I have just, a little belatedly, signed up for a thing called “Dracula Daily,” a project which e-mails a little bit of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to you each day, depending on the progress of the action in the novel. It’s as good a thing as any to beguile the slow drip of waiting until someone figures out we need to do something about Covid other than vaccinate about half the population, abandon masking and declare victory.
Everyone knows who Count Dracula is — and, thanks to the classic film, has an image of what he looks like (which is not quite how Stoker describes him) — but not everyone has read the novel, which is a fricking masterpiece of pulp storytelling and hands down the best epistolary novel I have ever read. The different voices, the pacing, the way that the successive letters and diary entries tell us about the characters and their relationships to one another: deft, and so far above the standard of Stoker’s other potboilers that I’m inclined to the theory he co-wrote it with his wife, as some believe. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it, but this is a different idea: issue a (more or less) daily e-mail containing all the entries for that date in the novel, from now to November.
I ran across this on social media and I gather a lot of people are having a ball comparing notes about the unfolding story, some of whom have read it before, some of whom have not. If you are a regular on Twitter or Tumblr or Facebook and suddenly everyone seems to be talking about Jonathan Harker, this is the reason.
You can sign up here. https://draculadaily.substack.com/about
That is one of the masterpieces of terror. It scares the dickens out of me every time I read it. It’s also quite effective as an audiobook, free from LibriVox.
I still can’t get in the groove with audiobooks. I got an Audible account when I was going into the cataract surgeries because I was interested in a couple of the originals under that label. I got about halfway through the first book I ordered, and just couldn’t juggle the earbuds with the mask loops with the Croakies with the sun visor while I was walking, and of course if I’m sitting still I’d always rather read print — it’s so much faster even with eyes that are never going to really be right again. I suspended the account and I suspect I’m going to just nuke it. But of course there’s nothing wrong with sampling a freebee.
Dracula is such an underrated work, largely because of the tacky adaptations. The commentary on social media about this serial project is delightful; one of the subscribers wondered where and how Dracula learned to cook, since in life he would have had servants and since becoming a vampire would have required no meals. A roast chicken? A salad? Where did that come from? It’s fun watching people who really have no familiarity with the original work lap it up.
One thing about that novel that affected me evermore was that Stoker had the moon in the correct phase for the date. This is what I think of, if in my WIP I need moonlight. I either check the date and use what it was that day (this is HF) or select a date with the moon I want.
I’m overly obsessed with accuracy right down to the day’s news even though it’s 170 years old but hey, it’s my thing.
Now curious about your work. And yes, I do this kind of thing too. Looking up weather in almanacs.
Northern California 1855. NOT a Western. I use the first time riders were allowed on the far west’s first railroad. Ran from Sacramento to what’s now Folsom starting in 1856, but on Aug 17, ’55 they let people ride the first couple miles that had been built. Big huge day for commerce and industry blah blah, drunken speeches, 100-degree weather. But I browse newspapers and it turns out the very next night, 21-year-old Edwin Booth was playing Hamlet in one of Sac’s theaters. I’d be crazy not to adjust the storyline for that whether it messes up the pacing or not. To me, accuracy matters else it’s alternate history. And if I can’t craft a well-told story around the actual facts, that’s on me, not the facts.
To me it’s more fun knowing you can’t just make up anything you want. I love the rabbit holes you go down researching a date or a time period and the things you find out that make you want to work it into the story.