InterviewGood morning Shane! I'm so glad you could join me today and I can't wait to find out more about you and your books :) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
(Smiles) This seems to be the question I am always asked first. I knew it from a very early age. From the time I was 8 or 9 years old I felt it was my destiny to become a famous writer. I started writing my first stories and poems around that age. I have taken my time to try and make my dreams a reality, but after many years of hard work I am ready to give it a go. I am my own worst critic and was not prepared to take that step until I was sure my work was as good as it can be. I never wanted to do anything else in life other than be a writer.
Haha well it is such a fascinating question ;) What has been the most difficult part about being a writer?
For me it is probably the editing process. Even when I create something that is good or very good, I am always striving to improve it or make it more concise. It seems to take me a long time to be satisfied with something I have written, even when other people love it. I guess I need to detach myself from it more than I do, and leave that area to other professionals. But when it is your baby, it is very hard to do this. Bound By Blood could have been ready five years ago, but it is only now that I am fully satisfied with my final product.
Yes, editing could definitely be very difficult. With my book, I stood back for it for quite a while so it wasn't so bad to edit, but I imagine it could be quite difficult if I go straight from writing to editing! Who are your favorite authors?
When I was younger I read only horror novels. And whereas I still like Stephen King, I tend to read writers such as James Patterson, John Grisham and Jeffrey Archer. I also like Carlos Luis Zafon. He knows what he’s doing.
Definitely a great bunch of authors :) What authors inspire you?
All authors inspire me. There is an old adage that there is a book in everyone. Certainly there is a story in everyone, as we all have interesting lives in one way or another. But to actually write that story down and to do so in a way that will appeal to the masses is something else entirely. So, for those people out there that have achieved this, they inspire me.
Love your response to that one because I feel much the same way! Do you like to plan your scenes out or do you just wing it?
A bit of both really. In days gone by I would often write a skeleton for my book or certain points I wanted to work towards. Because I write chronologically, I often write three segments of a story at the same time and slowly bring them together. But it is often the case with me that I am writing a piece and suddenly fresh ideas come to me that I integrate into my storyline.
Ok, now that's pretty awesome that you write three segments at once. I think I'd manage to confuse the hell out myself, but I see why it would help with chronologically written books! What type of books do you like to read?
I still like the horror genre especially. But as an historian, books set in an historical context will often attract my interest, especially if they are involved with areas of history I am familiar with. As I get older I am being more drawn to books where I can just relax and lose myself. I am also reading books these days that have relevance in my own personal life. An example of that would be someone like Gary Chapman. There is much we can learn from men like him, and I am one such a person that has.
I agree completely with loving books that let you relax and lose yourself. There are some out there that require too much brain power to get through, and I just have to avoid them. I think enough when I'm at work lol. What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to read of course. I enjoy some TV, though I much prefer radio. I love walking out in nature with the people who are special to me and generally spending time with those people, whatever we may be doing. Exploring locations that have an historical significance really appeals to me and I like to cook too.
Now that's pretty cool, not too many people prefer radio over TV. Radio is becoming such a lost art and I love that there are those who still enjoy it :) Where is your favorite place to vacation?
I am not too sure actually. I have been all over the world, but the place I enjoyed most of any of them was New York and Long Island. So that would have to be my answer. There are a couple of locations I have not yet visited that I would dearly love to experience…namely in Italy and Romania.
Oh, yes you must visit Romania if you're going to write about Dracula. It's a moral imperative ;) Your book focuses on Dracula so I have to ask…what’s your favorite vampire movie of all time?
My favourite vampire movie does not feature Dracula at all. That would be Salem’s Lot.
I have never heard of it, but now I'm intrigued. Def going to check that out! I must admit to always being fascinated by the real Vlad Dracula. Just in case others aren’t quite as familiar with the real historical figure, could you give us a little information about him?
