Interview with Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster
After a year of searching and many stories, I am able to meet with the man who inspired one of the greatest horror stories of all time. He is iconic. From the early 1800s until now, his story has terrified and thrilled 100s of millions of people. He has lived a long and amazing life. Much more of our time together will be published later this year. For now, these are the notes from our first interview. Please forgive the the annotations.
Last October I was able to meet in Dubuque, Idaho with the man who was once called Dr. Frankenstein’s monster. He was born, in the late 1700s, and later followed some of the story told by Mary Shelley. He claims to have talked with her on the subject.
We meet in the Le Feve coffee shop. Halloween is a couple weeks away, and I am sitting at the table drinking a Cappuccino. This is the first time I will meet with him. I am apprehensive. It is a busy place. I will come to believe after a series of interviews that this man is who he claims to be. I believe others, credible people, who say that he is indeed Frankenstein’s monster.
I sit facing the window, and a man so tall that I cannot see his head as he passes the window opens the door and comes in. He is well over 7 feet tall. He is wearing sunglasses and looks to be wearing a little light skin colored makeup and an expensive wig. I can see his neck and hands are scarred. He is a massive man. He has a large chest, hands, head, body. When we talk he does not remove his glasses. I will find later that he has 2 different colored eyes. He speaks in an accent that is part Russian, part Swedish and part Inuit. If you really really listen to the tone you can hear some English in there, maybe from long ago.
EWR: I want to clarify first that you no longer like to be referred to as Dr. Frankenstein’s monster or as Frankenstein. What name do you go by? (At the time of this interview I was still skeptical of his identity).
DFM: My name now is Diderik Falkvard Mansson. I have never gone by Dr. Frankenstein’s monster or the monster and certainly not Frankenstein. It is silly that the whole world would get hung up in such a way.
EWR: It is a fact that you are the legendary person from Mary Shelley’s well received and well read book, correct?
DFM: It is true that Ms. Shelley, that lovely young lady, did in fact base her book upon accounts of my origination, (pause) assembly.
EWR: Her account, taken from the forward of her book states (I read this to him)
“Many and long were the conversations between Lord Byron and Shelley, to which I was a devout but nearly silent listener. During one of these, various philosophical doctrines were discussed, and among others the nature of the principle of life, and whether there was any probability of its ever being discovered and communicated. They talked of the experiments of Dr. Darwin, (I speak not of what the Doctor really did, or said that he did, but, as more to my purpose, of what was then spoken of as having been done by him,) who preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass case, till by some extraordinary means it began to move with voluntary motion. Not thus, after all, would life be given. Perhaps a corpse would be re-animated; galvanism had given token of such things: perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together, and endued with vital warmth.”
DFM: The only thing that is true about that introduction, and indeed the whole book is that Byron and the Shelleys were friends. Dr. Frankenstein was a good friend of Byron. She might have heard the story of Darwin’s reanimation, but I certainly know that she heard more about my story before she was finished writing her book.
EWR: What makes you know that?
DFM: I visited her. It was at the request of Byron himself. A young lady, fine lady, he told me was writing about the accounts of Dr. Frankenstein, and that I should call on her. I do have yellowish eyes. (He has a somewhat charming grin). She was not judgmental about my scars or about my disposition. She was in fact fascinated by the idea that I had been dead.
EWR: Then it is true that people have been afraid of you?
DFM: Oh very much so. They were terrified of me in fact, for many years. You have to remember that anyone who looked like me in Europe at the time were put away so to speak. They were locked in some away place, moved into sanitariums or outright killed. I am very different. I am very large, of course, because Frankenstein had the issue of vascular connections and nerve fibers. I suppose. I was told this at least.
EWR: How much of Shelley’s accounts are true.
DFM: Not very much. I did hide in a family’s barn for awhile. I did run away. I did want a bride, but none of it played out like it played out in the novel. As I was saying people were so terrified in the beginning I had to hide, and I indeed went North shortly after speaking to Mrs. Shelley. I went North away from people in search of isolation, but I ended up, after almost 30 years, finding a family.
EWR: A family? You found people who took you in?
DFM: Ja (he has a long pause). I spent sometime in the icy cold of the North. You must understand I have very poor circulation, so the cold is bitter to me, but it gave me at the time the only advantage, the ability to guise myself behind layers of thick clothing, hoods, scarves, even full face masks. These things made a life for me possible.
Eventually, I lived for a long while on what I perceived to be a peninsula of ice. I made a home of ice and snow, and was able to live alone, working out an existence by catching fish and seal. I found that I could even handle the occasional Polar Bear. The strength Dr. Frankenstein put in my arms is like iron. You wouldn’t believe it. I can still pick up about 700 kilos up over my head. (He raises his arms gesturing like he is holding something up over his head. He grins). I’m not sure if I am immortal or not, but I can tell you that I have not aged a day since I first awoke from (pause)…was reborn let’s say.
EWR: Are you saying that you cannot die?
DFM: I was dead. To do it again would be very repetitive. I have been shot, beaten, hit by a train once, and even frozen just about solid one time. That is when I met my family, I was speaking of.
EWR: You met them above the arctic circle?
DFM: I met them on Imaqliq.
EWR: I don’t think I’m familiar (he motions to me).
DFM: Diomede Island, is what the American’s call it. It is in the Bering Strait. As I said I thought I lived on a peninsula. As it turns out one summer that peninsula of ice became an island. I didn’t even know it at first. Then I could feel the movement of the waves under my feet. I went when I felt that great shifting, I very quickly knew that I was drifting away from shore. I looked for a way back, but by the time I reached the edge of what was a pretty large island at that point, I realized I was many miles away from the mainland. I drifted for weeks. At one point I tried to just go on with life I had all along, but large cracks formed in the ice. You could see them everywhere under foot. They would go like lightening.
