Author’s Note 1 – Carmilla: A Mysterious and Deadly Guest

August 2014

Thank you for reading Carmilla: A Mysterious and Deadly Guest (formerly Prelude To Dracula).

Edit: April 2017. The original subtitle was changed because people expected much more of Dracula in the novella than there was. I had used Dracula in the original subtitle because I was alluding to the fact that Carmilla would be making an appearance in my revision of Dracula, not that he would be a major character in this work. So, I later changed the subtitle to A Mysterious and Deadly Guest.

I have sought to preserve the authenticity of the original story by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, while reinvigorating it with new content and language. I hope that you are pleased with the result.

I have made a few noteworthy changes.

First, the ending is radically different. I very much enjoyed most of the Le Fanu’s story, but the original ending seemed a let-down. In the original, Le Fanu’s character of Vordenburg (which I changed to Van Helsing), arrives at the graveyard, they open up the tomb, kill Carmilla, and then there’s a bit of explanation about how vampires work. Thus, the final few chapters are mostly my creation. With all the changes and the new content, the story is considerably longer than the original.

Second, the original story was published 27 years before Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In fact, Carmilla was one of the inspirations for the latter. Indeed, you will notice certain similarities between the two. As I was already involved in a similar renovation of Dracula when I discovered Carmilla, I decided to adapt Carmilla to fit Bram Stoker’s universe. Thus, the character of Laura becomes Lucy’s mother, and she and her father return to Whitby at the end of this version of Carmilla, allowing the story to pick up a generation later when Dracula arrives in England. Also, Vordenburg changes to Abraham Van Helsing. Count Dracula himself makes an appearance, though he has little impact on the story itself.

Third, I have removed all traces of religion from the story. This wasn’t difficult as there was very little in the original and it had no impact on the story at all. I felt that Christian symbolism was something very much added to the vampire myth later in the twentieth century, most prominently only in America, and served no useful function. Also, the use of Christian mythos automatically excludes readers who are not Christian. That didn’t seem nice. I wanted to be more modern and inclusive. So I slightly altered the story to be pure fantasy with a scientific twist, universally appealing to readers of any belief system.

Fourth, I have tried hard to preserve a Victorian style while upgrading to a more modern use of language. The Victorian style can be quite unemotional, plain, and the word order and use of commas often slows the pace of reading to a crawl. I’ve reduced the use of passive voice, preferring more active voice. I have altered much word order and grammar and vocabulary. Hopefully, I’ve preserved the best of Le Fanu’s original sentences and ideas, while improving the flow and emotion of the work as a whole. With luck, you won’t even notice unless you put the two books side-by-side and compare one page to another to see how much difference there really is.

Fifth, I have added a number of internal links thanks to the modern ebook format. I had debated whether or not this spoiled the aesthetic, but the links do forward the reader to a number of definitions and interesting information that I think are worthwhile. Hopefully, readers are so used to links on the internet that the aesthetic isn’t too sullied. If you haven’t followed the links, I encourage you to do so now. There’s some really interesting stuff. Check the list on the next page.

Watch for a reinvigorated new version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, coming soon. 🙂