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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THE RE-CREATION OF A LEGEND by Shane KP O'neill





There are few names in popular culture today as famous as that of Dracula.  I would go as far as to say that in the western world the name conjures up an image of one description or another for anyone who hears it, anyone above the age of twelve at least.  For me personally, as a youngster anyway and even now to an extent, I see the face of Christopher Lee, who will always enjoy immortality as the on-screen icon.  Of course, the name Dracula is not limited only to western culture.

For his iconic status in the modern age I guess we need to thank Bram Stoker, who gave us Dracula the vampire for the very first time back in 1897.  From that time forward, his literary classic haunted the imaginations of his countless readers.  Of course, over a dozen actors have taken up the mantle of Dracula on the big screen, beginning with Max Schreck’s Nosferatu in 1922.  Notable mentions to those who have followed in his footsteps and helped cement the legend that is Dracula would include Gary Oldman, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr, Gerard Butler, John Carradine and the best of all, Christopher Lee.

And then there is Dracula the man, the true legend, but about whom so little is known by the wider audience that is captivated by the on-screen vampire.  This was a man famous in his own times, as the ruler of Wallachia – one of the three main states that form modern Romania today.  He was a man famed for his brutality, even in his own day, and whose method of punishment brought him notoriety long after he was gone.  When people hear the name Vlad the Impaler, they are a little more familiar with the man I am describing.

So, when the legend already exists, and there are few bigger than this one, how do you create something new?  How do you breathe life into a subject that has already had so many incarnations be it on screen, in books or in historical texts?  What can you write that will capture the imagination of those that already adore Dracula and survive the obvious scrutiny that is sure to come?  It goes without saying that any such undertaking is never likely to be easy.  If it is to succeed then it will have to be something special and something that stands apart.

The first question anyone ever asks me when he/she learns I am a writer, is naturally, “What do you write?”  When I tell them the subject of my books is Dracula, I always see the scepticism in their eyes.  Even if it is unintended it is always there, and this is the point I am trying to address.  How do you write on a subject that everyone holds a pre-conception of, in a way that is not only going to capture their attention, but also their imagination?  If they take the time to investigate further and allow me to explain the concept and premise of my books, then the expression and the look of doubt inevitably changes.  And it is then I know I have something in my possession that will draw interest over a wide spectrum and possibly see the birth of a new legend.

I have always had my own love affair with Dracula, with both the vampire and the famed voivode.  He has intrigued me for decades and given me many a late night trying to understand and know the man he was.  I have always wanted to write, but more significantly, I have always wanted to write about him.  I wanted to write about both Dracula the man and Dracula the vampire.  Even in the earliest days of my project I knew it was going to need to be something grandiose and epic in scope.  And that is what I set out to create.  Nine years on and three books later, The Dracula Chronicles is well on the way to achieving this.

My task, therefore, was to formulate a concept where I could focus on building the world of Dracula the man and move into fantasy with Dracula the vampire and successfully blend the two together.  I based my premise on the aftermath of the first Great War of the Angels.  This war is a consequence of Lucifer’s jealousy upon the creation of mankind, which causes a great divide in Heaven and results in him and those that had sided with him to be cast out.  To end the carnage, God agrees a truce with Lucifer.  One of the terms of the truce is that they would contest the soul of every man, though without any physical interference.  If at any time Lucifer controls a greater number of souls then he can return again to Heaven and oversee the end of mankind.

When it seems that Lucifer might triumph, God sends His son who is then crucified to free man from sin.  This undoes all of Lucifer’s work and leaves him in the same position as he was after the truce.  However, on the day of the Crucifixion the Catholic Church is born.  Fourteen hundred years on Lucifer comes to believe if he can destroy the institution of the Catholic Church then he can turn man against God once more.  The candidate he chooses for this immense task is the young Vlad Dracula.  In the moment the young Dracula breathes life, so does his half-brother to a gypsy woman on the other side of the country.  The Powers of Light bestow the baby Andrei with great power as a balance to Dracula.

