"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!" (Mary Quallo, St Louis)

"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!"  (Mary Quallo, St Louis)
Coming next week - Carla Eatherington

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Dance of the Vampires: Emma Edwards meets Dracula buff, Shane O'Neill

In the third last Cauldron interview before the summer hiatus (a Wizard's conference, somewhere near Krakow, don't worry about it...), Emma Edwards, sparky, innovative, author of Cardiff vampire novels "Sanguinary" and "Imbrued" takes over from Ngaire in the Cauldron hot seat.  


Emma has become a top friend of mine and is a big supporter of all things Green Wizard and I've been looking forward to seeing her stir the pot, as it were. 

For her interview, Emma chose vampire historian, football nut, Sabbath fan, Nosferatist and big Dracula buff, Shane O'Neill, author of "The Dracula Chronicles." 

...and here's Emma!

Emma: You know I only agreed to this gig because I thought Igor would be here…where is he?

Cousin Igor, at your service, Emma!
Anyway, I digress.  I am in fact very honoured to be asked to take a turn at stirring the Cauldron, especially after the great job Ngaire Elder has done over the past few weeks.
About nine months ago I first stumbled into the business of Indie authordom, I didn’t have much of a clue what I was doing…I had written a book and published it…now what?  

I was very lucky to be approached very early on by Wiz and asked if I would like to include my book in The Independent Paperback Giftshop.  

And am I so glad that he asked because Wiz himself and the fellows of the Wizard’s Court have been amazing with all the support, advice and occasional kick in the butt that I have needed.
I once read a comment that described authors as competitive with a lack of will to help others.  I have found the exact opposite of this to be true.  The Indie authors I have met in the past year have been a great bunch, always supportive and ready to offer advice and help.
Another shining example of this is another good friend I have made since my Indie journey began, fellow vampire author and one time Wales dweller Shane O Neil.  

So I am doubly honoured to be able to spend some time taking over at the Cauldron with Shane.
Welcome to The Cauldron, Shane.  Tell us about your series, The Dracula Chronicles.

The Dracula Chronicles is a series 20 years in the making, and seriously for the last 12.  Originally it was going to be 8 very large tomes, but I’ve started to break them up into novels of about 125k-140k words each, so there could be as many as 15-20 by the time I have finished with it.
The series 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.

Bound by Blood by Shane O'Neill - highly rated old school
 vampire horror
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.

Vlad Dracula - the ruler who started it all

You have published two volumes of The Dracula Chronicles so far, what is next for the series?

Yes I began with Bound By Blood which I broke into Volume 1 & 2 and released together.  This is not the beginning of the series, but the first one where readers will see Dracula the vampire.  I felt it necessary to begin with the vampire first.  In the summer I intend to release the very first book in the series, The Path To Decay.  

This goes back to the night of Dracula’s birth and of course, the birth of his brother, Andrei; sired by the same father but born in very different circumstances.   
What first sparked your interest in Vampires and more specifically Dracula?


When I was about 12 years old and I started babysitting my sisters I often saw one of Christopher Lee’s Dracula movies.  Of course they were quite terrifying at so tender an age and I was completely hooked.  Very soon after that I saw Salem’s Lot, which scared the living crap out of me and hooked me further.  So the interest in Dracula was already there.

Christopher Lee tattoo
I became aware of Dracula the man in my later teens and with my deep love of history I began to study him in great depth.  When I began writing I wanted to create something that combined the two.

This scene from "Salem's Lot" softened my evacuate for a week after I saw it.
The scariest TV movie ever made? And a brilliant book, King's second best - Wiz.
The Dracula Chronicles have been described as ‘a lesson in history’, you must have to do a great deal of research?

