Shelley We Dance? (Yeah, I Went There…)

Funny how things come together, you know?

For example, I’ve been reading the Immortal Descendants books by April White… Reading? Immersing myself is more like it. Anyway, as I read the books, I’ve pictured Henry Cavill as Archer Devereaux, the male lead and love interest for the lead character, Saira. Anyway, so I finally make my way over to Pinterest (Yes, I’ve created a page… No, there’s nothing there yet… Yes, I will fill it to overflowing soon), and I check out April’s Pinterest boards for the books, and who was the inspiration for Archer? Yep… Henry Cavill. As I Tweeted earlier, I should be a casting director.

Moving on… So one of the boards included teaser stuff for Book Five of the series, Cheating Death, including a couple of Frankenstein quotes from my girl Mary Shelley. She, of course, was eventually married to the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and I learned this week that a movie about their romance and life together is in the works, currently filming over in Dublin, and starring Elle Fanning as Mary and Douglas Booth as Percy.

I’ll admit, I found this because Douglas put pictures up on his Twitter feed… Yes, I follow Douglas Booth on Twitter… Anyway, the timing was so great because… (wait for it)…

This Sunday and Monday, 28 February and 29 February, the first book in the Kate Gardener Mystery series, “The Memory of Trees”, will be totally and completely free over on Amazon. Why is this connected? Well, the legendary romance of Percy and Mary Shelley, as well as one of Percy’s poems, play a central role in this book.

The story begins with the discovery of a castrated male in Regent’s Park. Kate Gardener, freshly transplanted from the US to the halls of Forensic Services at Lambeth, becomes part of the investigation on her first day. As the story unfolds, the victim’s connection to the murder of a young woman a decade earlier places a revenge angle on the current case. And when Kate uncovers the connection involving poetry and the Shelleys, it blows the case wide open… with dangerous consequences.

So there you have it… via a long and winding road. 😉

Check out “The Memory of Trees”, available for free this Sunday and Monday, and let me know what you think!

Looking for Mister Darcy…

Vincent ran his fingers lightly along the spines of the worn and weathered books on the shelf in front of him. An eclectic mixture, to be sure, many obvious first editions and old. Quite old. Nietzsche, Aquinas, Darwin, More… The hint of a smile played at the corner of Vincent’s mouth as he noticed a title that didn’t really belong with all the science, history and anthropology tomes around it.

He pulled out the copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, its faded cover worn at the corners from years of fingering. It wasn’t really that difficult to figure women out… You just had to understand where they were coming from, what they were looking for. And, for the most part, every woman, in one way or another, was looking for Mr. Darcy.

excerpt from “BLOODLINE” by Gabriella Messina

Perhaps you fell in love with him as Colin Firth, his shirt dripping wet from an impromptu swim in his Pemberley pool. Or maybe it was Matthew McFadyen striding across the fields in his long coat, who claims he “couldn’t sleep”. Or perhaps it was simply the original literary version, carefully crafter by Jane Austen, flaws and failings as painstakingly rendered as his good qualities. Whatever the stimulus of the attraction, it is a truth universally acknowledged that Fitzwilliam Darcy is viewed by a majority of romantic womanhood as the ideal man.

It isn’t simply the specific character of Austen’s Darcy, however, that attracts, allures, and captivates us. It is something more than that… And that something can be found in a variety of male romantic leads across literature genres. Cowboys, corporate executives, vampires… Many of these male characters, along with other, take the romantic lead in fiction, and our attraction to them is more often than not connected to the qualities they share with Mr. Darcy.

What makes a “Mr. Darcy?

He is attractive, but not necessarily to everyone. Tall, with the kind of male beauty that will age slowly and well, Darcy is noticed more for his rumored wealth than the figure he cuts. In some ways, Darcy is a handsome man out of his time. What popular culture regarded as handsome 50 years ago wouldn’t make the cut today, and our standards for beauty wouldn’t stand a chance in any era but this.

Okay, so he looks good to the female lead. Check. Another important attribute… is his sense of justice. Darcy is a proud man, in part because of his upbringing, and he has decided views on class and how things are done, how society should run. But when it comes to standing with and for those he loves, he will literally do anything and everything. Money, time, reputation, even life and limb are nothing for this man… and he expects nothing in return, except the opportunity to continue to admire and love his lady. Aw!!!

