Vampire Novelist Denise K. Rago

Chateau de Singes

There are places which grab you and never let go. We all have experienced this irrational obsession that grips us and refuses to let go.

The Chateau de Singes is one of those places.

A chateau in ruins in Rouen France which has captured my attention. It feels familiar and though in decay I find it breathtaking.

It has scant history which makes it all the more mysterious.

A place I have never seen in the flesh but only read about on the internet. A place which has become the hub for my third novel, Eternal Hunger.

Not to give too much away but this place has come to the attention of many of my vampires who decide that this place is the perfect setting to hide and plot. In a recent blog Michel reflects on being there one night in the eighteenth century for a party held by the illusive owner who loved to bring mortals and vampire together for more than champagne and a chance to discuss the latest Parisian fashions.

Perhaps these vampires find in it the same qualities that fascinate me.

I share a bit of this mysterious place with you here through the eyes of my vampire, Christian du Mauré and who knows, perhaps I have been there in another lifetime.



It took me a moment to recognize the animal on the painted panels. Barely showing through were images of monkeys.

Château de Singes. Château of Monkeys.

I had heard of this place which was rumored to sit in the forests on the Normandy coast. As a young vampire, there were many distractions in Paris and I had no desire to travel outside the city though I had heard the tales. Maybe it was near the coast of Normandy in Cahaignes? I could not really remember for its location was kept secret even then, though I had heard many a Parisian aristocrats speak of the lurid parties, human sacrifices and the like that went on there and though I ignored such things, chalking them up to nonsense, after what I had experienced recently I now know that anything is possible. I tried to recall everything that I had ever heard about this place despite being such a pragmatic soul, not one prone to suspicions and hearsay.

Now I know better.



Josette adjusted the bodice of her sky-blue gown. She would have chosen another, the forest green gown that matched her emerald eyes, but no, her mother thought this one made her looked older, more mature; as if at almost fourteen she could appear any older. She thought the gown revealed too much décolletages, yet her mother insisted.
“Now, sit child and let me pin up your hair.”
“But, mama, I prefer it down. I thought you loved my curls.”
Her mother pushed her down onto the seat in front of the table de toilette and grabbed her hair brush, obviously ignoring her daughter’s request.
“You look so much more elegant Josette with your hair piled high, now hold still.” Josette watched as her mother systematically brushed her hair and pinned each strand of her dark curls up on her head.
As her mother styled her hair, Josette thought about the upcoming social season and her mother’s ardent quest for a husband. She could not bear to spend another summer reading cards for her mother’s guests while helping her choose a suitable new husband. Perhaps the long winter had made her restless, or the thought of seeing Monsieur Richard once again stirred her blood and gave her hope.

Okay everyone, it’s been a great summer, filled with lots of changes and I have done little writing, but now I am refocusing on my third novel, Eternal Hunger.  It is the continuing saga of my beautiful yet tortured vampire, Christian Du Maure; his mortal lover Amanda Perretti and his best friend, vampire Michel Baptiste.  There are several new and exciting characters, the mysterious Ghislain, the all too human Victor and…..

You will just have to wait and see and believe me, as summer turns to fall I will be posting a lot more.

I hope you had a great summer and thank you for dropping by.

I have been off the grid for the last month as my husband and I sold our house and downsized to a two bedroom apartment. I never knew how much I had accumulated until I had to decide whether or not to save, toss or give “it” away. I donated probably 25 boxes of books to our local Literacy Advocacy center, making numerous trips on Thursday afternoons. I gave away more books, dishes, artwork and various other household items by leaving them on my front lawn. Needless to say, I kept about 25 boxes of books too. Some are just to meaningful to give away.

One of my recent blogs focused on diaries.I mentioned that I have kept diaries since high school.I have over 100 of them which I kept in a large rattan chest in my bedroom.
The chest had pretty much fallen apart which left me with the issue of what to do with all these journals.
At no time did I seriously consider discarding them so the next best things was to purchase a lot of plastic pins where I have them stored.

I am not a saver by nature, although I am sentimental about certain people in my life. I have every card and letter my husband wrote to me. I kept all the letters my oldest brother wrote to me from college in the sixties, talking about Richard Nixon and Charles Manson. I could never part with letters my best friend sent to me from camp when were were kids. I reread them often and marvel at how much I treasure them, even when she asked me to send her gum and Tiger Beat magazine. I kept my eighth grade graduation autograph book.

I promised myself I would reread all of my journals; even the high school ones full of bad poetry about people I no longer remember. I found that what is most important to me are the items directly connected to my personal history, like the issue of Time Magazine depicting the body of Aldo Moro’s body in the trunk of a car courtesy of the Red Brigade. It was 1978 and I was a student in Paris when he was kidnapped. It was all the talk in Europe and I truly understood the power and evil of terrorism, especially as it reigned in Europe.

