📚 IN DEPTH✏
BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF
HISTORICAL SCIENCE FICTION,
FANTASY & HORROR
SHANE KP O’NEILL
“The ultimate battle of good versus evil. Lucifer begins his assault against God.”
On social media in recent years, I have seen your books as The Dracula Chronicles. Now you have abandoned that project. Can you say why?
There are three reasons why I have elected to do this. I have an excellent team working with me, and we have discussed at length the best way forward for my project. Firstly, I believe people have a pre-conceived notion of who or what Dracula is because of the movies with Christopher Lee, and I felt using the name Dracula in my series has proven more of a hindrance than a benefit. So, I wanted to drop Dracula from the name of the project. Secondly, because I was writing my series in two separate arcs, one with Dracula the man and the other with Dracula the vampire, I had released Books #1, #2, and #6; Book #6, Bound By Blood, being the first of the vampire books. Many people found this confusing so we thought it better to split these into two separate series so that Bound By Blood will now become Book #1 of the second series. The third reason is because another writer chose the exact same name for his series, after me, and I want no association whatsoever with him or his work.
Now that you have taken this step, what is new?
Much has changed actually. I worked with a new editor on Bound By Blood, who I did not have with me for Books #1 and #2. I felt there was much I could improve, and I have done this. I have written much extended editions of the first two books, re-structured them, developed some of the main characters as well as introducing new ones, and added new plot twists. And with my new editor, I feel we have developed a product far more exciting than before with an even greater scope. I wrote an entirely new prequel, The Lamb Of God, to set a solid foundation for all that is to follow. The result is very exciting, even more so for the people who have read the earlier editions of the books.
And what can you tell us about your concept?
My dream always was to write something entirely new and unseen before about Dracula. I have studied his life for over two decades through biographical material and historical archives, as well as novels and other sources. I have never seen anything that quite lived up to the image of the man I have developed in my own mind in this time, and saw it as a vocation to endeavour to create something special that reflected the true essence of this man. I also wanted to create a different vision of the vampire character we are all familiar with, but struggled to find a way to reconcile the two. To achieve this, I decided to set my premise within the Divine Drama, the battle of Heaven and Hell to control the destiny of mankind.
With the prequel, I go back to the beginning of time and then to the story of Creation; the great divide in Eden and the First Great War of the Angels; Lucifer’s fall from grace; the Crucifixion; and beyond as seen through Lucifer’s eyes. To end the war, God agrees a truce with Lucifer whereby Lucifer can contest the soul of every man and woman as long as neither side interferes with their free will. Should Lucifer control more souls than God at any time, he can ascend again to Eden and end God’s experiment with man, restoring the order of things as it was in the beginning. As the battle for souls runs close, God sends his son made man, Jesus Christ, to save his flock. In giving his life of his own volition on the Cross, Christ eradicates man’s sins and Lucifer realises he must begin anew. On the day of the Crucifixion, the Catholic Church was born. Over the next fourteen hundred years, it grows to become the greatest institution on earth. Lucifer believes, then, if he can destroy the institution of the Catholic Church, he can turn man against God once more. He searches for centuries to find his candidate to achieve this. When the Crusades begin to pit Christianity at war with Islam, he feels he will find the one. But it is only when this conflict begins again in the Balkans with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into Eastern Europe, he settles on the second son of Vlad Dracul.
And what is new about your Dracula?
My Dracula resembles nothing that has gone before. I believe he is one of the most wrongly maligned and misunderstood figures in history. He was born the second son to Vlad Dracul, five years before his father took the throne of Wallachia; the same throne his grandfather, Mircea cel Bătrân, had held for thirty-two years. At this time, Wallachia did not have a system of primogeniture where the eldest son succeeded to the throne. Instead, it followed the old Slavic hereditary-elect system where the boyar class elected their voivode, or prince. This led to much strife with various claimants to the throne warring with each other and dividing the country. To compound this, Wallachia and Transylvania to the north, served as battlegrounds in the ongoing conflict between the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires. Each exerted pressure on the ruling voivode in their struggle against the other. During Dracula’s early life, this burden fell on his father. Around the time of Dracula’s sixteenth birthday, the boyars and John Hunyadi, the Viceroy of Transylvania and regent in Hungary, deposed and killed Dracul.
