Today brings us Perry Lake and his new take on Mary Shelley’s classic, Frankenstein!
Once, a clever little boy named Victor dreamed of making things move and live. And when he grew up, he achieved his dream.
But the dream became the nightmare of Frankenstein…
Book one of THE FRANKENSTEIN CHRONICLES begin with Victor Frankenstein as a child, pondering the secrets of life and the mysteries of death. As he grows up, his researches lead him to the most amazing—and horrifying—creation of all time: a living Monster assembled from the dead!
Then, beginning at the very moment that Mary Shelley’s novel ends, we follow the Monster of Frankenstein on his epic quest, traveling across the world, seeking the means to do what his creator refused.
Alone… Hunted… Hounded… He will allow nothing to stop him.
These eleven stories tell of the Monster of Frankenstein’s quest to learn the secrets of his creation. Here he seeks out various eccentric scientists and mad doctors such as Adam Weishaupt—the founder of the Illuminati, Robert Knox (who employed the murderous duo of Burke and Hare to provide him with fresh corpses) and Andrew Crosse, a real-life researcher who created life in his laboratory. Along the way, the Monster encounters ghouls and witches, and is forced to battle monsters in the arena of death!
How long have you been writing horror/thrillers and what drew you to the genre?
I wrote my first horror story when I was still in High School. Naturally, it was about Dracula, and it appears (in a highly re-edited form) in my book, Dracula Arisen. But really, even as a very small child, like all children, I made up stories while playing with toy soldiers, GI Joes, Matchbox cars, or playing shoot-em-up with the neighborhood kids. They also had monster toys in those days, and those were the most fun to play with but I don’t think many of the other kids could get into the motivation of the mad scientist to create monsters from corpses or becoming an immortal nobleman who feasts on blood. “Kiss a girl on the neck?? Ewww!!”
I really cannot over-emphasize the effect that seeing Universal’s “House of Frankenstein” had on me at the impressionably early age of six. I suddenly discovered creatures nothing at all like humans: Frankenstein’s Monster, Count Dracula, and Larry Talbot the Wolf-Man. And they were all in the same movie together! Since then I’ve been in love with monsters—and I’ve always loved seeing them teamed-together. In the part of my mind that’s still six years old, the various monsters should always go together.
I often say, “Horror is my life”. It gets a laugh. My favorite horrors are monsters, and they’re especially plentiful this time of year. Excellent sources of monsters include Greek mythology, Lord of the Rings, the writings of Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, and HP Lovecraft, and television shows like Dark Shadows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek, and Doctor Who. Currently we have a glut of monster material, although very little of it is designed to be scary. This includes books, movies, television, and video games. Most of the truly scary stuff the last few years has been coming out of Asia, or remakes of Asian films (which are often based on Asian comic books).
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I subscribe to an idea-generating service. For $12 a month I get a new idea every day and twice on Sundays. Best deal I ever found on the Internet.
OK, seriously. Where do anyone’s ideas originate? They come from the mind, from the imagination, and from experience. Certainly, research has generated many specific ideas. Simply researching the history of Ingolstadt (the city in which Frankenstein created the Monster) taught me that the University of Ingolstadt was also the place of origin of the Illuminati Society, so popular amongst conspiracy theorists. Re-reading Mary Shelley’s novel with this in mind, it seemed obvious that the character of Professor Waldeman, who encouraged Frankenstein in his dark endeavors, would have been a member of the Illuminati.
THE NIGHTMARE OF FRANKENSTEIN is a collection of short stories; the first one leads up to the events of the novel, the rest follow the Monster on his journey afterwards. Obviously, the first question I had to deal with was, how can the Monster still exist if he intended to destroy himself at the end of the original book? Once I focused on how he intended to do this, the resolution seemed obvious.
A lot of my ideas are simply What Ifs. Like, what if the Monster met this or that other monster? Sure, it’s simple, maybe even simplistic, but it’s a starting point. In “The Collectors” part of the story is an update of the old Universal flick, “Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman”. But here the battle is not the focus of the story. And the real monsters are neither Frankenstein’s creation nor the werewolf.
One of the themes in both my FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA series is my effort to create something of a unified horror universe. Think Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which throws together characters from “Dracula”, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, “The Invisible Man”, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, and “King Solomon’s Mines” amongst many, many others.
