Interview and Spotlight on The Seraphine Muse Blog 26.11.12

On November 26th 2012, I was featured on The Seraphine Muse blog and interviewed by KaSonndra Leigh. I have posted the interview below.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I’ve been interested in and loved Dracula for as long as I can remember. I used to baby-sit my kid sisters at quite a young age and with my parents out I got to see quite a few of the old Hammer horror movies, and especially those with Christopher Lee as Dracula. And then, at a later age, I discovered the real historical Vlad Dracula.  I always felt it had been my destiny to write, and therefore I wanted to write about Dracula.  But I wanted to do something grandiose with him and epic in scale.  I hope I will achieve that with The Dracula Chronicles series by the time I am finished with it.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes, definitely.  In my younger days, and even in my earlier drafts of my books, I used to write sprawling prose and very long sentences.  Whereas I felt some people would like and appreciate that, I thought that the majority would not.  I wanted to write in a way that would hold appeal for everyone, knowing different people have different levels of literacy. I wanted to reach people who speak English as a second language and maybe even people who read very little or even not at all.  Therefore, I completely changed my style. I focused on making my work much more concise and trimmed it down considerably.  I took out longer words and substituted words that are easier to understand, I shortened my sentences noticeably and concentrated on fluidity and readability.  I made it my goal to have something on every page to keep my reader interested so that when I delivered a shock, they would feel it.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Yes, I’m interested in a few and looking to expand all the time on the people I read, as I like to read a lot.  New writers who have caught my eye would be Luke Romyn, Alexandra Anthony, Samantha Young (whose success pleases me no end), and Joseph Beekman.  I appreciate one or two of these have been around a while, but they’re all new to me.  I’m also very interested in reading the works of A.k. Kuykendall. His books look mouthwateringly good.

What are your current projects?

The Dracula Chronicles. This project actually first saw life 20 years ago, but has been a serious entity for the last 9. There will be 8 Chronicles in all.  Each of them is a mammoth project individually and they each offer a lot to my readers.  I have just released a prequel to the series, ahead of the pending release of Bound By Blood.  This is called Birth Of The Monster, and is available on Kindle from Amazon.

I’m also working on a series of short horror stories, called Tales Of The Black Sabbath, which will be available as individual entities and then together in an anthology where I’ll probably give each a different ending.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Sure, I’d love to. I have so very many excerpts to choose from, but will try and use one no one has seen before.

Chapter 14 – November, 1494. Dracula’s oldest living enemy, Vintila Florescu, sits alone at home awaiting death. His son and heir, Victor, has been murdered and his head sent to him in a box.

The men paused to reflect on their conversation.  Florescu had heard enough.  He stepped away from the window and sat down in his chair.  It was the most plausible explanation for what had happened.  But to murder his son and then send him his head?  That was personal and indicated a real grudge.  Could his nephew dislike him that much?  It gave him plenty to ponder.

He gazed at Victor’s head where it had spent the last four days on the table in front of him.  His tears had long dried up now.  They would do Victor no good.  He was a broken man.  If Death were to call, he would be welcomed.  He sighed hard and then, drinking the last of the wine in his cup, he drifted off to sleep.

His dreams took him back to another time.  He was much younger then.  Dead bodies littered the streets from the fighting.  Smoke hung over the city from the buildings that burned in the aftermath.

A woman stood naked at the gallows.  A rope hung around her neck.  He grinned at her, though she did not seem afraid.  Even then as her moment of death was upon her she showed only strength.  She stared at him, her eyes full of hate.  He hated her as much, but secretly admired her resolve.

Her face remained engrained there in his mind.  He pushed her down naked on her bed.  The bed she had only ever shared with her husband.  He forced her to watch in the mirror, as he took her from behind.  Holding her by the hair their eyes met in the glass.  The first silent exchange of hatred passed between them.
He then sat in a chair.  One after another his men took turns with her while he watched.  He loved every one of her cries though she fought hard to stifle them.  Pound the Draculesti whore his men encouraged each other.  One at a time they did.

Her face remained there.  Purple and swollen it turned as the rope tightened around her neck.  Her legs dangled free, kicking aimlessly against the cold night breeze. A tongue black and swollen protruded from her mouth.  Her eyes bulged as the noose slowly choked the life out of her.  Yet still they burned into his.

He turned his focus on a man much younger than he.  A son crushed by the image of his mother dangling from a rope.  One who had already brought himself much honour on the battlefield.  Battered and bruised, he looked up defiantly.  On his knees he cursed them, each and every one.

Florescu looked down at the hot coals nearby.  He picked out an iron, its metal red and glowing.  A thousand sparks flew against the darkness when he blew on its tip.  The young man eyed it with fear.  He struggled against those who held him down.  It did him no good.

He pressed the hot iron against soft flesh.  A loud hiss followed by the most horrible scream.  Then silence as the molten iron ate through all in its wake.  Flesh and bone melted into one.  He saw a blinded convulsing body thrown down into an open grave.  It was an image he could not escape.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Yes, absolutely. It was my ambition to write a novel or novels in which I re-created the world in which the real Dracula lived and breathed.  I have seen a few noble attempts at this by other writers, but none that satisfied me as a reader and a student of his life and times.  So I took it upon myself to attempt this and to do it within the scope of my premise – Lucifer trying to ascend again to Heaven through the destruction of the institution of the Catholic Church – was definitely a challenge.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Probably trying to do that which I spoke of in the last question, without altering any true historical fact.  I have had to carefully manipulate real historical fact and real historical figures to fit around my plot.  I absolutely loved doing this, but at times it proved quite a difficult task.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Absolutely.  When conducting such extensive research on a project you are sure to be better educated as a result, even in areas you know well.  This was true for me.  I also stumbled upon many legends, which I have used in all the books, in spite of the fact their historical accuracy might be deemed a little dubious.

I also learned how to be better at my craft.  However good, or bad, a writer may be, writing and writing will always improve them.  This applies to me too.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Yes, definitely.  The Dracula Chronicles will not disappoint.  They will open your eyes to a breathtaking new world.  It is labeled a Gothic horror, but it is so much more than that.  One of the aspects that make this series so exciting is that it crosses over into many genres.  It is a sprawling historical adventure, a paranormal fantasy and a romantic tragedy laced with erotica.  On the surface it might appear to be a man’s book, but it is far from that.  It is a book for women too.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

Well, as an historian myself my biggest fear was to make an error with my historical content and be pulled up on it by an expert in the field.  Therefore, I have had to be meticulous with my preparation to ensure I got it right.  And then to maintain historical accuracy around my premise threw a few obstacles my way that I had to negotiate.  I also wanted to create a fresh Dracula legend that lovers of vampire lore would like and admire and that was uppermost in my mind as I put this project together.

Read the full spotlight and interview at The Seraphine Muse

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