So you can read my books

Friday, January 24, 2014


{Dedicated to the friends who have cared:
D.G. Hudson, J E O Neil, Inger, and Alex Cavanaugh among others!}


Anais Nin, the enigmatic French author famous for her journals spanning 60 fascinating years, wrote:

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world dawns."

It would be hard to say whether King Solomon was made more alone by his many wives or by the prison of his throne.

Nonetheless, King Solomon wrote:

"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow:

but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up."Friendship.

It is what is so very lacking in today's cyber-society where everyone is twittering, but no one is listening. Or giving a damn.

They are hunched over their blackberries, waiting impatiently for the message to end so they can jump in with, what is essentially, a "Listen to me!"Because so few of us have it, friendship and its portrayal are what will bring us back to a novel over and over again. I know that it is the case for me. And for the friends I talk to.

Frodo and Sam. Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Spencer and Hawk (from the always entertaining Robert B. Parker series.)

 Elvis Cole and Joe Pike (from the Robert Crais fascinating detective series.) Bill and Ted. Calvin and Hobbes.Family is a crap shoot. Love cools. But friendship endures.

Friendship is one of the cornerstones of my surreal Noir, FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE.

Two friends: Samuel McCord, agnostic undead Texas Ranger. Renfield, haunted revenant priest.

They have known one another since Istanbul was Constantinople and since honor still had meaning.

Both love mysterious, beautiful, deadly women. McCord would say all beautiful women are both mysterious and deadly.

His love is Meilori, a being from another plane of existence. "Born of stardust and the sea" as she once told him.

And Father Renfield loves Sister Magda, the nun who serves with him in his church. Of course, there is a unique back story there. But I'll let Sam tell it:

{At this point in the novel, Sam is helping Renfield clean up his church after Katrina, musing on his past relations with the Vatican}:

I'd had a pretty good relationship with the last Pope. I'd fought Nazi's with him back when he was studying in that underground seminary in Poland. I smiled thinking of how he posed as a priest while only a seminarian.

And how he gave false baptismal records to fleeing Jews in the underground. He called it his elective course in the humanities. I sighed as my chest grew heavy. He was gone. Another friend was gone.

It seemed just when I started liking somebody, they left me.

A shout of dismay brought me out of my musings. One of the statues in the main sanctuary was toppling over. And a nun was directly underneath it.

Cursing under my breath despite the surroundings, I raced as fast as my bad right knee would let me. But I made it in time. Barely.

I grunted as I caught the marble statue of Jesus struggling under the cross with a bit of a struggle myself.

But I managed. Being careful not to crack it, I shoved it back into its ornate niche.

Now, I was kind of unsure if he was who he said he was. And on top of that, it was only a representation of him, mind you. Still I knew my strange luck.

If I handled the statue carelessly, it would turn out he was the real deal. And I was kind of uncertain how He would feel about some of the trails I had blundered down in my life. Best to err on the side of respectful caution. I looked down at the nun.

"Magda, you've got to be more careful."

Sister Magda looked up at me with deep eyes of summer seas from out of the kind of face that had saints embezzeling from orphanages and pacifists starting wars.

Her thick, silky black hair cascaded through the modern habit that had been brushed back on her head by my shoving her out of harm's way.

There was a single one inch wide streak of moon-silver along the right side close by her temple -- a gift of sorts from Estanatlehi, whom the ancient Greeks had named Gaia and whom I now called 'Mother.'

Magda tapped the worn leather pouch of nails hanging from her rope belt. "He would never have harm coming to me from His statue."

I arched an eyebrow. "You stole those nails from that centurion over two thousand years ago. You think He has that long a memory?"

"Of course."

"That's what I was afraid of," I muttered.

I studied her intently. She'd been there. I felt a weight ease off my chest. I could ask her.

"Magda, did you see --"

Her face grew sad. "Him emerge from the tomb? No, Samuel, I was on the run from the Romans at the time and for some time afterwards.

I just take it that He truly did rise since I am still alive some two thousands years later."

I bit back the words from my tongue and kept from telling her that her still living came from Estanatlehi. In love with language as much as she was, she had been fascinated with the parables of Jesus.

And she took Magda's theft kindly and had rewarded her. I sighed. Still no answers. It was getting to be a frustrating tradition with me.

"Magda!," panted Renfield as he rushed up to her, out of breath more from fear than running, especially since he didn't breathe anymore.

He took both of her hands in his. "You must be more careful."

"You men, oh, foo on the two of you," she laughed, squeezing his hands lightly and not letting go.

"'Fu' is Mandarin for 'Good Luck' you know," I smiled at the two of them.

She made a face at me. "And you with that musty Jesuit education of yours."

