Kitty Vampire

Cats are said to have nine lives. Dracula is immortal.

The creatures come together in "Dracula and Kittens," a Web-based retelling of the classic novel by Bram Stoker.

Author Brandon Mendelson, a self-described "broke graduate student living in a small bedroom in his wife's parents' house," started writing the blog series as a way to fill his time and possibly find an innovative way to attract a book publisher.

The technology-savvy writer, who lives in Gansevoort, operates Soap Box Included, an online guide to social publishing. He decided the Internet reworking of "Dracula" would be a good way to put some of the information he has presented on the Web site to practical use.

"I decided to create a book with all the things I've taught people," he said.

Although the series of blog posts is a fang-in-cheek take on the premier tale of the Prince of Darkness, Mendelson is not a fan of stories of the undead.

"I hate vampires," he said.

But the writer thought it might be fun to spoof the seemingly endless recent books, films and television shows focusing on the mythological creatures.

"The vampire thing is very hot right now. It's so lazy to throw a vampire into a story. This is a knee-jerk reaction to that," he said.

Mendelson said his attempt to read the best-selling "Twilight" series by Stephenie Meyer was more painful than driving a stake through his heart.

"I made it through the first two and said, 'I can't do this anymore,'" he said.

The over-the-top descriptions of teen lust were especially annoying to Mendelson.

"There are only so many times you can call your vampire boyfriend an Adonis," he said.

That doesn't meant Mendelson takes his writing too seriously.

The "Dracula and Kittens" blog posts, which are developing at about three entries per week, are filled with silly references to pop culture and science fiction.

"I'm a huge nerd, and the book is littered with 'Star Trek' references. You'll also notice 'Fantastic Four' references as well," he said.

The kitten element of the story is an homage to his own cats, Fry and Bender (named after characters on the animated science fiction comedy "Futurama").

"They're actually both going to be in the book," Mendelson said.

Although the story is a silly take on the Stoker text, the blog isn't meant for children. Mendelson includes adult themes and profanity in his entries.

The posts also include an odd assortment of photos and videos - everything from an animated "Pedobear" to a picture of a G.I. Joe Cobra Android Trooper action figure.

Mendelson's re-imagining of the story is staged in modern-day America.

"My version is set in Manhattan, and it's written as a blog instead of a journal," he said.

Similar to the original, his John Harker is a real estate lawyer.

"Dracula wants to open a pet store that exclusively sells kitten and cat products. He wants to be the Wal-Mart of kittens," Mendelson said.

The writer feels a certain kinship with his protagonist.

"There's plenty of autobiographical stuff hidden here. I'm essentially John Harker. After reading about the character and the original text of 'Dracula,' I found we shared a lot of tendencies. In exaggerating them, which is how 75 percent of the comedy here works, he became me. Harker is not better off for it," he wrote in a blog post.

In just a few weeks, the series has attracted a couple of thousand readers, according to Mendelson.

His hope is that the online popularity will attract a book deal.

"I don't want to self-publish it. I thought if I put it in a blog, there might be more of a chance of getting published," he said.

Mendelson envisions the book as being the second in a trilogy he calls "The Unreliables."

The first book would spoof "Frankenstein" and the third would retell "The Wizard of Oz."

He hopes his bizarre take on literary icons will attract a fan base.

"I think it will appeal to frustrated nerds like me. I get to vent through this. It's for anybody who doesn't take life too seriously," he said.

"Dracula and Kittens" may sound like an improbable title to draw legions of devoted readers, but stranger things have happened in the publishing world.

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," a comedic mash-up of the iconic Jane Austen novel, was a surprise success in a tough year for publishers.

"It's been a goal of mine to publish a book and watch it hit the New York Times best-seller list," Mendelson said.


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