I wrote Absinthe on a dare. I was kicking back after completing my 8th novel and somehow the subject got around to how some writers change genres after many years of writing one kind…like Stephen King and his mysteries. My friend felt I should do the same.
Me? oh,ha-ha, no.
It went something like this…
“You really ought to branch out a little, you know,” the lady said. “Tell a story about something other than vampires once in a while.”
“Oh?” I asked. “Like what? I’m open to suggestion, as long as it’s still in the realm of the supernatural.”
Too open. I’d be a good hypnotism victim.
“That covers a lot of territory.” She looked thoughtful. “How about a horror novel?”
“I write about vampires,” I reminded her. “I’d think that qualifies as enough horror right there.”
“Okay…historical then?” She wasn’t to be sidetracked. “A historical horror novel.”
“You mean like Frankenstein or something? I don’t know.” I envisioned a thick-paged tome whose weight could crack walnuts. “That’d probably involve a lot of research. You know I want everything to be as factually authentic as possible.”
I was beginning to regret letting the conversation go this far. I was happy writing vampire stories, so why change? Who brought up the subject, anyway? If it was I, I’d better watch what I said from now on.
“You need to have more variety,” she persisted. “Spice of Life and all that.”
“I don’t think switching genes was what whoever said that meant,” I protested. “Anyway, some of my novels are set in other time periods,” I added as I saw her recharging. “So… I think they could meet the requirements for historical novels, too.” I paused, thinking I’d won that particular argument. As usual, I didn’t know when to shut my big Southern mouth. I went on, “If I do something different, it should be really different, in a genre I’ve never tried.”
“That covers a lot of territory.” She thought a moment. “All right then…how about m/m? Have you ever done one of those? Write a historical, m/m, horror novel…” She took the rolling of my eyes heavenward as a sign of defeat. “I’ll bet you can’t.”
“Is that so?”
“I dare you.” She really knew how to push my buttons.
What could I do? I had to accept.
So I wrote Absinthe: A Tale of Magic, Love, and Revenge. It should’ve read “A Tale of Magic, Obsession, and Revenge,” but the tagline didn’t get changed, so…some readers questioned that “love” part.
I guess a few liked it because it was voted #2 in M/M/ Historical Horror for 2014 by the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewers Choice.
I went on to other things but eventually Absinthe again reared his handsome, if slightly debauched, head. I had deliberately written an epilogue which could lead into a sequel if I ever decided to write one…and my friend didn’t let me forget it.
“So…when are you going to write a sequel to Absinthe?” she asked, out of the blue one afternoon.
“Probably never,” I replied, and continued with what I was doing, which was writing a chapter of my new novel.
“You mean you didn’t write that epilogue with a sequel in mind? Come on.”
“Nope…” I kept my eyes on the computer screen.
“But…what about all the questions left unanswered?” she demanded.
“What questions?” I tried to pretend I didn’t know what she meant.
It didn’t work.
“What questions…? Don’t play stupid. What happens when little David grows up? Are he and Rouge going to have the same relationship as Absinthe and the other Rouge? Will Étienne tell David about his father? And what about this twin sister? Where did that idea come from?” She caught my arm and shook it, jerking my hand from the keyboard which sent it nearly toppling from the typing shelf. I managed to catch it before it crashed to the floor. “Come on, don’t leave us hanging…there’s more to the story and you know it!”
I did know it…and as much as I tried to ignore it and work on something else, the idea had been buzzing around in my brain for a bit. Sighing and saving what I’d been working on, I bowed to the inevitable and took up the threads where they’d been left hanging…and Essence of Absinthe was the result.
This novel takes up the story of Absinthe’s son, David…a young man the exact opposite of his father in every way. He’s shy, obedient, and, in his twentieth year, still chaste. Indeed, David doesn’t know he’s Absinthe’s son. He believes himself the son of Étienne, the Marquis Delafée, who is in reality his grandfather. This fact, hidden from David, will cause problems later on, for when his “father,” fearing the upcoming rumbles of revolution in France, decides to take his family to the safety of Louisiana, he delivers his “son” to the very place where the spirits of the dead have been waiting, for two decades…
Essence of Absinthe may be considered mild in comparison to its predecessor but that’s because the subject matter has changed. Absinthe was a tale of obessesion; Essence of Absinthe is a story of possession, and how the desire for revenge can survive and fester and wreak itself upon the innocent.
I hope those reading the story will applaud the way I handled that.
The noble family of Vaurien has secrets, and one Étienne Vaurien and his wife have suppressed for twenty years is about to be discovered. Taking his family from France to escape the murmur of revolution places his son David in mortal danger.
A city may change but some things remain the same. Hatred and the desire for revenge are at the top of the list. David’s resemblance to Étienne’s deceased eldest son, Absinthe, is remarked upon by many but to one person it means more than a mere likeness of features.
