A little “apology” for this interview before we get started:
When my buddy Ed Erdelac
started talking about his new book
(originally entitled "Van Helsing in Texas", which was awesome!), my
ears perked right up. Of course, it’s me: I love all things monster hunter. Ed
and I talked and I offered, as I usually do, to have him stop by the blog for
an interview. He agreed and I immediately purchased a copy of the e-book at
JournalStone Publishing’s website
. I dove right in and was at once captivated
by the tale of Van Helsing’s tragic adventures following the close of Bram
Stoker’s original Dracula
novel. This thing is a direct sequel, a really great
approach that Ed seemed to get right when so many others had done it wrong.
But, the more I read, the more I felt very unsettled by the prose. Much like
Stoker’s original, this book is split up into supposed diary entries of the
great Monster Hunter himself, as well as newspaper articles and whatnot. They
were just so detailed and I marveled at the care Ed had gone to in creating
these fictional documents. I’ve always known Ed to be a history buff and he
excels at making you feel like you’ve got your very own time-traveling
DeLorean, but, in Terovolas
, Ed managed to really outdo himself. The things he
described in the book, though, were so vivid, that it really stayed with me
after I put my Nook down. I wrote him and told him as much and that’s when he
let me in on the big secret: He didn’t write it. He, in fact, claims he only
compiled it from Van Helsing’s notes—the real
At first I responded “Rad!” and left it at that, figuring Ed
was just being geeky, but the more we talked about it, the more I realized that
he was serious. Or, at least, thinks he’s serious. He spelled out the whole
account of how he stumbled upon the real Abraham Van Helsing’s papers and began
compiling them. I listened intently, at first intrigued, then growing more and
more bothered. I hesitantly asked Ed if he intended on telling the reading
public what he told me. He said he was considering it, and I told him not to. I
still wasn’t convinced he wasn’t just trying to pull off some lame publicity
stunt and I thought it was kind of weird.
Then, lo, he posted his entire first-person account on his
blog just a few weeks ago.
I wrote him back and told him I didn’t think that was a good
idea. I also wasn’t so sure I wanted to interview him anymore to be honest, but
Ed’s really been there for me, pulling for me in my career, so as a friend, I
decided to treat him the same. So, here’s our interview, for better or worse,
pieced together from a number of back-and-forth e-mails. After compiling it, I
debated posting it, as it gets pretty intense and, above all, I don’t want you
to think ill of Ed Erdelac. I tried to steer the interview towards ambiguous
waters, treating the work as fiction, but, well…you’ll see. I guess there’s no
such thing as bad publicity, right? So here we go:
* * *
Greg Mitchell: Thanks for stopping by, Ed! Your new book Terovolas just came out from
JournalStone Publishing! Tell us about it.
Ed Erdelac: Thanks for having me, Greg! Terovolas
concerns the period of 1891, directly after the events of
Bram Stoker’s Dracula,
Abraham Van Helsing was checked into Dr. John Seward’s Purfleet Asylum
suffering from a bout of violent obsessive fantasies stemming from his killing
of the count’s three vampire brides. Seward diagnosed Van Helsing with
melancholic lycanthropea and treated him for a number of months. Upon his
release, and seeking some downtime, Van Helsing volunteered to bear the ashes
and personal effects of Quincey P. Morris (the Texan who died fighting Dracula)
back to the Morris family ranch in Soreftoot,
. He found Quincey’s
estranged brother Cole Morris involved in an escalating land war with a
neighboring outfit of Norwegian cattle ranchers led by a charismatic man named
Sig Skoll. When a few residents and animals started turning up horribly
slaughtered, Van Helsing began to suspect a supernatural force was at work, but
worried it was the delusions of his previously disordered mind returning.
I’ve got to point out that this is not a work of fiction.
It’s a true account culled from some of the same source documents Stoker used
in writing Dracula
, chief among them,
Van Helsing’s personal journal, which Seward translated and compiled along with
an array of substantiating documentation from contemporary primary sources
including the diaries of Sorefoot Picayune editor and founder Alvin Crooker,
and local horse trader Aurelius Firebaugh among others. I’ve hunted down
archived copies of some of these accounts, especially the relevant old articles
from the Picayune, thanks to the historical society in Bastrop
I don’t want to take up a lot of space here with how I came
into the possession of these documents. Those interested can read my own post
about it here
GM: I understand your original working title was “Van Helsing
which I thought was awesome, if not a little campy (though that probably made
it even more awesome). Why the switch?
EE: Believe it or not, the publisher told me the name Van
Helsing wasn’t bankable and was played out. It baffles me that they thought an
obscure Arcadian Greek surname was more evocative. The funny thing is, I’ve
heard similar things a dozen or more times from agents and publishers I shopped
the manuscript around to. ‘We love this, but we wouldn’t know what to do with
I jokingly referred to it as ‘The Van Helsing Curse’ to my
wife, but taking into consideration it’s taken me fifteen years to get this
book published and the fact that Van Helsing was cursed at least a half a dozen
times (perhaps most memorably and potently by a Zulu umthakathi yemithi, who, as part of the curse, told Van Helsing that
his life would go ‘unremembered by man’
in 1878 or so), I’ve come to believe there’s something to it.
Or maybe it’s something else. I hate to use the word
conspiracy because I fully understand the negative connotations. I don’t want
to say much about that. I don’t want to come off as a nutcase.
GM: You take a really interesting approach to this book
that’s markedly different from your previous works, in that it’s built as a
non-fictional document. Did you find that type of formatting difficult?