I’m still not sure whether to be flattered by that comment or not, but yes it has been said.  As I said this project has been ongoing for a lot of years and it involved a lot of very meticulous research.  The books begin in the 15th Century and I wanted to portray Dracula’s life and times and his character as accurately as I possibly could.  But I have also mixed various legends and folklore in with the real historical events.  The most exciting aspects of writing these novels was where I had opportunities to fill in some gaps not covered by historical texts.  This allowed me to manipulate events to suit my purpose.
You are also very dedicated to the promotion of your works….
Oh yes.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard a truer word spoken.  I use many social media outlets to raise awareness of my work.  

The problem is I tend to overdo it and have promoted my books for as much as 12 hours a day on lots of days.  Not a good thing when you have a wife who doesn’t appreciate what you’re trying to build and wants you for other things.  Something had to give I guess and sadly I’m a single man again.
I believe you are also something of a football fan (as is the great Wizard who is watching over us).  Do you get to go to many matches?  Who do you support?

The very first game I saw live was a pre-season friendly between Luton Town and Manchester United. I was only a little kid but met George Best and Denis Law after the game. There were bars in the football grounds back then and George lifted me up and sat me on the bar where he was standing.  I loved both teams always after that and continued to watch Luton as I lived there until I was 9.  

I watched them a lot in the late 80’s and early 90’s too and also got up to Old Trafford as often as I could.  Sadly I haven’t seen a live game in this millennium.  I also love Glasgow Celtic being that I am an Irishman.
You are also working on a series of short horror stories, the first being the beautifully titled, Orchid.  Can you tell us a bit more about your plans for these short stories?

The horror shorts are called Tales Of The Black Sabbath and each title is named after a song by the legendary hard rock band.  I thought of incorporating lyrics into the stories but decided against it for copyright reasons.  I remember Shaun Hutson doing it years ago though and he had such stories featured in Kerrang magazine.  I have dreamed of that same thing my whole life.

The band (and track) that invented heavy metal and changed my life. 
Up till this point, I was into The Wombles. 
(I love Sabbath...oh and if you go ahead, Shane, I'll send you a 5000 - NIB? :-)
Orchid is the first and is about a young woman who is killed way before her time in a car accident.  As her husband is burying her a mysterious stranger comes to him at the graveside and tells him he can bring her back as long as he doesn’t let them bury her.  The husband can’t resist such an offer and so starts off a chain of events with startling consequences, for such things always come with a price.
I hear you’re also something of a Scrabble Buff?   What was your highest scoring word ever?

Yes I was for a time.  I took the game up in 2004 and really fancied myself as a player though I had no conception of how good the real top players are.  I foolishly boasted I’d make it to the World Championships.  Well I did and in 2007 I went to Mumbai and represented Wales, but had a terrible tournament, my world ranking dropping from 86th to 205th.  I quit the game the same week, having achieved what 
I set out to do.  

My highest scoring word was 301 for QUICKEST through two triple word scores.  In the game we call that a 9-timer as it scores 3x3.  I managed my highest score in that same game with 921.
You recently got re-tweeted by Luke Goss from everyone’s favourite Boyband, Bros….
Oh yes!! I posted a Top 5 on-screen vampires on my blog and ranked him at #1 for his role as Jared Nomak in Blade II.  

Luke Goss - Jared Nomak in Blade II
In all fairness he was brilliant in it.  He is actually a very talented actor and enjoying a flourishing movie career now.  Best of luck to him.  Here is the post if anyone fancies a look.
Jared Nomak is furious with you as you refused to write him a part in the next instalment of the Dracula Chronicles.  He kidnaps you and throws you in his dungeon.  Although, after seeing your blog post where you named him as your #1 on screen vampire (above Tom Cruise as Lestat, the two have a big rivalry…probably…) he relents and decides to allow you a few luxuries…3 books, 2 cds and 1 dvd…what would you choose?
When I started reading the question I thought I was well and truly f*cked.  Thankfully there was light at the end of the tunnel.

My 3 books would be.. Shibumi by Trevanian

Strumpet City by James Plunkett 

...and probably one of your books, Wiz. The Ritual is a book I really want to read.  It looks awesome.

