Vampire Novelist Denise K. Rago

In Immortal Obsession, the vampire Etienne tries to warn Christian and Michel of the coming revolution but they do not want to believe it. Their lives are strangely woven into the fabric of the mortal world. Like Christian and Michel, I too read both fiction and non-fiction about the French Revolution and still wonder marvel at this dark period in French history.

The French Revolution was 10 years (1789-1799) of chaos – social and political upheaval – that overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, experienced violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history – in fact, historians widely consider the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history – an event that triggered the global decline of absolute monarchies and replaced them with republics and liberal democracies. There are many complex reasons the Revolution came about including: 1) the bourgeouisie resented being excluded from political power and positions of honor; 2) peasants were more and more aware of their situation, and less and less willing to support the feudal system; 3) France was the most populous country in Europe, and crop failures in much of the country in 1788, on top of a long period of economic difficulties, compounded existing restlessness; and 4) the French monarchy was unable to adapt to the political and societal pressures being exerted on it. The French Revolution is also the origin of Bastille Day – the Bastille was a fortress in Paris, known formally as the Bastille Saint-Antoine. It played an important role in the internal conflicts of France and for most of its history was used as a state prison by the kings of France. It was stormed by a crowd on July 14, 1789, becoming an important symbol for the French Republican movement.

Social Contract

As the novel opens, Christian and Michel are fleeing Paris, trying to get to a ship leaving for London. There are marching mobs everywhere, and the luxurious apartment where their lover lives in in flames. They had both risked the fires to say goodbye to the mortal, Josette Delacore. Later in the novel, Christian ruminates over the state of his city.

~

Etienne had tried to warn them of the coming revolution, waving a copy of Rousseau’s The Social Contract in their faces. As he read excerpts from it while they sat around the fireplace, Christian wondered, why could we not see it coming?

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Psychic2

 

Numerous female characters in both of my novels are psychic. Josette Delacore is a tarot card reader, and Amanda Perretti has the ability to touch an object and receive images associated with the object. In the eighteenth century, Josette read cards at her mother’s parties; considered a game, something to entertain guests and nothing more, though Josette was a powerful psychic. Both Christian and Michel joke that without their protection, she probably would have been tried for witchcraft.

These aren’t the only psychic abilities to exist, however. There’s an incredibly long list of talents that include:

  • aura reading (perception of energy fields surrounding people, places and things)
  • death-warning (a vision of a living person prior to their death)
  • dowsing (ability to locate objects, sometimes using a dowsing rod)
  • empathy (the ability to feel others’ emotional or physical feelings)
  • mediumship (or channeling; communicating with spirits)
  • psychokinesis (or telekinesis; the ability to manipulate objects by the power of thought)
  • retrocognition (or post-cognition; perception of past events)
  • telepathy (transfer of thoughts, words or emotions in either direction)

It’s all pretty amazing. Elaborate systems of divination and fortune-telling date back to ancient times. Probably the most widely known system of early civilization fortune-telling though is astrology (admit it, you read your horoscope in the paper every week, right?). Some fortune-tellers didn’t use the stars to predict things, however – seers, psychics, prophets, and clairvoyants. These people performed roles of great importance in shaping our histories, often serving as advisors, priests, and judges. Think about it – how many seers and prophets are there in biblical accounts alone? And who can forget our old pal, Nostradamus? People with psychic abilities are all around.

