Peeking Behind the Curtain at Falcon Blue
August 4, 2018
Falcon Blue, book six of The Child of the Erinyes, was the only book of the series not already drafted when I began publishing. I didn’t intend to write this story at all: my plan was to merely allude to it in other books. But after finishing The Sixth Labyrinth, I realized this story had to be told. For one thing, it’s the first reincarnation after the explosive, tragic events in the Bronze Age, as told in books 1-3, The Year-god’s Daughter, The Thinara King, and In the Moon of Asterion. That in itself makes it important—and there is more. The story of Falcon Blue as it was shared in The Sixth Labyrinth was a lie, and the record had to be set straight.
I had already written and published books detailing two of my triad’s lives, and I refused to add another unless it contributed a unique value to the series that no other book could. I’m happy to report that after much contemplation, months of research, and countless ever-changing outlines and drafts, I wrote a story that did what was needed. In fact, everything—the entire series—hinges upon the events in this book. So that’s kind of cool.
Plus, though this book turned out to be number six in the series, it can be read straightaway after the first three books without missing a beat, without any confusion, and, much like C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles, in linear fashion. His Magician’s Nephew was originally book six of that series, but it can be read as though it is book one: perhaps that’s why they started marketing it as such, although for me, it will always be book six, since that’s how I first read the Chronicles as an eleven-year-old. It’s due to Lewis that I felt comfortable leaping backward in time from The Sixth Labyrinth, set in Victorian Scotland, to the early 500s AD.
When I began researching the setting for Falcon Blue, I was surprised and rather dismayed to discover that the early medieval period (at least in Scotland) is a dark, dark place. Well, yeah, I know—I should have been prepared, since until recently, it was known as the Dark Ages. I honestly thought there would be more knowledge about this period than there was about my previous Bronze Age settings, but that was not the case. By the time I was committed, too far in to retreat, I realized this was not going to be easy or quick. Not that researching the Bronze Age Mediterranean was easy exactly, but I would argue that I had more information at my fingertips than I could find in a year of researching the early medieval period. When seeking the details I needed for this story, I came up against wall after wall, contradictory information, patchy details, and downright disagreement.
One of the first things I was sure I wanted for the story was the tower—a round tower—for the main place setting in the story, a fort I call Dunaedan, in the Cape Wrath area. I ran into problems pretty quickly. Apparently there were no towers in Scotland in this era, even though there were ruins of round towers from earlier periods—brochs—some of which can still be viewed to this day.
Thank goodness my work is historical fantasy instead of straightforward history. There may not have been any round towers in northwest Scotland in the year 502 AD, but there is in my story. More problems arose as I worked on the specifications of the tower. See, it’s kind of special. My tower has two staircases—one that leads from the feasting hall in a spiral through the center, up seven floors to various chambers, but there’s another staircase no one who lives at Dunaedan knows about. It’s hidden in the outer walls, and provides access to each level—each room—through seven disguised doorways.
There are tons of castle cutaways online. With their help I was able to imagine, form, and develop this unique structure. To see some, click here.
Of course, having secret doorways meant I had to figure out how those worked. So I put on my engineer hat and studied cantilevers and latches that would make it possible to open and close these doors soundlessly and in a small space. Typical—the Irishman named Aedan in the book got the credit for all these marvels of engineering! Here are some secret doors that inspired me.
The initial title of Falcon Blue was The Black Wolf of Dál Riata. As I always do when I am choosing a title, I went off into the mists of Google-land to see if this title was already in use. Well it wasn’t…then. It is now. That exact title appeared on another book as I was editing Falcon Blue. Whew! So glad I decided against it for other reasons. When I switched to falcon titles, I saw very quickly that this, too, was going to be a bit of a problem. There are many books—maybe hundreds—titled some form of “Blue Falcon.” But as of this moment, there are no other books called Falcon Blue.
About the cover: The warrior image was provided by the amazing artist, Eve Ventrue, whose work can be seen here. I bought the image (and two more) before I even started writing Falcon Blue, because the ideas for it were swirling around in my brain and I knew this image would meld well with the story. I don’t know if any of my readers have ever noticed, but there is a pattern to the covers. Three stories, each story part of an internal trilogy, each one leaning a little more towards one of the three characters. That character is portrayed on the cover. Book one has Aridela, book two has Chrysaleon, and book three has Menoetius on the cover. When the triad enters the middle trilogy, we see the same characters with their new faces: Aridela/Lilith on the cover of The Moon Casts a Spell, Chrysaleon/Aodhàn on the cover of The Sixth Labyrinth, and Menoetius/Cailean on the cover of Falcon Blue. We at Erinyes Press manipulated the warrior image for Falcon Blue off and on for two years while the tale grew. We added color, texture, standing stones, the glowing eyes, and the wolf as they developed. I have a comparison at my website showing Eve’s originals and how they changed.
Vita the wolf was a later addition. Initially it was a human warrior who was being hailed as “The Black Wolf.” There was no actual wolf. When the title changed to Falcon Blue, I naturally wanted the protagonist to have a pet falcon. But falcons just aren’t the same as dog-like creatures. They’re very cool, but I wanted a companion who could have an almost spiritual bond with the warrior. At first, Vita played almost no part in the adventures. But she grew and grew and grew in the course of the evolving story until she almost stole it. I absolutely fell in love with that mystical, mythical, personable wolf!
