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Book details
  • Genre:TRAVEL
  • SubGenre:Essays & Travelogues
  • Language:English
  • Pages:200
  • eBook ISBN:9780953145522

Digging for Dracula

by John Sean Hillen

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Overview

Carla Laemmle, niece of the founder of Universal Studios, who was the first person to ever speak in a Dracula ‘talking’ movie and who lived on the actual movie lot for a number of years; Bela Lugosi Junior, son of one of the big screen's most well-known character vampires; Jeanne Youngson, wife of an Academy award-winning producer and director, who established the first-ever (maybe the only) Dracula Museum, in New York; Forrest Ackerman, sadly departed, the world's foremost collector of artifacts horror and fantasy and originator of the sexily-clad vampirellas; Vincent Hillyer, a former California almond farmer once married to the sister of the Shah of Iran as well as to Milly Vitale, a prominent Italian actress, who offered $10,000 to anyone who could bring him a vampire and had two doctors lined up to verify the find - these are just some of the colorful, larger-than-life characters Sean Hillen met during his search for the origins of Dracula. Not to mention a midnight meeting in the ruins of Vlad the Impaler's castle, deep within the rugged mountains of Wallachia, Romania.

Description

Carla Laemmle, niece of the founder of Universal Studios, who was the first person to ever speak in a Dracula ‘talking’ movie and who lived on the actual movie lot for many years; Bela Lugosi Junior, son of one of the big screen's most well-known character vampires; Jeanne Youngson, wife of an Academy award-winning producer and director, who established the first-ever (maybe the only) Dracula Museum, in New York; Forrest Ackerman, sadly departed, the world's foremost collector of horror and fantasy artifacts and originator of the sexily-clad vampirellas; Vincent Hillyer, a former California almond farmer once married to the sister of the Shah of Iran as well as to Milly Vitale, a prominent Italian actress, who offered $10,000 to anyone who could bring him a vampire and had two doctors lined up to verify the find - these are just some of the colorful, larger-than-life characters Sean Hillen met during his search for the origins of Dracula. Not to mention a midnight meeting in the ruins of Vlad the Impaler's castle, deep within the rugged mountains of Wallachia, Romania. And as this year (2012) marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Bram Stoker, it seems a most appropriate time to re-issue Sean’s travelogue, ‘DIGGING FOR DRACULA,’ for the first time in e-book form. Initially published as a creative ‘book-in-a-coffin’ concept in Dublin in 1997, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first ever publication of the best-selling novel (see www.diggingfordracula.com), re-issuing it in electronic format now during this particular centenary seems doubly appropriate. While not professing to be an ‘expert on vampiric issues, Sean was fortunate enough to be foreign correspondent for the The Times newspaper, London, during most of the 1990s in Romania. In fact, he traveled there before the fall of Communism to write about developments in that beguiling Latin-Balkan nation. So it was in his capacity as foreign correspondent that he attended the unique, week-long ‘World Congress of Dracula’ event in Bucharest, out of which the kernel for the idea of ‘DIGGING FOR DRACULA’ first emerged. To him, a native of Ireland, former medical correspondent in the US-cum-war correspondent-in-Europe, that event was an eye-opener – one that led him to write more news stories in a single week on a single subject for The Times than he had ever written before, including an editorial. The characters he met during that particular week were colorful, multi-faceted and extremely engaging. ‘DIGGING FOR DRACULA’ is therefore dedicated to them, and people like them, audacious souls who dared to take such an esoteric subject as ‘vampirism’ - before it became de rigueur and the basis for so many university courses worldwide – and made it their own. Take a peek inside ‘DIGGING FOR DRACULA’ and learn about these larger-than-life characters that Sean met on his intriguing search across different continents trying to uncover the true meaning of Dracula: from the ruins of Vlad the Impaler’s castle in Arefu, Walachia, to the offices of Bela Lugosi Jr. in the hills of Hollywood where billions of dollars have been made in celluloid depictions of the classic vampiric character. Enjoy the journey and in the words of the Regal Count, “Come freely, go safely and leave some of the happiness you bring.” Final note: The fact that Sean is now married to a wonderful lady from Transylvania indicates just how entranced he became in the subject.

About the author

Medical and war correspondent, editor, publisher, media professor and coach and public speaker for more than 30 years. Born in west Belfast, northern Ireland, Sean worked for various local and national Irish newspapers including the Andersonstown News, Belfast Telegraph, The Irish Times and Irish Independent in Dublin as well as the BBC and Time magazine, before emigrating to the United States where he worked at the United Nations Media Center in New York and in the American print and broadcast media in the Midwest. Based on post-graduate qualifications he obtained in medical writing in London, Sean became full-time health correspondent for a number of years for a prominent US regional daily, The Kansas City Times. Interestingly, for a brief period before becoming medical correspondent, he held the very same night reporting position - aka the murder beat - on this Missouri-based daily as did a celebrated predecessor, a certain Ernest Miller Hemingway. Sean's work has also appeared in publications such as American Medical News, the official newspaper of the American Medical Association in Chicago, The American Nurse, national magazine of the American Nurses Association, and Hospital and Health Networks, flagship publication of the American Hospital Association. Sean won many journalism awards for his reporting, including regional and national science and health reporting awards. He left the Midwest for post-Communist Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990 to establish the first journalism schools in Romania as a volunteer with the Human Rights League. He remained there for almost 20 years, becoming foreign correspondent for The Times, London, and The Daily Telegraph. He also worked with international development agencies such as the United Nations Development Fund and the United States Agency for International Development on various media projects, with newspapers and magazines as well as non-profit groups. While there, Sean also became board member and chairperson of the US Fulbright Commission. Sean then established an independent national media and events company in Romania, including an overnight news service and a weekly business newspaper, and received national awards directly from His Excellency, Traian Basescu, President of Romania, for tackling corruption through investigative articles and for launching the nation’s first-ever Corporate Citizen Awards. Meanwhile, he purchased a house in the picturesque rural, Gaeilge-speaking coastal region of Gaoth Dobhair, Donegal, in northwestern Ireland. Together with his Transylvanian wife, Columbia, he moved to live there in December 2008 to enjoy what he terms “a refreshing, non-polluted environment offering a delightful haven of peace and tranquility to read, write, hike and sail among the islands.” Aside from “Digging for Dracula” - best described as “an informative, light-hearted intra-country travelogue” - Sean has written several books on journalism and media and public relations training and is now attempting his first novel.

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