October 2020

J.S. Barnes

Back from the dead
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J.S. Barnes takes readers to fog-choked Victorian London in Dracula’s Child, which imagines what happened after the events of Bram Stoker’s iconic Dracula.

What inspired you to revisit Dracula?
I’ve always loved the book, ever since I first read it as a boy. I’ve enjoyed versions of the story in other mediums, of course, but it’s the book to which I’ve always been drawn back. It’s often struck me as odd, however, that Stoker never wrote a sequel, when it seems to me that there are clear seeds planted in plain sight for just such an undertaking. I reread the novel about five years ago, and the scope for continuation seemed to leap out at me. It was almost inevitable, then, that I should start my own homage to it, a real passion project.

Who is your favorite character in Stoker’s original novel?
Probably Renfield, the lunatic who acts as a weird kind of barometer for the Count. There was no way to bring him back for this sequel, however, given his fate in the original! Out of the characters whom I’ve had a chance to write myself, I’d have to go with Mina Harker. Unflappable and determined in Stoker’s account, she’s grown even tougher and more watchful in the years that have passed before we meet her again in Dracula’s Child.

If you were to pick another horror or fantasy classic to revisit, what would it be and why?
Wow, there are so many to choose from! I’m actually working on just such a project at the moment—a sequel to a seminal work of late 19th-century horror. More on this as soon as we can announce it! But I’d also love to revisit many others—Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger stories in particular!

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our review of Dracula's Child.

Why do we continue to be fascinated with vampires?
Even as trendier monsters come and go, vampires keep on speaking to us. Both scary and sympathetic, they represent simultaneously what we dread and what we long for. They change according to the times in which they’re written—each generation’s version of the vampire myth is different—while also, at their core, staying the same.

When writing Dracula’s Child, did you aim to address any current-day issues? Or were you more focused on reviving Stoker’s original mood and setting?
The aim was very much to channel Stoker’s voice. That said, it’s impossible not to be influenced by the times in which you’re writing, so I’m sure that there are moments of applicability here to our own era. After all, so many of the concerns and dilemmas of Stoker’s time are still with us in some form or another.

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