Archive for the ‘Dacre Stoker’ Tag

Bram Stoker Battles Vampires in “Dracul.”   Leave a comment

 

DraculBy C. Michael Forsyth

Dracul, by J.D. Barker and Dacre Stoker, is an instant classic, the best vampire novel I’ve read since Interview with the Vampire. Its premise is that in his youth, Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, actually went toe-to-toe with the fiendish bloodsucker. The novel is genuinely scary, exciting and enriched by meticulous research that vividly recreates the 19th century Ireland of young Bram Stoker.

We first meet Bram as a chronically ill, bedridden lad in Dublin. He and his siblings are cared for by a peculiar young nanny named Ellen Crone, who keeps Bram alive by mysterious late-night ministrations. Bram and his spunky sister Matilda begin to investigate their enigmatic live-in servant, who is prone to dead-of-night outings and unexplained absences, but after a rash of brutal murders takes place nearby, Ellen abruptly vanishes. Years later, when Bram is 21, he, Matilda and their brother Thornley are forced to confront the evil that Ellen brought into their home and do battle with the undead.

 

Bram Stoker

BRAM STOKER, author of Dracula, suffered an unexplained illness as a boy.

 

Dacre Stoker, Bram’s great-grandnephew, has devoted more than a decade to researching his famous forebear. He travels the world giving presentations on the fascinating facts from he has gleaned from family documents, letters, journals and other sources. In Dacre’s research, he stumbled across an obscure Icelandic edition of Dracula that is quite different from the book we know. In its preface, Bram makes the astonishing claim that Dracula is not a work of fiction, but of fact. That intriguing suggestion fired up Dacre’s imagination. What if Dracula was intended as a warning to the world? Later, he and Barker got a rare glimpse at the original typescript of Dracula with markings and notes indicating that 102 pages had been cut from the opening of the manuscript. This material became fodder for their prequel.

Dacre and J.D. Barker

Dacre Stoker with co-author J.D. Barker

I’ve had the pleasure of attending one of Dacre Stoker’s presentations on Bram, so it doesn’t surprise me that Dracul contains rich and accurate descriptions of the Stoker family members, their home and its surroundings. What I didn’t expect was an engaging mystery, which Bram and his siblings unravel, gradually learning Ellen’s true identity and motivations. One of the great delights of the book comes when we finally hear Ellen Crone’s back story, a tale within a tale that has the flavor of an Irish folktale. Plus, at the heart of the novel—and you’ll find this turns out to be literal—there is a grand love story that spans centuries. (And nope, it’s not Drac pining for a reincarnation of his lost love).

The book is faithful to Dracula, even borrowing the epistolary format much of the story told through the interwoven journals and letters of Bram and his siblings. A challenge of this approach is to make each character’s voice distinct. I’m not sure the authors entirely pull that off, but the writing is lovely, in the gothic style of the era in which the novel is set.

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey, on the Yorkshire coast, is a setting for a critical scene in Dracul.

The supernatural rules line up with vampire lore established in popular culture, yet the authors avoid the usual tropes. Startling visuals help the story feel fresh, for example, when Ellen descends deep into a bog under the moonlight or when a heart in a lab jar abruptly starts beating. Often, we’re baffled as to what is going on—in a good way. We have the same sense that we are dealing with the unfamiliar as did the earliest readers of Dracula. (“He’s scuttling down the castle wall like a spider? What the bloody hell?”) The authors also draw upon esoteric vampire lore that rarely shows up in movies. Most notably, the folkloric belief that suicides may return from the grave as vampires is put to good use.

 

Vambery portrait

Arminius Vambery is the “Van Helsing” of Dracul.

Bram and his siblings are aided by a seasoned supernatural sleuth, a worthy predecessor to Dr. Van Helsing yet a quite different type of man. The authors made the inspired choice of recruiting a real-life figure, Arminius Vámbéry, a Hungarian traveler, Turkologist and dabbler in the occult. A far cry from the priestly old Dr. Van Helsing, he is a member of the notorious Hellfire Club, a seeker of sensation and forbidden knowledge, not unlike Dorian Gray in TV’s Penny Dreadful. A man who has seen and done too many things.

