The Story of Tel-Urughs and a Dream

Like many other popular fiction writers, I couldn’t resist the powerful call of the Dark Prince.

No surprise there. One of my favourite novels is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. One of my favourite movies is Copola’s Dracula. One of my favourite vampires is… well, Gary Oldman 🙂

But my Dark Prince no. 1 is Christian Enescu. Because I created him.

In my novels, vampires are called Tel-Urughs, and they are a bit different: their skin is warmer than ours, they use human blood, but don’t kill people for it, they don’t turn their “donors” into their own kind. My Tel-Urughs are immortal, not undead. Not unlike humans, asyngaer* and blaidd-dynion**, Tel-Urughs can be good or bad, even evil. They have strength. They have weakness. They love passionately. They suffer. They fight bravely. And they can be killed (not easily, though).

There are other kinds of creatures in my novels that fit the human conception of vampire. I call them Upiri. They are truly awful, they are undying, they are cold, merciless bloodsuckers. It’s Tel-Urughs’ job to find and destroy them.

Tel-Urughs are an ancient race, and their roots are in Mesopotamia. Millennia later, thanks to them, that patch of land between Tigris and Euphrates will become the cradle of human civilization. Tel-Urughs will play a crucial role in humans’ transition from nomadic hunter-gatherers to settlers. Men will build their first cities there. One of them, the birthplace of the legendary Gilgamesh, they will name Uruk, thus preserving the earliest connection between humans and Tel-Urughs in its name. And (as often happened throughout history), unable to explain Tel-Urughs, humans would immortalize them in their mythology as deities, heroes and, sometimes, villains.

Next time I’ll tell you more about the long and very special relationship between humans and Tel-Urughs, but while I’m still here, I want to thank my friend Georgette, who helped me with Romanian surnames and toponyms. Another note: When Christian inherited his titles, the dukedom of Alba was in Transylvania and the earldom of Brasov between Transylvania and Wallachia. Sound familiar? Well, it’s intentional.

Alba and Brasov are still there; the dukedom and earldom came from my imagination.

Now back to Christian Enescu, one of the secondary characters in my Blaidd/Vardanni novels. He appears to be in his early thirties; he looks impressive rather than conventionally handsome. Dark, sexy, powerful. Capable of great passion. He’s unmarried, and at this point in my story, attracted to the heroine, Elizabeth Chatwin. Although in love with someone else, she is not completely immune to Christian’s charm. I know, however, who is going to be the love of his life, and one day I’ll write their love story.

In the meantime, Elizabeth tries to suppress her unsettling thoughts about Christian. Alas, they resurface when she least expects them…

…That night I dreamed of him.

We stood in a huge room with stone floor and walls, decorated with medieval tapestries displaying several royal wedding processions. There were swords and armour along the walls, and tall, narrow windows. Behind them I could see the strips of dark night sky. I knew we were in Christian’s castle in Wallachia. Or perhaps it was Transylvania; I wasn’t sure.

I knew that the floor was supposed to be cold, but it felt warm under my bare feet. I looked down at my toenails painted in blood-red nail polish, peeking under the hem of my floor-length gown of a matching colour.

Christian and I stood on two ends of a massive, long table. Still, I could see him with perfect clarity: his eyes, dark like polished onyx, burning with passion, his perfect teeth… His sleek hair that lay unbound over his shoulders, dark like the night outside… His sharp face, the robust and healthy glow of his skin, which was coming from inside, I knew, and not from the big, red fire burning in the hearth behind him. He was in some sort of black attire, with the Roman numerals “VII” and “VIII” embodied on its golden buttons. Ah, of course. He was the seventh Duke of Alba, and the eighth Count of Brasov. But his titles were defunct, I remembered him saying. After all, Christian was an architect, and he worked with me in the same office…

He slowly walked to me, a snowy-white rose in his hand. “For someone who’s had only a few lovers, it’s hard to catch you single, Ms. Chatwin,” he said in a husky voice. He took my hand and kissed it, the touch of his lips soft and warm. Then he offered me the rose.

I took it from his hand and looked at it. It started turning red, from the centre toward the outer part.  A single, tear-shaped drop of warm blood dripped on my palm. I rubbed it and watched it expand until it was the size of a rose petal. It was dry and silky.

“And how do you know how many lovers I’ve had?” I asked, amused, and sniffed the rose. It didn’t smell of blood, but rather, of my favourite orange blossom and jasmine bath oil.

“I read your online biography,” he said. “Everything’s there.”