Therefore, I had to connect, or at least reference, several classic horror stories, forming a world larger than any of their respective authors intended. (In some cases, I believe the original authors did intend to make connection with an earlier work but because of copyright or other reasons, could not make this clear.) A few of my reviewers have taken me to task for throwing in too many references, saying I sound like a history professor. OK, some people like history and some don’t. For me, history is just stories. History is about people. But maybe they’re right, so I’m trying to reduce the historical and literary references—but I’ll probably fail.
If you could erase one horror cliché, what would it be?
I don’t know if it’s exactly a cliché, but I really don’t like when writers take an established theme in supernatural fiction and, instead of making it more outré and unworldly and strange and unknown, they can only deal with it by making it mundane. These authors need to explain every detail of their supernatural creatures, thus taking away any mystery.
I see this most often with vampire fiction. Starting with the insipid Twilight series, vampires are born, go to school, have babies, and happy little domestic lives. Occasionally, they sip a drop of blood.
Similarly, some authors try to turn vampires into superheroes. They talk about the vampires having this or that ability or powers. They can fly! They got super-strength! They get to live forever and never pay taxes!
Likewise, the authors do everything they can to eliminate any kind of weakness. The crucifix has no power. Mirrors can’t hurt anyone. Garlic just stinks.
For me, the great appeal of vampires in fiction is that for every great power, they have a great weakness. This gives them a balance. More important, these things make them unique, alien, and inhuman. Because the last thing I want in a tale of supernatural horror is a mundane, boring monster.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the fourth of my Frankenstein books. In this one, I bring the Monster into the Twentieth Century and I have some nice surprises. All told, I have six books planned for the LEGEND OF FRANKENSTEIN series.
Then I intend going back to Dracula one more time. My first three books began with the life of Vlad the Impaler, showed him becoming the king of the vampires, and ended where Bram Stoker took over. But that leaves me a hundred and twenty-five years for Dracula’s further plots and schemes.
After that, I have books planned about ghouls, Ancient Egypt, and Medieval England. I also want to return to my comicbook characters, Cassiopeia the Witch and Rawlins, the Last Tough Cop, putting their adventures in prose.
Favorite horror movie and book?
I don’t know if it’s my favorite movie, but the scariest movie I ever saw was “The Ring”. If you recall, the movie is about a cursed videotape—you watch the video and then you receive a phone call and then you die a horrible death. As I like to do, I watched this horror film alone at night to enhance the atmosphere. And because the movie was about a videotape, I think watching it on videotape also enhanced my experience.
“The Ring” was crafted by people who know what horror is about—heck, I realized that just seeing the commercial on TV. They understood that horror is about establishing rules, like the ghost hurts those that won’t help her. And then they break those rules—the ghost is gonna kill you even if you DO help her! And then, just as I get to the dramatic highpoint when the little boy says, “You weren’t supposed to let her out,” … my phone rings!
OK, it was just a friend wanting to chat. And gasping for breath, I did so. An hour later I finish the movie, and the real horror is revealed—the only way to stop the curse is to pass it on to someone else. Thus the heroine must become the real monster.
So after foolishly watching the bits the producers edited out—for being too scary—and promising myself to leave the lights on all night, I go to bed at two in the morning, but I discover I left the computer on. I initiate the shutdown sequence… and the screen goes blue! And a message pops up, flashing the words “FATAL ERROR, FATAL ERROR, FATAL ERROR,” or something like that, over and over. So by this time I’m awash in fear and convinced Samara is living in my computer!
For the next week, I spent all day researching “The Ring” and “Ringu” and the comic it was based on, the actors, the director, you name it. …And fearing that eventually the sun would set. I have never had a movie leave me devastated like that. In fact, love horror though I do, I’m fairly jaded and I don’t scare easily.
Hmm… Rather than a single book, I’d say the collected works of HP Lovecraft are my favorites. Following a track laid down by Algernon Blackwood, Lovecraft showed us horrors not based on the old concept of good vs. evil (like “Dracula”), but instead gave us a world in which good and evil really mean nothing. Lovecraft’s monsters and dark gods are not evil—they’re just hungry. The Old Ones do not punish the wrongdoer or fear the righteous—they want what they want and they will get it eventually. Cthulhu has no hatred for humanity. After all, humanity exists so that he will have something to eat when he wakes from his billion-year nap.