 

 

 

 

 

Armin Vambery

World-traveler Vambery dons a Dervish outfit for one of his adventures.

Dacre Stoker’s previously co-authored Dracula: The Un-Dead, a sequel to Dracula. Though a highly entertaining novel, it was not as true to Bram’s creation as the current work. It presented Dracula as he likely saw himself: a romantic, misunderstood Byronic figure not unlike the dreamy hunk Frank Langella played in the 1979 movie.
Langella Dracula

 

In Dracul, this IS your great-granduncle’s Dracula. I believe that if Vlad the Impaler really were vampirized this is what he would be like: monstrously cruel and tyrannical. He is even more of a badass than in the original novel, inflicting a form of torture on one character that can only be described as epic. In Dracula, Bram only vaguely alludes to the historical 15th century Vlad Tepes, and we never learn exactly how Vlad went from warlord to vampire. In Dracul, the authors connect the dots in a plausible way.

Vlad the impaler full

Take-no-prisoners warlord Vlad the Impaler 

Vampire fans will be thrilled by the many Easter eggs, such as scenes set at Whitby Abbey, a locale that featured prominently in Dracula. There is a cameo appearance by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, author of the classic vampire tale Carmilla. The climax of the novel takes place in a “city of the dead” in Germany populated entirely by vampires. Presumably this was inspired by the vampiric ghost town in Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1932 German-language film Vampyr. (That movie, every bit as creepy as the silent film Nosferatu, was based on a story by Le Fanu, by the way.)

All in all, I give Dracul an enthusiastic five-stake rating.

Vampyr

THE final showdown in Dracul takes place in a city of the dead similar to the one in the 1932 film Vampyr.

 

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BRAM STOKER DESCENDANT PENS TERRIFYING “DRACULA” SEQUEL   Leave a comment

Bram Stoker wrote the grandpa of all vampire books.

Bram Stoker’s kinsman reclaims the famous character in this gripping sequel.

By C. Michael Forsyth

The story of Dracula ends with the blood-drinking fiend destroyed and newlyweds Jonathan and Mina Harker living happily ever after.

Or does it? In the book Dracula the Un-Dead, an exciting sequel to Bram Stoker’s classic written by the author’s great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker, the tale of terror continues to unfold.

I had the good fortune to run into Dacre at the Horror Writer’s Association’s Bram Stoker Weekend, an annual gathering that pays tribute to his famous forebear. A courtly resident of South Carolina, he was quite generous with his time. After his presentation on Bram, we chatted about the extensive research that went into the novel. We traded books, and I’ve finally had a chance to sink my teeth into this juicy vampire yarn.

The book is set in 1912, about 25 years after the events in Dracula, and the band of heroes who put the vampire down are in a sorry state.

Jonathan Harker, once a paragon of Victorian virtue, has been reduced to a whoring, alcoholic wretch. He’s tortured by his inability to sexually satisfy his wife the way that her superhuman “dark prince” could.

Mina, forever tainted by her sip of Dracula’s blood, remains eternally young like Dorian Gray. Guilt-ridden, she counts her youthful appearance as a curse, not a blessing.

Dr. Van Helsing, the wise and fearless vampire killer, is now a frail, vulnerable old man terrified of death.

Dr. Seward, once the esteemed head of the asylum that housed Dracula’s bug-eating flunky Renfield, is himself a drug-addicted lunatic.

Aristocratic Arthur Holmwood, who was forced to stake his fiancée Lucy, is a bitter recluse who blames his former friends for her fate and is driven by a death wish.

IN HAPPIER TIMES: Jonathan Harker, played by Keanu Reeves in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” finds that middle age is “totally bogus.”

New characters are introduced, most prominently Elizabeth Bathory, a real-life relative of Vlad the Impaler, the historical Dracula. The 16th Century noblewoman was the most prolific serial killer in history, making dudes like Jack the Ripper and Ted Bundy look like pikers. The Bloody Countess tortured and killed at least 650 servant girls, bathing in their blood in a quest for immortality. Here, she too is a vampire – and a far more vicious one than the gentlemanly Count Dracula.

