Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Serial Interview with Roland Yeomans

A knock came at the front door as the last golden rays of day turned into night.


I wasn't expecting anyone. I kept quiet and didn't move. Maybe, whoever was out there would go away. Within a minute, I heard a knock at the back door, at the unlocked back door. An increasing sense of urgency zipped up my spine, yet I felt immobile. . . I stood. The knock came again. . . I couldn't lift my feet.

 
The book, The Boston Strangler, lay on the desk beside me. Did a strangler knock on doors to find his victims? This one did.

Don't open that door!
 
***

In the spirit of the Hallowed Season, I booked an interview with the creator of Dark New Orleans stories, Roland Yeomans. Some of his novels are set in Meilori's, a late-night jazz club, populated by the undead but open to the living if they dare. Lucifer's Orphan, one of Roland's latest and part of a series, takes the reader on a different journey. It's about a young boy about to be adopted, but it turns into something else once that young boy arrives at his destination.





On with the interview. . .

I was back at Meilori’s. Everything I wore was black: from the wide-brimmed hat to my stylish Niki running shoes.  (Running shoes were wise to wear as was black.)  As Roland told me: “It is best to wrap the shadows of Meilori’s around you.  A hard-to-see target is hard to hit.”

I was at Roland’s table.  He was giving the squirrel on his shoulder sugar cubes to chew.  Apparently, Ratatoskr, the Asgardian squirrel, was here to visit Roland again too.

I drew in a breath.  The ghost of F. Scott Fitzgerald sat down beside me.  He took my hand and kissed it lightly. His gossamer lips tingled on my skin.

“Ah, I just had to see the woman who has written so highly of my works on her electronic newspaper.”

“Blog,” I managed to say.

He frowned, “I refuse to say that word.”

Fitzgerald looked witheringly at Ratatoskr.  “Roland, must we have rodents at the table?”

Roland spoke softly but firmly.  “All my friends are welcome at my table.”

Fitzgerald sighed, “In that case …”

He held up a hand and snapped his fingers.  “Waiter!  Champagne.”

He took another look at Ratatoskr.  “Two bottles!  I refuse to see a squirrel at my table when I am sober.”

I turned to Roland, fighting a smile.  “Some of your stories, remind me of the noir genre in film. Do you have any primary film influence which generated this interest in the dark shadowy world of the undead?”

Roland nodded.  “Noir indeed inspired me.  THE BIG SLEEP.  THE MALTESE FALCON.  THE BLUE DAHLIA.  The FU MANCHU series read to me and my other friends in the LEAGUE OF FIVE influenced me as well.  As did the HAMMER DRACULA films.”

Roland looked out into the shadows.  “I longed to merge Noir into the world of the supernatural which to me only seemed …”

He smiled, “ … natural.”

Fitzgerald murmured, “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”

I asked, “Why are there so many cold-hearted females in your stories, Roland?”

Roland smiled sadly.  “The personal reasons will have to stay personal.  But it is the Noir influence, yet it really goes back further.  The femme fatale flourished in the Romantic period in the works of John Keats, notably ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’ and ‘Lamia’.

Along with them, there rose the gothic novel, The Monk featuring Matilda, a very powerful femme fatale. This led to her appearing in the work of Edgar Allan Poe, and as the vampire, notably in Carmilla and Brides of Dracula.

Ratatoskr, ever ready for gossip, listened intently as Roland went on, “During the film-noir era of the 1940s and 1950s, the femme fatale flourished in American cinema. Examples include Brigid O'Shaughnessy, portrayed by Mary Astor, who murders Sam Spade's partner in The Maltese Falcon (1941).”

Roland said, “It goes all the way up to the present with Xena and all the way back to Eve – Samuel Clemens and I believe Adam bit into the apple, knowing it would exile him from the Garden but allow him to stay with the woman he loved.”

Fitzgerald looking longingly at the ghost of his wife, Zelda, dancing with Marlene Dietrich and whispered,

 “I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self respect. And it's these things I'd believe in, even if the whole world indulges in wild suspicions that she wasn't all she should be. I love her, and it is the beginning of everything.”

Roland said, “I am drawn to strong women who are their own person driven by their own minds and dreams – and that holds the very real threat that ultimately I will be hurt.  I write strong heroes who have the same make-up.”

Fitzgerald nodded, “We are all flawed creatures with sharp edges.  The price of drawing close is to bleed.”

“No bleeding, please,” I said. “Roland, the setting of HER BONES ARE IN THE BADLANDS is the silent film era and the birth of radio – a time when people listened.  The setting of LUCIFER’S ORPHAN is today when everyone talks but no one listens.  Were you trying to tell your readers something by the difference?”

“Just that very dichotomy.  In this time of Twitter and Facebook, everyone seems to be screaming, “ME, ME, ME!”  And no one is listening.  In the time of the silent film, people listened but their very isolation kept them from hearing at all.  Both times were lonely and starved emotionally … but for different reasons.”

Roland continued with a sad smile, “I was trying to convey that in the press conference in LUCIFER’S ORPHAN.  Nearly everyone was wearing a mask.  But the irony was that only when the masks were taken off did anyone feel heard.”