One of the most interesting and unexpected things I discovered while researching, after I had already written scenes of convicted criminals being put to death by “cliff,” was “The Judgment Stone.” East of the town of Durness there is, or was, a place called Ceannabeinne. One of the legends attached to this place is the “Clach a Breitheanas,” or “Judgment Stone,” where ne’er-do-wells were tossed off the cliffs to their deaths. I thought I had made that idea up, but apparently not.
In Falcon Blue, the inhabitants of an isolated island refer to the lands around them as The Dominion of the Seventh Age. This title morphed through so many iterations I can hardly remember them all, as did the name of the actual island itself, which began, for convenience, as The Other Place. You know, one of those holding names you use until you can come back and give it your full attention. I wanted to use The Seven Kingdoms for the countries outside of the island, but soon realized this was pretty much copyrighted by George R. R. Martin! More ideas came and went—The Sand Kingdom, The Lost Kingdom, The Water Kingdom, the Cloud Kingdom, The Kingdom of the Seven Mountains…blah blah blah. Finally, The Dominion of the Seventh Age stuck. As explained in the book, it encompasses our seven continents and an ancient legend.
Speaking of seven, I realized while I was editing Falcon Blue that the number seven was coming up again and again and again, not only in this book but throughout the series.
Here are a few examples:
Cailean (In Falcon Blue) promises to return seven foals to the breeder who sold him horses.
Bharosa is seventeen hands high: he was the seventh foal to be born in Britain after the purchase of the stallions and mares.
The seventh and final door in Dunaedan’s tower is Eamhair’s bed chamber.
When a human girl sheds seven tears into the ocean, a seolh (selkie) will come.
Seven men, including Cailean, sail off to find the escaped criminal, Taranis.
Seven days pass before Cailean regains consciousness after being injured in the sea.
The Dominion of the Seventh Age: legend claims the world will exist for seven ages, and in Falcon Blue, the world is smack in the middle of the seventh age.
Bericus promises to spend seven days on his knees asking forgiveness for what he does to Eamhair.
Aridela is told she will live seven lives. (Or labyrinths).
On the island in Falcon Blue, once every seven years a human is offered instead of a ram.
Cailean becomes a kira at age seven.
When the Moon Whispers, the next book in the series and the climax, is book seven.
Last but not least, a quote from Robert Graves in The Greek Myths: “The number seven acquired peculiar sanctity, because the king died at the seventh full moon after the shortest day.”
This all happened organically, without any planning on my part. For that reason, I suspect these occurrences were inserted by my muse, Athene—for what reason, I don’t yet know.
She offered no help when it came to choosing the name of the new character introduced in Falcon Blue—or did she? She sure let me know when name after name, so promising at first, had to be rejected. Excitement soured into disappointment then into despair, over and over and over again, for literally years. This was one of the very last problems keeping me from publishing; the one dilemma I could not seem to solve.
Finally, it came to me, quite by accident, as I was reading about something else—the life of Kronos.
Gaia, Mother Earth, wanted her younger children to attack their father Ouranos for what he had done to their older children. With the aid of an adamant sickle she provided, Kronos and his brothers and sisters defeated Ouranos; the blood from his severed genitals created the Erinyes: Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera.
Well, something led me to that article, and when I began researching and learned more about the name that sprang out at me, I knew it was “The One.”
I’d best say no more about that.
I hope to have Falcon Blue available in paperback before the end of the year. Happy reading!
A Myth with Meat: Child of the Erinyes
July 19, 2018
A woman of keen instinct and unshakable loyalty. A proud warrior prince and his wounded half-brother. Glory, passion, treachery and conspiracy on the grandest scale.
As I prepare to release Falcon Blue, Book Six of The Child of the Erinyes, I’m putting the boxed set containing full-length versions of books 1, 2, and 3 on a 99 cent sale from July 19 through July 22. I want to provide new readers an easy way to begin at the beginning with little financial pain and get nearly caught up. This three book bundle takes place in ancient Greece and Crete, and I sometimes refer to it as magical historic fantasy.
Myths, both well known and intriguingly esoteric, the supernatural, my own vision, and real history are all entwined in these stories. Beginning in the Bronze Age, a matriarchal society on the island of Crete walks a fine line with its opposite on the mainland. The Year-god’s Daughter introduces Aridela of Crete and two brothers—Chrysaleon and Menoetius of Mycenae. It builds the world of ancient Crete, sets the stage for a tragic love triangle, and ignites the contest for ultimate power that will span millennia. Unforeseen consequences follow the eruption of the Santorini volcano in The Thinara King. This was a super volcano, the worst of the worst. In the Moon of Asterion is my interpretation of the famous myth of the Minotaur and the final struggle as the once-insulated Cretan culture collides with the changing world. All three books revolve around the king-sacrifice, a controversial custom in some ancient societies, which was at times replicated in ancient Britain.
