So you can read my books

Monday, June 14, 2010


I'm starting another 8 day straight work gauntlet with half of that being on call. Also life is offering me an opportunity to be wiser and stronger than I feel. So I'm entering Sangu's intriguing blogfest a day early.

It is time for the CHARACTER DIALOGUE BLOGFEST hosted by Sangu :

I want you to know I had to drive all the way to the French Quarter to do this. And while reading and writing horror can be fun, living it is quite another thing :

It was twilight. Lean as a hunting wolf, Samuel McCord was walking beside me. His whole body seemed coiled like an overwound clockwork mechanism.

Despite all that, he seemed to glide though the shadows as if they parted for him lest they touch his cursed body. I glanced at the reflection in the store window beside him.

I went a little cold. A tall Apache dressed in buckskins was reflected, not Samuel. His dried-apricot face looked my way. I tried to swallow and couldn't.

There was fresh war paint on the Apache's face. He shook his head in silent reproach. Lightning split the angry skies above me. Did he cause that?

In a voice of distant thunder , Sam said, "Elu's not happy about this, partner."


"We're going into Meilori's."

"Yes, I need to ask some questions of my characters who come to life only inside your jazz club."

"Son, you need to breathe, eat, and sleep. The rest is negotiable."

He suddenly stopped at the corner of the French Quarter street we'd been walking. My mouth went desert dry. I was about to see something I had only written about.

By day, the corner of Royal and St. Peter houses the majestic Royal Cafe. At dusk, the corner mysteriously transforms into Royal and Rue La Mort. And Meilori's stands revealed to the night and its children.

Words. Just words. Sight hollowed out my chest.

My vision blurred. My head became light. Reality stretched as if it were taffy being pulled by an insane demon-child. The world looked as if I were seeing it from the wrong end of a telescope.

Ghost demons murmured hollow promises to my ears. My legs went all weak. I felt as if I were about to topple off the street and fall into madness. Sam took my arm gently.

"The first time's always the worst," he said low.

Meilori's stood towering over me. Torch-lit iron lacework balconies stretched up high into the foggy night. I couldn't make out the building's top.

Leathery wings sounded up high in the thick fog that masked the remaining balconies. I heard the thud of a heavy body, the ear-aching screech of talons against steel, and a husky laugh of hunger about to be fed.

I tore my eyes away before I saw something I'd have nightmares about. I saw the weathered sign hanging above the door : Here Be Monsters. I saw the gleaming window in front of me.

In strange, flowing script was the one word : Meilori's. The letters were rippling into different designs and fonts. My eyes seemed to stretch along with them. I saw, not my reflection, but Elu's. He spoke in words low and grim.

"Inside you will see those of whom you write, Scribbler. But more. They will see you. And what they see they can kill. You may walk in. You may not walk out."

Sam smiled crooked, "Of whom? Elu, you're showing off that education of yours."

"I am trying to show the Scribbler the path to life."

"I mean to keep him safe."

"You have meant to do a lot of things at which you failed."

"Tonight won't be one of them. Roland and I have already talked about this. He'll be safe."

"Let us hope so for the Scribbler's sake."

The scribbler in question was scared spitless so I didn't say a word. Sam took my arm and led me through the swinging wooden doors that reminded me of an Old West's saloon. He saw me glance long at them.

"Yeah, I took these from Hicock's saloon in Deadwood. I thought it might make him feel more at home."

"Will we see him inside?"

Sam smiled sad. "Let's walk in and find out."

We walked in, and I hushed in a breath. It was like something out of a Sherlock Holmes movie or an elite West End bordello. Victorian portraits hung on walls draped in crimson velvet. Chandeliers spun, shimmering down their soft light upon tables with people in clothing from wildly different eras : samurai drank saki with Vikings guzzling mead. Mobsters from the Roaring Twenties played cards with French Musketeers. A toga clad emperor flirted with Marie Antoinette.