In my first novel, Immortal Obsession, while at work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Decorative Arts Department, Amanda (who possesses the gift of psychometry – the ability to discern information about the owner of an object just by touching it), is handed an archive box labeled “Ladies diary, Paris, 1793” by her boss. She impulsively opens it and runs her hand along the diary inside as jumbled images barrage her:

~~~~~

Amanda reached over slowly to place her fingertips gently on the binding. Her hands vibrated with energy as the image of a stone bridge filled her mind’s eye, turning into the Pont Neuf, illuminated by torchlight and surrounded by the murky waters of the Seine. Across the bridge she could barely make out the outline of the king’s palace set against the dark sky. Looking around she spotted a diary at her feet covered in blood. As she reached for it, the energy shifted and she found herself in a beautiful bedroom complete with a roaring fire.
They stood across the room.

A dark-haired woman stood by the fire. She was petite with dark curls that fell to her shoulders and her blue gown flowed around her like water. A blond haired child clung precariously to her skirt with one hand while he sucked his thumb with the other.

He’s in danger.

The woman lifted up the child and turned and Amanda knew it was the dark haired beauty that Christian and Michel had both loved beyond words, centuries earlier: Josette Delacore.

Amanda grabbed her yellow legal pad and jotted down the following, trying to keep the images fresh in her mind:

Josette Delacore, Paris ~ very sad

Child –boy – blond hair, dark eyes, maybe two years old – in danger

The Pont Neuf – diary covered in blood.

After exiting the museum she headed home. Could she be wrong? Perhaps her obsession over Josette Delacore was rooted in the fear that not only was Christian and Michel’s long-dead lover very much alive, but she was also biding her time, waiting to strike.

~~~~~

Do you believe in psychic abilities? Do you have one? Share your story!

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Goth

 

Both “Immortal Obsession” and “Blood Tears” feature a club which becomes the meeting place of mortals and vampires, with each race having something to gain or lose. For the vampires, it’s a chance to mingle and lure willing prey right to them. For the mortals, it’s a chance to mingle, to see and be seen with the undead. (Remember Fangtasia from “True Blood”?). The name of this goth club is The Grey Wolf, located in the East Village, and owned by (of course) Christian and Michel, my two main vampire men.

The first time our protagonist, Amanda goes is with her friend, Bethany, to find Christian – the “beautiful vampire who saved her life”. It takes awhile to work up her nerve but once she does…


Amanda followed Bethany into a huge room with high ceilings. It took a minute to adjust to the darkness. Loud music blared from huge speakers suspended from a second floor cat-walk. They stood for a moment as young men and women moved past them. Amanda scanned the room, not exactly sure what she was looking for. The crowd was made up of mostly young, average-looking college students, wearing way too much leather and eye make-up. Pink and blue lights bathed them in an eerie glow.

I see him.” Amanda yelled taking Bethany hand. “Keep walking.

~

As if he sensed her presence, he stopped talking and look right at her. His face was half hidden behind a curtain of hair, but their eyes locked as she came closer. The bartender came closer dangling a wine glass.

Michel, this is Amanda Perretti.” Christian gestured as if he were presenting her.

Welcome to The Grey Wolf,” he said, and she heard the trace of a French accent.

Then he kissed her hand before she could react.


What’s the goth club scene look like these days? The underground Goth club scene throbs a couple clicks below-the-radar and doesn’t heat up till well past midnight. Depending on which club you’re visiting, you can enjoy the sounds of both recent and classic goth, deathrock, dark dance and electronic body music. Dress up, and go cyber bodice or Goth Lolita. And you can hit up clubs such as The Court of Lazarus. Calling itself New York’s original Salon Noir, the Court started as a socializing haven for the dark and delightful, but quickly organized as a full-out Vampiric Court. (Just fyi, this particular one isn’t for newbies – i.e. Fangtasia it’s not).

So have you ever been to a goth club? Were you a goth kid back in the day? What are your thoughts on the subculture? Let me know in the comments below!

Psychomanteum2

My novels are filled with the occult and supernatural, other than just vampires. One such thing is the use of a psychomanteum in Blood Tears. What IS a psychomanteum?

Simply put, it’s a mirrored room that’s specially set up to communicate with the spiritual realm (think a séance in one of those maze of mirrors at the carnival). In fact, its origins stem from an ancient Greek ritual for contacting those in the spirit realm, wherein individuals where led through an underground maze into a dimly lit space which held a bowl with water, blood or oil (reflective surfaces all considered conduits to the spiritual world in ancient times). The individual would then look into the bowl and hope to see the spirit of the one they wanted to contact – one of the earliest forms of scrying (later uses would include crystal balls).