BLOODY COUNTESS: Elizabeth Bathory slaughtered at least 650 young maidens — for their blood.

Also taking the stage is Basarab, a handsome and charismatic actor who is Bathory’s hated foe.

Details from the original are cleverly woven into the novel and supporting characters like Renfield and Seward are fleshed out with interesting backstories. Arthur Holmwood, usually little more than an uptight prig in movies, is a fully realized character who’s led a colorful life of adventure. Even Quincy Morris, the Texan who almost never makes the cut in film versions, is given his due.

Usually just an upper-crust square (as played here by Cary Elwes) Lucy’s fiance Arthur emerges as a swashbuckling hero.

Dacre and his co-author Ian Holt, in addition to having access to family lore, dug deep into original sources to find nuggets that enrich the sequel. Dacre traveled to the Rosenbach Museum to comb through Bram Stoker’s notes. Among the fascinating tidbits he uncovered was the character sketch for a detective Bram toyed with including in Dracula but ultimately abandoned. Dacre resurrects Inspector Cotford in the sequel.

Equally painstaking research into early 20th Century London is evident in the authoritative descriptions of locations such as the Lyceum Theater that bring the setting vividly to life. Real people of the time show up, including boozing stage legend John Barrymore — and, surprisingly, Bram Stoker himself!

TOO WISE TO LIVE? Dr. Van Helsing (Everett Sloane) had the will power to resist Dracula in the 1931 Bela Lugosi movie.

Yet despite the loving attention to detail, Dracula the Un-Dead is not slavishly true to the original in that it inverts Dracula’s nature, reimagining him as a Byronic hero rather than a monster. In a sense, the book is not a sequel to Dracula as Bram Stoker told the story so much as a sequel to the story as DRACULA would have told it. (It made me think of the kids’ book My Side of the Story, in which Sleeping Beauty is retold from the witch Maleficent’s perspective.)

MR. NICE GUY? Dracula (portrayed by Gary Oldman in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”) saw himself as a romantic hero misunderstood by medding male mortals.

In turning the Victorian worldview upside down Dracula the Un-Dead is likely quite different from the sequel Bram Stoker would have written. But who cares? Do we really need another follow-up to Dracula that carries forward the plot on its trajectory in an easily anticipated way? We’ve already seen movies and comics in which Mina’s son Quincy Harker is an elderly hero waging a crusade against the undead.

Here instead Quincy is a naïve young aspiring actor who puts his dreams of stage success above all else and fawns over his idol Basarab. (Quincy is so clueless he makes Jimmy Olsen look like Albert Einstein). That’s only the first of many surprises the book offers. Co-author Holt is a screenwriter and the fast-paced, action-packed novel is perfectly suited for a movie adaptation.

IN PAST follow-ups in comic books and movies, Quincy Harker is often a gutsy old vampire slayer.

I asked Dacre whether the Stoker clan was still living off “all the Dracula money.” He gave a wistful smile and said no. Sadly, he explained, the family lost the U.S. copyright to Dracula through a clerical error early on and it’s been in the public domain ever since. They haven’t been paid a dime by Hollywood since the 1931 Bela Lugosi movie and unlike the kin of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs, have had no control over the wildy popular character and his many — often embarrassingly stupid — incarnations. One of Dacre’s goals was to reclaim Dracula for his family.

“I think Bram would be proud that a family member has taken this initiative and finally done justice to the legacy he created,” he writes in the afterward.

IN THE BLOOD: Dacre Stoker, great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker with C. Michael Forsyth, author of Hour of the Beast, at the Horror Writers Association convention.


If you found this article by fiction writer C. Michael Forsyth entertaining, you might enjoy his novels…

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world's greatest magician probe a paranormal  mystery in new thriller.

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world’s greatest magician probe a paranormal mystery in new thriller.

More about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini in the Adventure of the Spook House.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.


Read Hour of the Beast.
The Blood of Titans is a story of love and adventure set in the golden age of Africa.