Yep, we’re all just Cthulhu Chow. We may pride ourselves on building huge cities and huge bombs to destroy them, but what are these things in the vast cosmos? An atom bomb isn’t even a spark compared to our sun and our sun is all but invisible from all but the closest stars. All mankind’s accomplishments are infinitesimally tiny in an ever-expanding universe. Lovecraft knew this. And today, more and more readers are realizing he was ahead of his time.
Plus, Lovecraft was a good writer. No, the man could not write dialog to save his soul and his characters were usually bland and without depth. But he knew how to plot a tale of horror and he knew how to deliver a scary scene. Some ultra-popular writers today can’t say that. Perhaps Lovecraft’s greatest contribution is his Mythos—a dark worldview that seems more appropriate today than ever.
After seeing Universal’s “House of Frankenstein” at the age of six, Perry Lake grew up as one of those kids who liked monsters more than superheroes. A lifetime resident of Northern California, Lake has written and occasionally illustrated several independent comic books, including Cassiopeia The Witch and Demi The Demoness and several Demi-related titles. Amongst his published prose works are the three-part LEGEND OF DRACULA series and the first of the LEGEND OF FRANKENSTEIN series.
Where to find Perry
Check out www.perrylakeproductions.com for more info and cool features!
Amazon: VAMPIRE WARS, in which the fledgling Vlad Dracula battles his way to the top of the vampiric hierarchy.
Amazon: BRIDES OF DRACULA, in which expands his legions to include Elizabeth Báthory, Carmilla, Countess Dolingen, and others.
Amazon: DRACULA ARISEN, where we see the origin of Dracula and the events leading up to Bram Stoker’s classic novel.
Amazon: THE NIGHTMARE OF FRANKENSTEIN, in which we see the events leading up to the Monster’s creation and his early adventures following the events of Mary Shelley’s novel.
And coming soon: The Monster’s adventures continue in MONSTER OF THE WORLD!
Excerpt from The Nightmare of Frankenstein
I awoke to find myself instantly alert, my thoughts suddenly racing. I would later learn this was the result of an application of current from a galvanic battery. I was in a lime-lighted room with acrid scents including the unmistakable smell of carrion and quicklime. I was strapped down to an operating table, nude, and unable to move.
It was a medical laboratory, mostly dark, but punctuated with glaring lamplight that revealed myriad bottles and a man with bald head, wearing a butcher’s smock over his shirtsleeves and waistcoat, rolling up a coil of copper wire. Hearing my movements, he came over and looked down at me. I saw in his thick, perfectly round spectacles my own reflection.
“Are ye awake?” he said “Can ye no’ understand me? D’ye speak English? Yer having a lie doon in ma surgery, d’ye understand?”
I was unable to speak at first. The man looked at me through those spectacles, making his eyes look giant and bulging as he examined my own eyes and ears.
“Are ye sure ye cannae understand me?”
“I… I un-der-stand.” My voice was harsh and raspy, my throat dry, “Wa-ter,” I asked.
He filled a glass from a pitcher and brought it to my lips. “Just a sip, fae now.”
I drank it. “I thank thee.”
He sat down the glass then placed a metal tube with flanged ends on my chest. On the opposite end, he rested his ear.
“Who art thou?” asked I.
He peered over his spectacles at me. “I am Dr. Robert Knox,” he said, “I teach anatomy and medicine. And who be ye?”
“I… I have no name… for I was given none.”
“I see. Aye. Aye, of course.”
“Oh, I think that’s a wee premature. I need to learn more aboot ye. All I ken for certain is that a party of vigilantes trapped ye, ye killed two o’ them, and they shot ye tae death. When I heard that an unknown giant was dead, I made a request that the body be given tae me for disposition. When I began the autopsy, I detected signs o’ life.
“It then occurred tae me that ye were unlike any living man. Indeed, I suspect ye are like the creature in that daft book, ‘Frankenstein’, in that ye be an artificial man.”
I nodded silently.
“Excellent,” Knox said with a smile, “Well, I may not have created ye, but I have made major repairs. I have grafted skin and tissues, repaired your heart, and took off your arm tae save your body.”
I realized then, for the first time, that my right arm was gone—amputated several inches below the shoulder!
“I’ll see what we can do about getting ye back on your feet,” he said. I believe that is what he said—in truth, my thoughts were distracted at that moment. “In the meantime, I’ll preserve your old arm for later dissection.”
He blew out the lamps.
“Sleep well now.”