Sometimes described as an “apparition booth”, the room is set up to optimize psychological effects such as trances. Key features include: low light or near dark, flickering light, and a mirror. The dimness is a form of visual sensory deprivation, which is helpful for inducing trancelike states.

In “Blood Tears”, Josette, our psychic, used this device to bring forth several vampires in order to help Christian to understand the world and power of the “Other Side.” She has him sit in a throne-like chair in her psychomanteum room, and explains the concept to him as she coaches his breathing. As a devout Catholic, however, he finds the entire concept bizarre to say the least. (Yes, a Catholic vampire!)

Here’s an excerpt:

It was difficult at first but slowly he found his rhythm and realized that Josette had stopped counting. He studied the ornate frame as it seemed to melt into the background….Thin wisps of smoke curled up, rising before his eyes, and filling the mirror with circular forms. Christian realized it was not smoke but a mist coming from inside the mirror itself, swirling slowly at first, and then faster and faster until…

No, it could not be.

Christian thought he saw a shape forming and then he realized it was the outline of a man. He told himself it was all a hallucination, yet when the man’s body took shape, and a face complete with burning blue eyes and sandy colored hair, he gasped.

This is not possible!

He felt his own heart beat race and sweat trickle down his back.

The figure seemed to grow larger and larger and then it scanned the room slowly from side to side as if to see who was present.


What do you think? Would you be willing to try out a psychomanteum room if it meant being able to see past loved ones?

PDA3

 

“Here I stand once again, searching, waiting for him though I know he will never appear.
I hope he will see our lock ~engraved with our names and a message only he would understand.
This bridge is my only hope and I am compelled to come back night after night, hoping my Christian will return to me”.
 
                                                                                                                                ~Amanda Perretti, Eternal Hunger

FACTS ABOUT PONT DES ARTS
 
 
  • Built between 1802 and 1804, the nine-arch metallic pedestrian bridge was constructed in Paris under the reign of Napoleon I.
  • Rebuilt in the 1980’s the bridge served as a place for art exhibitions as painters and photographers gravitated to the bridge.
  • Since 2008 tourists began attaching padlocks – engraved with the lovers names on them – to the railings on the side of the bridge, then throwing the key into the Seine as a romantic gesture.
  • It fast became a place for lovers with locks attached over other locks.
  • By 2014, it was estimated that over 7000,00 love locks were attached to the railings, posing severe safety concerns.

As I prepare for an author interview I find questions depicting authors as socially inept loners who spend most of their time alone, slaving away on their next novel while barely stopping to eat or drink and definitely not to socialize.
I find this truly odd because I cannot relate to this stereotype.
Does this not make me a writer?

I have a full-time job which has nothing to do with writing and I can’t imagine not going into work each day.
I work for a non-profit school for children with special needs and their mission keeps me coming back every day.
It’s truly an amazing place.

I can’t imagine spending my days alone. A few hours maybe but not everyday on end.

I write when time allows and I guess as a self-published author I have no deadlines except ones I create for myself.
I am trying really hard not to punish myself if I don’t write on any given day, much to the chagrin of some of my readers.
Some days I am too tired, busy or I just want to cuddle up with a good book.
Yes, I am an avid reader; a junkie and sometimes there is nothing like a good book.

Heart1


While his mortal lover slept, the curious vampire Christian Du Mauré wandered her boudoir admiring the numerous books cast in a warm by the roaring fire He could not leave her and thought to occupy himself amongst her books. In reaching for one, a small sheet of paper slipped out. The adroit vampire grabbed it in mid-air, stuffing it back into the book as the words “My dearest Josette”caught his attention.

This is not my handwriting and Michel would never, ever write a love letter.

Not his style.

