Tell us about your heroine.
I often think of Theo as a sunflower, golden and open despite a couple of rough years. Theo has a strong inner core, even though she’s always felt like an outsider because she’s illegitimate. She’s rather bruised when she comes to Paris, but excited to begin her new life. That bruising, the inner pain draws her to the darker spirits of the Revenant poets that her cousin Averill belongs to, and they give her an entrée into the dark but intensely creative world of the Decadents and Symbolists. She’s not a good fit, but she wants intensely to belong. The series will take her on a path of self-discovery for her art, as well as involve her in the murders.
Tell us about your hero.
Michel Devaux is a romantic at heart, but getting to his heart is going to be a long journey. He made some careless mistakes that had dire consequences, and he’ll never really forgive himself. Very controlled, very barricaded, he’s trained himself to an almost implacable calm. You find out the core of his pain in Floats the Dark Shadow, but there will be more to come in the next book as he strives for redemption.
Tell us about your villain.
Maybe the villain in my novel is a psychopath, maybe he’s possessed. Either way, he believes he’s the reincarnation of Gilles de Rais, who was Joan of Arc’s lieutenant. After her death became a truly horrific serial killer. He murdered perhaps hundreds of peasant children, which didn’t count for much in those days. The Church finally went after him for heresy. He was burned at the stake (after being throttled, since he was nobility). While that identity isn’t clear to the detective or Theo at first, it’s clear to the reader, as he commits his crimes as Gilles, and there is a lot about Gilles de Rais in the book. But just who is wearing a mask to cover Gilles is a mystery until the end.
Is the villain possessed?
I tried to write the book so that readers who like paranormal thrillers would have enough validation from the story to think of him that way, but I made certain that the evidence and the psychological profile were all there and valid for lovers of pure mystery. Theo’s experience with Yeats and the leaders of the Golden Dawn is inspired by Yeats’ descriptions of his experiences in the realm of the occult.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Primarily from reading the history—for the first book. Floats the Dark Shadow was a shapeless mess until I found the right villain. I found a few historical incidents I wanted to include. The rest was the writerly process of bringing the characters to life and weaving the story with the history. With the sequels, the character arcs demand certain developments, so the novels take on even more of their own life rising from the characters needs and interactions.
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Genre – Historical Mystery
Rating – R