Darcy is more traditional than his contemporaries. He may be slow to romance his love interest, tentative in his gestures of affection, and downright Victorian in his sense of sexual propriety. Often the heroine is amused by his behavior, teases him, and this teasing is a part of their mating dance, as it were. Rankling though it is to Darcy, he finds himself more and more attracted to the woman who dares him, leading him to dare on occasion and leading readers/ viewers to some breathtakingly romantic moments.

My latest book “boyfriend” is very much a Mr. Darcy type. I recently discovered April White’s “The Immortal Descendants” series, and a certain Victorian student-slash- Vampire named Archer Devereaux. The second son of a British lord, Archer is a theology student at King’s College London in 1888 when he meets a feisty time-traveling American girl named Saira. His own knowledge of the Immortal Descendants draws him to help her, and their time together grows very quickly into attraction and love on his part. Even as we meet Archer 125 years later as a vampire, he is very different in many ways. At his heart, however, Archer is still the same character… attractive and charming, loyal and just, courageous and compassionate, and with the kind of love for the heroine that makes you go weak in the knees even when you are lying flat reading.

So whether you are partial to the original version, or like a little variation, Mr. Darcy still manages to bring the romance in bushels. He’s not perfect by any means, but I’ll tell you something… in my book, you can keep your Mr. Grey… I’m looking for Mr. Darcy. 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

The Bane of My Existence…

Otherwise known as an outline. 🙂 Yep, never liked them, never felt like I was good at writing them… And yet here I am, working away at the outline for book two in the no-series-title-yet follow-up to BLOODLINE. And it’s going really well, actually. I had a lot of notes already, so in some ways sitting down and stringing them together is a pretty simple undertaking.

When I originally wrote BLOODLINE, way back when it was a screenplay titled THE DEVIL INSIDE, it never occurred to me that there would be more. I mean, it did, but not seriously. At the time, you’re thinking about entering the finished screenplay in competitions, maybe getting some notice for it, getting people to read it and review it and maybe, just maybe, getting a very good natured and well-caffeinated script reader somewhere out there to read more than a couple of pages and throw you a solid “Consider”. So writing a sequel wasn’t really in the cards, so to speak.

Until the screenplay became a book, and I started hearing from beta readers that they hoped there would be a sequel, that they wanted to see more. And strangely enough, while the word “sequel” was hanging in the air like one of those little vapory words in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon, the images started in my head… scenes, dialogue, growth in the individual characters and in their relationships.

And so, here I am, outlining book two. It’s one of those traditional aspects of writing that I usually avoid like bubonic plague… But, like trying a new food that you thought you hated because the last time you tasted it you were, like, four, maybe getting older has made the process of organizing my thoughts into a structured format a little less intimidating, a little more inspiring, a little more… palatable. Or it could just be my sub-conscious telling me to write this stuff down before I forget it.

Who am I kidding? I remember EVERYTHING!

Now if I could just remember where I put those index cards… 😉

(The) Bloodline

Putting out a book is an interesting experience, to be sure. No matter how much you try to be prepared, to do everything just right, you always end up looking at the finished product with a little bit of… well… doubt.

The great thing about self-publishing is that, when that doubt arises, you have the chance to go back and make some changes. And that’s why less than a year after publishing my first full-length novel titled THE BLOODLINE, I took the rather drastic step of publishing a second edition of the book.

What’s different? Well, there were some minor additions within the text… a few words here and there that clarified some scenes and add something extra to the romantic elements of the story. I also added back matter, including some notes on the text, inspirations and music, as well as section on the music that inspired my writing of the book.

The biggest differences between this version and the original edition are the title and the cover. I decided to drop the “THE” from the title, going for simply BLOODLINE. I liked the way it looked on the cover and, quite frankly, as future books come to be, I liked the idea of sticking to a single word for the title. Start adding articles and such and you end up taking up the entire cover with words… and in the case of this cover, that would be a travesty.