After their sometimes selfish, sometimes misguided actions draws the wrath of the gods, (where would storytellers be without “the wrath of the gods!”) this trio is cursed to live seven times in order to satisfy their moera, or fate. The planned eight-book series follows them through their various lives.
At its heart, the series is a story of the clash of cultures: the matriarchal culture on Crete versus the rising power of patriarchy on the mainland of Greece, and how history was defined by it.
The boxed set includes an excerpt from Book Five, The Sixth Labyrinth, and teasers from Falcon Blue and Swimming in the Rainbow (Book 8, the finale of the series.)
Five books in The Child of the Erinyes series are currently available, with the digital version of book number six, Falcon Blue, oh-so-close: it’s up for preorder at Amazon, B&N, iTunes, & Kobo and is also 99 cents until publication day. It will go live on August 4, 2018, at which point I will begin work on book seven, When the Moon Whispers—the climax of the series. The denouement is coming at last!
The middle trilogy of the series takes place in Britain, which is not as completely off the wall as one might think. There was a lively trade of tin, silver, bronze, and other goods between ancient Crete and ancient Britain, plus Menoetius’s mother was a priestess of Avalon—a woman gifted with a life of ten thousand years.
Each book in the middle trilogy is a completely-told story or “life,” and each is set in a different era: The Moon Casts a Spell takes place in the 1850s during the potato famines, and leads into The Sixth Labyrinth, set in the 1870s in the aftermath of the Clearances in Scotland. Falcon Blue goes back in time to the Cape Wrath area, and tells the story of the first reincarnation after Crete. It is set in the year 502 AD.
Every life lived by my triad builds to the climax of When the Moon Whispers, which manifests in the future—but not too far in the future. I admit I’m looking forward to using modern language and slang for a change. It will be nice not to have to ponder what word is acceptable for “toilet.”
Because I’ve structured the series so that each book occurs in a different era, with characters who look different and are always on a new learning path, it never gets boring for me. I hope that’s true for the readers as well. My wish is that the series carry the reader away from cares and problems for a little while, provide an escape to another place and time, with characters who can be identified with, rooted for, and in some cases reviled, as they stumble, fall, and rise again.
And to think it all began with D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, which I devoured at about the age of seven. It was out of print for many years but I think it’s been re-released, for all the parents out there…
Many of my writing compatriots have talked about how becoming an author changed their lives, about the importance of writing, and how they are always writing, even when they’re not sitting at a computer but fixing dinner, running errands, toiling at a paying job or showering. (Showering especially.) How everything is seen through the lens of a story. Some authors liken writing to a lifeline. That’s sort of how I feel about it. I was under ten when I started writing and let me tell you, I had to deal with active ridicule and intense attacks. I could have given it up, but I didn’t. If anything, I affixed myself to it with every fiber of my being.
And while I wouldn’t exactly recommend my parents’ child rearing style, when I look back, I realize how seamlessly it formed me for this career. I spent so much time alone that I learned to love solitude. My imagination became my best friend…and there was an amazing forest behind my house where I wrote one tale after another, tales that eventually, thought by thought, word by word, year by year, evolved into The Child of the Erinyes.
Though the actual story of The Child of the Erinyes is purely fictional, invisibly woven through every line is my history—the world I have witnessed, lived, and dreamed, the world I, and many others, have had to grapple with over and over again.
Book Six: Falcon Blue
March 24, 2018
the first reincarnation
Falcon Blue is LIVE!
Find it worldwide at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo: it’s also in stock at Indigo and Angus & Robertson. The paperback is now live as well! Paperback version can be purchased at Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, and anywhere else that carries real books.
I know… it’s a little unusual, making the first awakening of my triad after Crete, number SIX in the series. But early in life I was inspired and influenced by C.S. Lewis, who did something similar with his Narnia Chronicles. Did you know that originally, The Magician’s Nephew was Book Six of that series? For those who haven’t read them, The Magician’s Nephew was a prequel to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
So here I go, emulating a great writer in my own little way. And yes, all of the above is a load of doo-doo.
Truth is, I didn’t intend to make Falcon Blue part of my series. I was going to go along in linear fashion, 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 7. But as I kept on writing, developing the story and the goal, I realized it had to be included. Interested readers had to see the beginning–the beginning after the beginning, I should say.
So, TA-DA, Falcon Blue was germinated, watered, nurtured, and has now been birthed.
IF YOU HAVE READ THE FIRST THREE BOOKS IN THE SERIES, YOU CAN READ FALCON BLUE WITHOUT MISSING A BEAT!
The first three books are: The Year-god’s Daughter, The Thinara King, and In the Moon of Asterion.
Aodhàn Mackinnon told the story of Eamhair, Cailean, and Taranis in The Sixth Labyrinth.
Here is the truth.
Seeking escape from the brutality of war, Cailean journeys to the wilderness at land’s end, but instead of peace and solitude he finds conspiracy, evil, and a love that makes any sacrifice worthwhile.
When Eamhair was young, her sibylline mother predicted a king would rise out of the sea and take her away from her father and brothers. She walks the cliffs, dreaming of a new life and the lord of the seolhs.
