2:45 am Tuesday and I’m wide awake. A storm is heading my way promising 18 inches of snow. Everyone in the house is sleeping and my brain is on overdrive, no I haven’t had any coffee…yet. I think the few brain cells I have left would melt if I did.
My current book Tombyards & Butterflies is doing fantastic in its first week of release, but that’s not what’s keeping me up. The second book is nagging the hell out of me. If you are creative you know exactly what I’m talking about. The idea that wont be quiet. The plot point that just wont stop. The character that whispers into your ears when you are driving, showering, doing the dishes or any other activity where a pen and paper( or phone) is out of reach, forcing you to stop and hurriedly get that idea down. And you do, because like a wisp of smoke, if you dont it vanishes and taunts you, remaining just at the fringe of conscious thought.
So I’m up and I haven’t blogged in a while because this latest book has demanded I write-hard and fast. It pushes me to write to the exclusion of everything else and so the blog, like a secret mistress, gets my visits in the dead of night when I can’t sleep. But the story,implacable, unrelenting, is there looking over my shoulder, pacing and tapping it’s foot. It gives me the stink eye and then floods my brain with ideas as if to say,”try writing that post now.”
I manage because I enjoy my blog and writing. My brain is always writing, always dealing with the alchemy of words, spoken and written. A part of me seriously believes that all creatives are slightly mad and unhinged-it’s what drives us and fuels our creative expressions. I can only speak to my experience. Writing a book is mad work. You sit down and have a conversation with the voices-in your head. You weave a story around that conversation and then invite others to jump into a world with you. Sure… totally sane.
Taking a blank page, canvas, or pick your medium, and transforming it into a book, a painting, a piece of music, a piece of you, is the ultimate form of creation. To bring forth something from nothing is the both the most empowering and frightening thing you can do and you must do it. To refuse the impulse is an act of abnegation and the fastest way to insanity.
In an effort to stave off my impending madness I am going to go wrestle with a story that just wont quit. I’ll see you on the other side.
A few nights ago I managed to conduct an interview with one of New York City’s premier supernatural detective agencies: Montague & Strong. They graciously offered to sit with me, drink some coffee (and tea) while I asked them about their work and lives.
Here is the interview:
I’m sitting at a large table in the back of The Last Gasp Brew- a coffee and tea shop located in lower Manhattan when they walk in. Right away you can see the contrast. Simon stands around six foot tall and has a casual air about him. He’s wearing a leather pea-coat, black jeans and a light gray sweater. His bronze complexion is off-set by the shockingly white hair that sits atop his head. He looks around for a few seconds, sees me, gives me a wave and a smile as he approaches. He slides into the chair opposite me.
Behind him glides in Tristan who looks like he just left a martial arts class. His eyes scan the room and he exudes a quiet danger as he enters the shop. He’s wearing what appears to be a black loose-fitting tai-chi uniform. He’s not as tall as Simon, but his presence makes him appear to fill the space around him. His complexion is darker than Simon’s and his hair is a deep black with gray at the temples.
They sit at the table opposite me, both facing the door. Simon and I shake hands, Tristan gives me a curt nod.
Orlando: Thank you both for meeting me here tonight. I know your schedule is usually busy working cases. I really appreciate it. By the way the coffee here is excellent.
Tristan: You only say that because you haven’t tried the tea. It’s our pleasure. Thank you for having us.
I notice that Tristan has a slight English accent while Simon sounds very ‘New York’.
Simon: No one drinks tea anymore.
Tristan: Except maybe most of the civilized world.
Orlando: Thanks again. I didn’t realize how difficult arranging this interview would be. You two must have some of the busiest schedules in the city.
Simon: Well it’s not like we had a choice – what I mean is you are… you know?
Simon makes some gestures I don’t understand with his hands and Tristan sighs.
Tristan: What he means is that he’s happy to be here answering questions. You’ll have to excuse him, sometimes he’s as tactful as a brick.