3d render book white background

And that brings me to the cover. I like the original cover, and in some ways it still fits into the story, but I felt that it conveyed a tone and atmosphere for the story that was darker than it actually is. So I decided to get a new cover. I looked for pre-made ones, but ultimately decided to go with a custom design. I went with Deranged Doctor Design and, after answering their questionnaire, let them have free rein. I’m telling you, I was so pleased with the result. I’ll definitely be using these guys for future covers… They rock!

Anyway, Bloodline is now available for Kindle on Amazon, and in paperback through Amazon and Createspace. I’m looking forward to seeing how it does this go-around, and I hope you read and enjoy it… And don’t forget to leave a little review. I love to hear what people think of my writing, and your thoughts could very well influence the future books in many ways, so please do let me know what you think.

 

The Horror of Science

Horror. The word conjures images and feelings of discomfort, fear and even revulsion. While modern film and television, graphic novels and video games have made blood, violence and the grotesque intimately associated with and inseparable from the word, the real key to conjuring lasting images and feelings of horror may be far subtler and insidious. Though the genre can more often than not travel a freakish and violent path, the horror stories that are most enduring seem to be the ones that are the most REAL

Yes, you read that correctly… Real. Vampires, werewolves, zombies… These denizens of horror films and novels are not, in fact, real, though certainly elements of their existence are pulled from reality. In truth, those very elements of scientific fact and historical accuracy are what truly make these, and other, horrific characters and plot devices deserving of dread and discomfort.

Science is a dangerous love. It offers so much promise: the promise of health and the promise of understanding. Yet these tempting fruits come with a price, bringing us to the very edge of nature’s dark side and daring us to step over the edge to attain what we desire most. Scientists are always preoccupied with what they can do, what they can accomplish. When the question of whether or not it should be done arises, however, they are dismissive, though they know full-well that the consequences of what they are trying to accomplish could be devastating. Works dealing with the capabilities of science and the consequences that occur when the line between what we can do and we should do is crossed have been popular since the Victorian Era when H.G. Wells, Jules Verne and Mary Shelley created tales of science fiction suspense and horror. Cloning, genetic engineering, time travel, cybernetics…All take center-stage in cautionary tales about the dangerous of letting hubris get the better of common sense and logic.

In the world of horror, monsters are created in labs or found in the remotest outposts on earth, creatures brought into the human world with catastrophic consequences. This is also true in the real world, though the monsters we humans battle on a daily basis are much smaller, sometimes microscopic. They destroy our bodies, leaving lasting pain and damage if we are able to survive them. Viruses. They attack our bodies, scarring them, destroying them, and leaving lasting traces if we are able, by luck or miracle, to survive a bout with one of them. Depending on a host for their very life, viruses exist on the edge of life, as it were, adapting and changing as need to survive. They are primitive, focused solely on survival. Barely 5,000 have actually been identified, with millions lurking just beyond the borders of our scientific knowledge, waiting to emerge and wreak havoc. We build-up our immune systems to fight them, creating anti-viral medications to treat them, and use their own DNA and RNA against them by formulating vaccines from them.

The use of viruses in horror is not unique and many modern stories use the element very effectively to explain vampirism, lycanthropy and, of course, zombies. For “Bloodline”, virology became an important element of the plot along with genetic engineering. Not surprising since werewolf tales often commence with the protagonist being victimized and “contracting” the condition through bodily contact, specifically an exchange of fluids. Carriers of the virus often look completely normal and healthy when not transformed, a further similarity to the real world, as people infected with viruses, particularly in the early stages, often exhibit few or no symptoms. As the virus assimilates into the body, or is attacked by the body’s immune system, the protagonist experiences physical changes as well as psychological effects. Isolation is often the greatest obstacle that the protagonist needs to overcome, both self-imposed and that imposed by a fearful society. As the protagonist’s body completes its change, as the virus becomes a part of the body’s genetic code, the motivation to prevent spreading the virus can be overwhelming, leading them on a quest for some sort of cure or control for the virus’ effects or, in the extreme, to precipitate their own death in some way.

In the end, however, there is no end. No matter what steps the protagonist takes to combat the devil lurking inside of them and end the threat, there is always a thread that carries on. Therein, perhaps, lies the true horror of science: the knowledge that no matter what we accomplish, no matter how many battles one, the war will never truly end.