As they formed soon they would widen, and my island would decrees in size. After, maybe (he pauses thinking) a month maybe even two I was down to an island the size of, I don’t know, a city block, or something like that.
One night a large storm came, I thought finally I would end my simple and somewhat controversial second life. The storm capsized my small iceberg, and I went into the water. It was blackness. I had resided myself to death. It was like those movies you see, “end scene.” (He slaps his hands together. He laughs). Most men would have died of exposure to that water within minutes. I woke up on Imaqliq what I believe to be the next summer. I don’t know, but I believe I went into the water for a about a year. It was the summer of 1890 when woke up.
EWR: Did someone find you?
DFM: Ja, the Yupik found me. I would say that I found them. At the time I ended up on the island. They were considered part of Russia, what would be the Chukotsky district. When I woke up I was in a wooden fenced area next to a cabin. The temperature must have risen above freezing for the first time in months. I was in such pain, agony in fact. It was awful. My fingers would not move, my hands, my toes, one elbow and one shoulder. I shivered and shivered. I was able to get to my feet and make it to the door of the cabin where I knocked. I remember the door opening, a young girl coming out, and then nothing again. (He makes quotations with his fingers) End scene. (Laughs very loud. Then quiets himself).
I woke up after that completely warm, maybe a couple days later, in a bed being taken care of by a girl named Ahnah and her father Aipaloovik. He was an old man, and she was a young girl, and after many years there they became my family (he pauses again).
EWR: What happened to them. After WWII they were moved off the island into Siberia by Russia. I did not go with them. (He is overcome by emotion for a minute. I will not describe this in any detail). I hid from them. I knew how the people were from the mainland. We had met many of them, and more than a few times their disgust by the sight of me put me Ahnah and Aipaloovik in danger. I stayed clear of any soldier from the Russia army and any military officer. I did not want to risk the safety of my family. Of course by the time they came to remove everyone from the island, it was just Ahnah. Aipaloovik had died years before that.
EWR: I’m sorry for this. Do you still live there?
DFM: Only the Russian military lives there now. I moved away after that. After some doing I now live on a small island by Vaasa in Sweden. Replot, is the island’s named. I moved there in 1960 or so.
EWR: How did you get there?
DFM: By airplane of course, how else besides way of iceberg does someone make it from the Bering Strait to Sweden (he laughs).
EWR: What did you think of the movie? (I say this because we have passed the time where the classic 1933 Frankenstein movie was made).
DFM: Which one? (Sarcastically, but stops me before I can answer). The original was so horrible and even full of fiction. People would never mix me up with a monster like that. It was a horrible mess, but for some reason people find a likeness between me and the movie. When I first made it to Sweden, Stockholm, people pointed and even ran from me. Once I heard a young man remark that I looked much like Frankenstein. Really, I never saw any resembles, and the only way I am anything like that movie is because I was once dead and I now live, and I suppose in size, and name sake. Also, I do have a grayish huge (he holds up his hand to me). My head is not flat, and I have no bolts. (He laughs).
EWR: Do you have family there?
DFM: I have Ewa, my wife.
EWR: You have a wife?
DFM: Ja, the times are much more progressive. People have understood scars for many years. It started getting better in the 60s and now people are afraid to look at you for too long. They are even more polite. It’s much better than before. My wife is very beautiful.
EWR: Do you have children? (I interject this. He eyes me.)
DFM: No children. I do not think I am capable of having children. This might have been one of the side effects of Dr. Frankenstein’s procedure, or it might have just been something that happened to me in a past life. (He smiles).
EWR: How long have you been married?
DFM: Ewa and I have been together for 15 years. We have been married for 12, I think. Ewa is always upset when I forget. I do it often. I have always been forgetful, another side effect. ( a pause)
EWR: What do you do for a living?
DFM: I work in internet security. As it turns out I am much better with computers than I am with people. Ewa is always telling me this. I started working with computers as early as 1970. I was so intrigued by them. I felt almost like them, at first. The first computer I saw was nothing more than a big calculator, but I was very good with the coding. I think that whatever Dr. Frankenstein did to me, it kept my brain very young.
EWR: What do you mean?
DFM: Like a child I am very good with learning languages. I can absorb them. I am told by Ewa that I see the world like a child, sometimes, and I have a failing memory. It’s very strange. Computers came to me very easily. I helped found 4 internet companies from Sweden. I do not want to disclose the ones I still hold shares in.
EWR: I’ve been told that you are very wealthy?
DFM: I do not have Bill Gates money, but I do ok. (He grins).
At this point he must go. He is telling me he is late for a meeting, and that it has been nice speaking with me. He says I can walk with him. Walking down the street we pass a Halloween shop. In the window there is a cut out of the Frankenstein movie monster.
EWR: Do you feel Iconic? Every Halloween millions of people dress up like that, and it was inspired, partly by your story.
DFM: At one time, long ago, it’s how I thought of myself. Now it doesn’t even occur to me anymore. I have a great life right now. I’m going to a meeting with IBM, and my wife is shopping and will meet me later at the hotel. Besides (he points to the face in the window) that’s out dated, it’s 2016, no one cares if you look like a monster, it’s on the inside that counts. (He walks over to a limo sitting idle in the street. As he opens his door he yells back to me). It never hurts anyone to have a few 100 million in the bank. (laughs)
We have several more meetings later. All of the details will be released in a new novel Spring 2019.