We all carry our history with us, both a personal one and public persona.  I found I needed to preserve what meant the most to me: letters, journals, photographs and the books which marked passages in my own life. It’s been enlightening and sobering and although I downsized, the sentiments which truly matter to me remain in bins and boxes, reflecting my life.

What travels with you, no matter where you go?


“How many times had she heard her grandmother tell her mother? Beatrice would shake her head and wave her hand like she was swatting flies, but Ernestine insisted that her granddaughter learn to read the cards and so the lessons began in secret, usually when her parents were already in bed. During the winter months there was little to do after their usual 3pm meal and so after her parents retired for the evening, Josette and Ernestine would sit at this very same card table, in front of a roaring fire and Josette would do reading after reading, memorizing the meaning of each card.

“You need to channel all that power,” she would remind Josette, “and feel the energy from each card. Study the symbols and images but make it your own, child.”

How she missed her grandmother, with her sharp wit and kind smile.

She quickly returned to the present as she slowly turned over each and laid them out in the familiar pattern.

If she’s looking for love I don’t see it here.

The woman leaned forward as Josette studied the cards.

Wheel of Fortune, the Fool, Death….

And this is my daughter, Josette Maraine.”

Josette glanced up from the cards to find her mother and the handsome stranger standing beside her.

“And this is Madame Reynard.” Beatrice gestured with a smile.

“Madame Reynard,” the stranger smiled and Josette could have sworn the woman melted into the fabric of the Louis XVI chair as he stared down at her.”



Tarot reading is a practice that’s been around for a very long time but have you ever wondered about its roots? Did it start with mediums and gypsies and spread from there? You might be surprised.

While traditional playing cards appeared in Europe around 1375 (when they were brought over by Islamic societies), the tarot didn’t appear until approximately 1440 in Italy and seems to have originally been intended as a game for nobles. There were four suits with cards numbered one through ten as well as court cards that included a queen, king, knight and page. The deck also included 22 symbolic picture cards that did not belong to any suit. The decks were used to play a game called triumph that was similar to bridge. In triumph, 21 of the 22 special picture cards were permanent trump cards. The game spread quickly to all parts of Europe. People began referring to as tarocchi, which is an Italian version of the French word tarot, around 1530. Today, the game is far less popular in Italy while the French tarot game is the most popular in its native country and regional tarot games are widely played in central Europe.

That’s all fine and well but when did the tarot begin to be used for divination and how did that come about? While it is commonly agreed upon that the rebirth of the Tarot, and its beginnings a means of divination, are attributed to Antoine Court de Gébelin in 1781, there are actually a few records of the tarot being used as such before this time. Manuscripts from 1735 and 1750 document simple divinatory meanings for the cards of the tarot as well as a system for laying out the cards. Giacomo Casanova wrote in his diary that in 1765 his Russian mistress frequently used a deck of playing cards for divination. It was de Gébelin, however, who wrote a paper about the Tarot, deciphering the origins of the symbolism as being representative of ancient Egyptian theology. He asserted the name “Tarot” came from the Egyptian words Tar, “path” or “road”, and the word Ro, Ros or Rog, meaning “King” or “royal”, and that the Tarot literally translated to the Royal Road of Life. Next came the Tarot’s association with Gypsies and then Kabbalah, or Hebrew mysticism. The association with Kabbalah would then fuel a belief that the Tarot originated in Israel and contained the wisdom of the Tree of Life.

Since that time it has been linked with almost every magical system or religion known to mankind. The Tarot is comprised of archetypal images that cross linguistic and cultural barriers. What once originated as a game has become a mystic symbol known round the world, one that represents knowledge and life.

Have you ever had your cards read? How was the experience?


I hated to admit it but I needed Victor. I could not leave Christian alone here. I needed to win him over and help him grasp the true nature of his destiny. Could he not see how important it was for him to assume the throne and command these vampyres who desperately needed a leader, someone strong, and detached who would be fair and who straddled both worlds, though he would never admit it. Christian saw himself as neither mortal nor vampyre; abhorring the taking of blood and wielding control over mortals.

It was only their art, music, museums and literature he loved and he gravitated towards the best of what the human race had to offer while wanting none of the complications of human relationships.

Perhaps he could not see it but he has a heart full of love and longing, regret, guilt and despair just like any human and I believe it saved him from becoming a monster, as the vampyre race tends to be depicted in literature and film. He did the unthinkable, leaving his maker and threatening the very order of his kind.


Recently I did an interview with Justin Boyer of A Bibliophile’s Reverie. One of his interview questions was: “What is your favorite vampire film and why?”

As I thought about my response, I flash forwarded to my next blog post and thought, hum….. I would love to explore this question further. There is something magical yet sinister about vampires.  Beautiful, seductive and utterly malevolent, they command the screen just as they command my respect and awe.

Each film I admire depicts the vampire in a certain time and place, trying to blend into the world in which they find themselves yet always an outsider.  Powerful, blood thirsty, beautiful. 

I must admit that although I enjoyed the premise of the film 30 Days of Night I found the vampires really scary and creepy.  I did love the story however. 