Simon looks at Tristan and chuckles. He takes off his coat and reclines in the large wing-back chair. His laugh is infectious and I find myself smiling. Tristan responds with a brief smile, but remains mostly serious and vigilant. I get the impression he has assessed everyone in the shop and found no imminent threats.
Simon: What the worst he can do, Monty? He did make me immortal you know. Try and relax.
I look down at my notes and prepare my first question.
Orlando: About that- you’re immortal?
Simon: The technical term is ‘cursed alive’. Apparently Kali-
Orlando: Kali as in the goddess Kali the destroyer? Shiva’s consort?
Simon: Yeah that one. Well I was on this job for Shiva-
Tristan: Which I told him not to take. I distinctly remember advising you against getting involved with those two.
Simon: Anyway- Shiva asked me to get some information, things I’m not at liberty to discuss. Kali found out what I was doing and lost it. She went ballistic and marked me with this.
Simon shows me the back of his left hand. An intricate design is etched into his skin.
Orlando: What is that?
Simon: It’s called an endless knot. She basically stopped me from aging.
Orlando: I’m not seeing the downside. She made you immortal. You don’t age. This may sound odd, but can you die?
Simon: Can you?
Orlando: Well yes, I haven’t been cursed by an angry goddess.
Simon: Well so can I. The problem is that I wont stay dead. Even worse is that I don’t know how I’ll come back. It’s not something I’m eager to test. You know?
Orlando: I can understand your reluctance.
Tristan: His immortality may be conditional, is what he’s trying to say. He could very well die and return as a goat. Which would be an improvement if you ask me.
Simon: He didn’t ask you, Monty.
Orlando: So you don’t know if you’re really immortal?
Tristan: All the indicators are there and several prominent entities have alluded to his altered state-some more violently than others.
Orlando: What can you tell me about the mark Kali gave you?
Simon: It’s part of the curse. As long as I have this-
He shows me the mark again and it seems to reflect the light around us with a subtle golden hue.
Simon: I’ll be hunted every time I use it..also every time I use it, it gets ‘her’ attention.
Orlando: Her meaning Kali?
Tristan looks up at the ceiling and sighs loudly.
Tristan: Here we go. It’s not every time. Your delusions of grandeur are astounding. The universe doesn’t revolve around Simon Strong.
Simon: Her meaning Karma. I don’t even like saying her name out loud. I never know if she’s close.
Orlando: Karma is female?
Simon: You’ve never heard the saying: “Karma is a bitch?”
Orlando: I think everyone has heard that one.
Simon: You have no idea, trust me.
Orlando: Does it do anything special, the mark?
Simon: Yes it’s a source of endless grief. See what I did there?
Tristan: It causes temporal stasis, but we cant really go into much detail.
Orlando: I understand. So Monty?
Tristan: Tristan please.
I take a moment to check my notes.
Orlando: My apologies I have it here that Simon calls you Monty.
Tristan: Because my friend is a bloody idiot.
Orlando: I see, sorry about that, Tristan. You’re a mage. A magic user?
Simon: Oh not just a mage. He’s a ‘Golden Circle’ mage.
Simon makes air quotes as he says golden circle.
Orlando: A Golden Circle mage?
Tristan: The Golden Circle is the oldest of the mage groups on the planet. They have devoted their lives to the deep study of magic and its connection to all life for the betterment of humanity.
Orlando: That’s some mission and quite admirable.
Simon suppresses a laugh.
Simon: I’m sorry. It’s just that Monty can’t stand them because all they do is study. The mages are forbidden from entering and being part of the world or modern society. Monty is currently AWOL.
Tristan: I’m on extended sabbatical. I believe magic should transcend just study and has practical applications as well.
Simon: That’s what you’re calling it now? How long is the extension-forever? I’ve never heard of a sabbatical lasting ten years. I’m just saying.