Genevieve, Etienne’s abandoned mistress and Absinthe’s amour, has pined twenty years for her young lover. Now, she has a chance to get him back…and she isn’t going to let death stop her.
In a short time, David’s living body will house the spirit of a dead man who wants once again to live…and love.
David decided to ask something always bothering him. “I know you’re not a particularly religious man, sir, but why don’t you like the chapel? They say you haven’t been inside since the fire.”
Immediately he wondered if he should’ve mentioned that, since it brought up a reference to the near-forbidden subject of Étienne’s lost son.
“They?” Étienne’s eyes held a surprising twinkle at his son’s remark. “What else do those mysterious “they” say?” He gave David a direct, near-confrontational stare. “Who are “they,” exactly?”
“I don’t know…servants…townspeople…visitors…” David waved his hands.
“Ah…that hazy and indistinct group which forms our opinions for us.” His father nodded, a finger going to his lips. “I see.” He appeared amused by his son’s vagueness. “You still haven’t told me what else they’ve said.”
“Nothing,” David admitted. “Apparently no one wishes to speak of it.”
“I wish you wouldn’t.” Étienne’s reply was abrupt. Softer, he went on, “You know I don’t like to be reminded of what I lost that day.”
“I’m sorry, sir.” David truly was.
He acknowledged his father kept a tight rein on his emotions. When in public, even if a mere visit to the village, he was, while not cold, at least aloof…polite and friendly, but reserved and a little distant. Very rarely did the Marquis Delafée let outsiders see his gentler side.
“Not that I haven’t regained it through you, mon fils,” Étienne added hastily, as if realizing how his statement sounded. “It’s simply…” He stopped, shaking his head.
“I apologize for mentioning it at all.” David hesitated, then said, in a softer tone, “It’s only…you never speak of him if you can help it, and that makes me curious, of course…of what happened that day.”
There was silence, broken only when Étienne muttered, “I really don’t want…” He studied his son briefly. “I didn’t intend this to be a day of revelations.”
He stopped again, then replaced the quill he held in its holder with a deliberate movement.
“Perhaps, you should know more.” Étienne sighed, as if in surrender. “Sit, son.” He indicated a chair placed to the side of the desk. “No need to stand like a servant.”
David dropped gratefully into the chair as Étienne continued, grudgingly, “It was his wedding day. He died in that fire before the ceremony could be completed.”
“As did Rouge’s father.” David remembered the inscription on his brother’s vault…that a second body lay in the tomb with him. The engraving chiseled into the granite stated for all to see that his best friend’s father was also buried there.
“Rouge Meurtrier, père …oui.” Briefly, the marquis avoided his son’s gaze.
“My uncle died, also.”
“Uncle?” Étienne looked up. “Whom do you mean?”
“Didn’t Mamère’s brother die that day, too? Jean-Paul? Why don’t they speak of him, either?”
“How do you know about Jean-Paul?” Étienne half-rose from his chair, leaning across the desk toward his son. “Who’ve you been talking to?”
“No one, I swear. It’s merely another of the questions I’ve long wished to ask.” Startled, David found himself bending backward as if to escape his father’s grasp though the marquis hadn’t raised either hand. He struggled to keep any condemnation out of his voice. “Once when I went to visit Gran’père Georges, I wandered into the garden. At the end of it, I found the family burial plot. The mausoleum was open and I went in. Morbid curiosity I suppose…to see the names of Mamère’s ancestors,” he added. “You know my hobby.”
His father nodded and relaxed. David was surprised. Until that moment, he hadn’t realized Étienne was tense. Why should he be?
“I found his vault…Jean-Paul la Carrière, Vicomte la Proie.”. Just that and his death date…the same as my brother’s…and Rouge Meurtrier’s.”
“Oui. Jean-Paul died that day also. He was Absinthe’s…compagnon de mariage…”
“Absinthe. Why did they call him that?” David persisted, fearing his father might soon regret reawakening the tragedy and refused to say more.
“Because of his eyes…they were the color of that infernal liqueur.” Étienne took a deep breath, looking away as if to hide the fact his own eyes were also that color, but in his case, he’d been called Peridot.
Using that surnom to differentiate the deceased child from his living namesake had become habit but it still cause an ache. To his son, it sounded as if he were controlling great fury.
“I don’t wish to speak of this any longer, David.”
Absinthe is available from Class Act Books and amazon.com
Essence of Absinthe will be available in March, 2017.
A writer of French Huguenot extraction, one of Tony-Paul de Vissage’s first movie memories is of being six years old, viewing the old Universal horror flick, Dracula’s Daughter on television, and being scared sleepless—and he’s now paying back his very permissive parents by writing about the Undead.
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