Fitzgerald said to me, “I like Roland’s smile.  It is one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it that you may come across four or five times in life. It seems to face the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrates on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understands you just as far as you want to be understood, believes in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assures you that he has precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hope to convey.”

Ratatoskr snickered, “How much champagne have you had?”

That was my cue to exit. I pulled down the brim of the hat, waved at Fitzgerald and with Roland’s help, found the side door and the waiting taxi. Meilori’s neon sign seemed to hang in the mist when I looked back. 

Roland Yeoman's New Serial:

Two orphans are set against each other by an unsettling adoptive father. The young boy, Blake, sees under the 'glamor' but has no choice except to bide his time. Fallen, his competition and a shapeshifter, changes her assessment of the boy once she sees his abilities.  Read about their story in Lucifer's Orphan. (I'll be reviewing this soon.)




 
 

The First SERIAL chapter, Lucifer's Orphan is out NOW! Next up is Her Bones are in the Badlands, shown below. It's on my TBR list.






Check Roland's blog for details on the serial and the Halloween Blogfest. If you'd like to join in the naming of creepy books that might have marred us as adults, visit Roland's blog, Writing in the Crosshairs. This fest runs October 1-31 until the witching hour.




 
***

What book scared you the most OR made you change your habits? (i.e., no arms or legs hanging off the bed, no answering doors after dark, closet doors shut)

Please share in the comments and thanks for stopping by!

***

60 comments:

  1. When was there a time when people really listened?
    Reality itself has persuaded me to change some habits for the safety of my family.
    Now, pass the champagne!

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    Replies
    1. So true, Alex. Being alert and taking precautions are something I do, too. Garcon! another bottle of champagne for my friend here. Put it on Roland's tab. . .

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    2. Reality is a lot more dangerous cyberwise these days! And Ratatoskr and Fitzgerald drank all the champagne!! :-)

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  2. 'A hard-to-see target is hard to hit.'

    :)

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    1. It's a dangerous but exciting place. . .

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    2. That motto has often saved me! :-)

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  3. Enjoyed the very atmospheric interview. Well done. :)

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    1. Glad you liked it. This is an interesting serial, a little different from the New Orleans stories.

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    2. Thanks, L.G. It was the interviewer who made the interview what it was!

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  4. Ratatoskr! You are one cheeky squirrel! I think I'd love to borrow you please!! Or just pet you and hug you and squeeze your cheeky cheeks cos you just sound adorable! :-)

    DG Hudson!! Now this is what I call a most civilised interview - champers, stylish shoes, squirrels!! Perfect!

    Take care
    x

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    1. Thanks Old Kitty. Ratatoskr is kind of cute, but I've heard tales of his escapades.

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    2. Kitty, expect a visit from Ratatoskr now! You'll know he's been there by Charlie's hissing and your sugar bowls being empty!

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  5. Flawed creatures with sharp edges - that is a very apt description of the human condition.

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    1. Thanks, Diane. Send me your email address, and HER BONES ARE IN THE BADLANDS will be heading your way. Sadly, we humans cannot remove our sharp edges, only sand them a little. :-(

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  6. What a fascinating interview. I really enjoyed it. And now I want to sit and have champagne with Roland and Ratatoskr!
    Looking forward to checking out this series.

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    1. LUCIFER'S ORPHAN is free today and tomorrow. And Ratatoskr is doing a guest post on my blog today, the scamp!

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  7. Lucifer's Orphan sounds like the perfect book for the season!
    (I wouldn't have opened the door you mentioned at the beginning, either!)

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    1. Sherry, LUCIFER'S ORPHAN was written for a young girl whose mother would not let her read HARRY POTTER so it is written in that book's style (but my take on it!) It is free today and tomorrow. And it is fitting for Halloween! :-)

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  8. Diane, Julie and Sherry - thanks for visiting!

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  9. Thank you D.G. and Roland (and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ratatoskr!) for a great interview! So intriguing to learn Roland's thoughts on femmes fatales...

    And those knocks... hmmm... :-)

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    1. Yes, Fitzgerald brought out the Fitzgerald in Roland. Ratatoskr was also entranced. . .

      Those knocks were a small Hitchcock moment. . .

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    2. Ratatoskr and Fitz thank you. :-) Ah, femmes fatales add spice to life ... besides strong personalities are great life-traveling companions ... you just have to keep your eyes open!

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  10. Hi DG, Roland, Fitzgerald and Ratatoskr ... wonderful setting and interview - great mix of life .. Roland your knowledge of the human spirit and those around us brings it all to life ..

    Loved reading this .. cheers Hilary

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    1. You're right, Hilary, Roland does bring the scenario to life. Having Fitzgerald come by was a nice touch, I thought

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    2. That was ever so nice of you to say, Hilary. In Meilori's, you draw to you what interests you which is why Fitz showed up. :-)

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  11. Great interview! Roland's a treasure! And about that rattler, OMG!!! Lucky your mom was around, whew! And, yep, think you were set up a bit, what kids are all too good at doing. My brother used to set us girls up, humph! :)

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    1. Rattlers have always unnerved me ... which is why they have a prominent scene in HER BONES ARE IN THE BADLANDS. Ratatoskr read you thought I was a treasure and tried to bury me! That scamp!

