Christoph Fischer Interview with Shane O’Neill

On Tuesday, November 12th I was interviewed by the very talented writer, Christoph Fischer. He is the writer of three great novels based in pre-WW2 Europe, an area of great interest to me. He is also an accomplished and prolific reviewer, and has reviewed a lot of my work. It was a real privilege then for me to be posed this set of questions by him.

Tell us a little about yourself as a writer and a person.

The writer has been in me for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid I wrote poems and short stories. It is what I have always wanted to be, though I have taken my time with my project. I wrote the first parts of it all the way back in 1984, about 50k words that will appear in one of the much later books. Then in 1992, I started the project proper. It took me thirteen years to write Reckoning Day and a first draft that is over 350k words long. I immediately followed it with Bound By Blood and The Gates Of Babylon, which I have since broken up into separate books owing to the length of the originals. I try and write in a way that engages the reader on every page. I want my readers to see everything as though they are standing there in the middle of it all. Many people have told me they do indeed feel this when they’re reading my work. Also, I want my reader to feel everything that each of my characters are feeling, and I go to great pains to achieve this.
As a man, I am someone who is devoted to those he loves, though circumstances in my life have often kept me apart from my loved ones. I am dedicated in the things I do, passionate over the things I care about and I try always to consider the feelings of others, whatever the situation.

What is it that fascinates you about Dracula? Is there a particular thing? When did the obsession begin?

The whole ethos that surrounds Dracula captivates me. I was sucked in from a young age with Christopher Lee’s portrayal of him on the big screen. His Dracula terrified me with his bloodshot eyes and long fangs, yet I was forever drawn to him. I watched all the other vampire/horror movies of the 1950’s and 1960’s, hooked on the adrenaline rush one gets from watching these at such a young age.
My interest, and yes, obsession, with Dracula grew over time when I discovered the real Vlad III Dracula who lived in the 15th Century. I collected and read so many texts over the years that I felt as though I knew him. Of course, historical texts lack a feel for who he was and the novels I read that attempted to create this, fell well short of who I saw him to be. Therefore, I made it a vocation to bring him to life in my books, but as a combination of both.
I do strive however to distance my character from Bram Stoker’s. The only similarity they share is their name. It irks me when people call my work a new take on an old legend, because it is nothing of the sort. This is an entirely new concept that bears little or no resemblance to the Stoker classic.

What made you decide to write such historical accounts of Dracula and when did you begin to write the other stories?

I began writing Reckoning Day, a part of the story based in the late 20th Century. After every three chapters I was going back in time to 1476 to the time of Dracula’s death. Initially, I wanted to give an origin and a background to the vampire in the story. When this part of the story continued to grow, I separated it and turned it into a book in its own right. Using the premise of Lucifer trying to ascend again to Heaven through the destruction of the institution of the Catholic Church, I had so much scope to work with. I put Dracula behind the scenes of every major event in the 16th Century where the influence of the Vatican was harmed or compromised. This allowed me to write about Martin Luther, Niccolo Machiavelli, the Borgias, the Tudors, and many of the great kings and popes of the day.
But I wasn’t satisfied with that, and after writing the section of the story from 1476 to 1612, I wanted to go back further in time to Dracula’s birth. I had planned to write about ten chapters and put it in at the beginning of the existing book, but 300k words later, I had only reached the halfway point in his life. I was, and still am, so in love with that period from 1431 to 1456 and the combined histories of the Romanias, Anatolia, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary that the words just continued to flow. That will now become three books. I still have to cover the period from 1456 to his death twenty years later.

Tell us a little about the history of the books and your writing. How long did it take you to write and publish?

