Jackon Marsh’s novel, The Stoker Connection, is now available in both ebook and print formats. (Make certain you read to the end to find a great giveaway opportunity)
Blurb: What if you could prove that the greatest Gothic horror novel of all time was a true story?
Dexter and Morgan meet on their eighteenth birthday. The attraction is instant but confusing. As they deal with coming out, they are bound together by more than first love.
Both keep diaries, and each has the same goal – to prove that Stoker didn’t write ‘Dracula’. They are convinced that Harker, Van Helsing and the others existed and wrote the novel’s journals themselves. If Dex and Morgan can prove it, they will blow the lid off the vampire myth: Dracula existed.
As the two teenagers fall in love, so they fall into an adventure as thrilling as it is dangerous. They are being watched, and someone is willing to kill to stop them from making ‘The Stoker Connection.’
The Stoker Connection is an MM Romance treasure hunt thriller. It draws on the original text of ‘Dracula’, but it is not a story about vampires. It is a story of first love and the power of friendship. Sometimes funny, it is an intriguing and honest account compiled from Dex and Morgan’s original diaries.
My Question to Jackson Marsh:
What inspired you to write ‘The Stoker Connection’?
I write two kinds of novels. ‘The Mentor of…’ series of non-connected MM Romance stories with older and younger main characters, and MM romantic mystery-thrillers, such as ‘The Blake Inheritance.’ I thought it was time for another of the latter, a mystery-thriller with a central love story between two young men. My previous novels had all be third-person narration and this time I wanted to try something first-person, like a diary. My favourite novel of all time is ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker, and one of the reasons I like it so much is because it is written in diary form. That puts the reader right there in the characters’ shoes.
Why not try a similar approach? I thought, and have two main characters telling the story in their diaries. I then added to that thought, why not base it around ‘Dracula’ in some way? I knew the novel well and some of the history attached to it, but I didn’t want to write about vampires – that’s a genre for other writers.
I put myself back in my youth for a while by writing some diary entries for my two main characters. They write about my/their every-day life at 17/18, friends and hopes, and within that, I found I was also writing about sexuality and teenagers’ ambitions for sex, as I used to do when I was 17/18. The characters then started talking for themselves and moved on from being ‘me’ to being two individuals who had their own styles.
Once Dexter and Morgan were talking to me (I’m sure all writers hear their characters in their head) they told me that they wanted to meet. From then on, the love story was easy, but what was the action story around it?
I realised that they (Dex and Morgan) had both started their diaries on different days, which reminded me of the way ‘Dracula’ was written. So, I thought, why not use ‘Dracula’, the novel, as the basis for a story about…? Pieces were falling into place slowly, but I still hadn’t found the way in. I needed the key… That unlocked…?
As soon as the premise hit me: ‘What if Dexter and Morgan set out to prove that Stoker didn’t write ‘Dracula’ but instead, believed that it was simply a collection of existing documents?’ In other words, what if ‘Dracula’ was a true story?
The inspiration for ‘the Stoker connection’ therefore came from my love of that novel and, particularly, its construction and its romance. As Stoker’s characters, the Harkers, Dr Seward, Quincey Morris and the others band together, so a friendship develops to the extent that the men are willing to give up their lives to save the women. It’s a love story, a romance, and that’s what I write so…
The idea of using 1st person narrative and diaries/journals etc. came from Stoker, the idea of proving that he didn’t write his Gothic masterpiece came from me. The unlocking of literary clues and the use of recorded historical fact (and some of my own invention) was inspired by Dan Brown’s books, and the coming out and falling in love story between Dex and Morgan came from my own experiences.
As creative writers, we can’t but help draw on real life and mix it with imagination; observe, and you will be inspired. Thus, ‘The Stoker Connection’ was inspired by all those things: other authors, books I love, people I know and experiences I have had. Not that I’ve had an adventure like Dexter and Morgan did, but, as the writer, I lived it as I wrote it.
I hope you live it as you read it.
Dexter Mitchel’s Diary
8 November (written on 9th). — Continued. And then there was his face, and his build, his clothes and something else that started to nag at my lust-muscles, whatever they are.
I knew I had to say something. He was looking expectantly at me, and to ignore him would be rude. I stuck out my hand on impulse.
‘Great questions,’ I said, my throat dry.
He took my hand, damp with sweat, and shook it.
‘What a let-down,’ he said, jerking his head towards the stage.
‘Hell, yes. Not what I wanted to hear.’
‘I know the play wasn’t about Arnold’s theory, but she must have looked into it.’
We were still shaking hands.
‘You’ve read the book?’ he asked.
‘Loads of times. You?’
He nodded. ‘You’re the only person I’ve met who’s even heard of it.’
‘Ditto. You believe it? His theory?’
Hands still being shaken, voices enthusiastic, my lust-muscles now in hopeful overdrive.
‘I do, but I have one of my own.’
I grinned. ‘Me too.’
I was aware that my palm was wet, and I glanced down. It was a bit embarrassing to still be holding hands now, so I opened my fingers to release him. He didn’t open his. OMG, was that a signal of some sort? He was gorgeous. A moment of social ‘What do I do?’ and I gripped his hand again, sending my own signal.