Taranis succumbs to the relentless lure of a vision, chasing it all the way to his destiny at the outer boundaries of the earth.
Cape Wrath, Scotland. The first reincarnation.
Mist shrouds our eyes and stoppers our tongues, a grey, damp silence broken only by the softest sigh, like a dawn breeze. We know not how many centuries pass: we feel not the flow of time, until She turns her far-seeing gaze to us.
When we gasp and draw our first breath, we are newborns who never fought great wars, or loved deeply, or brought harm upon one another.
So the journey begins.
we are become Athene’s wanderers…
Epilogues to The Sixth Labyrinth
January 7, 2017
Spoiler warning! Don’t read these if you haven’t yet read The Sixth Labyrinth!
“You’re hurting my ears, child. Where have you been?”
“Walking by the bay.”
“I wish you’d come back before dark, Sophie.”
“Because of the selkie?”
Eleanor laughed. “Because I don’t want you getting lost, or falling and hurting yourself.”
“Auntie, listen to me!”
“I saw it!”
“The selkie! It came out of the water and turned into a man.”
“Ah, well, it must have been a selkie then. What did he look like?”
“He was old. His hair was white. Long, like a king’s. He was tall.”
“And what did he do?” Eleanor pushed her great-niece into a chair and brought her a slice of orange marmalade cake.
“He went over to that old blackhouse by the bay.”
“Aye. He was greeting, Auntie!”
“Was he? And what did you do?”
“I watched and didn’t make a sound.”
“Aye, thank you. Olivia Ramsay says it’s bad luck to go to the beach at the full moon.”
“That’s a well-worn tale meant to get children home before dark.”
“She said anyone who does it is cursed. She said only fools walk on Glenelg’s beach during the full moon.”
“Olivia Ramsay has an imagination.”
“She said the selkie is her da’s brother.”
“So Curran Ramsay has a selkie brother, does he?”
“She says the selkie cries for the human girl he loved and lost.”
“Is that so?”
“Auntie, I don’t want to go home.”
“You must. If you never went home, your mam and da would miss you and be sad.”
“Like the selkie?”
“Aye. Like the selkie.”
“Why is it sad? Did it really lose its true love?”
“How would I know?”
“You know everything.”
“Oh, child, I wish I did.”
“You do know, though. I can tell. You look sad, too.”
“I can pity those who suffer, even when they might deserve it.”
The first of September became the traditional date for holding an annual charity fundraiser at Kilgarry for the orphan project, as the weather was generally beautiful and the Michaelmas daisies were in bloom. It soon became the social event throughout the surrounding Highland counties, drawing Curran’s wealthy friends and associates from Glasgow, Edinburgh, and even as far as London. Every year the guest list grew, until Glenelg had to build a new inn to accommodate those who couldn’t fit into Kilgarry. Extra help was hired from Fort William and Mallaig to assist with cooking, cleaning, and serving; musicians were brought in for the evening balls and dances, and the manor house nearly burst its seams with so many people.
The first of September 1883 cooperated with warm sunlight and gentle breezes. Pavilions and tables were set up around Kilgarry’s pond, near the old oak. Guests wandered in and out of the gardens, enjoying lemonade, tea, and whisky, and there was a great deal of food for anyone who was hungry, as well as horseback riding, hunting, fishing, archery, and of course the ballroom was in great demand every night. The ferryman was kept busy transporting explorers to Skye for sightseeing, and for the most intrepid, there was mountain climbing. Interspersed with all the entertainment were the speeches, promises, and donations.
Morrigan, Eleanor, and Diorbhail sat together upon cushioned chairs beneath the oak, a table between them holding lemonade and cakes.
“You haven’t taken your eyes off Mr. Abernathy,” Morrigan said to Eleanor, only half teasing. “Are you going to marry him and leave us?”
With one of her signature snorts, she replied, “The most he’ll get from me is a night or two. He is rather handsome.”
“Eleanor!” Morrigan pretended shock then giggled with Diorbhail at the midwife’s brazen ways, but a moment later, she winced and rubbed the side of her stomach.
As usual, Eleanor didn’t miss it, and questioned with raised eyebrows.
“It’s fine,” Morrigan said. “Just my bones being stretched. I remember this from Olivia and Eirene.”
“It won’t be long now,” said Diorbhail. “We’ll have another wee lass to spoil.”
“I do think Curran might want a son. Can you arrange that?”
“No,” Diorbhail said with a wide smile. “You’ll only ever have girls. Girls and more girls. If you were having all the babies, the world would die out for lack of boys.”
At that moment wee Seaghan ran up to them, nearly falling as he hadn’t quite mastered running yet, and placed his fists on Morrigan’s knees. His right hand was stuffed with daisies, and he turned up his face, seeking approval.
“Are these for me?” she asked, taking them.
He nodded. She picked him up and placed him on her lap. “You’re a grand lad,” she said, kissing his cheek, and he nestled in as best he could against her.
To think what might have become of him, if he hadn’t been found two years ago in that awful place in London, barely six weeks old, sold by his father. Now he lived at Kilgarry, and had twenty other orphans for playmates, along with the local children, and since he’d had no name, he was called Seaghan in honor of Morrigan’s father, even though hearing it made her suffer his loss all over again.