I have answered this question, in part, already. As I mentioned earlier, the first book I wrote – Reckoning Day – took me thirteen years to complete. It is a huge book though and will probably become 3 separate books at some point. I had a representative at that time who was well connected in literary circles around New York. She showed Reckoning Day to several of the publishing houses and well-established agents there. At the time, Kostova’s The Historian was due for release and the popular opinion was that it would not be a good time to have two Dracula novels competing with each other at the same time. I did have a couple of offers though, which I rejected. Some people have scorned me for doing this, but in hindsight it was the correct decision. The one publishing house I rejected certainly would have made my name well known. But had I chosen that route at that time, I’m not sure my concept would have evolved as it did and therefore I am happy with where I am today.
In 2006, I wrote the two large tomes that have now become Chronicles #1, #2, #3, #6 and #7. Over the next six years I re-wrote these between six and ten times, refining the story and bringing it all together. I released the two vampire books, #6 and #7 in December, 2012 and am now releasing #1 this week.

What is the easiest about writing and what is the hardest?

The easiest aspect for me has always been writing the story. Whenever I have sat down to write, the words just flowed for me. The hardest and most tiresome part will always be the editing process.

What is your favourite scary movie?

Definitely The Omen. An absolute classic.

What are your next projects? Have you written anything else?

Aside from The Dracula Chronicles, I will only be writing horror shorts for the foreseeable future. Those shorts are part of a series called Tales Of The Black Sabbath. In these, I explore the darker recesses of the human psyche.

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

Life is very busy with work and getting my books out there. Norway isn’t the easiest country to make it as a foreigner, but I do have many good friends here.I work in mental health for the local authority. The greatest pleasure I have is time with my son, or with my daughters when I’m in the UK. Otherwise, I like being out in the countryside or enjoying a coffee with friends.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

Yes I’ve met and read books by some very good Indie authors. Some examples would be Luke Romyn, Katie Jennings, Ashley Fontainne, Travis Luedke and John Dolan. I hear this guy, Christoph Fischer, is really good too.

Lol. Thank you. What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

Ugh I don’t really know. Maybe that when I love someone, it is absolute. On the negative side, I’m always re-stacking the dishwasher after people as it drives me nuts when everything just gets thrown in there.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

I’m a dog person myself and used to keep German Shepherds. I love those dogs. My favourite colour would be purple, closely followed by green. I love many outdoor activities, but walking out in the woods or in the wilds would probably be my favourite.

What would you take to a remote island?

The woman of my dreams, my vinyl collection and my laptop.

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

Oh, what a question. There are so many amazing people out there that I’d have loved to have had dinner with and chat to. Sadly, some of them are no longer with us. I wouldn’t mind having Marg Helgenberger around for dinner, though I’d probably be too busy staring at her to say much of anything.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

At the moment I’m working on the final draft from my 3rd editor for Chronicle #2, The Path To Decay, which I hope to release in December and then it is on to the final re-writes of Chronicle #3, The Gates Of Babylon. I also want to release a couple more of my horror shorts over the coming months. Busy, busy, busy. I try to keep all the information updated on my website www.draculachronicles.co.uk

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

I just want my readers to know that my primary objective is to entertain you. Nothing gives me more pleasure than mails and correspondence with people who have been wowed by what I have written. The Dracula Chronicles will introduce you to a fascinating world, engaging you with characters some of you may already be familiar with, and others that you won’t have heard of before picking up one of my books.
These stories are historical novels of Gothic horror, full of political intrigue, religious corruption, great battles, tragedy and romance. The premise is built completely around true historical events, which I manipulate to integrate my concept, though without deviating from the true course of these events. I also use myth and legend where necessary and I have filled one or two holes that historical texts do not give full clarification to. With all these elements combined, it makes for a captivating series of reads.

 

Shane KP O’Neill is the writer of The Dracula Chronicles, a new and exciting series adding a new dimension to the Dracula myth. He has begun the series with a later Chronicle to give his readers the vampire first. The series then continues on with Chronicle #1, For Whom The Bell Tolls, to take you back to the beginning. 

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 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 where he could accommodate both Dracula the vampire and Dracula the man.

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 genre.  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.

Thanks to Christoph Fischer for the interview.

Be sure to visit his website to read more reviews and interviews

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