Dracula!

Happy World Dracula Day! Today we celebrate the anniversary of the first publication of Bram Stoker’s vampire standard Dracula. And how better to celebrate than by sharing some of my favourite versions of the classic character?

I have to start with the original, Stoker’s Count. Although Stoker wasn’t the first to write about vampires, his character (and book) started an ongoing obsession with vampires, inspiring countless variations over the decades, including dozens of versions of Dracula alone. Many of what we now consider essential characteristics of vampires: aversion to sunlight and garlic, lack of reflection, supernatural powers, vulnerable to a stake through the heart–all came from Dracula. A few have been discarded over the years too–how many modern vampires have hairy palms or need to keep the soil of their homeland handy? If you’re a vampire fan and you haven’t read Dracula yet–drop everything and get yourself a copy.

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Nosferatu is an early, unauthorized, movie based on Dracula. The names were changed (Dracula became Count Orlok, for example) but that wasn’t enough to keep Stoker’s widow from suing (and eventually giving up after the film company went bankrupt and copies of the movie got out anyway). You can’t beat Nosferatu, or Max Schreck’s Count, for atmosphere, dramatic visuals, and general creepiness.

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Count Orlok, Nosferatu

Although Bela Lugosi may be the definitive Count Dracula (and no one is disputing that he did a great job), but Christopher Lee gets my vote for best film Dracula. Imposing and intense, it’s hard not to agree that Lee is pretty awesome in this role (I’m not sure he really needs hypnotic powers–he’d do fine all on his own).

I have to admit I’m not a fan of Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (an inaccurate title, by the way), but I do enjoy Gary Oldman’s performance in it. He seems to embrace the character, especially when he surreptitiously licks Harker’s bloody razor, which is my favourite moment of the entire film:

Here’s the entire scene if you want some context:

One of my absolute favourite portrayals of Dracula is in Buffy in the episode “Buffy vs. Dracula.” It’s a great episode overall (who doesn’t love Xander as Renfield?) and Rudolf Martin does a fantastic job as Dracula. Aside from the show, Dracula makes an appearance in several Buffyverse comic books (scroll down to Appearances for the full list). It’s well worth tracking them down (if for no other reason than to find out whether Spike ever gets the eleven pounds Dracula owes him).

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And lastly (on what is by no means a comprehensive list), what’s not to like about Community’s Troy attempting to put together a cool Halloween costume by becoming a “sexy Dracula”? 😉

What’s your favourite version of Dracula? Share in the comments, and have a bloody good World Dracula Day!

Welcome to Vancouver

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Last month I got to spend a week in Vancouver (Canada) and had a great time. What a beautiful city–mountains, ocean, attractive architecture, flowers in bloom–and friendly people too. What’s not to love? (It probably didn’t help that I returned home to Toronto in the middle of an ice storm–but that’s another story…) I wanted to get more photos, but Vancouver is known for being rainy and the weather didn’t cooperate on the day I had planned for exploring with my camera–or on whale-watching day, either, which ended up being cancelled. Surprisingly, I didn’t mind the rain and I still got plenty of pictures to remember my trip–and to share 🙂

These were taken in the north end of downtown Vancouver and the Gastown neighbourhood. That’s not smoke coming out of the clock–Vancouver has one of the only steam clocks in the world.

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I got these shots (and the “Welcome to Vancouver” sign) on the way to Stanley Park…  Continue reading “Welcome to Vancouver”

Weird Habits of Writers

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I recently read an article about 11 weird habits that all writers can relate to, and I’ve got to say they weren’t wrong. Dramatically staring into space while thinking about what my characters will do next? Check. Ending up on security watch lists thanks to my online research? Check. Losing track of time, dates, and reality itself thanks to working from home immersed in a fantasy world of my own creation? Check check.

Reading the list got me thinking about my own odd habits, which I’ve decided to share. After all, as the article pointed out, writers spend a lot of time alone–why not take a moment to bond over our mutual strangeness?

My Weird Habits as a Writer:

Seeking Out Mindless Activities so I Can Think: When my hands are busy but my mind is free to wander, that’s when I come up with some of my best ideas, solve problems with my stories, or mentally write entire passages (my phone is handy–and more likely to be nearby than pen and paper–for getting it all down before I inevitably forget). Mindless activities I recommend: weeding the garden, easy crafts, cleaning the house, ironing…

Telling Myself Stories to Help Me Fall Asleep: I’ve had trouble sleeping my entire life–the one thing that’s almost guaranteed to get me to sleep is telling myself a story in bed. It’s been the same story for a while now, with minor variations. Strangely enough this repetitive storytime actually does help with my writing. Every so often I’ll get an idea for a new character, or notice themes I should explore.

Watching (a lot of) TV: Sometimes it’s background noise that works a lot like any other mindless activity (see above). Sometimes it’s inspiring, giving me ideas to consider. Sometimes it’s instructive, helping me with pacing, or seeing aspects to storytelling that do or don’t work. Sometimes it’s just entertaining, which is also important.

I’ll leave it there, although there are more (so many more). What weird habits do you have as a writer (or in general)? Share your weirdness…

Just a reminder: time is running out to enter my giveaway. Want a chance to win a free copy of my dark fantasy novel, Love Lies Bleeding? Take a moment and enter.

Sixteen Butterflies (and a Turtle)

Recently I paid a visit to the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory (Ontario, Canada) and I’m so glad I did. Besides being the perfect respite from the freezing weather, it was a magical experience being surrounded by butterflies (many more than 16). I highly recommend it. I thought I’d share a few of the photos I took…

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Basking in the sunshine

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You’d never guess what this butterfly looks like with its wings open….

Continue reading “Sixteen Butterflies (and a Turtle)”