Seaghan’s body was found, stuffed under a pile of rocks, a week after the events on Mingulay. Someone had murdered him with a knife, and a local man went missing right after, but he was never found, and the investigation languished. Right when Morrigan learned she had a true father, he was taken from her; not being able to speak to him as his child remained an unrelenting anguish and regret.
Soon Sophie joined them. Eleanor’s great-niece was a little lady, at ten. She and Olivia were the same age and the best of friends, though very different, with Olivia being a wild boyish child who, more often than not, could be found in the branches of the oak rather than sitting demurely beneath it. Sophie came to Glenelg every summer at her own insistence to stay with her aunt. She never wanted to go home to Edinburgh, though she loved her mother and father, and often wept for missing them. Her dream of a perfect world was one in which her papa agreed to move to Glenelg.
She perched on the edge of a chair and sipped tea.
“What is it?” Eleanor asked, in her usual perceptive way.
The girl didn’t answer immediately, but pursed her lips and frowned.
“Well?” Eleanor pressed.
“Livvy’s telling that story again,” the child said in her soft Edinburgh brogue.
“Which one?” Morrigan asked. Olivia loved making up tales. She was turning into Kilgarry’s own seanchaidh.
Sophie would only say that she wasn’t supposed to tell, but she hated the story because Livvy always refused to give her a part in it.
“Where have those lasses gone off to?” Diorbhail asked then. “I haven’t seen any of them in an hour.”
It was true. There was no sign of the local girls. “We’d best find them,” Morrigan said, “before they get up to mischief, if they haven’t already.”
Sophie wanted to stay, have cake, and admire the pretty dresses, so the three cronies left Seaghan with her and went off in search of the missing girls. They weren’t at the pond, nor the walled garden, or the gazebo. Guests stopped them to chat and ask after Morrigan’s health as she neared her ninth month of pregnancy, hampering their search. Lily found them and reported happily that Sir John Beechforth had promised to donate a building in Soho that had been in his family, unused, for years. She whispered that the old sot hadn’t been able to take his eyes off her bosoms, so she credited them for the prize.
Eventually, the three took note of a striped pavilion set some distance away from the others, and Diorbhail remembered that Olivia had asked Kyle and Logan to erect it for her and her friends.
They couldn’t see the children as they walked up, but heard a flurry of female chatter, and paused outside the pavilion to listen.
“How many sisters do you have?”
Morrigan recognized the voice of Rachel’s daughter, Jean.
“I don’t know,” she heard Olivia reply. “Lots.”
“Am I there?” This was asked by Eirene, Olivia’s younger sister.
“Of course you’re there,” Olivia said impatiently. “I told you already. The new sister will be there too. All my sisters will be there, all, from the first.”
“But how, if they’re dead?” This was Jean again. Though she was only nine months older than Olivia, she often expressed disdain for what she called the younger girl’s silliness.
Olivia huffed. “The lady says they’ll come back to life and we’ll be together.”
“People don’t come back to life,” Jean said.
“My sisters will. The lady promised.”
“How can they be your sisters? Your mam’s only had the two of you.”
“I want to dream of my other sisters!” Eirene said plaintively.
“Maybe you’re not old enough,” Olivia said. “I only started having the dream two months ago.”
“Tell us their names again,” Jean asked. She sounded disbelieving, like she thought she might catch Olivia in a mistake and prove the tale was make-believe.
Olivia gave a sigh and Morrigan heard a whimper, probably from Violet’s baby, Grace. Olivia loved that child, and was always running off with her.
As she began to speak, a large eagle landed on a nearby rowan branch. It made no sound but cocked its head and leveled the women with a fierce stare.
“There’s Romy and Claire and Evie. There’s… oh aye, Rosabel. And the ones with the unco names— Xanthe and Pasithea. And Iphiboë. And Alecto. And the new baby. The lady said her name will be Willow.”
Morrigan had sagged against Diorbhail as Olivia spoke the first three names. Her legs felt too weak to support her.
“Alecto,” Diorbhail whispered.
Morrigan took in a breath and straightened. The three women regarded each other, their eyes shining, and reached out, placing their hands on each other’s shoulders, creating a perfect circle.
The jeweler frowned upon seeing the items. He spent a long time studying them with his magnifier, turning them over repeatedly.
“What is it, Philip?” Curran finally asked. “Are they sham? Stolen?”
“No, Mr. Ramsay. Well, I know nothing about any theft. I do not believe they are imitation. Excuse me, sir.”
He went through a curtain into the back and soon returned with another man, who also inspected the knife and necklace carefully.
They spoke together in low, rapid Greek. Curran understood only a few words, having lost most of the Greek he’d learned at university.
“Will one of you tell me what is so interesting?” he interrupted.
The two men exchanged glances. Philip, whose surname, Curran suddenly remembered, was Christopoulos, said, “I believe these are ancient, truly ancient, but I would like the opinion of an expert. There is a fellow connected to the new museum in Athens, the National Archaeological Museum. With your permission, I would like to take these items there for him to examine.”
