What would you do if you were forced to lead an existence that required you to forget your past and succumb to bestial instincts? Author Richard A. Delgado tackles this question in the first book of his new series The Ancient Chronicles: The Newborn. In it, readers meet Leonardo Le’ Muerte, a young man who’s suddenly turned into a fledgling vampire. Without fully realizing the implications of this transformation, Leonardo is forced to adjust to a darker side of life and confront many demons, inside and out.
I am a major vampire enthusiast and I’m always on the hunt for new vampire fiction, so I was eager to sink my fangs into Delgado’s tale of the undead. As I was taking in the story, the vivid descriptions stood out. The author has a background in animation, and it made me wonder if his aptitude for illustration enriched his ability to draw up scenes in such detail. From the settings to the appearance of the characters, particular attention is devoted to imagery, reminding me a bit of Anne Rice’s descriptive writing style.
The tale is set in 18th-century Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and opens with the protagonist Leonardo as a young boy. Action quickly escalates within the first chapter when he loses his family in a horrific manner while he’s away. He only realizes what happened upon discovering the bloody aftermath in his home. Leonardo has no clue who committed the massacre, but he is determined to discover the killer and have revenge. The ensuing chapters lay out his journey where he works as a slave from childhood into his adult years, then is eventually bitten and transformed into his nocturnal form by a vampire named Boris.
In the narrative, his struggles to come to terms with this new identity plague his soul; he’s desperate to hold onto some semblance of his humanity, but also desires to fully acclimate to the vampiric existence. The character’s trials parallel the human experience of confronting one’s shadow self and surrendering to the darkness.
Without giving away any spoilers, I will say the ending is not what I expected. You’ll have to read it, though, to see if you saw the conclusion coming.
The Newborn is Richard Delgado’s debut novel and for his first endeavor, it’s an engaging read. Originally hailing from Monterrey, Mexico, the author grew up in Houston, Texas, and now resides in Southern California where he works in animation. In the following interview, he discusses his experience writing the book and his plans for the series.
Q: What attracted you to the world of vampires?
A: I say it was watching the live action movies, such as Interview with the Vampire, The Lost Boys and Bram Stocker’s Dracula. I remember when I was just seven or eight years old, I would watch them with my older siblings almost every other weekend, and for the most part it was always those kind of fiction movies. To tell you the truth, I was scared of them at first, but then later, as you grow older, you start seeing them from a very different perspective. One starts to appreciate such fiction stories like these, not always the darkness of it, but the beauty behind the monsters, if that makes sense. However, it was the fascinating literary works of author Anne Rice that introduced me to this kind of world. So, I must thank her for that opportunity for me to be engaged in her fiction storytelling. She technically was one of my influences to become a fiction author myself.
Q: I’ve read many vampire stories and your plot is interesting in how you focus specifically on the “newborn” experience of the protagonist Leonardo. I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, but the story does include much tragedy. Why did you take this perspective?
A: I would say because with most “newborn” vampire’s immortality and great power such as theirs comes great sacrifice of oneself. Throughout the past decade I have seen many vampire movies, TV shows, etc. All pretty much would tell the glorious tales of an immortal—that to have such a power like theirs is the best thing that could happen to any mortal, to become immortal. At some point that may occur as the vampire continues to live on throughout the ages. However, not many tell the story of their origin, the horrifying and sorrowful story that most of them have to carry in their overall being. Some get over it, while a few remain intact to that morality, or what they call having a “soul.” For my series, since it will be a massive universe filled with so many stories and history, I wanted my first book to be about the experience of Vampire Leonardo and his origin. To make it real to my readers and make them see what he sees, to feel what he could possibly be feeling.
Q: The book is filled with vivid descriptions. What was your process for getting the details exactly how you wanted them?
A: Well, I am BIG fan of history to start off. Therefore, telling a story that takes place in the 18th century was so fascinating for me. I always wanted to tell a fiction dark story in that time period. To me, history can be mysterious, and yet beautiful, with so many colors and variety of circumstances. One of my favorite time periods being the 18th century due to their exquisite banquets, the type of world it was, the fashion, military, the agriculture and life just in general. So, as I wrote about the descriptions of the different scenes in the book, I made sure I was giving enough detailed information of this world so that the readers could easily see it in their minds. Building the world was just as important to me as the story itself was. I do also have to thank my wife, Melody, who was editor and helped me flesh out those details so well. But I must say, knowing history goes a long way for any writer or fiction writer in general.
Q: You have a background in animation and illustration, and I noticed the fantastic drawings of a few of the characters at the end of the book. Were those done by you and what inspired their looks? Did you model them off of real people or did their appearance originate purely from your imagination?
A: Why thank you! Drawing is my other passion as well! Yes, so in order for me to draw my main characters Vampire Leonardo, Vampire Boris and Alydia, I had to get references of actors and actresses that I saw very similar to my own characters. Asking myself the question, if I were to choose an actor to play Leonardo who could it be? Then once I found the right one, I would then use his or her features to inspire the final look of my characters. It certainly was a combination of imagination and real-life people. At first, I drew previous drawings purely from my imagination. However, something was not right about most of them until I began to use actual people to influence and inspire my character’s characteristics. That’s when I noticed that I hit the jackpot.
Q: The Newborn is the first book of The Ancient Chronicles. Can you talk a bit about what you have planned for the series? Will there be several more books to follow?
A: Absolutely! The Newborn was just the beginning of a series of books to come. I am planning to publish more than five books, God willing. The universe of The Ancient Chronicles is becoming filled with so many compelling characters, monsters and other types of beings that fit right into the storyline that stretches for thousands of years. So, it definitely has grown into a big universe. Very excited to publish more books and short stories for you all to fully get the experience to enjoy these engaging, dark classical tales. Trust me when I say this is just the beginning. More to come!
Q: What are you working on next in regard to your fiction writing and other creative projects?
A: At this very moment, I am currently writing my next novel, which will be about angels and the overall beginning of creation. I am actually just a few chapters away already, so hopefully by the end of this year, 2020, the completion of this book will be done. At the same time, I am also currently developing other personal 2D animated stories that I soon want to produce into features in the near future with my own animation studios. Also, keep in mind The Ancient Chronicles universe is not over yet. The next sequel/prequel to The Newborn is also in fact being worked on as well. I always like to keep myself busy and develop storylines that one day future generations could enjoy. Making the world a better place is definitely my personal goal to achieve, so I thank God for these beautiful talents He has let me borrow in this lifetime, to achieve so much and the possibilities. For my family, my two countries, Mexico and the U.S., and to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ above all else.