Sunday 9 August 2015

GUEST POST: Confessions of my Past, Present and Future #6 - J.D. Barker

Confessions of my Past, Present and Future



The Past

So… Many people don’t know this about me but I started my professional writing career with non-fiction, and not the good kind. Although I wrote fiction as a child, as I entered adulthood and had to pay bills I began writing for magazines. I’d love to say these publications included the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, or other high-brow fodder but that wasn’t the case.

My first writing assignment was with a magazine called 25th Parallel where I worked alongside the man who would later become Marilyn Manson. From there I moved on to Teen Beat, Seventeen, and others. I interviewed everyone from Tiffany to Debbie Gibson, New Kids on the Block, Bon Jovi, Skid Row and many others. While this was a fun time in my life, I found writing non-fiction to feel like work and quickly lost interest. It became a job, nothing more.

Then I picked up a book called Second Child by John Saul.

There was something about the paperback cover that just grabbed me. I carried it with me (for the Kindle was just a gleam in Bezos’ eye at this point) and read it whenever life offered a few moments to escape. I’m not sure if it was the story itself - a girl who moves to a small ocean-side town with a haunted secret - or the writing, but the moment I finished that book, I started over and read it again.

Shortly after, I rediscovered my love of fiction and began spinning my own tales again. John Saul is a tremendous talent and I went on to read all his books. He seems to have slipped into semi-retirement – website and social media haven’t been updated in some time and I haven’t heard anything regarding a new book but even if he never puts pen to paper again, he has left quite a legacy behind. If you are a fan of horror/suspense, I encourage you to check out his work.

The Present

I read…a lot. On average, three to five books per week (including audio versions which accompany me whenever I’m in the car or out exercising). Not sure if you’ve heard the latest news on the Barker writing front but I’ve been asked to co-author a prequel to Dracula with Dacre Stoker (Bram’s great grand-nephew). The Stoker family has uncovered a treasure throve of material from Bram never before seen by the public and I believe it could change everything we know about Dracula and vampires. He even provides the actual location of Dracula’s castle (latitude and longitude) and it’s not where people think.

As a result of this project, I’ve been reading anything related to Dracula I can get my hands on. I just finished the original Dracula yesterday and confirmed a fact that popped out at me when reviewing Bram’s notes – within the novel, there is no mention of Vlad Tepes. In fact, he wasn’t included in Bram’s story at all. I’ve since learned this tie-in was added by Hollywood for a film production in 1953.

Bram details the origins of Dracula in his journals and it’s a very different story than the one we know. In addition, the original manuscript (now owned by Microsoft’s Paul Allen) starts at page 102 even though the text is consistent with the published novel – what happened to the first hundred pages? Many believe they were the basis for a short story called Dracula’s Guest but Bram treated this story as a separate entity in his notes, this leads me to believe the first hundred pages are unrelated to the short and were cut – what did they really contain? As I dig deeper into Bram’s notes, it’s becoming clear the missing pages detailed Dracula’s true origin and somebody didn’t want them in the finished book.

The original Dracula preface (recently discovered in the Icelandic translation) includes the following:

“I am quite convinced that there is no doubt whatever that the events here described really took place, however unbelievable and incomprehensible they might appear at first sight.”

This too was cut from most of the published editions, Bram snuck it into this edition with the help of a friend in publishing. We’re having a lot of fun with this.
Dracula is a classic. The novel itself is a fun read and masterfully written. The entire book is comprised of journal entries, newspaper articles, ship logs, and recordings organized by Mina Harker. I read this as a kid and was thrilled at the opportunity to revisit it.

I can’t wait to write the prequel and share everything we’ve found.

The Future

What will I be reading in 2045? That’s a tough question. Probably the latest works by Stephen King’s clone and hopefully a book or two by one of my kids.

I’m curious as to how we’ll be reading in 2045 – the last decade introduced e-readers; what technology will we have thirty years from now? If you could “download” a book directly into your brain, would you? What if you could experience the book in a virtual environment? Maybe pick a character and become them, actually live the story… there’s no telling.

Regardless of what the future has to offer, I’ll most likely be reading as I do today; just kick back in my favorite chair with the hardcover and simply enjoy getting lost within the pages.

You can read my review of Forsaken by J.D. Barker here.

You can buy any of the books mentioned in this feature here:

Amazon UK

You can watch J.D.'s verrrry creepy promotional video here!

The following is from the official press release for the prequel to Dracula that J.D. is involved in. Exciting stuff!

Prequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula to be written by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker.

Both authors are available for comment. Additional information can be found at:

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is arguably one of the greatest horror novels ever written. It has stood the test of time and found life through countless generations. It has been translated into forty-four languages, sold millions of copies worldwide, and inspired more than three hundred films.