How could I tell? The fine stitching all around her slender alabaster throat. And the royal look of scorn she daggered at both me and Sam.

"Come," rasped a voice that had it been a face I would have slapped. "Sit with me."

A tall Nazi in the black uniform of the S.S.

"Major Strasser?," I frowned.

"The very same." He looked past us to the still-swinging doors, then back to Sam. "It is the year 2010 out there?"

"Yes," said Sam softly.

"Then, you know how the war ends?"

"Yes," Sam nodded. "Everybody loses."

A tall woman with skin the color of milk coffee swayed up to us. I tried to keep my face calm. But she was dressed like a buccaneer in a skirt so short it qualified as a wide belt.

She smiled impishly. "Keep those eyes on my legs any longer, and I'll have to charge them rent."

Sam chuckled, "Be nice, Toya. Roland's a guest."

One thin eyebrow arched. "You're that Roland? You knew about this place and still you came?"

"I'm not that brave, Toya."

She led us to a round, gleaming mahogany table where three people were already sitting. "Or that smart either. I'll bring your ice tea in a minute."

"How did you know I was going to order ice tea," I stammered.

A velvet voice spoke in strained tones, "I told her."

I looked down upon a face that could have had pacifists starting wars and saints embezzling orphanages. It looked oddly out of place on a woman in nun's robes. Magda. The gypsy who two thousand years ago had stolen a centurion's nails at a very infamous crucifixtion.

And that meant the priest sitting next to her was Renfield. He was so skinny I could almost smell his bones. And he was so tense I almost expected him to vibrate in place. And I didn't blame him.

Renfield and I both looked at the tall man sitting far from him and Magda. Though no shadows should have been masking his body, they were all around him. It was as if they radiated from him.

"Hello, DayStar," said Sam low. "You weren't invited."

In a hollow voice like the ringing of distant ghost bells in the night, DayStar chuckled, "And since when has that stopped me?"

Gray eyes burned from out of the darkness as they evaluated me. "So you think you know me well enough to portray me, talking monkey?"

I forced my throat to work. "The question is do you know yourself?"

His long right forefinger nail etched a childish drawing of a gallows on the surface of the table. I smelled sulfuric acid. Elu had tried to warn me.

DayStar murmured, "If you're going to answer a question with a question, things will get ugly for you and amusing for me."

Sam stepped slightly in front of me. "He's a guest, DayStar."

"And you will stop me just how?"

"Like this," Sam smiled, and he pinched the hell out of my cheek.


I sat up straight in bed, rubbing my throbbing face and letting out a long sigh of relief. Sam had been right. It was always safer to visit Meilori's in dreamtime.

Gypsy, my cat, was curled by my pillow. Her green eyes opened, seeming like windows into mysteries humans would never understand. Proving the magic of dreamtime was still in the air, she purred in spoken words.

"I don't know about you. But that scared the piss out of me."


Hope you were entertained by that as much as I was writing it. Here's something stirring to end it all with :


  1. Wow.

    Just Wow.

    And I'm almost grateful that you have a long shift ahead so I got to appreciate this fully, rather than 'hopping by' while reading everyone else's entries. This bit of work deserves full attention, period.

    Absolutely fantastic stuff. The way you set this up is brilliant, letting the reader get a real feel for the surroundings. AND you put in a twisty ending.

    I want to read that book, pretty please. I love the way you write.

  2. Tessa : You made my day with your comments. I'd love you to read my book -- if only I could find an agent who thought I was worth her time!

    The Golden Eagle : Your praise makes going into my gauntlet a lot brighter. Thanks.

  3. Oh, wow, this is really amazing. I really loved reading it. :)

  4. Last time I tried to talk with more than one character at a time, they ganged up on me and tried to force me to commit unmentionable acts. Fortunately I had my netbook with me at the time so I handily defeated them with a few well-placed backspaces.
    Be careful out there. Characters are more alive than you think...