“You want to take them to Athens? I don’t know. They belong to my wife. It took her years to agree to this appraisal.”
The men exchanged another glance.
“You aren’t telling me everything,” Curran said.
“How did she acquire these pieces, may I ask?”
“They were gifts.”
“From a collector, perhaps?”
“No. Just a man.”
Christopoulos stared at him, frowning deeply.
“They are stolen. Is that what you are not saying?”
“No, no, Mr. Ramsay. Please forgive me. It is odd, of course, how pieces of such antiquity could spend years in… your wife’s possession? These should be in a museum.”
“And you have now suggested that twice. What guarantee do I have, Philip, that they will be returned if you take them to Athens?”
The door at the front of the shop opened just then and Morrigan came in, flanked by Diorbhail.
“There you are.” Curran held out his hand.
She came forward, clasping his hand and smiling at the two men behind the counter. “We’re finished with our errands,” she said, and perused the knife and necklace. “Well? Is there a verdict?”
“Not really. These men want to take your antiquities to Athens.”
Morrigan did not react as he’d thought she would. She blinked, but her smile didn’t falter. “They are wonderful, aren’t they?” she said.
“Yes, Lady Eilginn,” Philip said. “In fact, they are astonishing.”
The other man came out from behind the counter. “I am Spiro Michelakis, Mrs. Ramsay,” he said. Philip sounded like a native Londoner, but Spiro’s Greek accent was pronounced.
She held out her hand and he took it briefly. “May I tell you about our new museum in Athens?” he asked.
“There’s a new museum? I would be very interested,” she replied, and the two walked over to another counter, where he brought out several cases as he spoke to her.
“Mr. Ramsay, sir,” Philip said, “Greece has a moral right to her artifacts.”
“You are certain these are Greek.”
“The meander on the necklace suggests it might be Cretan. There have been other items found there with this pattern.”
“Does that mean something to you, Mr. Ramsay?”
“How was the knife broken?”
“It was dropped. I suppose that hurts its value.”
“I suspect nothing could harm the value of these pieces.” He picked up the knife, very carefully, and ran his thumb over the sheared-off edge. “Obsidian,” he murmured. “The hilt is ivory.”
“My wife believes the figure is Athene.”
“Oh yes, no doubt of it. The owl and the aegis tell us this.” His eyes filled with tears.
“Philip?” Curran said. “What have I done?”
“Oh, sir, it’s just that… look here. You can see the tool marks. I feel certain I am holding something in my hands that was created thousands of years ago, in my country, by men just like me, perhaps. Artisans. I feel them, you see, in my flesh. I feel I am looking through their eyes as they carve this image. I can almost smell their forge fires.”
Curran didn’t know what to say. It was odd, for he too sometimes saw flashes of things when he held the necklace and the knife.
“Is your wife knowledgeable about our history?” Philip asked.
“Very much so.”
Morrigan returned to his side. “Curran, I have an idea. You know how Livvy has always wanted to see an excavation. Let’s gather up the weans and go with these gentlemen to Athens and see their museum for ourselves.”
“We can take the lasses to see Schliemann’s Troy and his other excavations, at Mycenae, and Tiryns.”
“I would be honored to escort you to Crete,” Spiro said as he joined them. “Sixteen years ago, part of a building was dug up beneath a mound there, and many of our antiquarians believe this is the actual palace of Knossos— the legendary place named in Homer’s Odyssey! And as I was just telling your wife, sir, I am most intrigued by the pattern on your necklace, for it matches the pattern on coins that have been discovered nearby.”
Morrigan’s excitement was clear to see, as was Diorbhail’s. Curran felt excitement rise inside him as well, almost as though he was contemplating going home.
His wife was looking at him in that way she had, communicating without words.
He realized he was nodding.
So be it. They would embark on a new pilgrimage— this time with their children.
Every Book in the series 99 cents (Unless it’s free)
November 20, 2016
Hey everyone, here’s wishing you all, wherever you may live in the world, a happy and peaceful winter season.
Recently I discounted the first book of my series, The Year-god’s Daughter, to a hard-to-beat ZERO. I figured everyone across the globe who wanted it probably had it already, but I was wrong, and surprised at the response. Without any advertising or social media mentions, hundreds of copies have been downloaded, along with hundreds of The Thinara King, book 2 in the series, which is running at 99 cents.
It’s been so much fun seeing new readers pick up copies of the first two books, and an impressive number of the subsequent books as well. I even received a new 5 star review already! My thanks to all who decided to take the leap, though the series is not yet fully published.
The Powers that Be thought it might be nice to expand this sale and make it very easy for readers to collect all the books available thus far.
So, beginning the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, (Friday, November 25), Erinyes Press will discount every book in the series to 99 cents, except for The Year-god’s Daughter, which will continue at its current price of FREE.
We don’t run sales like this very often, so take advantage! First and foremost, I hope you ENJOY!
Hopefully, reading the first five books will whet your appetite for the next: Falcon Blue.
And let me know if you shed a tear here and there, for as we all know, there is no light without the dark.
Celebrating The Sixth Labyrinth with a sale!