The Hunger [1983] is the story of a beautiful, female vampire with roots in ancient Egypt, play by the French actress Catherine Deneuve.  She presently lives in a gorgeous townhouse in Manhattan.  We experience her long life through all the art works she has collected.  She collects lovers too, including Susan Sarandon and David Bowie.





Dracula [1992] set in Victorian England features Gary Oldman as Dracula.  Need I say any more?




Interview with the Vampire [1994], my favorite novel by Anne Rice, is told through the eyes of vampire Louis de Ponte du Lac to a young reporter in present-day in San Francisco.  We are introduced to the famous vampire Lestat and follow both vampires through their lives in eighteenth century New Orleans and Paris. Lestat and Louis are beautiful vampires with a complex relationship filled with much betrayal and sadness.




In the film, Let the Right One In [2008], a young boy named Oskar is bullied in school and then befriended by a very unusual girl who moves into his housing project.  Meanwhile a series of gristly murders rock a working class suburb of Stockholm Sweden. I love this film as it depicts the century’s old vampire as a creature truly outside the mortal world yet trying to survive in it. The film was also made for American audiences too and I enjoyed both.  You will never look at a Rubik’s cube in the same way, ever.

Do you have a favorite vampire film?  Let me know, okay?

Thank you readers for asking for updates on my next novel. Although Eternal Hunger, like Immortal Obsession and Blood Tears is told in the present tense the vampires constantly flash back to their lives in eighteenth century France.

The character Ghislain who I introduced in Blood Tears is a favorite. He has quite a long and colorful history which will continue to be revealed in Eternal Hunger, as he mentors Christian who he has hidden away in the abandoned Chateau de Singes in the outskirts of Paris. This is the place Ghislain hopes to restore the vampire dynasty he envisions, starting with his son Christian who is about to discover more secrets from his past.

“Michel used to come here.” I found myself back in the massive, decaying yet somehow elegant library. “He would share his tales of debauchery,coming here with Gabrielle to–”
“And with Josette.” Ghislain whispered, following me.
It took me a moment to realize what he was trying to say.
“She came here?”
My mind began to whirl as I tried to call up memories, but I was hundreds of years old. Not everything seems to important at the time and like my human counterparts we forget things too.
“You have been here too Christian, though I imagine you tried to put it out of your mind.”
“What are you saying?”
He was suddenly facing me, pushing his write into my face and before I could protest, a thin trail of blood ran down his arm.
“This will help you remember.”
I latched onto him, his coppery blood stinging my throat. I rarely took vampire blood yet suddenly the images came and I was thrust back in time.

I always say, keep a diary and someday it’ll keep you.

~ Mae West

Who hasn’t kept a diary?

Who hasn’t thought about reading someone else’s diary?

Who wonders what famous people might have kept a diary?

I have kept a journal since high school and can’t seem to let more than twenty-four hours pass without writing in it. I don’t keep them under lock and key but in a large chest. Each diary is marked by a volume number and the date. Usually each journal covers one month in my life. I have gone through periods where I have written less but journal writing is such a part of my life, that like reading, I can’t live without it. What do I write about you ask? Anything and everything. It depends on the day.

Sometimes my journal writing seeps into the pages of my books and if you have read my novels, diaries play a large part in aiding the reader’s discovery of the back story of a particular character, or in opening a window into the past.

In Blood Tears, Amanda Perretti touches a ladies diary dated 1793, which is slated for the museum exhibition she is currently working on, and is shown a diary covered in blood and a woman who she recognizes from a painting in Christian’s home in New York; a woman who died in eighteenth century Paris.

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 kings palace set against the dark sky. Then the images shifted to a beautiful bedroom complete with a roaring fire, eighteenth century furnishings and a woman and child near the fireplace. Her blue gown flowed around her like water. The woman lifted up the child and turned and Amanda could have sworn it was the woman in the portrait, the one whom Christian and Michel both loved beyond words centuries earlier: Josette Delacore.

We are offered a glimpse into the life of Christian’s mother, Eléanore Du Mauré, who died when Christian was just a boy. She writes in her diary of an experience during the winter of 1737 where she meets a man who gives her more than she could ever imagine.

His arms had slipped around me and he was walking towards the fireplace…Before I could catch my breath we were together on the thick carpet in front of the fire. Flames danced higher and higher as we kissed. I no longer cared about my husband or my reputation; I wanted him. Hearing my gown rip, I found myself naked beside him……Andreas opened his mouth as two jutting fangs burst forth and came for me, and in that moment it all made sense…Would he drink my blood and kill me? I had no time to ask and neither did I care, for when he pierced my flesh both pain and pleasure ripped through me. I closed my eyes and prayed this night would never end.

Later on, Christian reads his mother’s diary and learns more secrets surrounding her life and his true heritage.

Famous diarists include Marie Antoinette, Samuel Pepys, Marcus Aurelius and Anne Frank.


Whose diary would you like to read?

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!