Exclusive Interview - Kim Newman Talks Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha
With Halloween right around the corner, we decided to sit down with award-winning novelist Kim Newman to discuss the third installment of the Anno Dracula series―Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha. Read on to learn more!
Rome. 1959. Count Dracula is about to marry the Moldavian Princess Asa Vajda - his sixth wife. Journalist Kate Reed flies into the city to visit the ailing Charles Beauregard and his vampire companion, Geneviève. Finding herself caught up in the mystery of the Crimson Executioner who is bloodily dispatching vampire elders in the city, Kate discovers that she is not the only one on his trail... the undead British secret agent Bond is as well.
AMANDA DYAR: Many of your works are written with an important emphasis on Dracula as a protagonist. What inspires you to continue writing about the infamous character time and again, and how are you able to breathe life into this classic character to make him completely your own?
KIM NEWMAN: So far, I've mostly avoided using Dracula as protagonist - which some other authors have played with, from Marvel's Tomb of Dracula comic to Fred Saberhagen's The Dracula Tapes and sequels - and kept him as the antagonist the way Bram Stoker did, much talked-about but not onstage that much. I also take a cue from Stoker in having Dracula look different every time he appears, though he usually relates to versions of the character who've been around in pop culture for over a century (in The Bloody Red Baron, it's a plot-point that he looks like - or sometimes looks like - Bela Lugosi). I doubt I could ever make Dracula completely my own, since the character is in almost perpetual usage, but I keep trying to think of ways of making him different. I've played down some interpretations that I feel are overdone and taken Dracula back to be closer to Stoker's conception of a human-shaped incarnation of Everything Evil (of course, my idea of Everything Evil and Stoker's are different).
AMANDA: Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha is actually the third novella in the Anno Dracula series. For those who haven't read the first two books, can you tell us what makes the series so special, and can you give us a brief summary of what has happened in the series so far leading into the third book?
KIM: I have tried to make each novel self-contained, though with the reissues and the added-in novellas, I'm starting to feel like the series is one long book. Briefly, in Anno Dracula (review here), the Count has come to England in 1885, as in Stoker's novel, but defeated Van Helsing and his allies, and risen to power, marrying Queen Victoria and spreading vampirism throughout British society, encouraging other long-lived vampires to join his court and generally put himself about. In The Bloody Red Baron (review here), Dracula has - after a struggle - been booted out of Britain, but become a powerful figure in the Kaiser's Germany during the First World War. Dracula Cha Cha Cha is set in Rome in 1959, where the Prince is in exile and entering into a political marriage with another vampire elder. Though I use a lot of Stoker's cast - and characters from other fictions - I've also been following my own core cast of characters, who thread throughout the series and have their own storylines.<?i>
AMANDA: As you continue to tell your own version of the character of Dracula in your novels, do you find it more challenging to complete your own narrative while remaining true to the classic character? Also, how long do you believe you will continue telling his tale in the Anno Dracula series?
KIM: I find Dracula the easiest of pre-existing characters to incorporate, since he's so mercurial and yet so vivid. I've delivered a fourth novel, Johnny Alucard, set mostly in Romania and America (focusing on the entertainment industry and illicit drugs) in the '70s and '80s. This features more of Dracula, and more versions of Dracula, than the three earlier novels put together. I will write at least one more novel, but I'm not sure what form that will take. I might well try to bring the series into the 21st Century, but I'm also tempted to fill in some of the backstory of my own characters - maybe do a Western or a samurai/cyberpunk take on Anno Dracula.
AMANDA: Anno Dracula is clearly in a realm of its own, but in what major ways would you say your series differentiates itself from the other vampire-driven narratives that have become such a common occurrence in today's society?
KIM: I've always thought of Anno Dracula as literally a vampire novel, in that it battens on and bleeds dry other books - and films, TV shows, etc. I suppose the major difference in my series is that it doesn't present just one type of vampire but encompasses every conceivable incarnation of the myth, from Nosferatu to Sesame Street.
AMANDA: Fans will also be able to get their hands on your other new title Aquarius when picking up Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha. Can you tell us what this novella is about and how it relates to the Anno Dracula series as a standalone title?
KIM: With The Bloody Red Baron, set in 1918, I added an extra novella, Vampire Romance, set in 1923; now, with a book set in 1959, I've added a novella set in Swinging London in 1968. In both cases, I wanted to fill a historical gap in the overall series - and play with some aspects of vampire culture that hadn't been covered in the novels. It's about a series of old-fashioned vampire murders, investigated by Scotland Yard's B Division (whom I borrowed from R. Chetwynd-Hayes) and my continuing character, journalist Kate Reed. It touches on student protest, hallucinogenics, Enoch Powell's 'rivers of blood' speech (here, not a metaphor) and other fun, candy-coloured stuff.
You can visit the official Titan Books website to learn more about the book.
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