March 30, 2016
To celebrate a consequential birthday and the release of this book that has taken so many years to complete, I’m discounting The Sixth Labyrinth for the last week of its pre-order period and a week after. It will go live on April 8, 2016: now through April 15, you can get it for $2.99 (regularly $4.99). Links to pre-order are below the graphic.
Worry not: all of you who have already pre-ordered it will get it for this special price!
Amazon Multi-regional link || iTunes || Kobo || Tolino
Barnes & Noble won’t allow us to set up a pre-order, but Nook readers will still get The Sixth Labyrinth at its sale price after it goes live, through April 15th. HERE is my author page, which will have The Sixth Labyrinth as soon as it’s released. Mark your calendars!
Thank you to my readers!
map: The Sixth Labyrinth
Biblio: The Sixth Labyrinth & The Moon Casts a Spell
March 15, 2016
- Research for story of Tristan and Isolde taken from:
- Newman, Ernest. The Wagner Operas, 1949
- The world premiere of Tristan und Isolde was in Munich on June 10, 1865.
- Arnold, Matthew. Tristram and Iseult, 1852
- Auchincloss, Louis. Persons of Consequence: Queen Victoria & Her Circle, 1978
- Auerbach, Nina. Ellen Terry, Player in Her Time, 1987
- Bell, Ian. Dreams of Exile: Robert Louis Stevenson, a biography, 1992
- Bennett, Margaret. Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave, 1992
- Bingham, Caroline. Beyond the Highland Line, 1991
- Brown, Jonathan & Ward, S.B. Village Life in England 1860-1940: A Photographic Record, 1985
- Buchman, Dian Dincin. Herbal Medicine, 1979
- Calder, Angus (Edited by). Robert Louis Stevenson, Selected Poems, 1998
- Cantlie, Hugh. Ancestral Castles of Scotland, 1992
- Carmichael, Alexander. Carmina Gadelica Hymns and Incantations (Collected in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in the last century), 1992
- Cooper, Derek. Skye, 1970
- Davis, James & Hawke, S.D. London, 1990
- Ewing, Elizabeth. Everyday Dress 1650-1900, 1984
- Fenwick, Hubert. Scottish Baronial Houses, 1986
- Fostor, Vanda. A Visual History of Costume: the 19th Century, 1984
- Fraprie, Frank Roy. Castles and Keeps of Scotland, 1907
- Goldthorpe, Caroline. From Queen to Empress: Victorian Dress 1837-1877, 1988
- Gorsline, Douglas. What People Wore: A Visual History of Dress, 1974, c1952
- Gutman, Robert. Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, & His Music, 1972
- Hart, James D (Edited by). Robert Louis Stevenson: From Scotland to Silverado, 1966
- Hawkes, Jacquetta. Dawn of the Gods, 1968
- Hellman, George. The True Stevenson, 1925
- Hendry, J.F. The Penguin Book of Scottish Short Stories, 1970
- Hibbert, Christopher. The Horizon Book of Daily Life in Victorian England, 1975
- Hopman, Ellen Evert. A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year, 1995
- Hunnisett, Jean. Period Costume for Stage & Screen 1800-1909, 1988
- Jackson, Douglas. A Celtic Miscellany, 1951
- Jacobs, Joseph. Celtic Fairy Tales, 1923
- King, Neil. The Victorian Scene, 1985
- Knight, Alanna. Robert Louis Stevenson Treasury, 1985
- Laver, James. Modesty in Dress: An Inquiry into the Fundamentals of Fashion, 1969
- Lister, Margot. Costumes of Everyday Life: An Illustrated History of Working Clothes, from 900-1910, 1972
- Lochhead, Marion. Scottish Tales of Magic and Mystery, 1978
- MacGregor, Geddes. Scotland: an Intimate Portrait, 1980
- Mackie, J.D. A History of Scotland, 1964
- Mackinnon, Roderick. Gaelic, 1971
- Maclean, Charles. The Clan Almanac, 1990
- Mair, Craig. A Star for Seamen, 1978
- Maloney, Elbert S. Chapman Piloting: Seamanship & Small Boat Handling, 1991
- Markale, Jean. Women of the Celts, 1986
- Matthews, Caitlín and John. Ladies of the Lake, 1992
- Maurois, Andre. Disraeli, 1955
- Maxwell, Stuart & Hutchison, Robin. Scottish Costume 1550-1850, 1959 c1958
- McCutchan, Philip. Tall Ships: The Golden Age of Sail, 1976
- McKenna, Terence. Food of the Gods: The search for the Original Tree of Knowledge, 1992
- Moncreiffe and Hicks. The Highland Clans, 1967
- Murphy, Gardner & Kovach, Joseph K. Historical Introduction to Modern Psychology, 1972
- Nicholson, B.E. & Ary, S. & Gregory, M. The Oxford Book of Wildflowers, 1980, c1960
- Norwich, John Julius. Britain’s Heritage, 1983
- O’Brien Educational. Heroic Tales from the Ulster Clyde. 1976
- Pepper, Choral. Walks in Oscar Wilde’s London, 1992
- Plotz, Helen. Poems of Robert Louis Stevenson, 1973
- Prebble, John. Culloden, 1961
- Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances, 1963
- Prebble, John. The Lion in the North, 1971
- Rose, Phyllis. Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages, 1983
- Ross, Anne. The Folklore of the Scottish Highlands, 1976
- Scott, Sir Walter. Manners, Customs, and History of the Highlanders of Scotland, 1893
- Sichel, Marion. History of Children’s Costume, 1983
- Smout, T.C. A History of the Scottish People 1560-1830
- Souden, David. The Victorian Village, 1991
- Swinglehurst, Edmund & Anderson, Janice. Scottish Walks and Legends, 1982
- Thompson, Dorothy. Queen Victoria: The Woman, The Monarchy, The People, 1990
- Tranter, Nigel. Tales & Traditions of Scottish Castles, 1982