I woke up wondering if Christian’s arrival would further rattle my already complicated life…

*wizard-kind

**werewolves

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

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A closer look: One Woman’s Island by Susan M. Toy

Like her Island in the Clouds, Susan Toy’s second Bequia Perspective novel, One Woman’s Island is a complex story. On the surface, it’s a crime novel. Mariana, a Canadian woman in her forties, arrives on the island of Bequia running away from the ghosts of her past. Her new friends – a small community of expatriates—ask her to help them to solve a murder. In the orderly, organised world that Mariana’s coming from, meddling in the police investigation would be impossible, but rules are different on Bequia. The local police, with very little experience with serious crimes, are slow and inefficient. Mariana is more than happy to help. She needs a distraction anyway… 

Beneath this first layer there is an intimate story of a lonely and deeply hurt woman, whose seemingly safe and comfortable world collapsed when her husband died, leaving her to deal not only with his unexpected demise, but with his emotional betrayal as well.

Mariana’s choice of her temporary exile is not random: years ago, when she was young and happy, she visited the island with her husband. And now she’s back, to heal her wounds, and even more importantly—to look for the happy woman she once was and reconnect with her.

It won’t go smoothly. The seductive, exotic and unique world of Bequia knows how to throw out a challenge and headstrong and stubborn Mariana, with her North American set of values, will have many clashes with the island’s mentality and customs before she realizes that she should stop trying to fix things that others don’t see as broken.

Yet, in spite of all the up and downs, the Bequia experience will have a profound influence on Mariana. Instead of that young, happy woman who once visited the island, Mariana will find—and accept—herself, firmly grounded in here and now.

And in a subtle way, she’ll will leave her own imprint on Bequia—I’m sure that young Philbain and Ayayla will never forget Mariana and the stories she read to them.

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Coming Up Soon

Four big thank yous:

to J.P. Mclean (for helping me finding my niche),

to Alyssa Linn Palmer (for editing and proofreading it),

to my wonderful formatter, Meredith Bond (for her “Send it right away!”) and

to Susan Toy (for her ongoing support).

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The story meets its cover

It’s been quite a journey.

After the designer who did my first two covers had decided to change her career (I hope it wasn’t because of me). I contacted a few potential designers.

It didn’t work.

Then a friend of mine told me about Upwork. I posted the job (“I need someone to design my book cover. The successful candidate must have endless patience, listen to my ideas, imply my ideas, make endless changes, etc…”)

Srdjan Filipovic was brave enough to take the job. It turned out that it was the easiest and the most pleasant cooperation.

When he sent me the draft of this cover, I said to myself, “This is it!”. It’s like when you’re buying new glasses: you try pair after pair, pair after pair, until you put one on, and then, suddenly — voila! You look in the mirror and you know you’ve found the perfect match for your face.

This cover simply clicked with my story. It’s symbolic: my hero, the Beast (albeit very handsome in both his shapes) is trying to find the way out of his emotional labyrinth. The greenish-blue hue of the background evokes the forest, where he escapes to every night. His Beauty, symbolized by the tiny Celtic rose in the middle, is here to help him find not only his path, but also himself…

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Not All Hearts and Cupids

If you’re not in the mood for another sugar-coated happily-ever-after, immerse yourself in a novel of love gone wrong.index

In fact, consider St. Valentine himself: the namesake of our February 14th chocolate-and-sweethearts extravaganza suffered a martyr’s death.

I singled out “Beauty”, a retelling of the classic story. The author opted for a weeper of an ending. I liked the novel. Except the end. Which I didn’t like at all.

My anti-Valentine’s recommendations notwithstanding, I’m such a sucker for HEA.

 

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Accidental Sleuths

If you’re a fan of mystery fiction, here are a couple of suggestions.
island

I really liked Susan Toy’s Island in the Cloud.

“Far away from the hustle of modern life,’ I wrote in my review, “the lush, warm and fragrant Caribbean island of Bequia seems like a tropical paradise.

Until one fine morning a dead female body floating face down in a swimming pool lifts this glimmering but deceptive veil and pushes the once peaceful microcosm into small-scale chaos…”

The tireless promoter of her fellow authors, Susan wrote another Bequia novel, One Woman’s Island.

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If you like fairy tales …

Beauty and the Beast is my favourite fairy tale. I’ll quote one of my characters, the five-year-old Elizabeth Chatwin. “I like her (Beauty) more than Snow White or Cinderella,” she says, “or beasteven Sleeping Beauty. She saved the Beast and turned him into a prince. Snow White and the others didn’t do anything. They let their Princes save them.

In fact, I like it so much that I wrote my own version of it. It will be a two-volume novel and part of The Red Cliffs Chronicles series.

A while ago I compiled this e-bookslist inspired by my beloved fairy tale.

You can borrow any of these books and read it from your device. You only need a valid CPL card, which is free. You can get it, or renew it, online.

 

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