  5. Wow, this was amazing! Your writing is clear and to the point while also managing to be an eloquent masterpiece. I'll have to go back and read your other posts. :)

  6. I'm with Tessa, the more I read your work with Samuel, the more I want to read this book.

    I was totally enthralled from the first paragraph to the last. You have created a world as rich as any I've ever read, peopled with characters we know and others you have introduced.

    There is an agent and publisher out there dying to find you, I just know it. I will hold that intention for you and be one of those who 'knew you when'. :)

    BTW, I love the way you bring Gypsy in to your dreams and visions, and I loved the ending!

    ~That Rebel, Olivia

  7. Beautifully written, Roland. The way you brought the scene to life was masterful. I was scared for you! My favorite line? "He was so skinny I could almost smell his bones." Fabulous! Keep querying. You will find the right agent. It's just a matter of time.

  8. I'm with VR on the favorite line. I loved that one too. But what I thought was greatest about this pieces was that you weren't just interviewing characters, but you were also kind of interviewing Meilori's as a setting too!

  9. I'm still giggling from the ending :)

    If I tried to interview any of my characters they would walk all over me. Characters are like kids, you never know what they'll do or say.

    "Inside you will see those of whom you write, Scribbler. But more. They will see you. And what they see they can kill. You may walk in. You may not walk out."

    Yeah, I think this is the one that sent chills up my spine. Wow. Loved it all, the set up especially. You are amazing at both descriptive narrative and descriptive dialogue. I love being in your world - scuse me, your characters world.

    But now it's my bed time, and I'll make sure to cover the mirror so Elu doesn't frighten me in the night.


  10. The imagery in this was exquisite. I want to read more!!! That was amazing. I love Love LOVE your last line too. Well I love the whole thing, but still. EPIC!

    <3 Kelsey Leigh

  11. gypsy's right, there are many worlds mere mortals have no ken about, and would be foolish to venture into without a guide...

  12. Ah, Roland. Done only as you can :D Instantly atmospheric - I could feel the characters coming alive around me. And this: "Son, you need to breathe, eat, and sleep. The rest is negotiable"--was perfect. Nice job, man. Nice.

  13. Roland, what a creative take on the 'interview' concept! Like Zoe says, this was so atmospheric and so well-written! I'm so intrigued by McCord.

    Thanks for participating!

  14. AWESOME! I love that his reflection does not equal what we see outwardly.

  15. How fun and creative! I'd never thought of writing myself into a place where all of my MCs converged for a drink! LOVE IT!!! :)

  16. Very beautifully written, Roland! You have a very unique way with words. Your characters are so alive. Awesome job!

  17. Hey Roland - Very cool. I love that you took us into your character's world for the interview. Great idea. Some excellent descriptions. Sam's reflection is an Apache - excellent stuff.

  18. Roland, that was truly awesome! Wow. I loved it. Really. :-)

  19. You have quite a way with setting! Your writing is rich and vivid. You didn't get much of a chance to interview anyone, did you?

  20. Excellent read! I loved all the background imagery. It really added to the vision of your characters. The build up was also intense.

    Before I wrote Regina Todd's interview I had dropped by your blog and saw that you didn't to a traditional interview. Inspired mine over at

  21. I like how your writing goes straight to the point. No fat. Maybe too many metaphors in my humble opinion, but at least they were well-done. And the dialogue between the characters was great!

    By the way, I don't know if you noticed, but I awarded you the Honest Scrap (see my Sunday blog post), where you list ten things we don't know about you. If you'd like to, that is. :}

  22. It is intense. I took the approach of just asking questions so almost started to skim because it took a little too long for me to get to the ones in your entry. But the writing is fantastic.

  23. Ah! This is my 3rd try at commenting.

    Brilliant way to remind us of the setting and your characters.

  24. So intriguing, my friend!
    I just love reading your stuff.
    This would have been very fun to participate in. Cool!