Vampire Novelist Denise K. Rago

Catacombs Sign

 

From “Blood Tears”:

Ghislain had made Victor a vampire and though their paths crossed over the years they lost contact in the early nineteenth century.

And now he hides in the catacombs like a rat.

Ghislain was not sure which bothered him more, going below ground or being surrounded by the millions of bones that filled the horrid tunnels,  exhumed from the overflowing cemeteries in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and dumped into these quarries.  Taking a deep breath, he descended the spiral staircase, losing count after one hundred steps.  Even for him the darkness felt claustrophobic. He continued to follow the winding walls that dripped with water. The narrow doorway up ahead made him shiver as he read the sign above it:

‘Arrete! C’est ici  L’empire de la Mort.’  Stop, Here lies the Empire of the Dead.

Ghislain stepped over the threshold into the narrow passage. The stacks of human bones and skulls have the tunnel a chalky glow.

Peasant and nobleman alike, he thought; everyone ends up in the same place.

Catacombs 2

 

Paris has a deeper and stranger connection to its underground than almost any city, and that underground is one of the richest. The arteries and intestines of Paris, the hundreds of miles of tunnels that make up some of the oldest and densest subway and sewer networks in the world, are just the start of it. Under Paris there are spaces of all kinds: canals and reservoirs, crypts and bank vaults, wine cellars transformed into nightclubs and galleries. Most surprising of all are the the old limestone quarries that fan out in a deep and intricate web under many neighborhoods, mostly in the southern part of the metropolis.”

Today the tunnels are roamed by a different clandestine group, a loose and leaderless community whose members sometimes spend days and nights below the city. They’re called people who love the Paris underground.

~ Under Paris, National Geographic Magazine, February, 2011.

Paris’s underground ossuaries hold the remains of six million people. How did such a place come to be and why is it now referred to as “The World’s Largest Grave” with a museum?

Centuries ago, the city abandoned their Left-Bank burial grounds for the higher elevations of the Right – Bank. Soon urban expansion forced the burial ground into the center of urban life which quickly became a health hazard.

Saints Innocents (supposed to be italicized?) church became the City’s main cemetery and soon was overflowing. To continue to make room for the dead, the long-dead were exhumed and their bones packed away into the roofs and walls of the galleries built into the sides of the cemetery walls. By the end of the 19th century, Les Innocents cemetery, which was next door to the Les Halles marketplace, contained a burial mound filled with centuries of the dead and was, needless to say, a health hazard .

The rich limestone of the Left-Bank was used to build most of the city; however the quarries were left depleted, uncharted and abandoned. In the eighteenth century, mine cave-ins led to city inspections and then renovations of some of the passageways. Police Lieutenant-General Alexandre Lenoir was behind the idea of moving the Parisian dead to the newly renovated passageways. The remains of Les Innocents’ cemetery were unearthed and along with bones and other artifacts, a nightly procession of black clothed-covered wagons carried the millions of Parisian dead to their new resting place on the Left-Bank.

The process would take two years! Check out this interactive map of Paris to learn more!

 

 

And so Josette continue to describe her first meeting with Christian and Michel on a hot summers night…..

It would always be that way for the three of us. Many a night I would will myself to breathe as I fell into their arms; yes I would become both their lovers and the three of us would exist in our own world once the sun set. I was the wife to Luc Delacore, a wealthy minor aristocrat to whom my mother secured a marriage contract when she found out she was dying. It was either marry Luc or be destitute and I could no more stomach a life of poverty than I could fly and so I agreed.
I was already Gaétan’s lover and he was more than generous with his gifts and I was willing to give him anything in return in the hopes that one day he would make me immortal. It was our dance and I thought it would go on forever and it might have, until this night I speak of, when my life fell apart and reconstructed itself in the blink of an eye.
By day, I ran a small household, married to a man I did not love but could tolerate, and by night I wandered amongst the world of the Parisian vampires. As society unraveled and the citizens of Paris revolted, the world of the vampires came apart as well, as if they had no other choice but to mimic the mortals they fed upon creating their own living hell. My lover Gaétan would become embroiled it Le Revolution Française as would Gabrielle who had made both Christian and Michel vampires and was reluctant to release them from her bed. Gabrielle and Gaétan would eventually join together in a battle to control the city, leaving death and destruction in their wake, but that is another story.
I did not consciously set out to seduce and fall in love with both Christian and Michel nor did they glamour me, for I was beyond hypnosis. Each had what the other lacked and I found them both intoxicating and as integral to me as the sunshine and fresh air. I could not live without them yet I could not see what was to come, despite my abilities to see the future, to touch objects and watch as images and feelings ran through me like water.
Nowadays, you would label me psychic for I possess the gift of psychometry, yet I read Tarot cards to entertain my mother’s friends at her numerous parties. That is how I met Gaétan and when my mother saw how our relationship was unfolding she encouraged it, hoping it would lead to marriage for he was rich and obviously taken with me.
She had no idea that ‘Monsieur Richard’ as he called himself, was an ancient vampire who could have snapped both of our necks and left us in ruin if he so desired. He had fallen in love with me and my blood and promised me immortality if I gave him what he so desired: my blood. He came to my bedroom one night and took both my virginity and my blood, leaving me ecstatic yet weak, filled with dreams of power and riches. He showered me in clothing and jewels and took me everywhere in Paris and all he wanted was to drink my blood.
I was never afraid. Quite the contrary. I loved the world of the vampire. It was both silent yet powerful, mysterious, glamorous and fraught with drama. I possessed what they wanted, blood, beauty and a willingness to submit to them. All of them. I had power, money and all a woman could ever want, and with Christian and Michel I felt our lives were just perfect and that we would never cease to be together, yet as French society began to crumble all around us, we three were crumbling internally.
Though I had never seen them in the act of making love to one another, I always felt Christian and Michel were bisexual. They were inseparable and would remain so long after I was dead and buried. I was a momentary distraction in their long lives. Though I wanted both of them we never became a ménage a trois. Christian would never hear of it and so I would be with first one and then another.
So much was left unsaid between us, undercurrents of anger, lies told by each of us, promises made though never to be kept. It was the way of things and we lived shrouded in lies; so many lies.
Shakespeare said it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
I am not so sure.

