Today, I get to welcome Syrie James to Literary Escapism. Syrie is celebrating the release of her newest novel, Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker.
Who is this magnetic, fascinating man? And how could one woman fall so completely under his spell?
Mina Harker is torn between two men. Struggling to hang on to the deep, pure love she’s found within her marriage to her husband, Jonathan, she is inexorably drawn into a secret, passionate affair with a charismatic but dangerous lover. This haunted and haunting creature has awakened feelings and desires within her that she has never before known, which remake her as a woman.
Although everyone she knows fears him and is pledged to destroy him, Mina sees a side to him that the others cannot: a tender, romantic side; a man who’s taken full advantage of his gift of immortality to expand his mind and talents; a man who is deeply in love, and who may not be evil after all. Soon, they are connected in a way she never thought humanly possible.
Yet to surrender is surely madness, for to be with him could end her life. It may cost Mina all she holds dear, but to make her choice she must learn everything she can about the remarkable origins and unique, sensuous powers of this man, this exquisite monster, this … Dracula!
Make sure you stick around, we’re giving away a copy of Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker.
The Vampire as Literary Hero
People often ask me, how is it that an author who’s written novels about Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë is now writing about vampires? I’ll tell you how: it’s because I love vampires! Good vampires, that is; the ones who are deeply in love with a human and struggle daily to rise above their dark desires and thirsts to keep the object of their affection safe.
I wrote Dracula, My Love, the untold story of Mina Harker’s secret, passionate romance with the most famous, powerful vampire of them all, because I knew—I just knew—that Bram Stoker didn’t get the story right in that novel of his. Mina was admired and respected by her husband and all the men in her life, considered the epitome of Victorian innocence and virtue. If you were Mina, and you fell madly, scandalously in love with the vampire that everyone you knew was trying to destroy, would you have admitted it to them? I think not.
There are many similarities between an Austen or Brontë hero and the Dracula in Dracula, My Love. Unlike Stoker’s Count (who was an evil predator) my version of Dracula is young, drop-dead gorgeous, sexy, highly intelligent, extremely well-read, and accomplished. Like the heroes in all my previous novels, he passionately loves Mina, would do anything for her, and is forced by circumstance to hide his true feelings until a climactic, impassioned, plot-changing moment. Add to that some truly amazing vampiric powers and the gift of immortality (at age 400+ he’s expanded his mind and talents and is good at … everything …) Mina could fall in love with that Dracula… and admittedly, so did I. Is he the hero or the anti-hero? Does he have Mina’s best interests at heart or his own? Ah, but to reveal that would be telling.
Vampires didn’t used to be romantic or sexy. The early vampires of Eastern European folklore were hideous ghouls that rose from the grave to suck blood from the living. Their reputation began to change on a fateful night in 1816 when four writers challenged each other to invent a scary tale. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. John Polidori created the smooth, seductive vampire Lord Ruthven who bore an uncanny resemblance to his friend Lord Byron. The modern myth of the vampire was born.
If Polidori planted the seed, it was Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) that took root and has ultimately served as the inspiration for today’s vampire craze. Vampire legends have existed in cultures across the globe since ancient times, and there were a variety of literary depictions of vampires before the infamous Count. But it’s image of Dracula, the 19th century European vampire, that’s endured and thrived. Anyone, anywhere, can tell you who Count Dracula is, where he lives, what he wears, and what he looks like.
Stoker’s Count wasn’t sexy at all, and there is not a whiff of romance on the pages of his novel. But that image was changed forever by the movies. The 1931 film Dracula starred Bela Lugosi as a suave, elegant charmer in formal wear. In the countless film, TV, stage, and literary adaptations that followed, that image remained constant. Dracula developed a conscience, falling in love with the women he lusted after. The world embraced this handsome, tortured, romantic hero, giving rise to a new genre which has dispersed into every corner of our culture, inspiring such recent favorites as Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Buffy, Twilight, and True Blood.
Vampires are popular today—and make great literary heroes—because they have everything we want. They’re good-looking, dangerous, eternally youthful, and not bound by any laws or morality except their conscience, if they have one. In a culture that’s youth and sex obsessed, what could be better than to be young and beautiful and able to indulge one’s dark desires and sexual urges without penalty … forever? I admit: if a handsome vampire romanced me, professed his love, and wanted a taste of my blood—like Mina Harker—I’d be hard pressed to refuse. But please don’t tell my husband.
Syrie James is the acclaimed, bestselling author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë, and Dracula, My Love. Syrie welcomes visitors and messages at syriejames.com.
Want to purchase Syrie’s novels?
- The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen at Amazon or the Book Depository
- The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë at Amazon or the Book Depository
- Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker at Amazon or the Book Depository
- Nocturne at Amazon or the Book Depository (2011)
Contest Time! Syrie has graciously offered to give away a copy of Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker to a lucky reader. All you have to do is answer this one quick question: Who is your favorite literary monster and why? Or you can simply ask Syrie a question.. Sorry guys…contest is only open to the US.
As always, there’s more ways of getting your name in the hat (remember, these aren’t mandatory to enter, just extra entries):
- +1 for each place you post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your answer.
- +1 to any review you comment on, however, comments must be meaningful. Just give me the title of the review and I’ll be able to figure it out from there.
- +1 If you are a follower of Literary Escapism on Facebook and/or Twitter
- +10 Purchase any of Syrie’s novels (listed above) or any novel through LE’s Amazon store or the Book Depository sometime during this contest and send a copy of the receipt VIA email for your purchase to: jackie AT literaryescapism DOT com. Each purchase is worth ten entries.
There is one thing I am adding to my contests now…the winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.