There are times when I think I am actually writing to the future. Samsara holds within it a circular arc. Readers approach the vortex and find themselves in a bit of a Rorschach test; driving them to resonate with or reject the stories, themes and characters they encounter. One of the harder parts, I think, is figuring out how much of this is for me and how much for the reader.
This past week, I introduced to you Monique, a voice actress who has done exceptionally well in creeping me out when she appears in her dark outfits, candlelight and tells stories with her intense eyes. I’ll be using these for the next few months to help advertise the book, so I hope you enjoy. If you can’t tell, I like the idea of blending reality and fantasy and the interplay between how we create and what already exists.
This writing has made me think more about the process of creation. How much of it is inspired by others and how much is fed by our dreams and the stars. I’m not quite sure I’ve come to a resolution on this. But it is one of those things that causes a sweet pain, like prodding a loose tooth as a child. Even then, you knew the pain would produce something. Pain is the midwife to creation, to art, to life.
I was walking the streets of New Orleans last month and saw Sean Friloux, the artist who created the cover for Wolf Howling. I commissioned the piece from him to create an alley with a black cat. He does these powerful, dark and haunting landscapes and has a love for the city that equals my own. I love the way it came out and I have the original hanging in my apartment on Bourbon. Sean was showing some new pieces in the Pirate’s Alley near the Cathedral. Nothing made me happier than seeing he had some paintings for sale with black cats in them. It’s that interconnection again of art and artist; of admirer and participant. Which came first? The painter or the writer? The alley or the cat?
I’ll end with a dream I had last night. It’s likely this will find its way into either Catching Opheliaor Oracle Gazing. I tend to work in these sketches—a flash or idea that drives my creative process.
“I see,” she said, with the faintest nod. “I truly appreciate your dilemma here.”
Her voice sounded soothing, but that wasn’t how it made him feel; not in the least. He staggered back, increasingly unsure of his safety. The panic started when she crossed the gloomy, February-desolate, street to block his path. The panic had risen with each of her approaching steps; giving rise to a more palpable, inexplicable terror.
“If I may be so bold,” she stood in front of him now, blocking his path, “allow me to explain the birthplace of your current predicament.”
He tried to place her accent. Something Australian or British, but even exotic. She had dark skin and braided hair. The braids were tight and dark, like so many small snakes, speckled with gold rings printed with symbols and words he couldn’t begin to recognize. She was eloquent, but there was something underneath that hummed in a more primal way, like the background noise from a television playing static in the hour of the wolf; that time between night and dawn.
“The sticky wicket here, forgive the expression, is your assumption that our encounter is greeting; a hello…perhaps even an introduction.” The gold bands with their intricate and ancient carvings, glimmered in her hair from flickering gas light above them. She held a confident smile on her jade-painted lips.
Everything in him wanted to run, though the most he could muster was a deep inhale; an unconscious preparatory action prior to flight. The air he took in was heavy with electricity and it left the smell of ozone thick in his nostrils. He felt the storm approaching and was desperate to find shelter. Yet, he remained motionless.
“Our encounter is not a greeting between new friends…” She came closer, her body against his, and raised her left hand to his neck. She smelled of old earth, of vanilla and spice. He did not resist her touch. He could not protest.
She continued, “…but rather, a departure.” Her hand caressed his neck. He was certain she could feel his pulse, hammering against the artery walls like a rabbit being chased by a wolf.
Her right hand came up and rested on the center of this chest. She then slid it slowly above his heart. Her wrist was encircled with a woven gold and burgundy colored gems. She smiled as she felt the rush of blood throbbing beneath her touch. She drank in his fear and finished with, “This is not my hello…but rather your goodbye.”
Her hand snaked around to the back of his neck and he shuddered at her touch. She kissed him with lips that were full, soft and very cold. She parted her lips briefly to permit her tongue to explore him. She drew back and they each inhaled and exhaled several slow breaths; sharing the air between them like a sacrament.
He dove into her eyes with while the taste of juniper and rosemary lingered on his lips. Her eyes held visions of death; of an immense and ancient void crawling with hungry, massive forms in the glacial blackness. He couldn’t speak. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t breathe.
A vertigo rose to meet him, and he began to sway. He tried to grasp at fragments of his reality, but he found them cracked and splintered; falling from his consciousness to be consumed by the dark gravity her center.
He had a fleeting sensation of weightlessness and a then a sensation of falling movement, sliding very quickly down a massive chute. A deepening, unimaginable terror unraveled the remaining strands of his sanity. The darkness rose up and took him.
“Valentine,” she said to the empty street.
“My name is Valentine.”