‘Sorry you didn’t get to ask anything,’ he said as if it was his fault.
‘I didn’t need to. You did it for me.’
He looked surprised and then impressed. We were the same height, more or less, so I was able to look right into his eyes. I saw something there. Something that I couldn’t quite grasp at first.
‘Would you…? No, forget it,’ he said, and let go of my hand.
‘What?’ I continued to grip his.
‘Just a thought.’ He pulled his hand away.
That was that, then.
‘Dexter, are you ready?’
Mum was at the door. I don’t know how long she’d been there, but she would have been there long enough to see us holding hands.
‘You have to go,’ he said, a matter of fact rather than a disappointed enquiry. ‘Yeah.’ He received a disappointed reply. ‘Birthday dinner with family.’ ‘Dexter?’ Mum insisted.
I told her I would be there in five minutes and she made it clear it had to be two, which made me feel ten years old, but at least she left us alone.
‘Look,’ he said, as soon as she had gone. ‘I’d like to talk more, about Arnold’s theory, and about my own. If you’re interested?’
‘Yes please,’ I blurted, sounding lame. I recovered. ‘Dexter Mitchel.’ Except I tapped my chest like I was Tarzan when I said it.
‘Me Morgan Davis.’ He did the same, with a Tarzan voice, and I knew then that we were going to hit it off.
The question was, to what extent?
Actually, the pressing question was when? I fumbled for my notebook and tore out a page. ‘My email,’ I said, trying to write neatly (a gift I have yet to receive). I must have looked like a flustered waiter who’s just been torn off a strip. I handed it to him so hurriedly I dropped my notebook.
‘My card,’ he said, coolly offering a white business card and taking my scrap of paper.
His name and email were all that were on it.
‘I’ll message you,’ I said, picking up my book and noticing mum back at the door.
Upright again, I added, ‘I’d invite you, but it’s on the uncle and aunt.’
‘You would invite me?’ he said, eyebrows raised. ‘How kind.’
Who says ‘How kind’ like that? Morgan, obviously. Perhaps he was much older than he looked.
‘Yes, I would, but I can’t. Let’s talk, yeah?’ I had to move away from him, I had to go. I was desperate to stay and learn more. I mean, who else out there has even read this book, let alone had a theory about it?
‘I’ll write,’ he said. ‘Email me.’
A sudden thought attacked out of left field, and I don’t know why I did it, but I took back the scrap of paper and wrote, ‘I’m gay,’ before handing it back and saying, ‘Don’t let that put you off. It’s not why I want to write to you.’
‘Dexter.’ The last warning from mum.
‘Tomorrow,’ I said, suddenly sick inside. What the fuck had I just done? And why? Too late to worry now, I’d done it. ‘I’ll email you tomorrow…’ I was heading for the gents so I could change, bright red and trembling.
‘I won’t, Dexter,’ he called after me. ‘And have a birthday drink for me too.’
It stopped me in my tracks. Sod the Adams family currently gathering at the Metropole. They could fester for another minute. I spun around to find him facing me. We were both grinning.
‘For you?’ Did he mean it was also his birthday?
‘Today.’ He made a small bow.
‘Mum?’ I pleaded towards the exit. She shook her head. Even randomly meeting a stranger who shares the same obscure interest and birthday was not enough to get him an invite.
‘How old?’ Morgan asked, and I didn’t find it intrusive.
‘Eighteen. You?’ It was easy to ask.
He did that friendly wink again. ‘Would you believe eighteen?’
No fucking way. ‘Today?’ I glared at mum again. We had to invite him.
‘We would invite you,’ she told him. ‘But it’s not up to me.’
‘No, no, of course not, don’t worry,’ he said, all smiles and thanks. ‘I have a journal to write up in any case.’
‘Fuck off!’ That was out of my mouth before I knew it. ‘I do that too.’
We stared at each other until he said, ‘These coincidences are a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner.’ An altered quote from the end of chapter two (‘Dracula’ obviously). He nodded to me. ‘I’m away from my email until tomorrow night, but I’ll be waiting to hear from you.’
‘I’ll write,’ I stammered back.
He waved my piece of paper at me as he left. ‘I do hope so.’
Jackson was born in 2017 as the pen name for me (James) so that I could publish my new gay fiction independently from my other writing work. I was born on the south coast of England during a blizzard, but now like to warm thing up with MM romance novels, gay mysteries, and some occasional erotica. In 2007 I was awarded and EGPA award for my erotic short stories, and in 2018 I won a Best Screenplay award for one of my films. I am a diverse writer of thrillers, comedies and horror stories under my James belt, and now romance and mystery under my Jackson belt.
At the moment I am concentrating on two genres: older/younger MM romance and youth mysteries with early 20s main characters and a love story included.
I live on a Greek island with my husband. My interests outside of writing and reading are outdoor pursuits, traveling, piano and genealogy. That’s probably why my books tend to involve characters who are musicians, writers, mystery-solvers and rock climbers; there’s a bit of me in every one.
A Jackson Marsh Giveaway! Jackson is giving away copies of two ebooks – The Blake Inheritance and Remotely – enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win: Click HERE to enter. (End Date Unknown)
Find Jeanne’s other featured authors HERE.