Carla Laemmle, niece of the founder of Universal Studios, who was the first person to ever speak in a Dracula ‘talking’ movie and who lived on the actual movie lot for many years; Bela Lugosi Junior, son of one of the big screen's most well-known character vampires; Jeanne Youngson, wife of an Academy award-winning producer and director, who established the first-ever (maybe the only) Dracula Museum, in New York; Forrest Ackerman, sadly departed, the world's foremost collector of horror and fantasy artifacts and originator of the sexily-clad vampirellas; Vincent Hillyer, a former California almond farmer once married to the sister of the Shah of Iran as well as to Milly Vitale, a prominent Italian actress, who offered $10,000 to anyone who could bring him a vampire and had two doctors lined up to verify the find - these are just some of the colorful, larger-than-life characters Sean Hillen met during his search for the origins of Dracula. Not to mention a midnight meeting in the ruins of Vlad the Impaler's castle, deep within the rugged mountains of Wallachia, Romania. And as this year (2012) marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Bram Stoker, it seems a most appropriate time to re-issue Sean’s travelogue, ‘DIGGING FOR DRACULA,’ for the first time in e-book form. Initially published as a creative ‘book-in-a-coffin’ concept in Dublin in 1997, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first ever publication of the best-selling novel (see www.diggingfordracula.com), re-issuing it in electronic format now during this particular centenary seems doubly appropriate. While not professing to be an ‘expert on vampiric issues, Sean was fortunate enough to be foreign correspondent for the The Times newspaper, London, during most of the 1990s in Romania. In fact, he traveled there before the fall of Communism to write about developments in that beguiling Latin-Balkan nation. So it was in his capacity as foreign correspondent that he attended the unique, week-long ‘World Congress of Dracula’ event in Bucharest, out of which the kernel for the idea of ‘DIGGING FOR DRACULA’ first emerged. To him, a native of Ireland, former medical correspondent in the US-cum-war correspondent-in-Europe, that event was an eye-opener – one that led him to write more news stories in a single week on a single subject for The Times than he had ever written before, including an editorial. The characters he met during that particular week were colorful, multi-faceted and extremely engaging. ‘DIGGING FOR DRACULA’ is therefore dedicated to them, and people like them, audacious souls who dared to take such an esoteric subject as ‘vampirism’ - before it became de rigueur and the basis for so many university courses worldwide – and made it their own. Take a peek inside ‘DIGGING FOR DRACULA’ and learn about these larger-than-life characters that Sean met on his intriguing search across different continents trying to uncover the true meaning of Dracula: from the ruins of Vlad the Impaler’s castle in Arefu, Walachia, to the offices of Bela Lugosi Jr. in the hills of Hollywood where billions of dollars have been made in celluloid depictions of the classic vampiric character. Enjoy the journey and in the words of the Regal Count, “Come freely, go safely and leave some of the happiness you bring.” Final note: The fact that Sean is now married to a wonderful lady from Transylvania indicates just how entranced he became in the subject.
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Digging for Dracula
by John Sean Hillen
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Digging for Dracula
by John Sean Hillen
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by on October 21, 2016
- Dracula Transylvanian Club Ireland, Ltd., May 1997
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