What is the best way to get my life story read by someone? I am the son of Dracula.
Common sense would suggest you are in fact not Dracula’s son, but rather a nutjob who wants to see his name in print. But no matter. The vast majority of memoirs are written by vain, delusional nutjobs, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t be entitled to your six-figure advance. This is America. Not only do you have the right to be semi-famous, you have the right to milk your semi-fame with an unnecessary but hopefully entertaining best-seller.
More than truth, what a memoir really needs is a hook, and I think you’ve found a great one. Let’s start with the title. Ignore those who would urge you to pick Dracula’s Son or In Red Blood. That’s not direct enough. You want a title that is so obvious that even viewers who skip over your Today show interview know exactly who you are and what your book is about: I Am Dracula’s Son.
Now that we’ve picked a title, there’s the trifling concern of the book itself. Whether you write it yourself, or hire a ghostwriter to “put in the periods and commas,” you need to ask yourself: What story am I telling? Is it a tale of darkness and redemption, wacky family hijinks, or perhaps a long struggle to find acceptance?
To have any shot at the best-seller list, your story should include at least six of the following:
- Sexual abuse
- Dangerous under-parenting
- Suffocating over-parenting
- Frequent moving
- Mental illness, preferably bi-polar disorder
- Great wealth
- Eating disorders
- Death of a sibling
In the case of your “life’s story,” the spotlight is clearly on the big man himself, Daddy Dracula. You might think the fact that he’s the ravaging, immortal prince of darkness would be enough. You’d be wrong.
More than just evil, he needs to be crazy. Not crazy in a let’s paint the kitchen bright red! sort of way. But crazy in a gas oven, toothpaste sandwich, I am God sort of way. (This advice comes from Augusten Burrough’s excellent Running with Scissors, which sets a deliriously high bar. I have a wee literary crush on my semi-namesake. I hope the upcoming movie does the book justice.)
As you shape your memoir, remember that no one is buying your book to learn about the real you. Real People are not interesting, no matter what Skip
Stevenson Stephenson and Sarah Purcell might have led you to believe. You need to think of yourself as a character. That is, exaggerate the best and worst qualities while minimizing any sense of normalcy. In terms of plot, the question isn’t, “What happened next?” but rather “What’s the most shocking thing a reader might possibly believe?” If you’re stumped, see the list above.
Best of luck with the book, Nicholas. I look forward to reading it, just as soon as I finish Jim McGreevey’s apologia for being a closeted scumbag.