I’m ashamed to admit that I hadn’t read Bram Stoker’s Dracula until last year (hangs head in shame). I knew of it, of course. I’d read Frankenstein and other classic horror, but somehow, I just never got around to Dracula.
That changed when I had an idea for a vampire story. I started doing a great deal of reading on vampires on the internet, and pretty much smacked myself in the forehead when I realized that I’d skipped Dracula. I had an idea what it was about, collected from other references, so I didn’t think it would offer me many surprises.
I ended up pretty much being wrong. That’s the story of my life.
I never know if classic novels are going to be hard to get through or not, and this one turned out to be a really good read. The creepy atmosphere gave me chills and made me want to stay inside after dark. I didn’t sleep with a stake by the bed or anything, but… let’s just say I’m glad I enjoy garlic.
I’d gotten used to the modern vampire. You know, the sexy one who can be domesticated and play nicely with humans. I loved the fact that Dracula was straight up evil. That he had his “human” personality, but when he was being a vampire, he could not be tamed, reasoned with, or seduced. The only way out was to outwit him, use a stake, garlic, or a cross.
I don’t want my wolf to put on a sheep suit, sit at the table with me, and pretend that he’s not eyeing up my dog for dinner. I want that wolf to have dripping fangs and red eyes, to growl and make his intentions clear.
Dracula reminded me of how scary horror can be. Modern fiction wants antagonists who have motivation, who are understandable and maybe have sympathetic elements. And while that’s great and all, sometimes, in fiction, I just want a bad guy to be a bad guy.
Life is complex. Now and then, I just want my fiction to be black and white.
“How good and thoughtful he is; the world seems full of good men–even if there are monsters in it.”
-Bram Stoker, from Dracula