Roll over Edward Cullen, and tell Sookie Stackhouse the news. Incarnadine: The True Memoirs of Count Dracula is coming to U.S. bookstores and to Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader. And despite the boom in vampire sagas, author R. H. Greene thinks he has something unique to offer.
“It’s for grown-ups, for one thing,” Greene says of the first installment in his two-part Dracula memoir. “I’ve never read a Twilight novel or seen an episode of True Blood, but I stand in supermarket checkout lines, like everybody. It does seem like we’re going through the Hannah Montana era of gothic fiction, doesn’t it? I mean, there’s an Edward Cullen Barbie doll coming out, you know?”
The conceit of Greene’s novel is that it’sa “newly discovered Victorian artifact” once owned by Mina Murray Harker, the heroine of Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic Dracula. In Greene’s premise, the handwritten manuscript languished for over a century in the cornerstone of a remote Bulgarian farmhouse before being excavated by looters. Their “minor literary payload” turned out to be a first-person chronicle written by Dracula himself, covering more than three centuries of both his human and “un-dead” existence.
In the memoir, Dracula tells the story of his life before he became a vampire, and then leads the reader through his own unholy transformation and that of his three “wives.” The action begins in the late Middle Ages during the last great battles of the Ottoman invasion of Eastern Europe, and ends with the first meeting between Dracula and Bram Stoker’s protagonist Jonathan Harker.
The encounter with Harker sets the stage for a “very free” approach to Stoker’s characters and event structure in Memoirs, Volume Two, which Greene has just completed writing. “Book two is called The Charnel House, and it’s a very different piece of work, though in the same spirit as Incarnadine.”
According to Greene, the first-person voice lets the reader experience the Dracula mythos with an unusual amount of intimacy, and also allowed him to write a book in which “Dracula is the hero and God is the villain, which is the way I think a ‘Prince of Darkness’ would see things. We’ve kind of gotten away from the spiritual in vampire fiction, but it’s clearly one of the core concerns in Stoker’s original.
“There’s also a whole wealth of detail in Slavic folklore that was unavailable to the author of Dracula, and it’s been great fun researching those older traditions and trying to incorporate them into Incarnadine in a way that feels authentic.”
Interestingly, just a month after Greene’s Dracula origin story goes to press, the Bram Stoker estate is coming out with Dracula The Un-Dead, an “official sequel” by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt that Greene says “sounds like a detective novel based on the new Amazon extract.”
While Greene says he was unaware of the sequel’s existence while working on Incarnadine, “I wish them a lot of success. Nobody deserves to benefit from the ongoing interest in Dracula more than a writer with the last name of Stoker.
“Between their sequel and my story of how Dracula came to be, I think there’s a unique opportunity for readers to re-evaluate their relationship to one of literature’s most lasting works. And who knows? Maybe it’s Dracula’s turn to reign supreme again over the genre Bram Stoker virtually invented for him. I’m pretty sure audiences are still going to care about him long after True Blood is just a pile of discount DVDs at Costco, and Edward Cullen has crumbled into dust.”
The author of Incarnadine: The True Memoirs of Count Dracula, R.H. Greene will appear in Los Angeles at a Booksigning at Book Soup (8818 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069-2125, (310) 659-3110) on Sunday, November 15 at 4 PM.