The Blood of Titans is a story of love and adventure set in the golden age of Africa.

Check out The Blood of Titans.

BRAM STOKER’S GREAT-GRANDNEPHEW PENS TERRIFYING DRACULA SEQUEL   3 comments

Bram Stoker wrote the grandpa of all vampire books.

Bram Stoker’s kinsman reclaims the famous character in this gripping sequel.

By C. Michael Forsyth

The story of Dracula ends with the blood-drinking fiend destroyed and newlyweds Jonathan and Mina Harker living happily ever after.

Or does it? In the book Dracula the Un-Dead, an exciting sequel to Bram Stoker’s classic written by the author’s great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker, the tale of terror continues to unfold.

I had the good fortune to run into Dacre at the Horror Writer’s Association’s Bram Stoker Weekend, an annual gathering that pays tribute to his famous forebear. A courtly resident of South Carolina, he was quite generous with his time. After his presentation on Bram, we chatted about the extensive research that went into the novel. We traded books, and I’ve finally had a chance to sink my teeth into this juicy vampire yarn.

The book is set in 1912, about 25 years after the events in Dracula, and the band of heroes who put the vampire down are in a sorry state.

Jonathan Harker, once a paragon of Victorian virtue, has been reduced to a whoring, alcoholic wretch. He’s tortured by his inability to sexually satisfy his wife the way that her superhuman “dark prince” could.

Mina, forever tainted by her sip of Dracula’s blood, remains eternally young like Dorian Gray. Guilt-ridden, she counts her youthful appearance as a curse, not a blessing.

Dr. Van Helsing, the wise and fearless vampire killer, is now a frail, vulnerable old man terrified of death.

Dr. Seward, once the esteemed head of the asylum that housed Dracula’s bug-eating flunky Renfield, is himself a drug-addicted lunatic.

Aristocratic Arthur Holmwood, who was forced to stake his fiancée Lucy, is a bitter recluse who blames his former friends for her fate and is driven by a death wish.

IN HAPPIER TIMES: Jonathan Harker, played by Keanu Reeves in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” finds that middle age is “totally bogus.”

New characters are introduced, most prominently Elizabeth Bathory, a real-life relative of Vlad the Impaler, the historical Dracula. The 16th Century noblewoman was the most prolific serial killer in history, making dudes like Jack the Ripper and Ted Bundy look like pikers. The Bloody Countess tortured and killed at least 650 servant girls, bathing in their blood in a quest for immortality. Here, she too is a vampire – and a far more vicious one than the gentlemanly Count Dracula.

BLOODY COUNTESS: Elizabeth Bathory slaughtered at least 650 young maidens — for their blood.

Also taking the stage is Basarab, a handsome and charismatic actor who is Bathory’s hated foe.

Details from the original are cleverly woven into the novel and supporting characters like Renfield and Seward are fleshed out with interesting backstories. Arthur Holmwood, usually little more than an uptight prig in movies, is a fully realized character who’s led a colorful life of adventure. Even Quincy Morris, the Texan who almost never makes the cut in film versions, is given his due.

Usually just an upper-crust square (as played here by Cary Elwes) Lucy’s fiance Arthur emerges as a swashbuckling hero.

Dacre and his co-author Ian Holt, in addition to having access to family lore, dug deep into original sources to find nuggets that enrich the sequel. Dacre traveled to the Rosenbach Museum to comb through Bram Stoker’s notes. Among the fascinating tidbits he uncovered was the character sketch for a detective Bram toyed with including in Dracula but ultimately abandoned. Dacre resurrects Inspector Cotford in the sequel.

Equally painstaking research into early 20th Century London is evident in the authoritative descriptions of locations such as the Lyceum Theater that bring the setting vividly to life. Real people of the time show up, including boozing stage legend John Barrymore — and, surprisingly, Bram Stoker himself!

TOO WISE TO LIVE? Dr. Van Helsing (Everett Sloane) had the will power to resist Dracula in the 1931 Bela Lugosi movie.

