Today we have an interview withCharles E. Butler. He is the author of The Romance of Dracula: a personal journey of the Count on Celluloid.
Charles welcome we have only one questions for today Why did you chose to write the Romance of Dracula?
This is a question that has been asked of me on a few occasions while I have been on ‘tour’ with the Book Blog. I haven’t really answered it fully or really understood why myself.
First; I am not a literary man or a man of letters, though I used to read voraciously up until a few years ago. All genres, but the Horror genre tended to be my staple diet. The last fictional novels I read were ‘Let the Right one in’ by John Avide Lindquist and ‘Twelve’ by Jasper Kent – both in the same week.
Of the two, my favourite was ‘Twelve’ set against the backdrop of the Napoleanic war of 1812. Dracula makes a guest appearance as Myseevitch, an old vampire who lives in Transylvania. He sends out the Twelve mercenaries of the title to help against the threat of Napolean. This book is really old school and gives us vampires that we know and love and that we are terrified of. Mr Kent has just released the sequel, ‘Thirteen years later’, which I can’t wait to read.
However, with the turn in vampire favour, it is really no surprise that ‘Let The Right One In’ made it to the cinema as the vampire inherent in the story holds many of the attributes of the lonely wanderers that todays movie audience are warming to. Mr Lindquist also adds a subtext concerning bullying to his story, with the bullies receiving a fitting end. Very astute acumen for the new Hammer studios to film this remake.
The Romance of Dracula is not a book written by ‘a fan’ – although I am probably the Count’s biggest fan! I didn’t want it to be a fanzine. I didn’t want to absolutely adore every movie that I watched and just give it a five-star rating. That would have been boring and predictable. Reading ‘Twelve’, with it’s disguised Count Dracula unconciously made me go back to Stoker’s original novel – which I’ve read fully three times – and skim through the highlights that worked for me. In the past I’ve wanted to adapt it in comicbook format, but my lack of discipline puts me out of my depth.
When I thought about the adaptations. How many actually capture Stoker’s themes? Who is Renfield? Why did Stoker choose a Prince of Wallachia as the role model? All these questions went through my mind. I then read a book by a commissioned author concerning a major horror film studio and not three chapters into it – I’m not going to reveal the title or author – I realised that there were two or three glaring mistakes in his research. This ‘writer’ hadn’t even bothered to do his research and it was plain that he hadn’t watched the movies that he was writing about. I threw it down in disgust.
This decided me to write my own book. One that I wanted to read and that would give me – as a fan – hours of pleasure, because I would be able to dip in and out of it at leisure and know that the findings were honest and accurate! I watched ‘Nosferatu’ on DVD and began making notes. I wrote chapter headings to the tune of, eg: El Conde Dracula 1970, ‘What happened, Mr Lee?’ the final film I saw was ‘Dracula’s Curse 2002’ with Patrick Bergin. My appetite not satiated, I started tracking down the movies for the epilogue. The only film I didn’t watch in the whole book was ‘Zoltan – Hound of Dracula 1977’
The first thing that amazed me was the fact that I watched fourteen totally different films on the same theme. All based on the same work by different creative talents. Every single film held a different fascination. if I was looking for Stoker’s monster, Jack Palance – for me – won hands down! If I was looking for accuracy in theme, ‘Nosferatu’ gets my vote. If I was looking for the boy’s own adventure that Stoker envisaged, then Mr Lee’s original Hammer movie is light years ahead. Then we had the really bad versions, El Conde Dracula, filmed across different countries with five writers failing to agree on the storyline! ‘Nosferatu – the Vampyre 1979’ adding the religious aspects that were missing from it’s 1922 counterpart and becoming lost in its own telling because of this.
I don’t have a favourite movie, nor a favourite Count. This may sound like I’m wheedling out of a tricky situation, but if the choice arose again, I would gladly rewatch these movies – AND rewrite the book! It was and is that much fun. That is the draw of Dracula. He is the greatest fantasy figure ever created and even though undead, he will never die as long as there are creative talents to keep him alive.
I stress that my book wasn’t intended for publication. A relative suggested that I illustrate the fourteen Counts as opposed to facing any copyright issues with photographs. When these drawings were completed, I liked them and only then did I try to find a publication deal. After forty eight rejections – though all urging me not to give up as many found the work, ‘literate’ and ‘very engrossing’ – I decided to go for self-publishing.
The main thing is that I proved two or three things to myself. The Romance of Dracula – from my own viewpoint – IS the best book on The Count in the movies. It goes where I have never seen other books venture before. It shows the Count in all his glory and lists his most important film appearances up to 2010. I don’t ask readers to share my views, but I had a lot of fun watching and writing and I hope that others latch onto that aspect when they read the book. I alluded to the writing of the book as my own private exorcism in one interview. Maybe that is what it was.
I do know that it is one of the few creative endeavours that I’ve undertaken and that I’m pleased with the final result! Again, I doff my hat to Bram, the father of Dracula, and thank him for my many years of entertainment.
For more infomration check out his Facebook Event- a Virtual Book Blog Tour. The link is http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=189050904450667 here and you can go back and read reviews and other guests blogs.