(That's very kind of you, Shane.  At the risk of interrupting like that bloke with the glasses on "Pointless", one of the chapters is based on the Black Sabbath Black Sabbath cover. Anyway, back on with the show - Ed)

Only 2 cd’s? Ugh.. well my favourite album is Spectres by Blue Oyster Cult.  

The second would have to Deep Purple’s 1984 reunion album, Perfect Strangers.  It’s the best I’ve heard.  

1 dvd would have to be Legends Of The Fall. Edward Zwick is a master moviemaker and that, in my opinion, is the best movie of the very many I have seen.
Hollywood is calling….who would be your ideal choice of actors for the on-screen adaptions of The Dracula Chronicles?

I always imagined Benecio del Toro as my Dracula, but I’m leaning towards James Purefoy now.  Alice Krige would be Ilona Szilagy; Michael Wincott as Varkal; Joely Richardson as Ruxandra; Rutger Hauer as Mihnea and maybe Elizabeth Berkeley as Anya; Hugh Jackman as Jean Pelou; And Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer.
For the historic figures Sean Bean would have to be John Hunyadi; Derek Jacobi as Pope Paul V, David Thewliss as Henry VIII… oh there are far too many in truth…But the big movie producers are too scared to touch this.  They could never afford it.

Lucifer himself appears features in The Dracula Chronicles….I have a dog called Luci-fur….

Hmm well my Lucifer isn’t someone you could pet and live to tell anyone about it.  Saying that, he appears as a woman in the early books so some petting is possible, maybe.. Oh Hell, just rub away….

My other dog is called Sparkle (that’s what you get for letting a 3 year old name a dog).  Of course, ‘sparkle’ has much more connotations with another kind of Vampire these days, what do you make of the whole Twilight saga and their sparkling vampires?
Well I am not one to berate another’s work as I know the effort that goes into creating something worthwhile.  I am also aware of the angst between Stephen King and Ms Meyer.  

Saying that, I firmly believe vampires are creatures of darkness.  Mine certainly are.  I have to say I’m fed up of the whole teenage vampire thing.  

As a serious lover of the horror genre I feel these tales with vampire boyfriend/teenage girl really take a lot away from what vampires are supposed to represent.  

My vampires are dark, brutal monsters as they should be.  There is no sparkling in sunlight, no moody teenagers (or werewolves) and not a hair product in sight.  Actually werewolves with vampires annoys me even more.

You are a well-travelled man, Shane and you have also spent a lot of time in good old Wales, where do you consider home?

Yes I have lived and worked all over the world and spent about 17 years in all in Wales.  Home for me will always be a small fishing town in west Cork in the Republic of Ireland.. a beautiful spot called Castletownbere.

Shane, it has been a pleasure to have you on the show tonight. I, and all the Wizardwatchers, wish you all the very best in the future.

Emma, anytime. Loved it...and thanks!

Contact Shane here...









Zoltan, Hound of Dracula 


  1. Emma and Shane brilliant chin-wag guys. Loved it ... Shane I think your Vampire horror books would scare the living daylights out of me ... best of luck! n x

  2. Great interview. I'm glad I'm not the only one whose work was 20 years in the making. I support your author manipulation writing method - person after my own heart. Now, for the casting of Dracula - time machine needed - because Frank Langella ranks number one as the sexiest Dracula of all time - as attested by most of the women who saw him on Broadway. But now, I'm digressing. Best of luck everyone.

  3. Hi, Ngaire, and thanks :-) I meant to ask you if there were any pics available of that incident on the beach in Spain? ;-) Yes, the books are quite scary and indeed, brutal, in parts. However, there are many other elements in them too, including romance... believe it or not.

  4. Mary, have you not seen Love At First Bite with George Hamilton?

  5. Yes I have, Shane - also saw Interview with a Vampire with Tom Cruise et al - Frank Langella is still the sexiest :-)


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