Yet despite the loving attention to detail, Dracula the Un-Dead is not slavishly true to the original in that it inverts Dracula’s nature, reimagining him as a Byronic hero rather than a monster. In a sense, the book is not a sequel to Dracula as Bram Stoker told the story so much as a sequel to the story as DRACULA would have told it. (It made me think of the kids’ book My Side of the Story, in which Sleeping Beauty is retold from the witch Maleficent’s perspective.)

MR. NICE GUY? Dracula (portrayed by Gary Oldman in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”) saw himself as a romantic hero misunderstood by medding male mortals.

In turning the Victorian worldview upside down Dracula the Un-Dead is likely quite different from the sequel Bram Stoker would have written. But who cares? Do we really need another follow-up to Dracula that carries forward the plot on its trajectory in an easily anticipated way? We’ve already seen movies and comics in which Mina’s son Quincy Harker is an elderly hero waging a crusade against the undead.

Here instead Quincy is a naïve young aspiring actor who puts his dreams of stage success above all else and fawns over his idol Basarab. (Quincy is so clueless he makes Jimmy Olsen look like Albert Einstein). That’s only the first of many surprises the book offers. Co-author Holt is a screenwriter and the fast-paced, action-packed novel is perfectly suited for a movie adaptation.

IN PAST follow-ups in comic books and movies, Quincy Harker is often a gutsy old vampire slayer.

I asked Dacre whether the Stoker clan was still living off “all the Dracula money.” He gave a wistful smile and said no. Sadly, he explained, the family lost the U.S. copyright to Dracula through a clerical error early on and it’s been in the public domain ever since. They haven’t been paid a dime by Hollywood since the 1931 Bela Lugosi movie and unlike the kin of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs, have had no control over the wildy popular character and his many — often embarrassingly stupid — incarnations. One of Dacre’s goals was to reclaim Dracula for his family.

“I think Bram would be proud that a family member has taken this initiative and finally done justice to the legacy he created,” he writes in the afterward.

IN THE BLOOD: Dacre Stoker, great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker with C. Michael Forsyth, author of Hour of the Beast, at the Horror Writers Association convention.

IN A RELATED STORY…

PRISON life becomes even more hellish when a vampire epidemic erupts in a women's prison.

PRISON life becomes even more hellish when a vampire epidemic erupts in a women’s prison.


*********************************************************************************************************

I’m excited to announce the launch of my first graphic novel, Night Cage! The premise of the horror story is simple: Vampires take over a women’s prison. Just imagine Orange is the New Black meets Salem’s Lot.

The project is being funded through Kickstarter. Folks who jump on the bandwagon will get a boatload of goodies and rewards, ranging from advance copies of the book and exclusive art, posters and T-shirts to a chance to be drawn into the graphic novel as a character!

Please check out the video out HERE, and share the news with all your social media friends!

PRISONERS fight for survival against a bloodthirsty army of the undead in the graphic novel Night Cage.

PRISONERS fight for survival against a bloodthirsty army of the undead in the graphic novel Night Cage.

ON THE HOUR OF THE BEAST FRONT…

I attended Dragon*con 2012 in Atlanta to promote my horror novel Hour of the Beast and pick up tips on independent filmmaking. Some great panels on subjects ranging from movie pre-production and distribution to the future of black science fiction. The highlight was Stan Lee talking to a packed ballroom. The comic-industry giant is feisty as ever, his brain still bubbling with creativity. Of course, I didn’t completely ignore the gazillion gals in skimpy costumes. Some were marvelously imaginative, others not so much. You’d think a guy would never get tired of seeing women in that barely-there bandage getup from “The Fifth Element,” but after number 30, I did!

STAN THE MAN

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN

SHREK’S GAL

LADY IN RED

The author of this article also wrote the acclaimed horror novel Hour of the Beast. In the opening chapter, a bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. Then things get out of hand.

Hour of the Beast is available in hardcover and softcover at Amazon.com. But you can save $4 by clicking HERE! The Kindle version is just $7 and the Ebook is a measly $5. Be the first on your block to read this bone-chilling tale — before the motion picture hits the big screen.

