Joseph’s Lair

    Le Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers captured my imagination the moment I laid eyes on it back in my lair half-way around the world. It haunted me so much that I had to come and see it with my own eyes. I had to get as close as I could to it…

    Dating back to the thirteenth century, this stronghold had gone back and forth between England and France during medieval times. It was virtually destroyed in the French Revolution.  In 1809, Francois Hennecart bought the property. From him, it passed to the Baron Joseph Lejeune (Joseph! However, my fictional Joseph’s name originated much farther back. Theoretically, he could have passed himself off as this Baron). In 1932, a fire gutted the château. It was never restored.

    As it stands now, the Mothe-Chandeniers is a heartbreakingly gorgeous relic of the past. Its only inhabitants now are trees and undergrowth and sundry vermin as nature re-stakes its claim on the property. In my novel, Progenie, Joseph lays claim to it still.

    In the novel, this edifice retains its abandoned elegance as an inter-dimensional being inhabits planes not readily perceived by the human eye. Walking within the scorched stone of this château, the more perceptive human can catch a glimpse from the corner of his eye the nooks and crannies along the added dimensions. Mathematicians and physicists can find these spaces with numbers and calculations using five-dimensional geometry. However, beings whose physical construct comprises dark matter (which exists across six dimensions) and whose life force is animated by dark energy can move in and out of the planes seamlessly.

    Visiting the ruin

    Upon arriving at my hotel in Raslay, I ask the owner about this magical château and she agrees it is a beautiful ruin but the owners, she says, are crazy and have been known to pull a shotgun on trespassers. “Be careful, “ she admonishes.  And, yes, I agree I should take care, but I have travelled four thousand miles by plane, train, and automobile to see the lair that I have imagined for my forlorn villain, Joseph. I will risk my safety as much as I dare to catch a glimpse of the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers.

     

    The next day, I take the back roads from my hotel. I hope to drive by the field of rapeseed where my heroine, Zen (In my 2nd novel, Unto the Mother), begins her journey to find Joseph who has done grievous harm to her and her family. I had only imagined its existence but now, I am elated to see that the field actually exists, nearly the way I imagined it.

    Expecting the sight of the château’s black spires to herald its presence behind the stand of trees, I drive by the castle, never seeing it. It is well hidden from view of the road. I turn back and notice a private drive with a ‘No Trespassing’ sign.  I hold my breath and turn onto the gravel road.

    I still do not find the castle.  Again, I turn around and, driving back, I see it—not the château but the little chapel to the side of it.

     


    I stop the car and I get out to take pictures.  As I am about to get back in the car, I see the Castle! Beyond the trees and the furry tips of tall grasses, I see this lonely abandoned château, the weathered stone of its walls falling away. Leafy inhabitants peer out of the window and wave in the passing breeze. I am so close but I am not there yet.

    I drive onto the main road, and just as if it were nestled on another plane, I glimpse it from the corner of my eye. The black spires. The wrought iron dome. The timeworn tower with crucifixes carved into the crenelles.

    I park and cross the street to the grass covered bridge. It is crisscrossed with tape. Beyond the barrier is a sign: “Danger”

    Stepping over the tape, I walk past the sign. I walk as close as I dare, moving towards Joseph’s Lair…

    For more pictures.

    My Pinterest board

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    New Orleans

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    Is there any place so mysterious or provocative as New Orleans?  A place where les bon temps roll right alongside the menace of dark spirits both dead and alive. A place so steeped in history and so culturally faceted that when I feel inclined to wander, I find myself headed east towards it. No wonder the characters in my novels gravitate there as well.

    On one of my trips to the Big Easy, I visited an actual Voodoo Temple. Coming from a small rural town in Georgia, raised in the Church of God and,  later, the Southern Baptist religions, I learned that fooling with dark magic would damn my soul. And though Voodoo was viewed as a false religion, we all had a healthy respect for its power over us. Those things remained ingrained even as I learned more about the religion and assumed an intellectual disregard for superstition. So when I stepped inside of the Temple, I was filled with awe, curiosity and the heebie-jeebies. It was wonderful and I knew I had to write about this place.

    Thus inspired, I created a fictional Voodoo Temple filled with the details I came across in my real-life exploration. My temple is run by a Voodoo Priestess called Kayin Medeaux. It figures rather prominently in the narrative of The First Daughter.

    Now, my husband and I are heading back to New Orleans to celebrate our 22nd anniversary. And as I work on my second novel, I’m wondering if my characters will find a reason to return there.  I hope so

    Paris

    The opening scene of The First Daughter takes place in Paris in a fictional hotel called the Colombe d’Or. However, other locations mentioned are not made up. I found some spots in Paris that were too provocative not to write about. For example, near the market at Rue Cler is a small side street called Rue Amelie, where you can find the crepe café and a small boutique selling fascinators, visited by a couple of my characters.

    I had visited this particular area in 2015 and enjoyed a quite fantastic ham and (Gruyère) cheese crepe at Creperie Le Crepuscule. As I sat in the tiny, tiny space alongside locals, a small chapel-shaped structure directly across the street captured my imagination. Though I am still not certain what is housed in it, in my book, it became the location of a catalyzing event in The First Daughter.

    I am returning to Paris in a couple of days to explore some locations for the novel that I am currently writing.  After all, Paris is my favorite city. And since I go there as often as I can, I will be collecting some of the magic and the mystery hidden in little known Parisian enclaves. Stay tuned for my travel logs exploring locations that could find their way into my stories.

    Firsts

    The first hurdle along the journey to deliver my most prized creation d’art to the world is now behind me. Melissa Carrigee of the Loiacono Literary Agency has decided to take a chance on me and my work. This left me so gobsmacked, I held on the good news for a while. A part of me wanted to shout the news from the rooftops. Yet other parts, in equal measure, held me back.

    The realistic part of me said that this is just the first step. I don’t yet have a publisher or an editor so announcing that I have an agent might be celebrating too soon. Having published before, I know the agony and time involved in endless revisions. So, to me, to announce an agent would be like announcing ‘mission accomplished’ when the work had only really just begun. Would my non-writer friends get that? Did I have the energy to explain why getting an agent is such a big deal–even though I don’t have a publisher yet?

    So why is it so important to have an agent? Primarily, most publishers  will not accept an unsolicited manuscript. They only work through agents. And, from what I have gathered, landing an agent is like wrangling a unicorn.

    This brings me to another worry: Being excited and telling whomever would listen would be insensitive to the wonderful writers in my circles who are still struggling to find an agent. In retrospect, I feel silly harboring this particular misgiving. Once the cat was out of the bag, the warm support I received from my fellow Houston Writer’s Guilders was overwhelming. Where I had been retiring and even sheepish, my news was greeted with such enthusiasm that I realized that they were as excited as I was about this accomplishment.

    Now, I have the task of building platforms. I am quite introverted and the thought of encouraging friends and acquaintances and strangers to follow me and stick with me until that glorious day arrives when The First Daughter is in print. So, for a few weeks now, my finger has been on the button to publicize my website and social media pages. Once it’s all out there, I am behooved to keep all platforms current and enticing so that as many people possible know about the intriguing and thrilling novel that will be available to them.

    So, welcome to the first blog promoting The First Daughter, the first book in a series to come. And, let me tell you, this novel will take you on  a great ride through space and time.