He was a man born into privilege, descended from a long line of rulers in Wallachia. His mother was the daughter of the ruling voivode in Moldavia to the north. Dracula was an amazing man, and light years ahead of his time. He was a truly gifted warrior and a master tactician in warfare. After winning back the throne, that was his father’s, in battle he had to fight to keep it. Although he was brutal in power, his methods turned the economy of his country around in a very short time. He then had to face a mighty invasion from the Ottomans and ultimately lost his throne again. After spending thirteen years as the prisoner of King Matthias of Hungry, he won his throne back a third time, though he died from his injuries sustained on the battlefield. He was a truly remarkable man.
Doesn't that sound epic lovelies? Such a fascinating, albeit brutal man. Why did you choose to write a vampire series?
I love vampires, as many of us do. And people already have a general notion of Dracula as a vampire. To fit with my concept, Lucifer needed to create a creature that would live on through the ages to achieve his aim of destroying the institution of the Catholic Church. So why not use the vampire?
Love it! Vampires are insanely popular right now, but from what I’ve seen, Bound By Blood is in a class of its own. What sets your book apart?
Thank you, Lindsay, that is a very glowing endorsement and one that put a smile on my face. I think the answer to your question is that Bound By Blood is not so restricted. By that I mean it crosses many genres and will have appeal to a lot of people. It is not just a Gothic horror or a vampire story, as it would appear. It is also an historical adventure, a romantic tragedy, a paranormal fantasy that is laced with erotica. But even the erotica is very tastefully written and focuses more on the thoughts and emotions of my characters while engaged in such acts, as opposed to something that could be considered smutty or pornographic. One woman who has read this book and one of my others commented to me that she never believed a man capable of writing with such emotion and sensuality. I hope that if this is truly the case then it will attract a lot more female readers to my work. On the surface it has the appearance of being a man’s book, but in truth it is not that at all. The Dracula Chronicles cross many boundaries and will have a widespread appeal I am certain.
Aw, I'm glad I made you smile! What has been the most fun about working on your books?
I would say re-creating the real world in which Dracula lived and playing with real historical figures that many people will already know so much about, and some that are not so well known. Breathing life into these real people, as well as my fictional characters, is what I enjoyed the most. And definitely building the character of Dracula himself.
See, that's why I like writing paranormal books where I can create my own worlds ;) I admire those who do try to re-create existing ones! It's not an easy thing to do. Since your character is based on an actual historical figure, have you tried to bring in a lot of historical detail, or have you added your own twist?
Yes absolutely. I have set my premise and my story within the context of real historical events. I would never deviate from historical truth so I just carefully manipulate the real facts for the purpose of my story, but try to do it as subtly as possible. Real historians may appreciate some of what I have done. I have also filled in a few gaps that historical texts do not account for to suit my purpose, though I hope real historians would view those as valid theories for what could have actually happened in those situations.
Even more reason to read your book! Tell us about your latest release.
I am releasing Book 3 first so that I can give my reader the vampire from the very start. The story begins with Dracula’s final triumph on the battlefield. He is mortally wounded and as he lays dying in the nearby monastery, Lucifer comes to claim him, but instead of harvesting his soul he creates the first vampire. So Dracula gains his immortality through having Lucifer’s own blood coursing through his veins. Lucifer sets him the task of turning man against God by destroying the institution of the Catholic Church. This leads Dracula on an epic journey through the ages and sees him involved in every situation throughout the 16th century where the Vatican’s influence is harmed. Therefore, he propagates the Reformation in 1517, ensures a Spanish victory over France in the Italian Wars of the 1520’s, the split between Henry VIII and Rome, and so on. But this is just the vaguest of outlines. The book involves so much more.
Now lovelies, doesn't that sound badass? What has been the hardest scene for you to write?
I am not really sure if there was an actual scene that was difficult to write. The hardest part probably of writing a novel that is an historical adventure is actually incorporating historical narrative without sending the reader to sleep. For me, no historical content is boring, but that may not be true for everyone. Sometimes I can use dialogue to deliver this, but it is not always possible to do so and on occasion narrative cannot be avoided. This is what I find hardest to write in my books.
