THE RE-CREATION OF A LEGEND

Christopher Lee 2There are few names in popular culture today as famous as that of Dracula. I would go as far as to say that in the western world, the name conjures up an image of one description or another for anyone who hears it, anyone above the age of twelve at least. For me personally, as a youngster anyway and even now to an extent, I see the face of Christopher Lee, who will always enjoy immortality as the on-screen icon. Of course, the name Dracula is not limited only to western culture.

For his iconic status in the modern age I guess we need to thank Bram Stoker, who gave us Dracula the vampire for the very first time back in 1897. From that time forward, his literary classic haunted the imaginations of his countless readers. Of course, over a dozen actors have taken up the mantle of Dracula on the big screen, beginning with Max Schreck’s Nosferatu in 1922. Notable mentions to those who have followed in his footsteps and helped cement the legend that is Dracula would include: Gary Oldman; Bela Lugosi; Lon Chaney Jr; Gerard Butler; John Carradine; and the best of all, Christopher Lee.

Bram Stoker DraculaAnd then there is Dracula the man, the true legend, but about whom so little is known by the wider audience that is captivated by the on-screen vampire. This was a man famous in his own time, as the ruler of Wallachia – one of the three main states that form modern Romania today. He was a man famed for his brutality, even in his own day, and whose method of punishment brought him notoriety long after he was gone. When people hear the name Vlad the Impaler, they are a little more familiar with the man I am describing. Note, this is a nickname not used in his lifetime.

So, when the legend already exists, and there are few bigger than this one, how do you create something new? How do you breathe life into a subject that has already had so many incarnations be it on screen, in books, or in historical texts? What can you write that will capture the imagination of those that already adore Dracula and survive the obvious scepticism that is sure to come? It goes without saying that any such undertaking is never likely to be easy. If it is to succeed, then it will have to be something special and something that stands apart from the rest, to be judged on its own merits.

The first question anyone ever asks me when he/she learns I am a writer, is naturally, “What do you write?” When I tell them the subject of my books is Dracula, I always see the same look in their eyes. Even if it is unintended it is always there, and this is the point I am trying to address. How do you write on a subject that everyone holds a pre-conception of, in a way that is not only going to capture their attention, but also their imagination? If they take the time to investigate further and allow me to explain the concept and premise of my books, then the expression and the look of doubt inevitably changes. It is then I know I have something in my possession that will draw interest over a wide spectrum and possibly see the birth of a new legend.

I have always had my own love affair with Dracula, with both the vampire and the famed voivode. He has intrigued me for decades and given me many a late night trying to understand and know the man he was. I have always wanted to write, but more significantly, I have always wanted to write about him. I wanted to write about both Dracula the man and Dracula the vampire. Even in the earliest days of my project, I knew it was going to need to be something grandiose and epic in scope. And that is what I set out to create. Twenty years on and many books later, The Dracula Chronicles is well on the way to achieving this.

My task, therefore, was to invent a concept where I could focus on building the world of Dracula the man and move into fantasy with Dracula the vampire, and successfully blend the two together. I based my premise on the aftermath of the first Great War of the Angels. This war is a consequence of Lucifer’s jealousy upon the creation of mankind, which leads to a great divide in Heaven and results in him, and those that had sided with him, to be cast out. To end the carnage, God agrees a truce with Lucifer. One of the terms of the truce is that they would contest the soul of every man, though without interfering with man’s free will. If at any time Lucifer controls a greater number of souls, then he can return again to Heaven and oversee the end of mankind.

When it seems that Lucifer might triumph, God sends His son who gives his life on the Cross to free man from sin. This undoes all of Lucifer’s work and leaves him in the same position as he was after the truce. However, on the day of the Crucifixion the Catholic Church is born. It stands as a reminder of God’s great victory over him. As it grows over time, Lucifer comes to believe he must destroy it if he is to turn man against God once more. The candidate he chooses for this immense task is the young Vlad Dracula. In the moment the young Dracula breathes life, so does his half-brother to a gypsy woman on the other side of the country. The Powers of Light bestow the baby Andrei with great power as a balance to the evil Dracula will soon represent.

This is the point where I build the world of Dracula the man. There have been a few noble attempts by others to do this and I am aware of another in progress at the moment. However, the best effort I have read was that written by Michael Augustyn. Even then, his book fell short of what I was looking for personally in Dracula the man. So with the first five books, in the Vlad Dracula arc, I have created his world in its entirety. I have built a profile of a most amazing man with his struggles, his conflicts, his loves and his triumphs, as well as his failures. Despite the image the history books convey of him, my readers will fall in love with Vlad Dracula. I daresay he will be as popular with readers despite being the antagonist of the series, as his brother, Andrei, who is the protagonist of the story. It is in Book #6, Bound By Blood, that I give you Dracula the vampire, as created by Lucifer. He then begins his journey through the ages to bring down the institution of the Catholic Church.

So for those of you out there who may have been waiting for something new from Dracula, or even just a return to the much darker and more traditional vampire with a little something different, I give you The Dracula Chronicles.

DC-Books

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