What if the book we know today was not the book Bram Stoker submitted to his publisher in 1897?

Dacre Stoker has dedicated the last ten years of his life to researching his family’s legacy. He has pored through documents both public and private in an attempt to piece together information on the man, his great-granduncle who wrote this epic tale, and the events that inspired it. In doing so, he has discovered a disturbing fact: Bram Stoker may have intended Dracula to serve as a warning, a glimpse of a very real evil.

The original Dracula preface (recently discovered in the Icelandic translation) includes the following:

“I am quite convinced that there is no doubt whatever that the events here described really took place, however unbelievable and incomprehensible they might appear at first sight.”

The Icelandic edition is not the only version containing alterations and inconsistencies. In 1980, a copy of the original manuscript was discovered, its pages revealing a different ending. The German, Italian, and French versions have numerous discrepancies from the original English. Are these variances errors in translation, or intentional? Could Bram have concealed a message within this altered text? We know he went to great lengths to plant the Islandic preface with the help of his friend, Hall Caine. What else might he have hidden?

“As I delved deeper into his writing, particularly his journals, it became increasingly clear that Bram meant for Dracula to be more than just entertainment,” Dacre explains. “There’s a message here and today’s technology provides the tools we need to decipher it. J.D. Barker and I plan to do just that.”

More information can be found at:

About The Authors

J.D. Barker

J.D. Barker is the international bestselling author of Forsaken (Hampton Creek Press, 2014). A finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Debut Novel, the expertly crafted tale twists both past and present into a fast-paced, suspenseful ride that leaves you hungry for more. His latest novel, The Fourth Monkey, is set to release early in 2016. He currently splits his time between Englewood, FL, and Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife, Dayna.

When asked about this project, Barker had this to say: “The information uncovered by Dacre is phenomenal. Bram Stoker truly believed vampires were real. As the world turns the last page of this book, we may find ourselves wondering if he was right.”

Dacre Stoker

As the official representative of the Bram Stoker Estate, Dacre Stoker travels the world with his compelling presentation, Stoker on Stoker. The presentation weaves together the details of Dracula’s history, Stoker family history, and Bram Stoker’s life in Dublin and London, then separates fact from popular fiction…revealing the truth about all things Stoker and Dracula. Stoker is the co-author of the bestselling novel Dracula the Un-Dead (Dutton, 2009) and Bram Stoker’s Lost Journal (Robson Press, 2012), a nonfiction book based on Stoker’s unpublished personal journal found in an attic on the Isle of Wight. He currently lives in South Carolina with his wife and children.

Complete Icelandic Edition Preface

“The reader of this story will very soon understand how the events outlined in these pages have been gradually drawn together to make a logical whole. Apart from excising minor details which I considered unnecessary, I have let the people involved relate their experiences in their own way; but, for obvious reasons, I have changed the names of the people and places concerned. In all other respects I leave the manuscript unaltered, in deference to the wishes of those who have considered it their duty to present it before the eyes of the public. I am quite convinced that there is no doubt whatever that the events here described really took place, however unbelievable and incomprehensible they might appear at first sight. And I am further convinced that they must always remain to some extent incomprehensible, although continuing research in psychology and natural sciences may, in years to come, give logical explanations of such strange happenings which, at present, neither scientists nor the secret police can understand. I state again that this mysterious tragedy which is here described is completely true in all its external respects, though naturally I have reached a different conclusion on certain points than those involved in the story. But the events are incontrovertible, and so many people know of them that they cannot be denied. This series of crimes has not yet passed from the memory – a series of crimes which appear to have originated from the same source, and which at the same time created as much repugnance in people everywhere as the murders of Jack the Ripper, which came into the story a little later. Various people’s minds will go back to the remarkable group of foreigners who for many seasons together played a dazzling part in the life of the aristocracy here in London; and some will remember that one of them disappeared suddenly without apparent reason, leaving no trace. All the people who have willingly – or unwillingly – played a part in this remarkable story are known generally and well respected. Both Jonathan Harker and his wife (who is a woman of character) and Dr. Seward are my friends and have been so for many years, and I have never doubted that they were telling the truth; and the highly respected scientist, who appears here under a pseudonym, will also be too famous all over the educated world for his real name, which I have not desired to specify, to be hidden from people – least of all those who have from experience learnt to value and respect his genius and accomplishments, though they adhere to his views on life no more than I. But in our times it ought to be clear to all serious-thinking men that “there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Bram Stoker

J.D. Barker holds a B.A. in English from Beaumont University and currently lives in Shadow Cove, Massachusetts where he is hard at work on his latest novel.

You can see more of J.D. at his website.

J.D.’s author page can be found here.

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