Archive for the ‘historical fantasy’ Category

       In Immortal Beauty, Celine D’Aumont is obsessed with one thing: revenge. She wants to right a wrong that happened very long ago and one that she took very personally.  I know just how she feels. There have been many times in my life when I have been slighted or wronged and I rise up with self righteous indignation that allows me to think and say things I normally do not think and say. This anger gives me permission  to plan my own way to get even and balance the playing field again, though normally I am a very pacifistic people pleaser, I can become a monster in a matter of moments. If someone were to wrong one of my family and friends, the indignation spins out of control and I have free reign to become a manipulative bully to get back at those who harmed my inner circle. I think we can all relate to these things because they are so basically human. Now Celine is a little more than human and she literally has all the time in the world to seethe and boil over trouble and toil! As she moves through time consumed with thoughts of revenge, her humanity begins to slip away. I know people who have experienced something in their past that has caused them anger or pain and they refuse to let it go and in the end, it defines who they are. I have a friend who is so angry at the church because he didn’t like the way he was treated as a child, it has become his ‘broken record’. He’s the friend that other friends whisper: “Just don’t get him started on the church!” before visiting his home. I have learned personally that I have to somehow process and accept and finally forgive everything that has happened in this mortal dream or I cannot move on. We can become prisoners of our own thoughts. No one can create a more perfect jail cell than your own self. People are driven to do horrible and unspeakable things because someone did not treat them right.  Passions can turn from the brightest light to the darkest force and we find ourselves in a mortal battle with the one we used to love. I feel that if we continue to hold onto these dark and powerful thoughts of revenge, a kind of madness ensues. The person obsessed no longer has the ability to enjoy a sunny day or a simple smile. Everything has become darkened with the poison of the mind. We can do so much damage in one lifetime by not forgiving or releasing or accepting. Imagine the madness that would follow if you were full of hatred and you were going to live forever. Would the hatred grow with the years until one became like Celine, a mad woman who will only rest when everyone around her is dead? Or would each coming century bring another chance of redemption and forgiveness? These are the mortal musings I ponder as I look back at my own life and my own dark obsessions that have finally found the day. Stay beautiful my Lovely Immortals! And on a light note, I have to quote Elvira, Mistress of the Dark: “Revenge is better than Christmas!” I’m certain Celine would agree with her!

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21 Rue Raynouard
The house that haunts me still

  This is an old photograph from World War One of a house that no longer exists except in memory. This house was donated by the Gautier and Hottinguer families during the war when the volunteer American Ambulance drivers needed a new home. We are looking at the back of the house as the front was amazingly deceptive, appearing to be a simple one story chateau. Once inside, an impossible staircase descended four levels to the back as the house was built on a hill sloping down to the Seine. The American Field Service (AFS) was born here and these brave men thankfully took photos and then wrote about this place long after the war was over. This house seemed to have a quality that none who entered its portals could ever forget. The more research I did on this beautiful place, the more intriguing and interesting it became. A mineral spring ran underneath the home in pre-Roman caverns and people came from far and wide to take the cure. Benjamin Franklin as ambassador to France lived next door and took the waters himself and performed his first lightning rod experiments here. Voltaire wrote one of his books in this home, Le Devin de Village. Ernest Hemmingway and Somerset Maugham served as ambulance drivers here as well as Louis Bromfield, an Ohio writer who at one time was more popular than Hemmingway. It was Bromfield who used this ancient chateau as the home of one of his characters. The way he described the house made me think that perhaps it was based on a real place as I knew he lived in Paris as a young man. The house was taking over my imagination. I had to find it. I knew it was real. The house, long forgotten was begging to come back to life. Now here’s the part that is really strange (in a cool way!). At one time this house boasted the largest park in all of Paris. The park was replaced by concrete as we continued to pave over paradise. When I began writing my book, I knew I wanted the house to be the main character and as I started my book a new park began to be constructed at the very site of the original park. Parc du Passy was born at the same time my creation began. It even has its own Facebook page! I did not know that the house had been destroyed and on my first trip back to Paris after the haunting, I ran down Rue Raynouard and cried on the streets when I saw an apartment building with a plaque on the wall dedicated to those brave volunteers. Later I found out that supposedly one can still go beneath the building and access those ancient tunnels leading to the fabled waters. As you see, I am still haunted and obsessed as all writers must be to do the crazy things we do and create the fantastic worlds we create for others to live in. Over time I began to think, what if the waters did something else? What if they had a special quality to them? That is how my first book Immortal Beauty began. What haunts you? What is your obsession? Find out more about the house and see more pics on Immortal Beauty’s Facebook page. The ebook is available on Amazon.com. The sequel is being written now in the trilogy of The Immortals. Stay beautiful! Stay haunted! Immortality begins with you!

