TV adaptations. Do you have a favorite? If so, which movie or series is your grand pick, and why?
A: My favorite Dracula film is the 1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Even though it is not faithful to Bram’s novel, the writer, JV Hart, did incorporate some of the epistolary writing style into the film. I really liked Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Count Dracula and the way Anthony Hopkins played Van Helsing.
As far as streaming series is concerned, I really enjoyed Midnight Mass, it was a slow burn, with excellent writing and an intriguing plot.
Q: In an interview with Ravenous Monster, you commented that you and your family motivated the city of Dublin in Ireland to create the Bram Stoker Festival. It’s still going strong and, from the pictures on the website, it looks like so much fun! Do you attend it every year, and how does it make you feel that it’s gained momentum since its inception in 2009?
A: I am very proud that the Dublin City Council has funded this wonderful Bram Stoker Festival, which strives every year to celebrate Bram Stoker’s life and his writing in many different ways spread throughout the city of Dublin and has an appeal for all ages.
Q: Speaking of celebrations, World Dracula Day occurs annually on May 26th, the day in 1897 when Dracula was published. Did you have anything to do with getting this holiday started? How do you commemorate the occasion?
A: The May 26th publication day of Dracula is a major date on my calendar. I usually receive 4-5 requests to attend some sort of goth or Dracula-related event. I like to vary the places I go, and people I am in front of on this special date, so I stay fresh and relevant to a wide range of audiences. Over the past few years, I have been at events in Dublin, Ireland; Whitby, England; Cruden Bay, Scotland; Transylvania, Romania; and New Orleans. I get great pleasure at these events by providing my insight into Bram’s research and little-known facts about his life and how events in his life were woven into the fabric of Dracula.
Q: What lies on the horizon for you and the Bram Stoker Estate? Are there any teasers you can drop regarding new projects or future lectures?
A: I am excited to announce a cutting-edge project for a 126-year-old book:
Together with Bookvolts, a UK publisher, we are creating an NFT digital edition of Dracula called Dracula Reconstructed. This will be an ebook enhanced by 164 video annotations and remarks, which I filmed over the past year. I have reintroduced the original three chapters, which were edited out by either Bram or his publisher. Additionally, I have partnered with The Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia on this project. They are allowing me to publish 45 images of Bram’s original handwritten notes along with my explanation of their origin and how they manifested their way into the final version of Dracula.
I am also working on a documentary film about Bram Stoker’s research and writing of Dracula with Irish filmmaker Jason Figgis, screenwriter John West and videographer Colin Hamilton. Our film, Father of Dracula, should be ready in October of 2023.
Q: Finally, I think it’s safe to say you’re creating a legacy of your own by bearing the Stoker family torch. What do you hope to leave behind for future generations?
A: Increased appreciation for my great granduncle as a person and as a writer. I guess in the process, I hope this would reflect well on me as a person. It is always nice to be thought of as a person who is productive and making a positive difference in the world.
2 thoughts on “Celebrating World Dracula Day With Dacre Stoker”
Wow that is amazing that you were able to interview Dacre Stoker. Congratulations on a great interview. It was very interesting reading. I also did not know that there was a World Dracula Day. Tomorrow, well today, I will be drinking a local stout/beer I recently bought called Darkness Falls, and I will read parts of Bram Stokers Dracula, which I recently started reading.
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