This is the point where I build the world of Dracula the man and create Dracula the man.  There have been a few noble attempts by others to do this and I am aware of another in progress at the moment.  However, the best effort I have read was that written by Michael Augustyn.  But even then, his book fell short of what I was looking for personally in Dracula the man.  So with the first two tomes, The Gates Of Babylon and Descent To Darkness I have created his world.  I have built a profile of a most amazing man with his struggles, his conflicts, his loves and his triumphs.  Despite the image the history books convey of him, my readers will fall in love with Vlad Dracula.  I daresay he will be as popular with readers, despite being the antagonist of the series from Book 3 onwards, as his brother, Andrei, who is the protagonist of the story.  It is in Book 3, Bound By Blood, that I give you Dracula the vampire, as created by Lucifer.  He then begins his journey through the ages to bring down the institution of the Catholic Church.

So for those of you out there who may have been waiting for something new from Dracula, or even just a return to the traditional vampire with a little something different, I give you the Dracula Chronicles.

A prequel to the series is available now to give a feel for the Chronicles, with Bound By Blood coming out on December 1st.  I invite you to join Dracula and I on our journey through time.


The Dracula Chronicles: Bound By Blood
Shane KP O’Neill

Genre: Gothic Horror

ISBN:  978-0-9556701-0-7
Word Count:   261,281

Cover Artist:  David Evans – GraphicStudio4

Book Description: 

The Dracula Chronicles is the brilliant and terrifying new concept of Dracula. It is an epic journey through the ages where the forces of Light and Darkness struggle for supremacy until the Second Great War, as foretold in the Book of Revelations. This bitter feud began after the creation of mankind. Lucifer’s jealousy leads to the First Great War of the angels. Hundreds of thousands of years on the feud simmers beneath the surface. It plots the course of history as we know it today. Both sides manipulate the major players through the centuries to seek an advantage over the other.  

On a cold night in December 1431 in Sighisoara an old gypsy woman delivers a prophecy to the great Vlad Dracul. She tells him he is about to sire two sons, one an angel and the other a devil. He returns to his fortress just as his wife bears him a son, whom he names Vlad. In the very same moment across the country on the border between Transylvania and Hungary a gypsy girl gives birth to another son, Andrei. The die is cast. The twin souls are born. The young Vlad Dracula becomes the instrument of the forces of Darkness. To balance this, the baby Andrei is blessed by the angels and bestowed with awesome powers. These chronicles are their story.

Book Trailer:  http://youtu.be/MxL9XzO7x28


 About the Author: 

The author developed a fascination with Dracula from an early age.  Like many others he was enthralled by Christopher Lee’s portrayal of him on the big screen.  It was in his late teens that he discovered Dracula the man and the love affair began from there.  An avid historian, he studied the period in which the real historical Vlad Dracula lived, 15th Century Balkan, for many years.  It followed from there then that with his love of writing he would always choose Dracula as his subject.

Away from writing, the author has a wide range of interests.  He has lived and travelled all over the world.  He has a love for all things historical, with a particular fascination for medieval Europe.  Anywhere he travels he likes to search out locations with an historical interest.  He is well read and in recent times has a preference for the work of James Patterson, Carlos Luis Zafon, John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer and Stephen King.  He also keeps his library well stocked with historical texts. 

For a time he played scrabble on the international stage and represented Wales at the 2007 World Championship in Mumbai, India.  He has a real love of sport, most notably football, rugby union, cricket and boxing.  His great loves in the football world are Manchester United, Glasgow Celtic, Internazionale and lowly Luton Town.  His sporting heroes include George Best, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Ian Botham and Muhammad Ali.  His only other activities away from these are long country walks and time spent with friends and family.



@ShaneKPONeill   Twitter


http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/12341417-shane-o-neill  Goodreads



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1 comment:

Wenona said...

sounds like a fantastic read.

Dracula, history, vampires...a new spin on it all....

I'm adding this to my to-read pile.