Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Author Interview - Karen Essex, author of Dracula in Love - Part 1

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Dracula Week!  Today I am happy to share with you the first part of a two part interview with Karen Essex, the author of Dracula in Love.  I hope you enjoy!

Lions and Men:  What was it about Bram Stoker’s Dracula that made you want to revisit the story from Mina’s perspective?

Karen Essex:  From the first time I read Stoker’s Dracula in my teens, I just knew that Mina Harker, Dracula’s obsession, was not satisfied with her role as the quintessential 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.) Little did I dream that many years later, I would actually be a novelist and have the opportunity to revise the story, retelling it from Mina’s perspective.

LM:  Were you always a Dracula fan?

KE:  It began when I was a girl in grade school and saw Dark Shadows on TV. I remember racing home on my bicycle to see what blood-curdling adventures awaited the characters at the Collinwood Mansion. I’m from New Orleans, where we believe in the mystical, and the Anne Rice novels only fueled my fascination. I do a lot of screenwriting and have been influenced by vampire films as well, everything from Nosferatu to The Hunger to Coppola’s Dracula. I’ve always loved the glamorous vampires more (too much of the New York Dolls at an impressionable age, I guess), but have great empathy for the monsters.

LM:  Was it difficult/scary to attempt to write this classic story from a new angle? How did you tackle this challenge? How did you determine what to stick closely to and what to change up?

KE:  Yes, it was intimidating, and I knew that I would automatically alienate the purists. But what is life without risk? I believed that I had a lot of new elements to bring to the party such as a strong female perspective, a rich portrait of the era, and the lexicon of vampire mythology. At some point I realized that I had to “free” myself from Stoker’s text or I would be too beholden to its trajectory, so I introduced Stoker himself as a character. He runs into my characters and misinterprets what is going on with them. He goes on to write his own story, whereas Mina reveals the “truth.”

I want to send a big thank you to Karen Essex for taking time to do this interview!

You can catch the second part of this interview at The Maiden's Court tomorrow.  As for today, check out Heather's special "Caught on Tape" segment featuring Dracula films.

And don't forget to enter the giveaway of Dracula, by Bram Stoker.  You only have three more days to enter!


  1. I'm intrigued that she does have Stoker in the book as a character and one that sees things differently from what reality is. It's a unique take and I have to applaud the author for exploring it. I'm also in love with the fact that she likes The Hunger, one of the best modern day vampire books I've ever read, and I adore the movie as well. Great interview.

  2. I agree with Ryan, and I think it is intriguing that she added Stoker to the story, and to make the twist that he saw things differently from what Mina saw as "truth". That sounds like it could only help in bringing her story forth in an original light without always being compared to Stoker.

    I do like the glamorous vampires, as she does, but greatly appreciate reading the gritter side. For instance, I appreciated Ann Rice's characterizations. They were not nice vampires at all.

    I enjoyed reading this interview. Great questions, and great answers.

  3. I really appreciate Stoker-as-character because it seems so very believable that someone like him would minimize/write out the truth of Mina's role in everything. Typical of the era he came out of, and a very clever plot device.

    I'm halfway through Dracula in Love -- and I'm in love. Thanks for this fantastic interview!

  4. I must say that I too was pleasantly surprised with the inclusion of Stoker. It seems to me one of the only plausible ways you could free yourself up from the original. Very creative!