I hope you’re holding up and that you and your family in good health. We’re doing alright here in our 2nd month of lockdown. The days are starting to become a blur of working and writing and pacing (an absurd amount of pacing. My wife is starting to worry about the rug) but hopefully this will be over fairly soon and we can return to some form of normal.
In the meantime, I’m pleased to announce that CINDER & SMOKE: AN OCCULT DETECTIVE STORY is now available on Amazon to buy and to read in Kindle Unlimited.
This is one of the oldest story ideas I ever had, and has spent more than a decade marinating and changing. There have been at least three different versions over the years, all of them very different from the final product. At one point I believe it was even High Fantasy story. But I’m glad that my little tale finally found a home in the occult world of Belle Époque Paris, and I look forward to returning there as soon as possible.
Here’s a description of the novella:
Paris 1900. While a comet blazes across the sky, and something terrible prowls the dreams of the city, a magician must unravel his mentor’s last and most dangerous experiment in this occult detective story about obsession, sorcery, and the sins of the father.
M. Ravenot, recently of the Acadamie de la Metaphysique, is hounded by rumors of witchcraft and murder. Dismissed and disgraced, he prefers to be left to his own devices. But when he receives a cryptic letter from his old professor’s daughter, he is drawn into a tangled web of family secrets and forbidden sorcery that will lead him to a nightmare he could have never imagined, and put everything he knows in danger…
Excerpt from Cinder & Smoke
It was past midnight when a taxi pulled up outside 22 rue Le Sueur, home of the late Professor Jean-Francois Merminod. At that hour, even the nightclubs on Montmartre had closed. The proprietors had turned off their lights, wound down their shutters and, like their patrons, had at last slunk off to bed. But in the backseat of the car M. de Ravenot, recently of the Académie de la Metaphysique, was wide-awake.
He was a young man with a sallow complexion and a peculiar, furtive intelligence. He was applying it now, turning questions over in his mind, and he didn’t like where they led him. The drive had put him on edge. He had felt the city’s unease crying out to him as he passed, seen it in the faces of the drunken stragglers and nightwalkers, and tasted their dreams on the air—feverish and bitter. And it had only gotten worse the closer he got to Professor Merminod’s house.
At 15 Rue Piccini a young couple clung to each other dreaming of loss and betrayal, while in a third-floor room at 26 Rue Duret a little girl curled up and thought of darkness and all-consuming fire. Down the road at 21 Rue Le Sueur, a fallen countess tossed and turned in her sleep dreaming of slaughterhouses and of murder yet to come.
Ravenot saw them all with noise and terrible clarity, but underneath, Ravenot could sense something else, something thrumming dangerously like a heartbeat. He did not care to delve deeper, but knew with grim certainty that he might have to, before the night was over.
Professor Merminod’s daughter, Madéleine, had written to him, asking for help. Apparently the old man had considered him suitably competent and knowledgeable, although he doubted Merminod had phrased it quite as politely. Ravenot wasn’t sure precisely what had happened, but he felt as though he was on the precipice of something unfathomable. He had already caught glimpses here and there.
The comet worried him, for one. Ravenot was not well versed in astrological matters, but he knew a portent when he saw one. And there were hints too in the letter, oblique references to an experiment of some sort. It was connected somehow, the dreams, all of it. Ravenot was certain of that, although even he had to clutch his thoughts tightly at times, and constantly remind himself of their connections as they tried to scuttle away. That in itself was suspicious.
The lights were still on at 22 rue Le Sueur, waiting. As Ravenot climbed up the steps to ring the bell, the fog whispered to him of smoke and malice, but Ravenot was not afraid, not yet. He had come out of curiosity, and unexpected loyalty, and most of all, because it was her.
If you want to read more, you can pick it up here on AMAZON.
Stay safe and happy reading!