Tristan: Next question please.
Orlando: What is that you both do?
Simon: We’re a paranormal detective agency. When things go south, sideways and inside out they call us. We take the cases no one else can or wants to take.
Tristan: We provide a unique service to the city and the supernatural community. We investigate matters our clients prefer to keep discreet and on rare occasions prevent catastrophes.
Orlando: That would be the Montague & Strong Detective Agency? Who named it?
Simon: It was going to be the Strong & Montague Agency for Paranormal Investigations, but Monty bought the sign. I still think my titles sounds better.
Tristan: It doesn’t and also M comes before S.
Orlando: You two have an interesting chemistry. How did you meet?
Simon: A few years ago I was working a case- this was before the whole Kali thing- turns out Monty was working the same case from a different angle. We were dealing with some sorcerers who were kidnapping homeless people for a human sacrifice ring. The Dark Council asked me to look into it and stop the kidnappings. Monty and I teamed up and stopped it. I haven’t been able to get rid of him since then.
Orlando: This is the Council that governs the community of supernatural beings in the city? The one led by Michiko Nakatomi the vampire?
Tristan: You’ve done your research. That information is incredibly difficult to obtain. Yes that’s ‘his’ vampire.
Simon: She’s not my vampire. She is a good acquaintance.
This time it’s Tristan who tries and fails to suppress laughter.
Tristan: The Dark Council is a dangerous and ruthless organization made up of Vampires, Weres and other assorted supernatural beings. All of which can be a threat to humanity. The last thing they do is make ‘acquaintances’. He is madly infatuated with her to his and our detriment.
Simon’s phone rings. He looks down at the number and scowls.
Simon: Excuse me I have to take this. Ramirez- que pasta?
He stands and looks at me apologetically as he begins walking away and speaking.
Orlando: Is that urgent?
Tristan: When it’s Ramirez, it usually is.
Orlando: One last question. Why Simon? It’s obvious you two come from very different circles. Why do you stay together? I’m sure as a Golden Circle mage you could have your pick of partners or join any mage society.
Tristan takes a sip of his tea before speaking. He glances over at his partner who is still on the phone and nods.
Tristan: It’s quite simple really. You’re right I could be in any number of organizations, but I’m here with Simon. He can be and usually is a right pain in the arse. The simple truth is that he’s my friend and I’m his. We look out for each other.
Simon returns, downs his cup of coffee and puts on his jacket.
Simon: Hey, I’m sorry, but we have to roll. Some rogue vampire is terrorizing midtown. Can’t have the tourists be on the menu-bad PR for the city.
Orlando: I understand. Thank you again for your time and sitting with me. Maybe we can do this again when your schedule is less busy?
They both stop, look at me and laugh.
Tristan: I’m certain we can fit it in. Once we sort out dealing with the Dark Council, Ramirez and the NYTF, stopping the random deranged being bent on starting another supernatural war and any other fresh horrors that crop up.
Simon is at the entrance holding the door for Tristan. He has the phone to his ear again.
Simon: Monty, let’s go. Ramirez is having a fit.
He gives me a wave and heads outside.
Tristan and I shake hands as he prepares to leave.
Tristan: Try the tea, you wont regret it. Oh and stay out of Times Square for a few hours.
He heads out of the coffee shop. I watch them jump into a 1967 midnight blue Pontiac GTO parked in front. The engine roars to life and then settles into a purr followed by the screeching of tires as they speed off.
I decide to stay in the Last Gasp a little longer, seeing as how my next assignment was in midtown and order the tea.
Hope you enjoyed the interview! Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
So I have been away from the blog for a bit due to writing and most recently editing. In the midst of this i have released a short story which is the prequel to the next book. You can find this book on Amazon here.
This short went through a few changes. I had to add several chapters because if I didn’t I was threatened with bodily harm from my beta readers. I cant go into detail without spoiling it for you. Pick it up and let me know what you think.