Yeah, I could see how that would be hard to write. The challenge of any book is adequately balancing your narrative sections so you don't overwhelm the reader. Were any of your characters more challenging to write about than others?
They were all challenging to a degree, especially the real historical characters, as I had to give them all personalities and have them interact with each other and the vampires, and be believable. The fictional characters were the easiest to build.
I seriously can't imagine how hard it would be to have to write the characters that way. I can't wait to get a few minutes to myself so I can start reading your books! Do you have any favorite characters from your book?
In the first two books I, of course, most enjoyed creating Dracula the man and giving my readers a true picture of the man I believed him to be. In Bound By Blood the two characters I enjoyed the most were Varkal and Ruxandra. Varkal is a fictional illegitimate son of Dracula’s. He is absolutely despicable in every way and I enjoyed working on him, and building a character I expect my readers will loathe. Ruxandra is Dracula’s real granddaughter and I convey her to be the exact opposite. Despite still being a monster created from Darkness, she is sensitive, loving, sensual…essentially everything that Varkal is not.
Oh she sounds awesome! How many books are you planning for the Dracula Chronicles and can you tell us anything about the future books?
There will be eight Chronicles in all. Book 1, The Gates Of Babylon, begins with Dracula’s birth in 1431. Book 2, Descent To Darkness, chronicles the period from 1456 where Dracula wins back his throne and takes us up to his death in 1476, which is where Book 3 begins. Bound By Blood then continues on to 1612. Each book then moves through the centuries and brings us up to the modern day. The series will end with Revelations and will centre on the Second Great War of the Angels. Each story is an epic that I am hoping will have you all hooked for more.
Yay! Always love when I discover authors who plan to write lots of books :) Gives me assurance I'll always have fantastic books to read ;) We are just about out of time but can you tell us what's next for you?
In 2013 I am actually looking to release a series of horror shorts called Tales Of The Black Sabbath. I will then release an anthology of these, but most likely with variant endings to keep you all interested. The Gates Of Babylon will also be out in 2013.
Thank you so much for joining us today! Is there anything you'd like to give your readers before you go?
Yes, of course. I’ll give you an excerpt from Chapter 65. It is November 1530 and Wolsey has been arrested at Cawood Castle near York and is on his way south to London to stand trial for treason. While at Leicester Abbey, Dracula goes to him and drinks the blood of the sentry standing guard. Now the dead soldier is re-animated as a vampire drone to kill the cardinal.
His words confused Wolsey. But he soon had an idea of what was to come. He saw the hand of the soldier clutch at the blankets on the bed. It dragged them down as the soldier pulled himself up.
Wolsey gasped with horror when he saw him. The man’s face had grown distorted. He no longer looked human. His skin was rough and blemished. His cheeks pulsated and throbbed. Two grotesque fangs curled down over his lower lip.
Dracula found it hard to contain his excitement. It was an idea that had been with him a long time. Now he had realised it. In spite of what Mihnea had done with Iaxici, he had created the first true vampire drone.
The drone glared at Wolsey. It hissed before turning to look at its creator. The hunger ate at it inside. But it waited until Dracula gave a nod for it to act.
In a flash it leapt at the cardinal. The holy man fell back on the bed, as the drone pinned him down. He tried to fight it off, but could not. Saliva dropped down from the monster’s mouth onto his face. He pushed against it with both hands, but was fighting a losing battle.
“Holy man, you too are damned for all eternity.”
Dracula knew he could not bite Wolsey himself. To do so would mean instant death. Wolsey’s blood would be like acid in his veins. For that reason he needed to find another way. He knew he could do this if he drank enough of a mortal’s blood to kill him. This would leave the virus from his own blood in that of the mortal. The source of this came from Lucifer. It meant Dracula did not have to initiate the change. The dead mortal would come back to life on its own. Mihnea had done the very same thing. His son told him as much.
