An Aiken resident is carrying on the legacy of a famous family member.
Dacre Stoker, whose great-grandfather, George Stoker, was the brother of Dracula author Bram Stoker, has spent more than a decade researching, presenting and writing with Bram in mind, and has recently scored a new book and movie deal.
“For the past three years, I’ve been working on Dracul,” said Stoker, who signed a deal in the United States with Putnam and in the United Kingdom with Transworld. Dracul is a prequel to Bram Stoker’s 1897 Dracula and is slated for release in 2018.
Movie rights have been sold to Paramount, and Andy Muschietti, who also directed Stephen King’s It, has been tapped to direct the movie.
Because of an agreement with his U.S. publisher, Stoker can’t say much else about the specifics of the book’s plot or the movie deal; however, he said the book reflects a lot of the work he’s been doing.
Stoker has become an expert on the most famous member of his family tree. In 2009, Dutton Penguin published a book he and Ian Holt wrote called Dracula the Un-dead. It was a sequel to Dracula, the only sequel authorized by the Stoker estate.
Stoker’s entry in the world of Bram Stoker began a few years before the release of Dracula the Un-dead as he started his research.
“I had no idea where this would take me. I went in with my eyes wide open. I was definitely going to do it right. That’s my nature,” said Stoker, a native of Canada, who was slated to represent his country in the 1980 Olympic games as a pentathlete. However, his Olympic dream was cut short because of the boycott of the games that were held in Soviet Moscow. He did coach the Canadian pentathlon team at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
The drive and focus it takes to become an Olympic-caliber athlete fueled his passion to learn more about Bram Stoker and research his life and his work. That could be a Stoker family trait according to Dacre, who said Bram Stoker had a lot of passion and drive as represented in the many records he kept.
Bram Stoker wasn’t always an author of fiction. His first book wouldn’t thrill Dracula fans. A civil servant, Bram first penned The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland, which was used in Ireland until the 1960s.
Dacre Stoker’s research has led him to travel to various parts of the world.
He’s visited his cousins who are descended from the famous author and one of those visits prompted a special find. In 2011, Bram’s great-grandson found a thin, unmarked journal belonging to Bram Stoker.
That journal became the second book Dacre worked on. Known as The Lost Journal, it was published in 2013 under Bram Stoker’s name with Dacre as the editor. Most of what was contained in the journal was written between 1871 and 1878. The journal offers hints into the characters contained in Dracula.
Additional research also suggests that Bram had a different ending to Dracula in mind than the one that was published, he said. It included a volcanic eruption in Romania.
Now, Dacre Stoker does presentations called Stoker on Stoker. He presents to a wide variety of audiences from academia to fans at horror conventions. And instead of dressing up like Dracula, Dacre prefers to dress as Bram might’ve dressed in Victorian England.
In November, he will travel to the United Kingdom where he’ll do seven Stoker on Stoker presentations in 10 days.
In addition, he’s become an expert of sorts of the landmarks in the book, Dracula.
Dracula was based on the 15th century Romanian ruler, Vlad Dracul.
Stoker has worked with Romania’s tourism ministry to create a tour of Dracula’s Romania and Vlad’s Romania. Bram used real places in his book, but they aren’t necessarily historical to Vlad. Stoker has been to Romania several times to lead tour groups, but tours are available without Stoker’s lead.
The inspiration for Count Dracula’s castle was a castle known as Bran Castle, and according to Dacre, a volcanic site has been found just where Bram’s notes indicated.
On Halloween 2016, Airbnb did a promotion giving one night away in Bran Castle with Dacre Stoker as the host for the event. The essay contest drew more than 80,000 entries, he said.
As he looks back, Dacre said he’s pleased where this road has brought him and the work he’s done in telling the world about the man who created a character known by millions.
“I have an outlet for the protection and promotion of his legacy,” he said.