When I found out that Dacre Stoker was going to be speaking at a special event at Ames Hall in Salem, Massachusetts, I felt confident that I knew very little about Bram Stoker. Over the course of an hour and fifteen minutes, I realized the estimate of my knowledge was way too high. I knew absolutely nothing about the man who is ostensibly responsible for the vampire culture of the last two centuries, and by way of coincidence my own obsession with the vampire during my teen years.
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about Bram Stoker, because I really want you to make time to see this event for yourself. Dacre wrote a book, which is basically the sequel to Dracula, and in time I will read the book and provide a review that will be available to read at this blog. Naturally, a portion of the event was devoted to promoting and selling this book, and I regret that I was unable to buy it at this time, but I promise you that not being able to read the book straight away was the only thing about last night that I would associate with regret.
As I stated in the previous post, my mission was to be able to shake the hand of Dacre Stoker, as I was fortunate enough to do when Charles Dickens’ descendant was in town. I had promised myself that I would not be too eager, nor would I give in to my usual social quirkiness that is so famous for turning people off. I paid for my ticket, but for the most part I managed to remain respectfully silent as I looked around inside of a building I had not had the pleasure of seeing in the years since I moved to Salem.
So while I was standing there with my hands in my pockets, in the beautiful theater of Ames Hall, watching the little pre-show slide show, I wondered if I would really be able to follow through on this humble plan of simply shaking his hand and saying hello to him. Dacre made that unbelievably easy when he came into the room.
“Oh, you saw it all now,” he joked.
He walked right up to me, introduced himself, and shook my hand.
“And now I’m so glad I know how to pronounce your name,” I said, after introducing myself.
We had a short exchange about the challenges of our own names, wherein I mentioned the unique spelling of mine, to which he accurately guessed one of the many responses I use to get from teachers and friends. Then he went to take care of some things, and I realized that I shook hands with the descendant of Bram Stoker, and it didn’t hurt a bit.
Dacre was incredibly friendly and personable, chatting with the other attendees, commenting on the images in the slide show, and inviting everyone to socialize for a little while after the event, before his 8 o’clock showing.
What I will tell you about Bram Stoker is this: I never imagined that I would have so much in common with him. A lot of people say that they identify with famous people, but as Dacre launched into his presentation, I could see parallels in my own life that so closely mirrored the author, that it gave me a near perfect blueprint for how I wanted my own career to progress from here on out.
Admittedly, it’s been almost ten years since I read Dracula, and my fuzziness over certain details was exposed (To Dacre’s everlasting credit as a school teacher, I didn’t feel ashamed when I misremembered the role of Mina Harker towards the end of the book). But it should be noted that I had finished reading the book during my short-lived career as a night awake counselor at The Bennington School. Losing my job there was a catalyst for finally leaving the town I was born in, and you could say that it was a practice run for my eventual decision to move to Salem, with little more than the clothes on my back.
I knew that if I stayed any longer, I would undoubtedly lapse into one of my less endearing traits of talking someone’s ear off. The encounter with Dacre Stoker was pleasant and I wanted him to remember our meeting as fondly as I will always remember it, so I didn’t stick around for long after the event. But it is my plan to make the request of The Salem Public Library, and to request of my readers that they also ask their libraries to order book, so that future readers may continue to be touched by the legacy of the Stokers.