He grinned, as he eyed the drone. Not enforcing the change had many effects. The drone had not drunk from him. That meant it had lost some of the functions it once had. Much of its brain had seized. Death had damaged it beyond repair. Only the blood of its creator could restore it. The power of speech was gone. At the time of death it did not disembowel. That left its internal organs intact. The result was the discolouring and bulging of the skin. It was a vampire, but a primitive version.
The drone differed in other ways. It had not drunk from its maker. This would have one other drastic effect. It could never quench its first thirst. The blood of its maker was all that could do that. That meant it would always have an insatiable need for blood. Human blood and flesh could only ease it for a short time. Then it would need more. It would continue to fulfil its cravings until it finally rotted and died. Without the blood of its maker it could not enjoy immortality.
It eyed Wolsey. The need to devour the holy man whole burned within. It did not know of the dangers. Even then its needs would still drive it on. The virus would pass from it to Wolsey. If it perished before killing him, Dracula still got what he wanted. Wolsey too would become a drone. The virus inside him would then dissolve him to nothing when mixed with his consecrated blood. His blackened soul would make the quick journey to Hell. There it could never escape, not for all eternity.
The drone drove its fangs deep into the softness of his neck. Wolsey cried out in agony, as it ripped at his flesh. It tore the artery and other tissues. Wolsey was barely conscious when it dived at him a second time. It bit out a large chunk from beneath his ear and wolfed it down.
Wolsey no longer put up a fight. His blood sprayed all around, as the drone continued to rip chunks out of his neck and throat. Dracula had to dive to one side. He did not want Wolsey’s blood anywhere near him, not even on his skin.
It drove its long claws into Wolsey’s face. They raked his cheeks and the skin on his forehead. With its thumb it punctured one of his eyeballs. The orb popped out and hung against the side of his face. With amazing speed the drone lunged at it and gathered it in with its tongue, swallowing the orb whole. The soft jelly dissolved in its gullet. The drone then gasped as the mush eased down into its belly.
The drone suddenly cried out. The cry was that of a wounded and dying animal. It moved away from the bed. The dripping blood on its chin began to sizzle. The drone grabbed at it as it burned. Its lower lip came away in its clawed hand.
It jumped from the bed in a panic. Crying even louder now it ripped clumps of hair from its head. Steam oozed from its ears and nose. Very soon that turned to smoke. The drone’s flesh pulsated and bulged. The smoke started to billow out of every pore.
Its skin began to crack all over. Every vein in its body burned through. Wolsey’s blood had to find a way out and it broke through the drone’s flesh. As it did so it caused hundreds of tiny explosions.
With each outlet the blood found it caught fire on the drone’s skin. The flames soon merged into one blazing mass. The heat was so intense that Dracula had to step away. The drone’s eyes popped like eggs falling against the ground. Blind now the drone staggered about the room. It clutched at its face, its hands melting almost at once into its head.
Dracula sensed what was to come and put an arm up to shield his face. The drone erupted in one huge explosion. A million pieces sprayed the walls and ceiling. Even then the charred fragments still sizzled against the cold stone. Soon the bits of the drone smouldered away to ash. It left a sharp acrid odour in the air.
Wolsey groaned from the bed. Dracula did not realise he was still alive. In the last few moments he seemed to have aged another ten years. His face looked deathly pale. Long red streaks covered it where the drone had clawed him. Sweat oozed out of his pores. It trickled into his one remaining eye, turning it red in parts.
He tried to speak, but no words came out. Speech was beyond him. He reached out feebly, but his hand dropped again at his side. Soon he began to choke. He struggled for breath, as his lungs finally collapsed. He endured another thirty agonising seconds before his heart gave out and he died.
Dracula had seen enough. He had no desire to hang around. Taking one last look at Wolsey he left the abbey. The night smelt good. He was glad to be out in the crisp air once again.
The racket woke everyone inside. They had all heard the drone’s cries. The king’s men rushed to the room. They found the door ajar and no sign of the soldier.
