Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dracula in Love Giveaway and interview with Karen Essex

I found Karen Essex when I read and loved Leonardo's Swans, a novel about the sisters d'Este. When I found out she wrote a novel about Dracula, I fainted. (Not really, but I wanted to.) I loved it. Its amazing, wonderful and is perfect. Perfect.

  1.  Was Mina's empowerment planned or accidental?

That’s a tough question.  I have rarely faced a more difficult heroine than Mina.  I had her character and its trajectory completely outlined, when Mina herself began to revolt!  I had tried to reimagine her as an early feminist, but she just wouldn’t have it.  She insisted on beginning as a conservative woman, which really jolted me.  I was so sure that “my” Mina would be in the streets marching for women’s rights.  But every time I tried to write her that way, I got the silent treatment.  I have written enough to know when a character is flowing and when I, the author, am trying to manipulate, and I knew that I was on the wrong track with Mina.  I finally had to be very quiet and allow her to talk to me, even though I did not like what she had to say. 

I’ve written a post about how uncooperative she was, and you can read it here:

  1. How did Mina and the Count's past come to be?

One day, in September of 2006, to be precise, I was sitting at the computer staring into space, and the idea to retell Stoker’s Dracula from Mina’s perspective literally fell into my brain.  Just like that!!  And with that idea came the notion that the Count was drawn to Mina because she had a supernatural history of her own.  I don’t want to sound too mysterious here, but I was actually “given” the details.  I won’t give away those details here because I don’t like spoilers, but I must admit that along with the idea for the book, the idea of Mina’s history just came to me in that extremely strange way.  Once I knew which mythological group Mina had descended from, the rest was very easy to figure out. 

  1. Why do all the men around Mina, except the Count, manipulate her?

In the Victorian era, men manipulated and dominated women.  They did not do that to be evil; they simply believed that women were irrational and childlike and required men to tell them what to do.  Men believed that it was their duty to “protect” women this way, and that is how the male characters in the book think.  They are not evil; they are simply looking at Mina through the lens of their own culture and its prejudices.  One of the themes of Dracula in Love is that women in the late Victorian era had a lot more to fear from their own culture than they did from vampires!   But I also wanted to demonstrate that women had inner lives, and that even in the most oppressive societies, women will necessarily find a way to empower themselves.  Not every woman, of course, but every generation of women produced a few who insisted on following their own paths.

  1. Do women always fall for the Count? I mean, he's almost too perfect!!!

I must say that out of the many, many letters I received about the relationship between Mina and the other men in the book, every single reader has been on Team Count!  It’s not that he’s perfect, it’s that he’s lived for many centuries and has become an enlightened being.  He could manipulate Mina, but he’s tried that before in different lifetimes, and it’s always backfired.  He knows, even before Mina knows, that she must find her own voice and own and trust her own power. 

  1. When will we get to revisit Mina?

I plan to write a sequel to Dracula in Love but first I am committed to writing a sequel to my book Leonardo’s Swans, which was about the women Leonardo da Vinci painted.  You can find out more about the book here:

The heroine of Leonardo’s Swans is Isabella d’Este, and when we leave her in Book One, she is still a very young woman.  Her life only got more interesting, so I wanted to continue to tell her story.  However, I am plotting the next adventures of Mina and the Count, and I will begin to write it as soon as possible.  Some readers are a bit angry with me over the ending, so I hope to make it up to them in future volumes, as I’d always intended.  Don’t worry, you haven’t seen the last of them!

Up for grabs is a copy of this amazing book! Leave me your contact information, If I can't contact you, then you can't win this book!! This giveaway will run until November 2nd. Enter now!!! Follow me for an extra chance to win! 


  1. I have been dying to read this one! I'm a follower.


  2. I don't know if you got my last comment, but sounds like a cute book! Great questions! And of course I'm a follower and I would to enter.

    Carole@CaroleRae's RandomRamblings

  3. Now I really want to read this book! Great interview!