An unexpected turn of events!
Years ago, I began wondering what would happen if my imagined friends were real. What would my reaction be if, say, Joshua, or Ronan, or (gulp) Trey, were to suddenly appear one night on my doorstep? Maybe it was the unexpected and fierce affection I've developed as I watched my characters grow and evolve that made me begin to wish for them. While I pondered over various scenarios, a new character arose - Summer Skye Renault. I pictured her then as I do now - a young woman of stunning beauty with hair of sunshine gold and eyes as blue as the sky. I made her a novelist, her genre vampire romance. I'm not the first author to write about an author - I've seen several others do the same thing, so it seemed like a logical way to explore my inner fears.
I developed the woman, gave her life in my mind, and sent her in search of mysteries. An aged mansion, reputed to be haunted, became the center of my plot, and I imagined the home's inhospitable nature caused, in actuality, by a trapped vampire trying to get someone's attention. I then imagined the woman learning the truth - her imagined friends were real and she's been dreaming of and writing about a real vampire! She releases the confined man, they fall in love, and that, pretty much, would have been it. I would call the story Midnight Skye, and make her novels romances about one eternal soul. I got busy with the stories I already had in work, but my bedtime imaginings often returned me to the frightened young woman trapped in an inhospitable mansion.
As I completed work on Secrets & Promises, I contemplated the next step Haven's Realm would take. I solved the problem between the Community and Savant, and rather permanently, both relieving tension in the clan and increasing my character base. All the Council's problems appeared to be resolved. Was that the end of the saga? Where should I go from here? Well, why not go with Summer's story? Sure. Of course! So at the end of Secrets, I decided to make the missing vampire a Savant, and the long-lost cousin of Christian, one of my Council Elders. Carloman, Chancellor of the Savant, learns of Lucien's disappearance for the first time at the event that concluded the story, so Jason, King of the Community, asks Christian to investigate. Then Life happened, slowing progress considerably, but enabling me, at the same time, to envision more than I originally intended.
If you're already a fan of the Haven's Realm saga, then you're familiar with Christian Lafontaine. He is the Elder responsible for upholding Patience, the Virtue for which he is most suited. The blond frenchman began life in the 1200's, and replaced Lysander on the Council after Antonia's sire was slain by a damphere. I closed the book knowing where to go next. But something happened I didn't expect - Christian fell in love, and the simple story took on a whole new meaning.
"Wait a minute," I argued to Christian. "Summer is for Lucien! You're supposed to find him, not take her!" All my patient, gentle warrior would do is give me a sultry smile.
Desperately, I reached for Lucien and pulled his enigmatic spirit from the back of my mind. When he came to life, my heart shuddered to a screaming halt. Dark, mysterious and powerful, he's the antithesis of his tender cousin. I learned how he'd come to be confined, who was responsible, and how much danger I'd led Summer into. Get ready for Adept treachery and the return of an ancient enemy - the Sen Aesir.
Lucien Labossiere is the perfect counterpoint for my gentle warrior. A general among the Savant, he is both warrior and spy, a superior tactician, and Carloman's most skilled assassin. He has been imprisoned in his home, D'Arc Estate, for almost a hundred years, and had lost all hope of being released. The dangers looming over his cousin's head haunt Lucien's troubled soul, because the enemy who overcame him appears bent on destroying the Community. When he senses yet another mortal presence, he works up the power to reach out to her, unaware his mental energy is activating Adept magick inhabiting his walls and placing the woman in danger.
Skye has been dreaming of vampires, and two in particular, ever since she fell into D'Arc Estate's well as a child. At the age of fifteen, she wrote the first novel based on her nightmares and loaned it to her teacher for evaluation. The teacher sent the manuscript to a publisher friend, launching the remarkably young novelist into instant fame. While she wrote of Tristan and Philippe, dreams of Lucien and Christian progressed, the two cousins battling against each other time and again for the love of one woman, but after the sixth novel was submitted for publishing, the dreams abruptly stopped.
Missing her phantom lovers and desperate to call them back, she returns to the estate, and determines to make it her own in spite of the rising danger. When Christian appears on her doorstep, the fragile wall holding back insanity cracks. He readily agrees to help her investigate the house, but is injured and driven away by Adept treachery. Now alone and terrified, she discovers Lucien's prison, learns the truth, and becomes the unwitting subject of the cousins' next love competition. The enemy, alerted to Lucien's liberation, takes drastic steps to undo the Bargain.
This was a hard story to write, and wound up a whopping one hundred and sixty thousand words in length by the time I finished. Summer is captured and tortured while the Community, alongside the Savant, prepare to rescue Christian. The Dragons return and play an important role, one I won't tell you here. I'll admit the first interaction between Lucien and Hope still tickles my funny bone, but the most fun I had while writing this was in watching Lucien tackle the modern world.
Imagine, if you can, being locked away from, well, everything for almost a hundred years. Yes, Lucien owned an automobile, but the modern car amazes him. He has no idea what a refrigerator is, or a "lap top", and preparing "frozen orange concentration" took some explanation on Summer's part. Everyone seems to have those small, hand-held communication devices they call cell phones, and the first time he's forced to use one, he approaches the thing in typical, studious Savant style. Oh, and wait until you read his reaction to a flat-panel "tell a vision". The word priceless comes to mind.
Deciding who gets the girl was almost as painful for me as it will be for Summer Skye. I spent a great deal of time getting to know both men, and was surprised by what they confessed while I put the plot together. It wasn't until then I realized what the Midnight saga is all about. And looking at these two incredible men now, I have to say I wouldn't want to face choosing between them. By sending Christian to look for his cousin, I began what would have been the seventh Midnight installment, were it truly Skye writing the tale.
Summer's adventure didn't turn out quite the way I planned, nor do her experiences mirror what I've imagined should her situation become mine. How would I react if I found standing on my doorstep one of those dear friends I created in my mind? Well, if I didn't die on the spot of supreme shock, I suppose I'd accept it as bravely as I may and set aside fear. After all, I know them all better than anyone else.
Praise for Midnight Skye
4 out of 5 stars
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