The next few months are going to be full of activity. The next book is scheduled for early May I will have a cover reveal soon.
He would sacrifice all for love.
Roland James is an Arch Mystic and an expectant father. When the Enclave discovers his wife-Mei is pregnant, they demand he adhere to the rules and give up the baby for mandatory reprogramming and Enforcer training. When he refuses, the Enclave decides he is better off dead, along with his wife and unborn child. Now, together with Mei, they must evade the Enclave forces sent to kill them long enough for her to give birth. They must find a way to escape the Enclave or lose it all.
I enjoy hearing from you! Leave me a comment below or send me an email.
This book has been ready for some time now but I didn’t want to release it until book 5 was nearly done and on the horizon. This one will be available this month and book 5 will be available early next year.
Here is a brief synopsis:
The Wheel has unleashed the Kriyas. Creatures of fearsome power that devour life-force. They have been set on a path to destroy anyone who stands in the way of recovering the three foci, weapons of immense power. Dante, having undone the searing must now locate the third foci, Shadowstrike, the only weapon powerful enough to stand against Maelstrom and Lucius.
From his prison in the forgotten plane, Lucius now with the power of Maelstrom has been patiently restoring the connection to the Nexus. One more weapon will complete the bridge. Once restored every plane will be in danger of destruction. Dante, together with Sylk and Meja, return to the Akashic Records. There they will seek to uncover the identity of The Wheel. Will they find Shadowstrike, stop the Kriyas, and prevent Lucius from escaping?
Writing this book was quite a challenge and the last book (book 5) has been exciting to write. The Warriors of the Way series spans 3 years of my life. I hope you enjoy it. I’m on to another project that is a departure from this type of story. Its a little darker but it has been bouncing in my head for a long time now. The only thing I can say about it now is that its a mystery and the protagonist is a mystic. More to come soon!
I’m a hunter. Its what I do. When you go to bed at night, comfortable in your homes behind your walls and self imposed deceptions I’m on the streets. My name is, hell does it even matter? Fine. My name is Sepia Blue and no its not my given name, I don’t even know what that is. Enough with the name.
Why am I here hijacking this blog? I’m tired of being in his head. I decided it was time you heard my voice. For some time now I have been suggesting to him to get my story down. I whisper to him when he is sleeping or when he is doing some of his other writing. Writing. Not. About. Me. I don’t do coy well. I am at the point where I want to shove my blade between his ribs, gently of course. Just to get his attention.
So you want to know what I hunt? I hunt nightmares. I hunt things that would make you soil yourself, crawl into the fetal position and wish you had never been born. I face them with Cade my partner-when he isn’t being a pain in my ass. Most of the time I face them alone. There is an order, a balance in my city-New York. Hunters maintain that balance. When that balance is threatened, say some nasty creature wants to make entrees out of you, my bosses call me. I cancel the menu.
I’m not like you-what would absolutely kill you, would probably kill me. Its a big difference, trust me. No I’m not immortal-what is this a comic book? However I do have the skill and the weapons that level the playing field. My sword, Perdition is what I like to call a blade of evil. Cue in the cackling. Every time I use it, I lose a part of myself – its a raw deal, I cope by not drawing it unless I have to. I’m also covered in ink, every Hunter is. It gives us strength and protects us. Don’t ask me how- some ancient rite, special ink, some other things I didn’t get. Bottom line is that I look like a yakuza’s wet dream, covered neck to ankle in designs. Hey they keep me alive while I do my job so its a fair trade-off.
So why am I here? Two reasons. First I’m putting him on notice. Write my story before I visit you in the most unpleasant way possible. I know how to be an unpleasant bitch, trust me. Second, he is going to need help. This is where you come in. Make sure you help him get this story done in a timely manner. I would hate to have to visit you as well. Actually you would hate it, I wouldn’t mind at all. The name of the book is Sepia Blue-Origins. Make it happen.