"Well, they weren't exactly Jesuits."

She snorted, "Nor would I guess that you were exactly the best of students either."

"Reckon you got me there."

But she wasn't looking at me anymore. She and Renfield only had eyes for one another. Their fingers were still entwined as were their hearts.

Long before they had become priest and nun, they had been man and wife. Each had entered the Vatican's service in response to my worst enemy's first demand to end their son's misery and curse.

His second demand was for Renfield to assume that curse -- to become the vampire he still was.

DayStar, my worst enemy, being what he was, had still found a way to take their son from them anyway. But both Magda and Renfield were as good as their word.

They remained true to both of their vows that they had taken -- though it took some doing to reconcile the two into a working system. But the pair had found a way, filled with hunger and hope, mind you.

But isn't that much like life for the rest of us?

The street people in the church were still and silent. They knew the story. And me? I felt hot tears blur my vision. I had failed my best friend.

I should have been smarter, should have figured out some way to defeat DayStar, found some method to save my friend's son, and to end the curse which tormented him hourly.

He deserved a better friend than me. And me? I didn't deserve for him to call me 'friend.' I deserved to be called the monster I was. And you know what they did to monsters.


I'll let Mark Twain have the last word on friendship : "Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with."

At the moment, I am listening to "Into the Dark" by Jesse Cook. He is a Toronto-based Nuevo Flamenco guitarist, born in Paris to Canadian parents. It spins the mind.

He was raised in the region in southern France known as the Camargue, growing up with the sounds and influences of Gypsy music {probably why my ghost cat loves his music.}

 Check out his site on myspace :  I especially like the second youtube video on Jesse's page. Hey, c'mon, check it out. You don't want a gypsy curse, do you?


  1. That kind of friendship is rare. And people do just wait until you are finished so that they can talk. Means they were never really listening in the first place.
    Always here to listen to you, my friend.

  2. Thanks, Alex:
    Just say a prayer, all right?

  3. Friends are there when you need them. They know when things aren't right. All that positive energy turned your way has to do some good!

    I quite like Father Renfield and Magda, even if they are dead. And if Renfield backs up McCord, well that makes him a hero, too. I'm glad there are 'good guys around in reality, and I'm glad I know one.

  4. D.G.:
    Just knowing there are friends in the world wishing you the best makes the world a warmer place to be. :-)

    Funny, Renfield started out in RITES OF PASSAGE helping in a plot to kill McCord -- but then Sam says some of his best friends started out trying to kill him. :-)

    I've yet to spin the tale where Renfield and Sam get lost in the Carpathien Mountains and meet Magda for the first time -- well, Renfield meets her for the first time. Magda was in McCord's place in 1834 (THE RIVAL) --- his story has quite a few twists and turns.

    Thanks for being my friend. :-)

  5. The internet facilitates getting in touch with someone, but not necessarily communication. Like in real life, you have to work at that, which can be forgotten when typing is so easy. In any case, you're easy to be friends with.

    I'm glad Google is better so you could post this :)

  6. J E:
    Hopefully, soon I will be better too. :-)

    We get so much from body language, the tone of voice, and the windows into the soul that the eyes are. Without those cues, we are handicapped to communicate fully as you write.

    Thanks for being my friend, J E, and the kind words. Have a great weekend. Me, I'll be slipping and sliding on icy roads bringing rare blood to rural hospitals. Fun, fun. :-)

  7. Hugs and chocolate for all you write. Be safe driving, too.

  8. Wonderful post, Roland. You know what they say. there is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate. :)

    Great video as well. I love Southern France particularly the Camargue and the Languedoc area and am a huge fan of gypsy music. It has nothing to do with the fact that Jesse Cook has a song called Viva.

    VR Barkowski

  9. Another wonderous post. Friends are my bedrock. Many of my friends are inanimate, but cherished just the same.
    Listening is rare, and not nearly as simple as people think.
    I try, and am here if I can help. Thinking of you, and you have a place in my heart.

  10. Shelly:
    With my mind distracted with apprehension for the upcoming cancer surgeries, I have to be especially careful.

    Of course not. What a childhood Jesse must have had.

    Think good thoughts about my upcoming cancer surgeries, all right? :-)

    Elephant's Child:
    Thanks for my place in your heart. I am sure you have worries enough without me adding to them. But I appreciate your friendship more than I can say. :-)

  11. Hi Roland .. I'd noted your comment on the Jesse Cook CD .. and had bought it for my brother's birthday based on your description .. now I've heard this .. it is brilliant and I'll get mine too. I'm heading over to his Myspace site for more ..

    I do hope you're feeling easier now and things are improving .. many thoughts - Hilary