- Warrack, Alexander, MA. (Compiled by) Chambers Scots Dictionary, 1911
- Warwick, Christopher. Two Centuries of Royal Weddings, 1980
- Waugh, Nora. Corsets and Crinolines, 1954
- Weintraub, Stanley. Whistler: A Biography, 1974
- Whipple, Addison Beecher Colvin. The Clipper Ships, 1980
- Wilson, A.N. Eminent Victorians, 1989
The threads connecting Crete to Scotland
The Child of the Erinyes series is a far-reaching story of love, betrayal, and eventual redemption. It’s a story of ancient Crete, how it rose to great power then declined into oblivion, and how that affected the history of the world, right up to the present and on, into the future. I label the series historical fantasy rather than historical fiction, for several reasons. One, because no one can truly know the facts of life in the Bronze Age—fragments of frescoes and seal rings only help us conjecture. Two, because Goddess Athene reincarnates my characters, bringing them back to live specific eras in the world’s continuing odyssey. Three, because the final portions of the saga occur in the future.
The world of ancient Crete is endlessly fascinating to me: the tradition of the holy king-sacrifice, the catastrophic eruption of the volcano on Thera, the mindsets and possible interactions between men and women in those very distant times. The second segment of the series, set in 1870s Scotland, (I’m working on that one right now,) has also been obsessively captivating: much nearer to us in time yet still unique. It was a lot of fun to research the customs of this enthralling country and blend them into a tale with my reborn characters, most of whom have no memories of their past lives.
For instance, there’s the traditional “digging of the carrots” on Dòmhnach Curran, (Carrot Sunday) before Michaelmas: the women kept the carrots they found in pouches called crioslachans, to be presented to their sweethearts. Forked carrots were noteworthy, as they predicted fertility. When a baby was born in the Highlands of Scotland, it was customary to place three drops of water on its forehead along with a spoonful of earth and whisky in its mouth as the necessary proverb was spoken. “Taigh gun chù, gun chat, gun leanabh beag. Taigh gun ghean, gun ghàire.” A house without a dog, a cat, or a little child is a house without joy or laughter. The infant was tucked into a basket with freshly baked bread and chunks of cheese, and held above the hearth fire. This protected it from evil fairies. The water on the forehead offered the child to the Trinity, while the earth connected it to the land. I’m not sure about the whisky, but as this beloved drink was known in the Gaelic as uisge-beatha, the Water of Life, perhaps it was intended to fill this new person with supernatural strength.
One of those serendipitous moments was when I discovered how closely ancient Crete’s birthing customs may have matched Scotland’s. It’s theorized that the umbilical cord was cut with a special knife and a blessing was sung. Priestesses or midwives carried special torches, lit in shrine fires, twice around the newborn, with the intent, again, of protecting it from evil spirits.
This wasn’t the only striking similarity I discovered between Bronze Age Crete and Scotland. There are many! I was excited to discover that ancient Crete knew of Britain, and traded with them—silver and bronze for tin. Later, I read in an obscure text that Athene, the Immortal Instigator of my series, was once worshipped in Britain, and that she was linked to, or the same as, Morrígan, sometimes called Morrigu, the Great Queen of the Tuatha Dé Dannann. The fact that Crete traded with Britain made this idea plausible, and assisted my world building efforts.
Ever connected to each other, my triad endures much in their long journey through Time. This is a sweeping tale full of joy, tragedy, heartbreak, lust, love, sacrifice, and devotion. Only one retains past-life knowledge: the others must begin each incarnation anew, with no more than glimpses of memory, and the inexplicable, irresistible draw from the other two that brings them together (and causes its own set of problems.) Though each life has different expectations and experiences (as well as faces—sometimes even sex,) the invisible thread connecting them to their original life on Crete is always there; that thread never stops influencing their decisions and dilemmas on a subconscious level.
In the Moon of Asterion, the newly released third installment, is both conclusion to one incarnation and trigger to the next. In every life the battle for glory, power, and love begins again, each choice taking the characters in new directions, until, of course, the finale, in our near future, which hopefully won’t take 3500 years to publish!
Image: Bead found in Grave Circle A, Grave III, Mycenae, Second half of the 16th century BCE https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mycenaean_ring2.jpg https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d3/Mycenaean_ring2.jpg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:GNU_Free_Documentation_License,_version_1.2 Unknown authorUnknown author, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons. Corners rounded off.