EE: Well Greg, as I’ve told you, it is
real. The ironic part of the whole thing is that this has been
the easiest book I’ve ever ‘written’ in terms of format, because Seward had
basically assembled the relevant documents into a publishable form and was
shopping it around the world in the 30’s. Only his death in the London
bombings by the
Luftwaffe stopped him from publishing the book himself.
Again, I’d urge your readers to take a look at the account
on my blog.
GM: Okay, okay, ha ha, let’s be serious for a second. Don’t you
think this whole “It’s real!” thing is going a little far? What if people start
taking you seriously?
EE: If people start taking me (and Dr. Van Helsing) seriously,
only then have I gone far enough,
Greg. And I really wish you’d start
taking this seriously.
I don’t know, maybe something of Dr. Seward’s spirit clings
to these documents, or maybe it’s Van Helsing’s, but I feel sometimes as if
they’re at my shoulder, urging me on, even when I’ve shoved it in the corner of
a closet (long before I realized I needed to store the papers more securely)
and tried to forget it. Every book I’ve written, every bit of fiction, The Van
Helsing Papers always nag at the back of my mind.
I really think I need to get them out there before my own
time’s up. Maybe if I don’t, my own ghost will wind up sitting on this old box
of papers with the unquiet spirits of Van Helsing and Seward.
GM: But even working by your own logic, you go to great
lengths to talk about how producing Dracula
ruined the lives of Van Helsing and Seward. Why would you, therefore, do the
same thing? People are going to think you’ve got a warped sense of reality.
EE: Van Helsing definitely learned his lesson from the
controversy surrounding Dracula
That’s why he asked Seward not to publish his papers until a year after his
death. I can’t imagine why Seward didn’t decide to leave the papers to someone
else with the same stipulation considering he’s mentioned several times
throughout the documents in conjunction with events far more fantastic and
difficult for the layman to believe than what was put forth by Bram Stoker.
Maybe he had given up on his professional clout. He was never very well
respected, and after Purfleet closed and his wife was killed in the Battersea
Railway crash, I think he was resolved to see the documents published and the
hell with what anybody thought. Seward was very devoted to his wife. It was
years before he even thought about courting anyone after what happened to Lucy
Westenra, and it took a special woman to draw him out again. I think when she
was killed so suddenly, it put his mind in a very careless place.
And don’t worry about my sense of reality. If anything, it’s
clearer than it ever was.
GM: Just for the sake of argument, let’s say that you are
absolutely right. Ed, you and I have talked about this—if this is real, if
creatures like Dracula and the wolf-men in Terovolas are real, you are putting
your family in actual danger. That’s my biggest concern. Haven’t you thought
about what this will do to them?
EE: Oh, I don’t think there’s much danger to my family to be had
from anything in Dracula or Terovolas. I think history has dropped a
sufficient pallor of dust on the parties involved to protect them from
scrutiny. We’re talking about people and beings who have had what? Over a hundred
and twenty years to cover their tracks?
But you do bring up an interesting point. If they ever see
the light of day, there are individuals and organizations mentioned elsewhere
in The Van Helsing Papers (and I’ve talked to you privately about some
of these, Greg, without naming actual names, I want to add) that may still be
around, and may have a definite problem with their activities being brought to
light. Let’s just say I’m taking precautions.
GM: It just smacks of cheap sensationalism to me. You could
have easily released this book and not told anyone that it was “a true story”,
and you’d probably be hailed as the next bestseller, but you instead “revealed”
this whole behind-the-scenes story. Are you that starved for attention that you
would put your family in harm’s way for a book?
EE: I hardly expect Terovolas will be a bestseller considering
the forces allied against it, and the powers that will probably seek to
suppress it. I’m really surprised JournalStone has had the gumption to do it,
and I applaud Christopher Payne and Norm Rubenstein for taking a chance on it,
though I suspect that they, like you, are choosing to overlook my claims as some
kind of artsy eccentricity.
I could have put Terovolas
out the same way Stoker did Dracula,
and done the usual blog
posts and book signings, tweets and banal Facebook solicitations, same as I’ve
done with my Merkabah Rider
and all my other work. But I’d be doing Van Helsing and Seward a disservice if
I didn’t reveal the whole truth. I really wish these papers had fallen into the
hands of a Stephen Ambrose or I don’t know, Ken Burns or somebody. But
unfortunately for Van Helsing, they came to a guy who writes ghoulie stories. I
can’t change that.
And believe me, the kind of attention The Van Helsing Papers could potentially generate, I don’t want.
You know this, Greg.
GM: I can’t support you in this, Ed. You’re treading a
dangerous line for something as tawdry as sales. You really should be ashamed
of yourself. You’re either a liar at best or a plagiarist at worst and I
expected more from you. I’m here for you, bro, but I can’t stand by you in
this. I’ve got my own family to think about. I’m sorry, man.
EE: I totally understand your position, and I want you to know
I’m not angry. I guess technically I must be a plagiarist, slapping my name on
the diligent work of a better man (and certainly a more learned man) than I am,
but if I’m a liar, it can only be because all I know is a lie. And my research
has led me to believe that I don’t think it is.
Also, I know the type of person you are, and I suspect that
if you were in my place, knowing what I know, you would be doing the same
thing. I hope you’ll still consider publishing this interview, and telling your
readers about the book. Yes, everything
about the book. Don’t worry about me coming off as a whack job or a liar. The
only thing that matters is that the book finds its way to the people who will
recognize the truth when they read it. If you shake your head at me telling you
to do it for Van Helsing, then do it for me.
* * *
There you have it, folks. I suppose all I can do at this point is direct you to Ed's controversial book Terovolas and let you decide for yourself. But, please, read it at your own risk.