Reading Dracula Daily in Real Time: Interview with Matt Kirkland

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Matt Kirkland, author of thew newly-published Dracula Daily, talks to DAVID SAUNDERSON about reading Bram Stoker’s vampire masterpiece in real time on the intranet

Dracula Daily with Matt Kirkland

Matt Kirkland talks about Dracula Daily

Matt Kirkland is the creative force behind the email newsletter sensation Dracula Daily, which has now been transformed into a deluxe hardcover book. This innovative project, praised as an “internet sensation” by The New York Times, brings new life to Bram Stoker’s classic vampire novel in a format that’s both modern and engaging.

SPOOKY ISLES: What first sparked your interest in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and how did this evolve into the concept for Dracula Daily?

MATT KIRKLAND: I was reading through my bookshelves over the pandemic and found a copy of Dracula! Reading through it over the summer of 2020 and talking with my daughter, we realized I was almost in sync with the characters and could speed up or slow down to read it ‘in real time’ with the characters. But it would be a lot of work, and I thought a tech solution could help!

What were the main challenges you encountered in segmenting Dracula into daily email instalments while preserving the integrity and suspense of the original novel?

That’s a good question! I didn’t really do this. Because I follow a strict schedule, it both introduces new moments of suspense (like waiting for weeks for the next section compared to the book that’s just… the next page). And in some cases it works a little bit against the drama, like drawing out the final weeks.

In what ways did the format of Dracula Daily enhance reader engagement and discussion compared to traditional book reading?

I think the ‘one section at a time’ format does double duty here; we know that we all read the same section on the same day, so it’s easy to talk about the plot so far without worrying about spoilers. And because you only get a section per day, there’s time to chew on the text and look for the interesting stuff.

When choosing reader-generated content for the hardcover book, what criteria guided your selection? Were there any standout pieces or contributions?

Oh, so many good ones! I looked for things that worked as standalone comments – they didn’t require a long engagement with the social media stuff, or didn’t require deep internet lore to understand a meme. Plus they needed to be short, for the most part.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of interacting with the Dracula Daily community, and how has this influenced the direction of the project?

Mostly I just feel amazed and lucky to see such a fun response; I think it’s really clear that Dracula Daily is a THING that happens, and barely a creative output of mine.

Have you gained any new insights or perspectives on Dracula through this project that you hadn’t considered before?

Yes! I think all of my insights and perspectives are new. It’s so fun to read the book through the kaleidoscope of responses that people provided.

Among the characters in Dracula, who do you find most intriguing or complex, and why? How have reader contributions to Dracula Daily reflected or differed in their perceptions of this character?

I certainly always want to know more about Renfield! He’s one character where I feel like we don’t get his full story.

In your opinion, what aspects of Dracula resonate most with contemporary audiences, and how does this influence reader interaction through Dracula Daily?

I assume the biggest resonance is just with the cultural weight of the character himself! He’s the uber-vampire, the one we all know. But so many people haven’t read the actual book, that the difference (and dissonance) between the idea of Dracula himself vs the actual novel is really wide. And that makes for a lot of fun space to read and react!

Do you view Dracula Daily as a template for revitalising other classic literary works? Are there any other novels you are considering for a similar approach?

I think any book COULD work this way; but I haven’t found anything that fits so nicely with the calendar and pacing.  YET. 🙂

Daily Dracula is now available from Amazon.

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