Taking a seat he unfolded the letter and read……


14 April 1788

My dearest Josette,

When can I see you again? I cannot stop thinking of you lying with me as the afternoon sun caressed our bodies. You are a masterpiece, the most exquisite woman I have ever known, and all I want to do is hold you. – sun swept, warm kisses and the trembling of your body under mine.

I know you are a married woman and your life, as you put it, is ‘complicated to say the least’ but I will meet you anytime, anywhere. Since I live alone I am at your whim to do with as you will. Come to me when you can, day or night, as I will welcome you with open arms and a warm bed.

Je vous aime,

Gabriel


Gabriel?

His mind raced…definitely not a vampire…..must be an aristocrat…where did they meet? The letter was brief, implying this had not been the first time she had gone to this Gabriel and yet when would she have the time?

During the day when you are dead, you fool.

He glanced over to the young beauty, sleeping deeply, curled up under a mound of cotton quilts, her breathing almost imperceptible.

Am I not enough for her?

Are we not enough for her?

He and Michel were sharing her, though he preferred not to think about her relationship with his best friend. That he could deny, but why did this bother him so?

Because he is mortal and you cannot compete with a living, breathing man who can walk with her in the sunlight, be a part of her social circle….give her children.

He absently opened the book to realize it was one of her many journals. Perhaps there was more in here…..


16 April 1788

Dare I send a note to my dear Gabriel?

He asked so few questions and did not question why I needed to meet him in the daylight hours. I explained that it may seem strange, but I am a married woman and I must be incredibly discreet. He understands that my husband, Luc, demands my utmost skill in running a home and when he comes home at night he wants me there.

I think he understands that my life is complicated. I feel like a chatelaine, quite honestly, though I don’t live in a castle!

His apartment on the Rue Saint-Honoré is gorgeous and although it is a short carriage ride, I feel very far away from the prying eyes of my household.

I would love to meet him for dinner one evening but Christian and Michel are ever present. Not that Michel would care but Christian would never forgive me. He feels I belong to him, body and soul, and perhaps he is right. I do love him but Gabriel is hard to resist.

He calls me exquisite and claims that my naked body is heaven on earth. He is poetic, which moves me and the memory of his kisses takes my breath away. How will I manage yet another lover?


Christian flipped through her diary but there was little else about the mysterious Gabriel. Clearly their romance was current and his first impulse was to wake her and demand to know the truth, but he knew the truth. He would bide his time and though he could not follow her, he had other mortals at his command who would do his bidding. Once he found the lair of this poetic imbecile, he would take care of him as only he could and his mortal lover would be none the wiser.


1 September 1788

Gabriel has chosen to leave Paris! How could he not tell me? Why would he do such a thing? The maid handed me a letter and almost shut the door in my face. He had urgent business in Toulouse and had to leave. He thanked me for our affair but said he would not be returning and please do not write nor come by ever again. This seemed odd to me especially since we had been together not two days before and I would think he would have mentioned something to me then, unless he did not want to hurt me? I feel like a scrap of garbage being cast aside by a coward who did not have the courage to face me and yet, I will miss his soft touch…

TBC

 

My cousin Barbara died very suddenly from pancreatic cancer two years ago within weeks of learning how ill she was; her swift death devastated my family. She loved my first novel, Immortal Obsession, and was awaiting the publication of Blood Tears when she passed away.

 

 

Please support cancer research by joining myself and a plethora of other indie authors as we auction off literature for a good cause! Each day in the month of February, authors will be auctioning off copies of one of their latest novels – myself on February 3 – with the books covering all genres, A thru Z! Bidding starts at 9AM (GMT) each day and ends at 9PM (GMT). Bidding amount starts at £5 ($7.45). Please bid high, for we all have been impacted by this disease. No matter where you live, I will happily pay the postage to mail you a personally signed copy of each of my novels. So grab your extra dollars, tell your friends and gift yourself some great reads for a fabulous cause!

