By Steve Vertlieb: It was in 1997 that I first received a rather flattering telephone call from an editor in New York, asking if I’d be willing to participate in a new published anthology that he was compiling for Midnight Marquee Press. The book would assemble many genre writers of the period in a collaborative effort celebrating the “life,” and death of Bram Stoker’s literary creation Dracula in film.
The “editor,” whose name shall go unspoken here, said that he had grown up with my work in such publications as The Monster Times, and that he would be honored to include a chapter by me in the pages of his forthcoming book, which was to be called Dracula, The First Hundred Years. I was asked to write a somewhat light-hearted examination of the Dracula, and related vampire films, and television productions of the 1970’s. Prompted, perhaps, by his professed “love” for my work, I agreed, and began fabricating a new article for his publication.
I set about writing a lengthy new piece and, once finished, sent it off by mail to New York. I received a congratulatory telephone call from the “gentleman” in question shortly following its receipt, advising me that he was delighted with my work. He said that it was everything that he could have hoped for, and more, and that while many of his writers would need to be heavily edited, my work would be published essentially as I had written it.
Now, it’s normal for an editor to send each of his stable of writers the “proofs” of their edited work once completed, prior to publication, so that they might be gone over and approved for content. Months went by, however, without any further communication from the book’s editor. I’d begun hearing ominous rumblings from a number of writers, grumbling that their efforts had been heavily tampered with and changed, and that there was brewing trouble in “paradise.” I continued to rest easily, however, in the spoken assurance that my work would be published essentially as written.
When the book was at last published, however, I discovered to my horror that my work had been badly distorted, compromised, and truncated. Wherever I had spoken of actor Christopher Lee with affection and reverence, my text had been re-written to ridicule and attack him. Wherever I had spoken of actor Frank Langella with respect and admiration, my text had been re-written as would reflect the secret yearnings of a smitten school girl in drooling affection for her hero. Large chunks of my writing had been unceremoniously removed and altered, without either my knowledge or permission by an unscrupulous “editor” who had unkindly inserted his own cryptic observations and prejudice under my name and byline, shabbily using my personal reputation either to malign or revere the films and performances that he had either loved or loathed.
When I asked why he had done this to me, he replied that he thought that “it was funny.” Reviewers of the volume, who had taken offence to many of the cruel observations expressed supposedly by me, were harsh in their very personal criticism of my work. I set about composing a letter writing campaign to address these issues, stating rather forcefully that the offensive opinions determined objectionable were either edited, or added, after my work had been submitted, and neither with my knowledge or consent. Consequently, sales of the volume plummeted, and the editor complained that I had “murdered” his book.
In the twenty years since its publication, the title has come to be reviled by readers, and wholly disavowed by its unwitting publisher. In the decades that followed, I’d longed to have my work published in its entirety, and as originally conceived as written. Here, then, for the first time ever, and with the enthusiastic permission of Midnight Marquee Press, is the published premiere of my original work … “Dracula In The Seventies: Prints Of Darkness.”