Following on from my last post, and from the positive remarks I got regarding the idea, I decided I would go ahead a series of posts on the books that mean something to me.
I don’t recall exactly what age I was the first time I read Dracula, but I think I would have been somewhere between 8 & 10. My cousin; who, thanks to a quirk in the timing of my birth, I’ve always called my aunt, gave me a hardback copy with both it and Frankenstein in a single volume as a birthday present. I kept that book for the best part of twenty years and I read it enough times for it to fall apart.
Dracula was a book of firsts for me, in a lot of ways. It was the first ‘adult’ book I can remember reading. It was the first book I read written in the first person style. It was the first epistolary novel I read, although obviously I didn’t know the term at that time. In short, it was the book that, more or less, showed me that there were other ways books could be written.
And, of course, there was the whole vampire thing. I’m fairly sure I knew what vampires were, and recognised the Dracula name. I mean it’s pretty difficult not to, one way or another. But while I may have known a little, it was probably as much due to comics or cartoons, such as Count Duckula, than anything else. The novel came as a bit of a shock and stuck with me ever since.
As I said above, I read that copy of Dracula to pieces. Fortunately but that time I had met Britt, and she gave me another hardback copy (sans Frankenstein) for another birthday (a much later one). That copy is still on our bookshelf.
Despite all of this, Dracula hasn’t had as much of an impact on my own writing as some other books. That’s not to say I haven’t honoured it in my own way. There are a few references scattered in House Valerius, because you know me and my in-jokes. Still, it’s a book that’s always going to find a space on my shelves.