IMMORTAL DOUBT.

See actual photos from Paris during World War One of the magnificent chateau that inspired the book Immortal Beauty. Voltaire wrote one of his books in this house. Rousseau also wrote part of a famous novel in the same stately home. Ernest Hemmingway and Somerset Maugham were just a few more of the writers who knew this lovely place that no longer exists. Benjamin Franklin lived in this very park and took the magical waters himself as a cure for his ailments while he served as American Ambassador to France. This house has haunted me from the very beginning. Pulitzer Prize winner, Louis Bromfield wrote about this house vividly in several of his novels, as he was one of the dashing young American Ambulance drivers during the Great War. Stay beautiful My Lovely Immortals!  http://pinterest.com/thomasmcdermott/immortal-beauty/

IMMORTAL BEAUTY.

    At the very heart of Immortal Beaty is humanity’s obssession with beauty. The very concept of beauty is so abstract and personal it is hard to fathom a universal law of beauty. What was considered beautiful in the 18th century is not necessarily viewed the same way here in the 21st. Are there cerain attributes that have been seen as beautiful from the very beginning of mankind? I cannot say. I only know that what I find beautiful, the person standing next to me does not. I certainly do not see The desperate housewives with all of their botox and filler as beautiful. In fact, I find them a little alien and that plays a big part in my book. The rich are distinguishing themselves from the middle class and the poor in a new way. In the past it was large homes and lots of land and expensive clothings and possessions. This has not changed much at all, only now with the available technology in the anti-aging and beauty business, the rich are starting to make themselves look physically different than the rest of us mere mortals. The eyebrows are too high and the lips are too big and the cheeks are too pronounced. They believe these things make them look younger. It does not. It makes them look different. When I see someone on television or in real life who has such visible procedures performed I know immediately that they are older. All the work they’ve had done is shining a bright spotlight on the very thing they are trying to hide. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against any of these things and have had my share of botox. I am not judging these people. I am just noticing them and realizing they no longer look quite…human.

The antagonist in Immortal Beauty, Celine D’Aumont, wants to create a race of beautiful people who live forever with all of us mortals at their beck and call. It may sound like a fantastic and crazy idea, but I see it happening now. Scientists are racing to stop the clock that ticks away in our DNA and who do you think will have access to this technology? It will be the rich, like always. Once again they are taking a step away from the rest of us and proclaiming that they are not the same. Money makes them different, or so they believe. They don’t have to age, they don’t have to suffer like the rest of us. They are secure, or so they belive. At the end of the day, we all grow old and die and this is what we have been trying to avoid since civilization began and probably before. Why are we afraid of this most natural process? When I say ‘we’, I definitely mean me for sure. If I was given the chance to stay youthful and live forever I know I would go for it. What if soon science can offer us these very things? Technology is a double edged sword and things could go horribly wrong in this quest and it also makes great fodder for all sorts of amazing stories, but we are on the brink of a new era. We are becoming a new species through our science. We are manipulating genes and inserting technology into our bodies at a rapid pace. Everyone has their computer strapped to their hand and it is common to see people all day long staring into their little screens instead of seeing what is right before their eyes. We are no longer just human. We are humans interfacing with machines and the machines are making their way into our biology. Are we the last of the natural children? Will we eventually be seen as neanderthals to these modern people or will we reach a point where our humanity rejects the technology and we return to the earth? I wish I was immortal so I could see how this all plays out. Will the rich turn themselves into a different looking race entirely so you can tell immediately who is not a mere mortal? Ultimately the question is, would I jump on this bandwagon and try to stay young and beautiful forever, or choose to grow old and wise like my lovely grandparents. Ah the immortal implications make mind reel. Remember, you ARE beautiful my lovely Immortals!

