Dacre Calder Stoker is a Canadian-American author, sportsman and filmmaker.
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Happy Halloween, Reddit. I'm live from Bran Castle in Transylvania, where my great grand-uncle found the inspiration to create the legend of Dracula. It's also where I will be hosting the winners of Airbnb's Night At Dracula's Castle, where two brave vampire fans will be sleeping in coffins right here tomorrow night.
Here's some proof: https://twitter.com/Airbnb/status/792047381403631616
So let me welcome you into the world of Dracula from Bran Castle, and ask me anything, if you dare
What do you think is the one important feature of dracula that gets the most overlooked when people talk about the book?
I think a message that Bram was telling us all was that evolving science and technology in the Victorian era was a good thing, and in the hands of the right people, like the Crew of Light, it can show us a way to a new future in the modern age. It was used to battle the supernatural from the old world, aka Dracula, but at the end, faith in goodness still reigned.
What do you think of the treatment of vampires in popular media the last few decades, e.g Twilight or Vampire: The Masquerade?
In general I think it's really cool the way that creative writers, producers and directors have found new and interesting ways to portray the "evil creatures". They keep it original and keep us on our toes... I'm not one that puts down Twilight; anyone that keeps people reading and the genre alive, even if it's paranormal romance, it's only a good thing for me.
You're an absolute delight Dacre! Thanks for doing this!
My question for you: Have you ever had anything supernatural happen to you? Especially when you were writing Dracula the Un-dead?
I felt the presence of Bram when I was in the Rosenbach Museum. I was sifting through his notes and it might have just been me and the respect I have for his work that made me feel that he was approving of my efforts, and that he was there for me.
Do you think Dracula films have honoured or tarnished your uncle's novel? I'm referring to the 1930's-40's films with Bela Lugosi, Lon Cheney etc
I'd say somewhere in between. There haven't been many movies true to the original novel, primarily because the style it was written in - epistolatory - has been very difficult over the age to adapt to the silver screen. I am quite forgiving if the screen writer/director stays true to the storyline, and follows the general direction that Bram went with his novel. Again, I appreciate originality and creativity, so variation is important to keep the genre alive in years to come.
Have you ever found something really creepy in the castle?
I went right to the top of the turret once; there were bats flying at my head... That was pretty creepy.
Universal Studios is rebooting their monster universe. If Luke Evans doesn't reprise the role, who would you like to see cast as Dracula?
Hi there! How about Benedict Cumberbatch? I think he would be great.
How is your first name pronounced?
Like an acre of land with a "D" in front!
It was an old Irish surname, adapted to the first name by Bram Stoker's uncle. The original Dacre was actually a WW1 submarine hero.
So what IS going to happen when Gehenna comes and Caine returns? Which side will Dracula choose?
On a related and more serious note, what do you think of Dracula's influence on modern gothic horror, and about his appearances in new media, such as Castlevania, or the above
Haha - you got me on the first one!
The vampire trait of immortality has always been very attractive to people seeking entertainment or as an explanation for what may happen after life. They have emerged from a creature that looks like it dragged itself out of the grave, to the boy next door, to attractive Hollywood stars. I really think he is here to stay, even if he no longer wears tuxedos inside his castle. I'm very excited to see where it goes next!
Thank you for the AMA! What effect has the legacy of your great-grand uncle had on your life?
Hi! The last 13 years have been different to how I charted out; I have travelled to some very interesting places to help spread the word about the mysteries behind the writing of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and I've learned a lot from very interesting people that know more than I do. Special thanks there to Dr Elizabeth Miller, a mentor and scholar and John Browning, friend and scholar.
Firstly, thanks for doing this. What are some of your favorite things about Bran castle, that might be not creepy?
Secondly, what the ideal archetype of character traits Dracula most have?
Lastly, if I ever come to Bran castle, can you promise me my blood won't be sucked? Otherwise I'll need one hell of a travel insurance.
Once again, thank you for doing this!
Hey - thanks so much, always a pleasure.
In terms of my favorite things; the way the castle emerges from this enormous rock is impressive... And the non-Dracula history that exists here is fascinating too.
Your second is an interesting question... The creature that Bram created actually had very few human characteristics. He was all about survival. Human characters came through much later through authors like Anne Rice and Stephen King.
Thirdly, I can make no promises. Bring some garlic.. And I always recommend travel insurance.
What would you say the conflicts underpinning Dracula are? One is obviously good versus evil, but I think perhaps life versus death might be another? Perhaps reason versus reality (given Jonathan Harker later 'reasons' that his experiences at the castle are down to a brain fever)
There is also the conflict of modernity.
On the one hand, science was seen as a scary thing, but Bram was celebrating the fact that approached in the right way, it was a good thing. On the other hand, he was making a statement about a new, modern "problem" of reverse colonisation by addressing the issue of Dracula coming to London and how awkward and dangerous that is making everyone feel.
What is the strangest or most interesting story in your family's lore?
