Since Halloween is rapidly approaching, who better to share my space with than a writer of supernatural fantasy? Shane O’Neill, an author who shares my passion for history, answers a few of my questions. I can say after having read his forthcoming Bound By Blood, that his attention to historical accuracy and detail is no less than remarkable.
1. Did you always want to be an author? If not, what else would you have done?
Yes, 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’ve taken my time to try and make my dreams a reality, but after many years of hard work I’m ready to give it a go. I’m my own worst critic and wasn’t 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.
2. Would you rather win the lottery, or end up writing the next big book?
Definitely the latter. It is great to have money and there is of course a financial incentive to trying to be a writer. But more important than that for me would be the recognition from a person in the street that I am great at my craft. I want people to know me for my writing and to say that I’m a good writer. If a stranger was to walk up to me and ask me to sign their copy of my book, that would be the greatest thrill of all.
3.Describe your writing style.
I like to think my style is easy and fast. In the old days I used to write sprawling prose with incredibly long sentences. And then I thought, even though there would be people who would appreciate that, the masses probably wouldn’t. So I fine-tuned everything and cut and condensed it all down. I dropped many big words that I used to use and substituted in words that the guy or girl in the street might more easily understand. I concentrated a lot on readability and fluidity in my work and it changed my style completely. I want to make my reader desperate to reach the next page and to give them something on every page. And so for that reason I never draw the story out. It is as concise as it can be so when I deliver a shock, you will feel it. People say my writing is very cinematic and they can imagine themselves there in the thick of it all as though they were watching a movie. That pretty much sums it up I think.
4. What is the most difficult for you to write: Characters, conflict, emotions?
I’m not sure really. I have been lucky in that when I decide to sit down and write, it just flows. All three are important to give a story real depth and I’ve always striven I suppose to use all three together. I always give my characters depth, be they good or bad, so that my reader will be able to identify or feel for them in some way. And I have taken great pains to work on the emotional side of all my characters to allow my reader inside my characters’ heads and hearts so they can know what they are thinking and feeling. I think it is very important to do this.
5.Was your road to publication a stroll in the park or the voyage of the damned?
I think it is the voyage of the damned for 99.9% of us and it has been much of the same for me. For about 7 years now a lot of the powers that be in the publishing world have known about me and my work, but for one reason or another it hasn’t happened so far. When I first tried to get my books out there the reason I was rejected over and over again was because Elizabeth Kostova’s, The Historian’ was coming out. I can tell you that a few people have read both mine and hers and none of them could understand why I was passed over for that reason. The offers I did receive weren’t to my liking. I felt from those experiences that the only way to avoid being exploited and ripped off would be to go it alone and build a niche for myself in the market. I know I have a great product and a story that people will fall in love with. I just had to be prepared to learn the ins and outs of the industry and put the work in to get my name out there, and that’s what I’ve done.
6. Do you already know what to write next? Can you tell us?
The Dracula Chronicles are a work in progress. In all there will be at least 8 Chronicles and each is a mammoth project on its own. I’m releasing Book 3 first, Bound By Blood, to give my reader the vampire first. This chronicles the period from Dracula’s death in 1476 and takes my reader up to 1612. Then I plan to release Book 1, The Gates Of Babylon, which begins with Dracula’s birth in 1431 and goes as far as 1456 where he wins back the Wallachian throne. Then Book 2, Descent To Darkness, will cover the period in between and bring the three volumes together. Then I shall release each Chronicle chronologically until we reach the present day. I’m also hoping to release a book of short horror stories early next year, titled Tales Of The Black Sabbath.
7. Where do you get your ideas?
I’ve always been an historian and I’ve always had a special love for the period in which Vlad Dracula lived. It followed on from there that I would always write about him. I’ve read virtually everything there is out there about him and felt no one had ever really captured the true essence of the man he was. For that reason I wanted to bring this period of history to life, because it is one of the most fascinating of all. When John Petherbridge read my first book it delighted him that I had introduced him to a period in history he knew nothing about or would have had no interest in. Aside from that my ideas come from a variety of sources. I always have something I am working over in my mind. But for example, the other day, I wanted to pen a short story and asked my wife to throw some ideas at me. She said 3 words… “Necromancer, dead wife.” From that I wrote Orchid, which will feature in my short stories anthology.
8. Where can we find more information about you and your books?
Today you can get a fair bit of information from my Facebook author page Shane O’Neills Dracula Chronicles
From mid November my brand new website will be up and running and that will be packed with information, pictures and excerpts from the books. http://www.draculachronicles.co.uk