Edward M. Erdelac’s latest novel is set in 1891 after the events described in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Suffering the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Professor Abraham Van Helsing is diagnosed with melancholic lycanthropea. Following his release from Jack Seward’s Purfleet Asylum he travels to Surefoot, Texas to return the ashes and personal effects of Quincey Morris, a wealthy young Texan killed during the final battle with Dracula in Stoker’s novel.
During his train journey Van Helsing meets Madame Callisto Terovolas, a Greek lady of Arcadian descent who is also travelling to Texas to be wed to a Danish cattleman. Although delighted with her company Van Helsing can’t shake the feeling Madame Terovolas reminds him of Dracula’s wife.
Initially the educated and refined Van Helsing feels like a fish out of water in Texas and is greeted with cold indifference by Quincey’s brother Coleman Morris. When Sheriff Turlough and ranch foreman Early Searls are found butchered and mutilated Van Helsing’s thoughts turn to the dark, melancholy imaginings that he fears might be the result of a returning dementia.
Author Edward Erdelac discussed the reasoning behind incorporating Bram Stoker’s Abraham Van Helsing and werewolves into Terovolas.
“Dracula is a classic, and the titular character is pervasive in literature and pop culture to the point where he’s been romanticized. Lately there’s been a tendency to idealize the monsters. But for me, the more interesting character has always been Abraham Van Helsing. He’s often characterized as a fanatic or a lunatic, but I didn’t read him that way, and was always intrigued by him. Where did a respected professor learn so much about vampirism? He must’ve had a career before and after the events of Dracula, and he never struck me as a vampire hunter by trade, so much as circumstance. Van Helsing is easily as influential on the archetype of the paranormal investigator in fiction as Dracula is to the portrayal of the vampire, and I hate seeing him pigeon-holed in movies like Universal’s Van Helsing. I wanted to explore the rest of his life, and expand on the hints Stoker dropped about his origins.”
An interesting aspect of Erdelac’s novel is his use of framing each character within individual entries from journals and papers.
“I really admire and enjoy reading the found document framing device when it’s done well. I was definitely influenced by Nicholas Meyer’s Sherlock Holmes pastiches, The Seven Percent Solution and The West End Horror, and Eaters Of The Dead by Michael Chrichton, which was a huge inspiration. Also George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series and Richard Matheson’s The Memoirs Of Wild Bill Hickock. Daniel Keyes’ Flowers For Algernon probably had an early influence on me in terms of depicting character through voice. It was important to me that every entry, ever narrator have its own foibles, like the wolfer’s habit of deliberately omitting profanity in his writings (I got that from a lot of 19th/early 20th century books and primary accounts, most notably Booth Tarkington’s Penrod), or the newspaper writer’s incorrect word usage.
“Sabine Baring-Gould’s The Book Of Werewolves informed a lot of the werewolf lore (so much that it appears in the book), and taught me that silver weapons and silver bullets were solely a Curt Siodmak invention for The Wolfman. And of course Dracula and to a lesser extent Frankenstein, for the epistolary style. I first learned of Norse wolf berserkers from an old episode of the TV show Werewolf.”
Terovolas is a well written and entertaining read recommended for anyone with a passion for for vampire and werewolf lore.
Review and interview copyright Paul Green 2012. Published by JournalStone on November 16, 2012.