The young Vlad Dracula enjoyed a very brief stint on the throne late in 1448, before winning the throne in battle in 1456. At this time, he faced the exact same problems as his father, and the same boyar class that had betrayed his father. To avoid the same fate as his father, he exacted a brutal revenge against these men on his way to consolidating power. He purged his country of the weak and sick, of the beggars and thieves, and made his economy strong. The popular image that exists today of Vlad Dracula is of a ruthless and brutal man, who impaled and killed close to a hundred thousand people. This is all true. He did these things. But I maintain he committed these acts out of necessity, to make his small nation a formidable one even if sandwiched between two great empires, and living under the threat of subjugation from the Ottomans. When Mehmed did invade in 1460, he was ready for it.
Vlad Dracula is called Impaler, and a tyrant. In reality, he received that moniker more than a hundred years after his death. For me, he was a great ruler; an accomplished leader of men; a brilliantly gifted warrior; and a renowned general way ahead of his time. In effect, he was a genius, a first among equals. This is acknowledged in Romania today, where he is rightly viewed as a national hero. I liken him to the great shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Though he was not a conqueror but for some brutal forays into Transylvania, I believe he ranks close to the likes of Genghis Khan and Julius Caesar as a strategist, tactician, and ruler.
To convey to my reader the true essence of this man, I have re-created in its entirety the world in which he lived: the main players of the day; the religious corruption; the political intrigue and machinations; and the epic battles fought. All of this, allied to the bitter struggles; prejudices; betrayals; and hardships he had to endure give a unique insight into the man he was.
As for my portrayal of Dracula the vampire, I always refer to one review I received on an early edition of Bound By Blood. The reviewer in question was affiliated to a writer who had put out a book continuing the story of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and in bold lettering pointed out my Dracula was nothing like Bram Stoker’s. This is exactly what I set out to accomplish, the only likeness being the name of our characters. I wanted to create something far removed from the original Dracula, and have done so with aplomb.
So what can we expect from you in the months ahead?
I have released first the new prequel, The Lamb Of God, on 31st March, 2016 to lay the foundation for The Lucifer Agenda series. The new edition of Book #1, For Whom The Bell Tolls, has a planned release for 27th May and Book #2, The Path To Decay, has a planned release date for 4th August. I will follow this with Book #3, Lepers Among Us, on or around 29th October. Before I release Book #4, I shall release a new edition of Bound By Blood, which is to be Book #1 of The Lucifer Covenant series. Book #2, The Headless Cross, should follow soon after.
ABOUT SHANE KP O’NEILL
Shane KP O’Neill is the writer of The Lucifer Agenda and The Lucifer Covenant, two new and exciting series of epic dark medieval fantasy adding a fresh dimension to the Dracula legend, which combines the real historical Vlad Dracula with a new and different version of Dracula the vampire. The first series follows Dracula the man and the second Dracula the vampire.
The author has had a lifelong fascination with Dracula. 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 lover of history, 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. He built a concept and premise, centring on the Divine Drama – the battle of Heaven versus Hell – where he could accommodate both man and vampire.
Away from writing, the author has a wide range of interests. He reads a lot of books from a wide variety of authors, though his main interest lies in the horror and historical genres. His love of books is matched only by his love of the countryside and of course, his family. As an added note, 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 and will always hunt for the ruins of an old castle before heading to the beach.
WANT TO CONNECT WITH SHANE?
GREAT INFORMATIVE POST ABOUT YOUR EXCITING NEW SERIES!!
Thanks for visiting Authors In Depth Shane!!