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    2. Hi Kittie, guess I thought I could charm the snake. It was a lesson in 'what if'! (I got a lecture after that one, so did my cousin).

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  12. Once again, a fabulous interview. Fitzgerald's thoughts on literature really hit home for me. When I was young, I went to jazz clubs in 500-year old cellars in Old Town, Stockholm and the atmosphere you create here brings back memories. ~~ And I had planned to talk about your comment on collard greens and Creole spices here, but will save that for another day.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Interview atmosphere and dialogue: Roland's creation, I just asked him about a couple of things. I wrote the intro - re book that scared me.

      Now I'm curious about the greens and things.

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    2. Inger, I envy you visiting the jazz clubs in 500 year old cellars in Old Town!

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  13. Hello D.G. Hello Roland. Fabulous interview and extract. Roland, I don't know how you keep churning them out at such a rate! You must never sleep. I've just finished Badlands.

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    1. I wonder the same thing, Denise.

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    2. Thanks, Denise. I hope you enjoyed BADLANDS. Fatigue is starting to hit me now!. :-) I'm just in the planning stages of DEATH IN THE HOUSE OF LIFE -- Sam, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, and Meilori in an archaeological dig in 1895 Egypt -- some tombs should remain sealed! :-)

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  14. Noir is a favorite genre of mine so I'm up for the mash-up. Meilori's sounds like an interesting but creepy place.

    Lee
    Check out my interview with viral blogger Liza Long
    Tossing It Out

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    1. I will be stopping by, Lee, thanks for the reminder.

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    2. Billie Holliday and Diana Krall regularly sing there. It is haunting and dangerous -- just like most of the French Quarter. :-)

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  15. I like how Roland is always haunted by the ghosts of literature past -- and his own characters are unforgettable.

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    1. I agree, Milo. I love all the references to other times, and legends.

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    2. Thanks, Milo. Sam tips his Stetson to you. It was very nice of you to say this.

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  16. Enjoyed the interview. That was an interesting comment about Adam and the apple. I had never heard that before.

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    1. Mark Twain and I are romantics. That theory I used in the third installment of LUCIFER'S ORPHAN, too. Thanks for liking our interview!

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  17. Great opening paragraph and fun interview. Amityville Horror scared me a lot. The Sentinel, too. I still talk about Jodi pig eyes.

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    1. Thanks, MPax.
      Good choices of creepy stories.

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  18. I just read this interview twice. It's packed with so many gems and a deep playfulness. Love Fitzgerald's description of Roland's smile. I can tell, from brief snippets of his writing, that it's true. Great, great interview, DG and Roland. Thank you.

    I'm afraid I'm always afraid - of scary books, scary movies, scary places. I avoid them.

    xoRobyn

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    1. It was fun to do, Robyn. Thanks for taking the time to read it twice. Made my day.

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    2. I avoid most scary films and books -- unless there is a strong hero or heroine in them. I am so happy that you liked D.G's interview with me.

      Like D.G. said: that you read it twice made my evening! :-) Fitzgerald blows you a kiss (it made Zelda jealous!) My ghost stories are usually of the Throne Smith's TOPPER vein. LOL.

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  19. Dracula by Bram Stoker and Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire both scared me for different reasons.

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    1. Salem's Lot and Duma Key both frightened me in spots -- Stephen King is a master. Thanks for dropping by and staying to comment! :-)

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    2. My first doctor looked like Bella Lugosi when he played Dracula. He wouldn't look me in the eyes. I got another doctor, just in case.

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  20. This may be the best author interview ever! Love you guys did this. Scary? I'm the type who gets a delicious thrill from horror, but is truly scared of true crime stories. Reading about the ones who've gotten away will keep me up at night.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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    1. It was fun to do. You can tell by the dialogue who wrote that. I liked the Fitzgerald part.

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    2. D.G. is too modest. :-) Thanks, Shannon for the nice words.

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  21. Hi D.G. I know I've already commented, but I thought I'd alert you to a previous post of mine. I forgot to put 'Paris' in the Post Title, but it's about a great new writer I have discovered who sets his books in Paris and he agreed to give me an interview.

    Denise

    http://laussieswritingblog.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/the-creator-of-hugo-marston-mystery.html

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    1. I'll check that link, Denise, thanks. We like reading about Paris.

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  22. Really great Interview! Roland is one of a kind and his lyrical way of writing whether it be the old west, viking female warriors or whatever he brings to life I enjoy the journey!

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    1. You said it, Siv! There is a depth to his writing that many miss.

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  23. Thanks, Siv! Sorry your comment slipped past me. Being a rare blood courier is draining me these hectic days! Thanks so much for the kind words about my prose.

    D.G. - thanks for the compliment! I loved your photos of the Egyptian section of the Louvre. I am 3/4 finished with HOUSE OF LIFE. Whew!

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