I’ve been flirting with Dracula for a very long time. I was 11-12 years old when I read it the first time. It’s been in public domain since before I was born, but I am only now taking full advantage of that. I’ve read it no fewer than 9 times and yet when I opened it again for research purposes in November of 2023, I discovered something I never grasped in all those times before! I took the realization as a sign that I was starting down the right path. I will give but one hint in regard to the sign, “Hillingham”, for it is there in Gravesend, England, at the home of Lord Arthur Holmwood Godalming that my personal writing journey into the land of undead begins.
No, Dracula will NOT be making an appearance, nor will Lucy, Mina, Johnathan, or Renfield be in the tale I am contriving. There will be other names, some familiar, most new, but all inspired by the one, the only, King of Vampires, Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
I don’t remember a time when I was not interested in the Victorian period, mostly as experienced in England. In fact, the notion that that same time-period existed in the United States seemed (maybe still seems) a bit strange, except we call it The Wild West. Victorian England covers the reign of Queen Victoria, 1837 to 1901, while the Old West period in America ranges from around 1803, the time of the Louisiana Purchase, until 1910 or so. A longer period of time than the Victorian but enough substantial overlap to consider them almost one in the same.
But, oh how very different are the images conjured up in our minds when we think of the Victorian Era England verses the American Wild West! The Wild West conjures up images of Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Wyatt Earp and the gunfight at the O.K. Coral. What even would we define as “Wild West” literature? Dime novels that portrayed life in the frontier pitting ‘savage’ Natives and bandit gunfighters against ranchers, lawmen, and infamous ‘Hanging Judges’ from which the modern Western novel sprang? What about Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, and Louisa May Alcott? And indeed, I love them all – some more than others, but still, you get the idea.
Speaking of “Wild West” literature, how does the year 1871 grab you? I mentioned in my last blog post something my grandmother gave me decades ago, the typed version of her grandmother’s travel journal titled My Journey West. I have no idea where my grandmother got it from, nor who typed it, but I’ve always thought it was a very cool piece of family history and I’ve always wanted to make it something more than it was. I have no crazy notion that it’s going to be a big seller. It’s pretty niche family genealogy stuff, but hey, who knows? So, if you have an interest in Tioga County NY or Plainfield Iowa history, check out Eudora Boughton Legg’s 1871 travel journal, My Journey West through Amazon in early February.
I love diaries and\or journals and have kept one of my own since 1977. My great-great-grandmother, daughter of the above-mentioned Eudora Legg, was also a great one to keep a diary. Many of them have found a home in our local county historical society. They end a mere ten days before her death and I think it’s damn cool she and I share a December 29th birthday, give or take 109 years. Maybe my love of diaries also adds to the love I have for Dracula. It’s one heck of an epistolary and ‘Dear Diary’ genre novel. And it’s because of that attraction that my novel too, will be written in the same style, a combination of letters, diary entries, and news clippings. Or, at least, that’s the plan. So far, so good – the flirtation continues.
What I’ve been reading:
Dracula (again) by Bram Stoker
Kill Me, Elmo, The Holiday Depression Fun Book by Jim Mullen
Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert