In our continuing effort to provide you with interesting content, today we're posting a Q&A with Kathlyn Bradshaw, author of The Frankenstein Murders, a sequel/re-imagining of the Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein and a gripping psychological horror-mystery in its own right. Enjoy!
Q&A With Kathlyn Bradshaw
Where did you get the idea to re-imagine the story of Frankenstein?
KB: Basically I started out with a question: “What if everything is not what it seems?” At the end of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Ernest Frankenstein is the sole surviving member of his family, and Mr. Clerval has lost his son. What would have been their reaction to Victor’s story? What I wanted to do was to consider Victor Frankenstein’s story from a different perspective. When Captain Robert Walton meets Victor, the captain seems to take everything Victor says at face value. I wanted to present the responses of characters either unconnected to or at least less enamored of Victor and, therefore, more critical of his story.
There must have been a lot of detailed research in writing a book that so closely mimics the writing of Mary Shelley. Could you explain the process you went through in researching the characters and settings for the novel?
KB: Not surprisingly, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was my primary resource. I read and reread that novel numerous times - in whole or in part - at the same time taking many, many notes. While I never had any illusions that I could write like Mary Shelley, my goal was to create a story that connected as much as possible to Frankenstein.
In terms of researching, a few of the characters in my book do appear in Shelley’s novel: Victor Frankenstein’s professors at university, Henry Clerval’s father, and Ernest Frankenstein all have (modest) roles in her narrative. I gave them all moderately bigger parts, building on whatever information I could glean from Frankenstein. The rest of the characters in my book were my creation.
The settings were another matter. Mary Shelley definitely had the advantage over me in that she actually had seen most of the places visited by Victor Frankenstein, and at a similar time in history. I was writing from a twenty-first century perspective about places I had never been. Had I kept a list of the historical and travel books and websites I consulted to attempt this task, the list would be lengthy.
What sort of struggles did you have to deal with in writing this book? Was there a learning curve in writing your first novel?
KB: To write a novel of this length and maintain coherence and continuity, while at the same time building the story was a big challenge. Technically, I had written a novel - of sorts - before this book. My first attempt at book writing, however, had little merit beyond giving me the opportunity to practice developing a story of such length and detail.
Were there any specific books or movies, besides Frankenstein, that inspired you while writing the novel?
KB: Anything written at or around the time that Mary Shelley was writing was definitely helpful, but any stories with a gothic and/or mysterious setting were also useful, for instance, classics such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and stories by Edgar Allan Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Movie and television adaptations of stories such as these helped in two ways. First, they provided visual and aural inspiration, and second, they too were derived from someone else’s novel.
What do you hope readers will take from this novel?
KB: On a basic level, I would hope that readers would get some enjoyment out of the book. If readers also took away a new perspective - that they, unlike Captain Walton, do not take the story at face value - that would be good too.
The Frankenstein Murders will be in stores on October 24. Click here for a free preview.
Coming soon: The Implied Author, a series of posts by Mark Blagrave (author of Silver Salts)