 

frontcover

 

And thank you so much Tracy Fenton and the gang at The Book Club (TBC) for hosting this amazing charity auction. Learn more about Tracy and how TBC was started in this great article by Author’s Magazine! (Pg. 14, cover story, “The Book Club: How One Woman’s Passion Sparked a Cult Phenomenon”)

 

  • by Denise K. Rago

Vintage-Santa-Card1

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And auld lang syne!

I hate to be so cliché but where did this year go? Before you know it you may find yourself sipping a hot toddy while sitting before a roaring fire singing this classic Scottish song. It always brings tears to my eyes for it represents the passage of time and memories of loved ones held dear.

Time is moving much too quickly and as the year winds down I guess I will make the last post of 2015 a simple thank you.

To my beloved family and friends; thank you for your support. To all the readers and bloggers; thank you for your reviews of both my novels. I am forever amazed at what others see in my novels.

To Kelly Jones and Misty Layne of Social Marketing Solutions; two great ladies who handle much of the public relations and marketing for me. To Lindsey Donner and Luis Cortes of Wellversedcreative.com who created my website. All of these professionals are there when I need their guidance and I could not imagine trying to manage all of this without them.

I have made a lot of new friends on social media this year and although we may never actually meet I am always amazed at their kindness and support. I became a member of a book club based in England which has exposed me to great authors and way too many books. Members come from all over but the one thing that we share is a love of books. I would say more than a love of books. It is a passion continually fueled by new novels and support of our reading habits. Thank you Tracy Fenton and all the folks at The Book Club for a job well done.

On a very personal note, I moved over the summer which meant downsizing too. I had the tough choice of giving away boxes of books simply because I no longer had the space for them all. I chose to donate at least 20 boxes of books to the Literacy Advocacy center in the town where I grew up. Though encouraged to sell them on the internet, I found that donating them to my community was a way to give back and to encourage others to read as well. It was a win-win for all.

I must publicly thank my husband, children and extended family. I love them beyond measure and they make my life so rich and meaningful. As the year winds down, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah and only the best in the New Year.

Blood Tears covers

How often have we heard this saying, whether in life or when buying a book?

How many of us have impulsively picked up a book based solely on the cover then read the blurb on the inside jacket only to find it none too moving, but that cover…there’s something about it that grabs you and so you reluctantly purchase the book. I’ve done it and when I finish that “just okay” novel with the beautiful cover image I could kick myself. I honestly feel as though I threw money down the drain and who can afford to do that these days?

Consequently, how many of us have read a great book with a “just okay” cover, or a great book with a cover image which has no connection to the novel? Or, how about a book with just the just the title and no cover art? The Catcher in the Rye and Interview with the Vampire come to mind and happen to be two of my favorite novels as well. The novel “Euphoria” with its multicolored cover reveals nothing of the story line set in Papua New Guinea about three anthropologists in a love triangle. Again, one of my favorite novels but the cover art is okay at best.

When I am asked about the cover images for my novels I am flattered, especially since the cover image of Immortal Obsession is a photograph I took of Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. If you have read Immortal Obsession then you know that the main character, vampire Christian du Mauré spends a lot of time wandering and hunting there. I too love Bethesda Fountain and felt it important to use this image. Createspace, the company that published Immortal Obsession added the colors and the moon peaking through the clouds but the photograph is mine alone.

My second novel, Blood Tears, had a very different almost disturbing cover image featuring a beautiful woman shedding tears of blood. Again, this theme is prevalent throughout this novel as more than one vampire has cause to cry. The company which created my website, WellVersedCreative, was able to purchase the image from the artist who I credit in my novel. Some find the image creepy as the shrouded woman cries very real blood, but again, the cover ties into my novel which I find important.

There is always the “ah ha” moment when the artist captures exactly what the writer envisions and it is truly magic. It’s a fun part of the entire process of first creating a story, going through numerous edits and then bringing it all together with great graphics, which add another dimension to the story being told, but then again, there is nothing like one’s imagination to conjure up images of a beautiful woman shedding tears of blood, or the favorite haunt of a vampire.