Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Where my ideas come from: Monster

One day when I was walking around the long since defunct Brookline Barnes & Noble, I was noticing all the vampire, dragon, zombie, Wizard of Oz & werewolf books, and was thinking what hasn't been done, and what I came up with was Frankenstein. Yeah, I know, Dean Koontz has his Frankenstein series, but that has been placed in modern times and has little in common with Mary Shelley's novel. I started thinking then of a version written by the monster and where everything a dying Victor Frankenstein tells Captain Walton is a lie to cover his own crimes and depravity. I started getting excited by this idea but also severely intimidated by it. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a great novel, and for those of you who haven't read it you should. It's very unlike any of the movie adaptations, including (especially) Kenneth Branagh's "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein". It's also in it's own way a very powerful noir story. Anyway, the intimidation won out and instead of working on this I wrote Dying Memories.

The idea, though, wouldn't leave me alone, and nine months later I started considering this more seriously. A friend of mine who's a PhD candidate in 18th Century European History and fellow Black Belt student at our Kung Fu studio, Alden Ludlow, put together a reading list so I could properly research, among other things, 18th century witchcraft, satanic cults, London sex clubs, supernatural mythology, folklore and fiction. So after 6 months of research that also included historical figures Marquise de Sade and Samuel Hahnemann, I felt ready to start it.

If you haven't read Shelley's Frankenstein, the book takes place in a lot of different locations--starting with Ingolstadt, Germany, then Geneva, French Alps, London, Scotland, Ireland, back to Geneva, and finally the Artic. What I did was layer my version over these same locations but have different reasons for this traveling, as well as make the monster in my version the hero. The Marquise de Sade and his philosophy also plays a critical role.

Overlook Press will be publishing this next year, I can honestly say this by far the best book I've written, and will probably ever write. More than any book I've written, I'm looking forward to seeing this one in print.


Doug Levin said...

Sounds really interesting, Dave. I'm a big fan of Shelley's novel. Maybe Dracula was similarly misrepresented in Stoker's novel.

Peter Andrew Leonard said...

Can't wait for this one, Dave. I've been curious about it and excited about it, since you first mentioned it a while back.

Thanks for the insight!

Dave Zeltserman said...

Doug, Andrew, thanks--and Doug, I'm also in awe of Shelley's novel, and some of my early readers who read this are also big fans of Shelley's Frankenstein, and I thankfully got a very positive response from them.

While I did a lot of historical research for this book, it's still first a horror book with quite a few nods to different writers of that same period. For example, there's one aspect that was heavily inspired by ETA Hoffmann that's really quite horrific.