IMMORTAL SOUL SEARCHING

Posted: August 16, 2012 in FICTION, historical fantasy

The Park at 21 Rue Raynouard

Searching the soul late at night is what we writers do while you mortals are safe and sound and tucked in for the evening. We muse and ponder and wrangle and wonder at all of the infinite possibilities of life, whether it be real or fictional life. To us, it is all the same. I thought for a while I was doing a spectacular balance beam routine while straddling the fine line between the real and the fake. Turns out, I was not even on the beam! I was way over in the corner of the gym staring down at my socks. I realize now that I have no stronghold whatsoever in this world or the world of fiction. They have become one creature filled with the spectacular and the mundane and the longer I live the more I wonder if we really are in The Matrix. Any modern astrophysicist would tell me that indeed we are in a matrix of sorts and that energy and matter are the same thing and on and on and on. He or she would make perfect sense and be full of logic, but that would do nothing to quiet the stirring voices underneath it all. Logic doesn’t work in the realms the writers live in. We live in Imagination and Intuition and Nightmares and Speculation and Dreams and Emotion and Instinct and Primal Forces and on and on and on. I can only speak for myself and knew that long ago I was drawn into another world created by books. Something was born in me and continued to grow the more I read. I could not read enough books as a child and each book has stamped pictures in my head that are encoded as realistically as any real memory. There was another world as well. My family lived on the edge of a forest which was magical and powerful and mysteriously beautiful. I was drawn to the woods as much as I was drawn into words. Both worlds became completely real for me as I was only a child and didn’t know any better. I followed a voice that came to life through the adventures of Grimm and C.S. Lewis and Hans Christian Anderson. I found courage where there was none. I was brave like the children who found themselves in Narnia and fighting off monsters with swords of men. I began to acquire the characteristics of the characters in my books. I was no longer just me. In the woods I also learned how to be and how to blend in and how to move with the animals.  I became stealthy and primitive and my instincts sharpened quickly which helped me enormously to surive middle school! I was an animal and a scholar and a pirate and a magician. I could become anyone at anytime and these were all completely interchangeable. I had a cast of characters that would take over this book worm’s body and throw it into action. If I had stayed in the little town I grew up in and never left it for these wonderful worlds I had discovered, I would not be who I am today. I certainly would not be a writer. I would be whatever they told me to be. For my father I think his secret wish was to see his sons with doctorates. The town would have me become something mediocre and dull. They tried from the very beginning to clip my wings that had grown under the protection of the mighty maples and elms that had become my guardians. Even the trees spoke to me and I listened very carefully. The forest was my home and my books were my sanctuary. The combination created a unique specimen who refuses to listen to anything but those voices underneath the din. If I were one to regret things I might regret I didn’t take someone else’s advice on what to do with my life. I have unflinchingly listened to that little voice within and it did not make me rich and famous. It made me a well travelled American with many friends all over the globe. It made me publish my book myself because that is how it had to be. It made me do all sorts of crazy things that still make no sense today and I have no interest in questioning it. There are things and people and places in my life today that I could not imagine not having. My soul is happy. Even when I am totally broke and going through a rough spot, my soul is happy. The artist in me actually enjoys the financial hard times. Now that is a real artist! I do get lofty in this head of mine sometimes and I am humbly reminded that it wasn’t me that acheived all this. It was something inside me that had been growing all along ever since that first book and the first time I realized the woods were mine forever. There are times when I wonder if I am completely mad and a complete fool for following my muse, but then something happens or someone happens that reminds me I am exactly where I need to be. My soul is happy. Even now it is sprawling underneath an oak tree and reading about the Shire while basking in the dappled sunlight. Here is to your happy souls my Beloved Immortals!