LADY OF LAKE GIVES PRINCE WILLIAM EXCALIBUR ON HONEYMOON TRIP   Leave a comment

Only a rightful heir to the British throne can wield Excalibur

By C. Michael Forsyth

LONDON — Newly wed Prince William received an unexpected wedding gift while on his honeymoon in the Seychelles — when a mysterious female hand emerged from the sea and handed him King Arthur’s sword Excalibur!

Three highly respected members of the Royal entourage — all members of Britain’s oldest families — swear “upon our honor as English gentlemen” that they witnessed the startling scene on the secluded beach.

“Prince William was resting in a hammock, sipping a pina colada with an umbrella in it, while Kate lay on a beach towel nearby working on an all-over tan,” says a member of the Royal couple’s tight-knit inner circle. “All of a sudden a spot in the water began to bubble and we heard eerie music, like a siren’s song. A seaweed-covered hand with long, delicate fingers came out of the water and beckoned with her index finger.

“One Royal bodyguard dove for a box of hand grenades on which a fruit platter rested, while the rest of us cowered in terror — except the Prince. He strode boldy toward the water and said in a stern voice, ‘Who goes there? As an heir to the throne of England I command you to show yourself.’

“The hand disappeared into the water for a moment like ‘Thing’ in that old American TV show ‘The Addams Family.’ When it reappeared it was holding a magnificent jeweled sword with writing in ancient runes on the side. We all gasped because we knew at once what it was. Prince William waded into the surf and fearlessly grasped the sword by the hilt. Then the hand vanished into the sea.”

TRANQUIL Seychelle Islands were setting for amazing drama for Prince William and bride Kate Middleton.

Experts in Arthurian lore say that Excalibur may only be wielded by a rightful heir to the crown and that it resurfaces only when Britain faces grave peril.

“We do not know what that peril shall be,” says Graham Whittlesbury, a leading Arthurian scholar. “There is enormous turmoil in the Middle East right now. Perhaps a threat will emerge from among the Muslims and Prince William will be called upon to lead a New Crusade to liberate the Holy Land.

“The British Isles may be faced new outbreak of the Black Plague or there might be another Potato Famine. We only know that with Excalibur in hand as a symbol of goodness and might, Prince William shall defend England from whatever danger arises.”

Young Arthur proves himself the rightful heir to the throne by pulling the mystical sword from a stone.

Excalibur is the most famous weapon in history. Called Caledfwlch in Welsh legends, it first appears in Arthurian lore as the Sword in the Stone. Buried to the hilt in an enormous boulder, it could only be pulled free by the rightful king of all England. Nobleman after nobleman tried and failed, but young Arthur succeeded — and became England’s greatest king.

King Arthur received Excalibur from the mysterious Lady of the Lake, according to legend.

The legendary sword was misplaced during a move, when King Arthur set up shop in his newly built castle Camelot. He was upset by the loss of the mystical symbol of good, but at that point all his knights’ efforts were going into the search for the Holy Grail, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth in his 12th-century work Historia Regum Britanniae. Years later, when Camelot faced a morale crisis, the mysterious hand appeared in a lake and returned Excalibur to Arthur.

“The Lady of the Lake has been identified as a Celtic water spirit named Nimue,” notes Whittlesbury.

Excalibur was by no means Arthur’s only weapon. Welsh tradition speaks of a dagger named Carnwennan and a spear named Rhongomyniad that belonged to him. He was also never without a migwrn pres (Welsh for brass knuckles) named Phillip that he kept in his left boot.

Beyond its symbolic value in rallying the knights of the Round Table, Excalibur was said to have extraordinary supernatural powers. Chief among these, the glimmering blade could blind the bearer’s enemies.

In Le Morte d’Arthur, Sir Thomas Malory writes, “It was so breyght in his enemyes eyen that it gaf light lyke thirty torchys.”

The magic sword vanished with Arthur’s death. It has only resurfaced a few times in history — always when England is in grave danger. In 1588, the island nation faced invasion from the Spanish Armada, the largest fleet ever assembled.