Pont Neuf 1

 

If you’ve been following the saga of The Enchanted Bloodline series, you know that the Pont Neuf is almost as important a “character” as Christian and Michel (particularly in Blood Tears). In fact, Christian describes his feelings about the Pont Neuf in this excerpt:

The city he remembered had been swallowed up and digested by the industrial age, yet the majestic Pont Neuf still took his breath away. Christian stopped on a bastion, remembering how magnificent the bridge seemed in ages past, built of stone and so wide that people could promenade leisurely while carriages passed without incident. Mortals toiled in their shops during daylight hours, yet scurried home before darkness fell when all manner of bandits and prostitutes emerged. He and Michel would hide in the shadows, waiting for the whores and drunks to amble by on their way to a tavern or one of the numerous brothels. In the gaslight it was always impossible to see the beautiful vampires until it was too late.

God, it was so easy to kill then.

Do you know the history of this amazing bridge though? The Pont Neuf (or “New Bridge”) is the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine in Paris. It stands right by the western point of the Île de la Cité, the island in the middle of the river that was the heart of medieval Paris. The bridge is composed of two separate spans, one of five arches joining the left bank to the Île de la Cité, another of seven joining the island to the right bank.

The construction of a new bridge over the Seine was initiated by Henri III, who laid the first stone in May 1578. His successor, Henri IV, decided to take on the task with the idea of creating “The New Bridge” as a way to win over the people of his newly conquered capital city. And it worked. Parisians from all walks of life adopted the Pont Neuf and saw it as the symbol of their city and the most important place in town.

 

 

Pont Neuf 4

And why did they take to it so well and so quickly? Because the Pont Neuf became the first truly communal entertainment space in the city. It was free and anyone could come there – anyone at all, rich or poor. After decades of religious violence, this was exactly what the Parisians needed – a place to finally come out of their houses and enjoy themselves in public again.

The Pont Neuf has played an important role in Parisian history and an important role in my novels. It’s one of my favorite places in the world and I love being able to share it with all of you!

Many of you have been asking for a peek into my latest novel, Eternal Hunger, book three in The Enchanted Bloodline Series.  Enjoy and I would love your feedback.

 

Prologue

From the diary of Josette Delacore ~ Paris, 1793

They flowed out of the heat; detaching themselves from the shadows on a tepid summer night in the year of our Lord 1787. I was but a girl of fifteen yet already deflowered by one of the most powerful vampires in all of Paris on whose arm I gently clung. I was months away from marrying a much older man, yet at that moment time stood still for me as they approach us. I could feel Gaétan shift slightly in front of me as if to shield me from them.

But I was already transfixed as they came closer.

Both were tall, well over 6 feet and thin, but that is where any comparison ended, as they were opposites in appearance and later I would learn, in almost everything under the sun, or should I say the night sky? It was obvious that my lover Gaétan hated them and when the tall blond vampire took my hand and pressed his cold lips to my skin I shuddered and shattered all in an instant. Perhaps if they both had just kept walking by my life would have turned out differently but I had begged an introduction and when his dark eyes locked with mine, I found myself exposed, as if a locked door within my heart flew open and my soul lay exposed for him to touch and feel.

When he told me his name as his voice curled around me like my favorite silk scarf, and although I did not know it then, I had fallen into a chasm I had no hope of escaping: Christian Du Mauré.

I braced myself as he explained to Gaétan why they were not with Gabrielle, which made my heart sink for just a second. I sensed that Gaétan could not wait to whisk us away, but I would have none of it. I could not let this tall stranger slip away.

Then I turned my attention to his friend: Michel Baptiste.

He was a human sculpture come to life with flowing black hair that caressed high cheekbones and full lips. His eyes glistened in the torchlight and though I could tell they were light, only later would I discover they were almost a Peridot green; like a stain glass window with the light shining through. When he became angry, they would darken and over the next three years I would see them darken more than once, but at that moment I was so taken with both of them I could barely breathe.

