A Truth That’s Often Omitted

Martyn Stanley
Martyn Stanley Author Interview

Ofelia follows an immortal vampire who faces a choice to either embrace her immortality or eliminate the vampire race. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

That’s a difficult question because it’s complex. I was actually part way through writing Deathsworn Arc 6: Emergence at around August 2019. At the time I was in Avignon in France and we’d been to the famous bridge and learned all about its history. I can’t explain why, but Avignon inspired me to write the character of Ofelia. The idea for the actual story? Well that goes back to a book I read to my son years ago called ‘The 1000 year old boy’. In that story immortality seems to be presented as a bad thing in a very black and white way. While we were on holiday in France, after we’d left Avignon and driven to the south coast, I got a call from my father to tell me that my mother had been taken into hospital. She’d been terminally ill with cancer for some time, but that phone call marked the beginning of the end. It got me thinking about how transient and short life is, and that maybe we shouldn’t judge people for wanting to live longer. A further inspiration was a good Romanian friend of mine – Nicoleta Mocanu. She lives near Brasov and has been following my Deathsworn Arc series since book 1. We talk books a lot, and though we’re good friends she’s one of my harshest critics. I wanted to give Ofelia an authentic origin story. Nico helped me with choosing many of the names in the book, though she didn’t want me to use Magdalena Florescu as that’s actually a quite common name in Romania. Like a Jane Smith or something? I was writing for a British and American audience mainly though and I liked it, so I went with it anyway. Researching the history of Brasov and Bran Castle, and the surrounding area? That was really when I got who Ofelia was and how she came to be what she was. It’s also how I came to visualise Dealul Negru, Ofelia’s village.

Ofelia is an intriguing character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I think with Ofelia, a key part of her story and character is about what it means to be a child. There are times in the book, when Ofelia seems almost powerless in the cogs of bureaucracy. I was writing this story for a slightly younger audience than my Deathsworn Arc novels and I wanted to capture the frustration youngsters feel when they swept up in adult decisions which they have no influence over. I wanted to explore what the life of an orphan in modern Britain might be like, but at the same time with the added frustration of actually being a 500 year old immortal. Throughout the story I think you get the impression Ofelia avoids relationships with people. I wanted to paint the relationship with Amicia Le Moyne as having been particularly important to her, and also that when that relationship ended it hurt. Perhaps hurt so much she didn’t want to befriend anyone else, only to watch them grow old and die again. The last thing I wanted to portray, was that living for 500 years has made Ofelia unusually pragmatic and logical. I think if we’d seen half a millennia of history unfold like that, that’s perhaps a direction we’d lean in. There were times when I was writing Ofelia that I was quite depressed. I could sense myself trying to avoid having feelings for anything or anyone. With Ofelia’s long and dark history, I thought she’d probably have found herself doing the same thing, particularly while under the influence of the immortal paradox. That was something I wanted to subtly infer, I suppose it’s made a little more obvious in the closing chapters.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Oh, there were so many! Immortality and the morality of immortality is definitely a key one. So many books paint immortality as bad thing to aspire to, but life is never truly as simple as ‘this good’, ‘that bad’. I wanted to to break that genre trope. I also really wanted to explore this idea I’d had of what it would be like for an ancient child-vampire to end up being taken into care against their will and treated like a child. Once I started having images in my head of this, I had to really explore it. I can’t explain why, but I found the idea intensely compelling. The last thing, but maybe the most important thing was a theme which Ofelia shares with my Deathsworn Arc novels. I love subverting reader expectations and breaking genres and tropes. There are various tropes, you can probably guess which ones I’m referring to, that perpetuate YA vampire stories. If there are rules for writing in a genre, then the first thing I will ever do is figure out how I can break them. I was particularly pleased with the vampire lore in Ofelia. To my knowledge, it is completely unique and again once I had the secret for turning vampires figured out, I had to write it. I was immensely satisfied with how that worked out. I didn’t want the antagonists in the story to be evil for evil’s sake, irredeemable monsters. The alternate future Ofelia saw for herself would have happened if Ofelia had chosen that future. I also didn’t want my protagonist to be a squeaky-clean, perfect, Mary Sue. If anyone’s read my Deathsworn Arc they’ll know I’m a big fan of characters making plans, but those plans never quite fall into place as they are supposed to. Almost universally my characters plans either have to be abandoned or adapted on the fly. I think this is reflective of real life, but it’s a truth that’s often omitted from fiction.

This is book one in The Book of Davoth series. What can readers expect in book two?

Book 2 is well under way! It’s called ‘Ouroboros’ or ‘The Ouroboros Ring’ I haven’t decided yet. I actually started writing it BEFORE Ofelia, it was going to be the first in the ‘Book of Davoth’ series. However, I got so swept up in the ideas I’d had for Ofelia that got pushed to the front of the queue. At the moment I’m about half way through writing it. Deathsworn Arc 6: Emergence will be my next release. The Book of Davoth series is really about the book, rather than a specific character. Ouroboros starts following a different protagonist and a different antagonist who is also in possession of a copy of the book. The thing is though, when I read back my paperback copy of Ofelia and started reading the reviews people were leaving for the book… I realised how much I loved the character of Ofelia and how much my readers did too! I had to get Ofelia back. As it happens, I’d been at a stage in the story where I’d ended up in a kind of literary dead-end. The idea of bringing Ofelia into the story REALLY opened up possibilities and showed me a pathway to the conclusion. In effect I think the idea of bringing Ofelia in saved the story. It takes place after the main events of Book 1, but before the epilogue. Will there be another 100% Ofelia-centric book? Yes, that’s either book 3 or 4 in the series. I haven’t decided yet, but it will take place after the events of the epilogue in book 1 and will likely involve the mysterious vampire who Victor went off to turn during book one. As you can imagine, that individual is still around years later, but desperately wants to make more vampires. Except of course he can’t! That’s where the series is going. Book 2 is about an ancient warlock that’s been surviving since the 16th century by stealing younger people’s bodies, swapping minds with them. All using the spells within the Book of Davoth of course. How does Ofelia come into it? Well she ended up with Victor’s copy and she’s been studying it. It’s a dangerous thing and she’s wants to protect the world from the damage the book can do, which was only touched on in book 1.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

From the author of the ground-breaking ‘Deathsworn Arc’ fantasy series, comes a new take on the vampire novel.

For centuries, a hidden clique of vampires ruled Europe from the shadows. Then they created Ofelia. Turned into a vampire against her will at the age of 11 in the 15th century, Ofelia has never aged.

After centuries of hunting vampires, she’s on her way to Stonehenge to perform a ritual, which she hopes will restore her humanity. However, an unfortunate turn of events will see her taken for an orphan, placed in a children’s home and forced to attend school.

When her copy of the ritual vanishes, she loses all hope of lifting her curse.

Worse still, it turns out she hadn’t defeated all the vampires, and the one remaining vampire needs her blood to rebuild the vampire dynasty with him at the head.

Now Ofelia faces a choice: embrace her immortality and usher in a new generation of vampires, or finish what she started.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on November 13, 2021, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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