As a young boy, at Halloween, people used to joke when they came trick or treating - would they get candy or give blood? In reality, the significance of Bram's literary legacy didn't sink in until I found on the book shelf a first edition copy of Dracula signed by Bram to his mother. That was the first time I ever read the book. I later found out how valuable it was - thankfully I didn't let the dog chew the edges!
Last year Airbnb made a Brazilian guy with his mom sleep in the Paris Catacombs. So who will sleep in Bran Castle?? I entered the comp and am really curious whose entry was better than mine!!1
This year Tammy and Rob, a brother and sister from Ottawa, Canada, have been chosen as Airbnb's Night At winners to sleep here at Bran Castle. What I think is interesting about them is that their grandfather was a very highly respected scholar in gothic literature, so we have plenty in common and will have lots to chat about when I host them on Halloween.
It's already dark here in Europe so I best be quick. Which is your favourite Dracula/vampire film (or TV show)?
Also, for those of us who didn't win the contest to stay in the castle, will it be possible through Airbnb to book a room/coffin for the night in the future?
BTW a friend of mine had a pet bat for a while until it left him for (possibly for a career in Hollywood). Said the whole summer not one mosquito came near with Vlad hanging from his shirt.
Good question. I like a lot of them, but the 1992 Francis Ford Coppola film is great, I've gotten to know the screenwriter, Jim Heart, pretty well. We have done presentations together and even though the movie is different from the book, it's a worthy adaptation.
Booking a coffin through Airbnb? I'd really love to see that happen. Here and at other Dracula related sites as well.
So... What is with the garlic thing? Did Bram Stoker just really hate the stuff, or is there some kind of legitimate reason vampires hate it?
Garlic started in ancient Egypt as a medicinal herb and as a result of that it embodied protection later on, which Bram picked up on in his novel. Personally, I love Italian food laced with garlic - for the taste, not to keep vampires at bay.
Hi Dacre, thanks for doing an AMA, my questions is are you the only member of your family that's interested in Vampire lore (minus Bram), or was this a topic that was always prevalent in your families daily discussions?
Lastly, are you also staying in the Castle tonight?
Sadly, we were not like the Munsters or the Addams Family. We're really quite normal. Although the others appreciate what Bram has done, I'm the only one that has vocally embraced his legacy.
I'm not personally staying here no. It's a competition reserved only for the winners... I'm still waiting for my invitation though!
What has been your craziest adventure thus far?
I have been asked to donate some Stoker blood before, and it was not by the Red Cross.
What's the most rewarding part of your job?
Finishing writing a book - that feeling of putting it to bed is great.
Also, being so engrained in gothic culture means I get invited to some amazing places and events. At the moment, I'm writing this in the shadow of Bran Castle as part of Night At Dracula's Castle, which has become an overnight, worldwide phenomenon. Being part of this, and other things like this, are very satisfying as I'm playing my part in keeping the genre alive.
Are vampires considered undead?
If so why are they considered undead?
Yes they are. They hover between what we know as alive and the eternal rest of death.
Who are you going to be for Halloween?
Jonathan Harker, as I host guests in Dracula's castle...
Do you think Bram's style, where the author sets out documents to convince the reader of the reality of the story, could be successfully translated to a video game or to a mini-series?
This is a difficult thing to achieve - mostly because the storyline is not very linear. Bram Stoker's Dracula goes in many directions at once, and from many different points of view. One series I've been impressed by is Bloodline; it's the closest I've seen to date.
I wish I won the Airbnb competition, a night at Dracula'a Castle would be so cool! What would you do if you could spend the night at Dracula's Castle?
I'd lie in my coffin and read Dracula for the upteenth time!
Which Dracula Film/adaptation portrays your ancestor's story best? The Worst?
The closest in the BBC Louis Jourdain series... The worst I can't say - there's been a few poor attempts but largely I enjoy seeing what people try to do.
Hi Dacre! Firstly, thank you for doing the AMA and offering us the opportunity to ask all this stuff!
Secondly, a few years back we adapted Bram's original novel to a stage play. We ended up mashing the Dracula-Mina romance from the 1992 film storyline into it and included our own bit of interpretation for our ending, namely having Mina locked away into a mental asylum for rebelling against the traditional role of the female in the late 19th/early 20th century. The aspect of her being so torn between wanting to be a good wife to Jonathan and conforming to society's expectation and the connection she feels to Dracula was especially interesting to us and we spent so many hours discussing it... So I'd be really interested in your opinion about this divergence from the original storyline. Do you think Bram had this in mind at all? And how do you think interpretations of the novel have changed with time?
This is very very similar to the storyline that Ian Holt and I chose for Dracula: The Undead (2009). We felt that 25 years after Bram's story ended, we should visit the surviving members of the Crew of Light and see what happens to them, because this is where Mina's relationship with Jonathan really developed. It was strained because of her interaction with Dracula and the fact Jonathan and Mina had a baby, but she had Dracula's blood within her... I appreciate you share our interest in this area. It's hard to say what Bram would have done, as he really didn't kill off Dracula in the end... He used a knife, not a steak.