Suffolk was the last of the three to arrive on the scene. He found his friends stooped over and being sick. The images inside the room caused him to recoil in horror. He saw the remains of the soldier smouldering all over the walls. The smell was awful. It forced him to put a hand to his nose.
He walked over to where Wolsey lay on the bed. The cardinal showed no signs of life. He placed his fingers inside the gaping wound to make sure. The old bastard is dead he thought.
Suffolk knew this was not good for him. He had to bring Wolsey back alive to stand trial. How could he ever explain this? He knew he might end up taking his place, despite his great favour with the king. The thought of losing his head filled him with dread. But that was the reality he faced.
The artery throbbed and expelled a small gush of blood. With a quick jolt he snatched his hand away. His friends glanced up when he cried out. He stared down at his hand as though his fingers were about to fall off. The others saw the blood. It led them to think too that Wolsey was dead.
A hand grabbed him by the wrist. He tried to pull away, but it held him firm in its grasp. He looked down and realised the hand belonged to Wolsey. His heart leapt in his chest. As soon as his throat cleared he let out a terrified scream.
D’Arcy and Percy got to their feet. They drew their swords and walked to the foot of the bed. Wolsey released his hold on Suffolk and sat up.
They looked down at him in disbelief. Saliva drooled from the corners of his mouth. His thirst had already begun to build. He eyed the two men before him with real menace. Suffolk remained at his side, paralysed to the spot with fear. Wolsey parted his lips and hissed at Percy. All three of the men saw the fangs that extended down over his chin.
Suffolk seized his chance to move away. In the same moment Wolsey rose into the air until he floated in an upright position a few inches over the bed. To all three of them he seemed to move with no effort. He grinned evilly at them. The speed of his actions prompted them all to step back. They stood and faced him with swords poised. Suffolk could not believe his eyes. It looked like Wolsey, but it was not he.
Wolsey relished the power in his limbs. The smell of blood drove him crazy. He had to have it. All of it. He raised his arms into the air. His clawed fingers curled in a threatening pose.
Suddenly he groaned, as his skin began to smoke. He looked down at his hands in horror. The consecrated blood in his veins had started to reject the virus in his body. The white of his remaining eye turned blood red. His veins ripped through his skin. They rippled like the roots of a tree pulled out of the ground.
He put his hands to his face in a vain hope that it might ease the pain. Instead his fingers melted into his flesh, the phalanges fused to his jawbone.
Every man present made a dash for the door. Suffolk stopped there and turned around. He watched as Wolsey’s feet burst into flames. They ignited the bed at the same time. The cardinal screamed in agony when the flames engulfed him. He dropped to his knees and clawed wildly at the air.
His blood grew so hot his veins finally exploded. It flew like hot acid through the air. A monk had stood near to Suffolk to pray for Wolsey. It hit him full in the face. He dropped his bible and screamed.
Suffolk caught him in his arms when he fell back. The liquid had scalded him and his body trembled from the shock. Already the monk’s face glowed bright red and had begun to blister.
Some of the other monks came to his aid. They picked him up and carried him away. Suffolk moved a little further out through the door. He stayed there with his eyes still trained on Wolsey.
He heard the crunch as Wolsey’s bones dissolved to dust. As soon as they had gone the body imploded. The vacuum it created snuffed out the fire in an instant. A mess of charred flesh and hot ash remained. It burned a hole clean through the bed before falling in a pile on the floor.
Suffolk looked on as the furniture in the room rocked and toppled over. The bible the monk had dropped rose into the air. It tore down the middle and shredded before his very eyes. The room fell silent once more. Only the foul stench in the air remained as evidence of what had just gone on in there.
Alright lovelies, doesn't that sound like an awesome book to read?! Thank you so much, Shane! I'm so glad you could sit down with me today so we could learn more about you and your books!
Bound by Blood
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.
Meet Shane O'Neill
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.
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