“Queen Elizabeth I found Excalibur in a well in her country retreat, Hampton Court,” reveals Whittlebury. “She brandished it as she ordered Sir Francis Drake and her other sea captains to ‘destroy our enemies before they ever reach England’s shores.’ ”

In June 1940, with most of continental Europe already conquered, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi hordes were massing for an all-out invasion of Britain. Prime Minister Winston Churchill had been told grimly by his generals that victory was impossible and surrender was the only option to prevent massive civilian casualties.

“Plans had already been drafted for the installation of a Vichy-style puppet government, along the lines of the one in occupied France,” reveals historian John Hetworth, author of Sir Winston Churchill and the Undelivered Speech. “RAF pilots and other military personnel were to report to internment camps and London bobbies were to be ordered to round up English Jews to be meekly turned over to the Germans.

“All blonde, blue-eyed, female members of the aristocracy were to be whisked away to ‘breeding centers’ to mate with SS officers and beef up Hitler’s Master Race.”

V FOR VICTORY: Sir Winston Churchill was England's greatest Prime Minister


On June 4, Churchil was walking along the banks of the Thames River, grimly rehearsing the speech he was to give on the radio that night, announcing his resignation and the British surrender, and telling the English people to ready themselves for occupation.

“Unfortunately for historians, only a few lines of Churchill’s intended speech are known to us,” says Hetworth. “The most familiar is, ‘The sun must set on every empire. It set on Rome, and tonight it sets on Britain.’ ”

As Churchill morosely mumbled these words to himself, he saw something that made the cigar fall from his mouth.

“Excalibur rose from the Thames, gleaming in the sunlight,” says the historian. “A few moments later it vanished, but Churchill took it as a sign.”

That night, before Parliament, instead of surrendering he issued a defiant speech, uttering the immortal words, “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Hitler, who’d been told by English diplomats to expect the Brits to knuckle under that night, was furious. He’d been planning to go on the radio five minutes after Churchill and crow about the British surrender to the German people.

“He felt betrayed,” says Hetworth.

Researchers know of only one more time that the sword appeared to a leader before now. Aides to Margaret Thatcher remember that seeing the legendary weapon arise from her bath water inspired England’s “Iron Lady” to rally British forces in their successsful war to keep South America’s Falkland Islands forever a free and proud part of the British Empire.

That the Lady of the Lake gave Excalibur to Prince William instead of his father Prince Charles is significant, experts say. Some have suggested this validates the sentiment of many citizens that the kingship should leap frog over the unpopular Charles and pass directly to his more handsome and better-liked son.

Referring to legends that date back to antiquity, some scholars suggest that the fact that Excalibur “chose” Prince William proves that he is actually a reincarnation of King Arthur himself.

Said Whittlebury, “That would mean that Arthur — the ‘Once and Future King’ of legend — is here to save the day as England faces what could be her deadliest threat ever.”

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth

MEANWHILE, ON THE HOUR OF THE BEAST FRONT…

Hour of the Beast is "the scariest werewolf novel since The Howling."

Check out the bone-chilling Hour of the Beast.

On the weekend of June 17, I attended the Horror Writers Association’s annual Bram Stoker Weekend, to promote my novel Hour of the Beast and soak up wisdom at the feet of industry insiders. Had the chance to hobnob with horror icons like Peter Straub.

A cool treat was getting to hang out with Dacre Stoker, great-grandnephew of Bram, the author of Dracula. A gracious, gentlemanly fellow South Carolinian, he’s co-author of The Undead, a sequel to Dracula that features Bram himself as a character. Lending the book a unique authenticity, Dacre draws upon family lore and Bram’s original notes for Dracula, including a detective character Bram created who didn’t make it into the classic novel. I asked Dacre if the family is still coasting on Dracula money. Sadly, no — it’s long gone, he says.

IN THE BLOOD: With Dacre Stoker, great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker.

Speaking of impressive horror pedigrees, Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King and an acclaimed horror writer in his own right, attended the annual Bram Stoker Awards banquet. Accepting an award on behalf of his famous father, he said, “My dad wanted me to tell you, ‘You’re a pack of sick @#!*% .’ ”

CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK: Horror writer Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King.

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