When he was approached in 2003 about working on a sequel to a book written by his famous ancestor, Dacre Stoker had no idea what doors that quest would open.
Stoker is the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, who penned Dracula, and an Aiken resident who has become an expert on all things Stoker.
He's currently at the center of an Airbnb campaign offering a tour of a Transylvanian castle. Stoker will be the host for the event.
"The scenario is based on Chapters 1 and 2 of Dracula," said Stoker, who will greet the two contest winners with the same lines Dracula
used to welcome Jonathan Harker into his Transylvanian castle.
Entrants will write between 50 and 500 words on what they would say to Dracula if they met him in person.
The winner and guest will receive a trip to Bran Castle in Brasov, Romania, where they will arrive by carriage and dine on Halloween as Jonathan Harker did in the novel. The night will culminate with the guests sleeping in two specially made velvet-lined coffins.
Bran Castle is one of the castles that inspired Bram Stoker's idea of Dracula's castle.
The contest has made a social network splash with multiple articles published by news outlets around the globe. The contest closes at 5:59 p.m. Eastern today, and more information is available at www.airbnb.com.
For Stoker, playing tour guide and Dracula expert is business as usual.
The Canadian native knew about his famous lineage and first read Dracula in 1977, but it wasn't until 2003 when contacted by Ian Holt – with whom he co-wrote Dracula: The Undead,
published in 2009 – that he decided to delve into his ancestry.
Since the publication of that book, Stoker has become a Bram Stoker expert. His second book, The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker: The Dublin Years, was released in 2013. It is based on a journal found in one of his cousin's attics.
"Two of Bram's great-grandsons are still living, and they had boxes of items," said Stoker. "The handwriting was so difficult to read that they didn't read it. They didn't fathom how gigantic this was."
The book was a diary of Stoker's early years before Dracula and might have held a key to the development of the character of Renfield, a patient in an insane asylum who eats insects. Stoker said there's a reference to a boy Bram once knew who "kept so many flies in
Going through the journal was a painstaking process because of the difficult handwriting. Some of the information might not have made it into Dracula per se, but it definitely shows into the heart and mind of the author, he said.
Stoker is often called on for conferences related to Dracula, and he does "Stoker on Stoker" talks in places around the globe. He's also given tours in Romania.
Stoker's newest project is a prequel to Dracula, which is in the editing phase. He hopes it will be published around Halloween 2017.