Their energy embraced me and I found myself unable to choose one of them.

DeniseWritingProcess


 

If only it were that easy. How many times have I read or heard this simple directive when it comes to writing?

“Just write.”

Some writers extol the blank page. Like the empty canvas of the painter, anything is possible. The blank page staring back at me holds both the promise of a new chapter and the ramblings of my unconscious mind.

Dare I say I am not sure which is which sometimes?

When asked if I write in a linear fashion after first creating an outline, I usually smirk, then laugh, as I think of all the writings/ramblings I have created that remain in folders on my desktop computer, waiting to be born.

My writings stem from the voices in my head – yes, the voices of my vampires talking to me, prodding me to tell their stories. I cannot plan for it or schedule a time to “sit and write” in a disciplined fashion. Too many other parts of my life call to me and so when my muse taps on my shoulder through the voice of my main character, Christian Du Mauré, or his best friend, Michel Baptiste, or their mortal lover, Josette Delacore, I sit down and write what I hear and “see” in my mind.

It’s sort of like watching a film. I see them in a room, or wandering at night through Central Park, and as they converse I record it. Yes, I go back and edit it, and although each conversation may not be meaningful at that moment, it may become part of a chapter or even a whole chapter. I won’t know until I sit down and write.

I may “feel” Michel needing to say something to another character and so I sit and write his dialogue; whether it is in the here and now or in the eighteenth century. I visualize what my characters are wearing and feel their emotions – especially their loneliness and grief.

Slowly, the chapters fall into place and then I have Part One, and then Part Two.

When I begin a novel, I do not know where the story will take me, as the characters are continually surprising me. And although I may say to myself, “Christian feels so much guilt over leaving Josette behind,” I am never sure how to share this with the reader until I write it. He will tell me.

Writing is the unknowable, which is the magic and the maelstrom of my creativity.

I leave you with E.L. Doctorow who puts it so nicely -

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Exactly.

My New Year is getting off to a great start.

I hope that yours is too.

My newest page titled Bookshelf has undergone some construction and I will be posting books again soon.

Thank you for your patience and for always dropping by.

 

 

It has been an exciting year for me.
Starting with the publishing of Blood Tears in January and the book launch in March. I have so many people to thank for always being there for me and my books.
Well Versed Creative and Social Marketing Solutions have given my brand and my website more direction than I could ever have dreamed possible. I look forward to 2015.

To everyone who drops by to read my posts or visit my Bookshelf. I love your comments and hope you keep coming back.

To my friends and family, both here on social media and behind the scenes, you give me more than I can ever thank you for and I love you all so much.

Have a Happy Hanukkah, A Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Live in Peace.

Today I received my Certificate of Registration, better known as my copyright registration for Blood Tears today.
I don’t know about any other writers but there is something magical about this piece of paper.
Not that it makes my novel more real, it just feels official to me that my novel is shelved in the Library of Congress.
Despite taking almost a year to receive it I knew it would come and I will file it away along with my Certificate of Registration for my debut novel, Immortal Obsession.

In the same mail delivery I received the new proof for Blood Tears. I changed the author photograph and added some one liners from some of my favorite book reviews.

I took this as a sign that I am on the right track as I begin book three. Oh yes, Virginia, there is a book three coming!

  • by Denise K. Rago

This happens to be the diary of Josette Delacore.

This image of a bloodied diary happens to be the diary belonging to Josette Delacore, one of the main characters in both of my novels. She has kept diaries for most of her life. This allows the story to be told in parts from her perspective.

Another diary writer is Eleanore Du Maure, the mother of vampire Christian Du Maure. She also kept a diary of her love affair with a mysterious man, nine months before her son Christian was born.

Storytellers use various vehicles to share the lives of their characters. I happen to enjoy journal writing myself and so do my characters. It gives the reader a deeper appreciation of a character if they can see into their private world.

They flowed out of the heat; detaching themselves from the shadows on a tepid summer night in the year of our Lord 1787. I was but a girl of fifteen yet already deflowered by one of the most powerful vampires in all of Paris and to whose arm I gently clung. I was just months away from marrying a much older man, yet at that moment time stood still for me as I watched them approach us. I could feel Gaetan shift slightly in front of me as if his actions could shield me from the two of them.

I stood transfixed as they came closer.

They were both tall, well over 6 feet and thin, but that is where any comparison ended, as they were opposites in appearance and later, I would learn, in almost everything under the sun, or should I say stars? It was obvious that my lover Gaetan hated them. I could feel anger pouring from him and then, when the the blond pressed his cold lips to my skin, I shuttered and shattered all in an instant.

Perhaps if they both had just kept walking my life would have turned out very differently, but I had begged an introduction and when his dark eyes locked with mine, I found myself exposed, as if a locked door within my heart flew open and my soul lay exposed for him to look inside. Then he told me his name as his voice curled around me like my favorite silk scarf.

I had willing fallen into a chasm I had no hope of escaping: Christian Du Maure.