Travel and make-believe go hand in hand. Whether we're in the present or the past, in a haunted castle, an enchanted forest or a broken down building, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and traveling the world can bring the imagination to life.
Please welcome this week's guest, fellow Canadian, Michelle Hiscox. She hails from Drumheller, Alberta. The dinosaur bones buried in the hills of her hometown inspired the first stories she ever wrote, and she feels blessed to walk those same hills with her daughter today.
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TRAVEL SPECIAL – 4 STOPS IN A NEW DAY AT MIDNIGHT
As the author of the paranormal romance, A New Day at Midnight, I researched many haunting and dynamic locations to use as inspirational fodder for the settings in my book. Below is a sample of places travelled by the Hearne family on their centuries long journey from Romania to Montana territory.
POENARI CASTLE, ROMANIA
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What a better inspiration for a paranormal tale than the stomping grounds of Vlad the Impaler and his army of minions. Romania has also been home to Romani people for centuries, and reflects the heritage of my main character, Merik Hearne.
In the 15th century, Vlad the Impaler brought Poenari Castle back from ruins to use it as a cliffside military location near the Argus River valley. It afforded a view of all the land below and a nearly impenetrable site of defense. It was in the Poenari area that Vlad began the use of spikes to kill his victims, earning his famous moniker.
PALAZZO DELLA MASCHERA GROTTESCA, ROME
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Built by Italian painter Federico Zuccari beginning in 1592, the palace sits near the top of the Spanish Steps. The windows and doors are adorned with the screaming mouths of ghouls, an unforgettable site for any passerby.
THE SALOONS OF MONTANA TERRITORY, UNITED STATES
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The clapboard wood saloon epitomizes the flavor of the old west, when Montana Territory was rough, dangerous, and full of the dreams of the people moving through to stake their claim and build better lives for themselves and their families.
The alleyway to the side of the Cranston Saloon provides the backdrop to tragic events in A New Day at Midnight. The drink and debauchery often found in such locations provides the perfect setting for the unravelling of a Vetala, or a demon, while he both saves and destroys the unfortunate souls he finds there.
THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS
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The Rocky Mountain range extends over 3000 miles through Canada, the United States, and New Mexico. It also accounts for a long stretch of land through Montana, the home chosen by the Hearne family to build Rosehearne Manor, a fortress set against forest and mountainside.
The manor started out as a single dwelling surrounded by caravans and tents, and slowly grew to the stone monolith housing generations of Romani families.
Difficult mountain conditions afford the Hearne’s a measure of safety from the forces working against them.
The Hearne Family Saga
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Bookkus Publishing
Date of Publication: February 14, 2015
Page Count Print – 264
Page Count Electronic – 268
Word Count: 92,691
Cover Artist: Bookkus Publishing
When Merik Hearne finally lays claim to the woman that betrayed him, she inspires much more than his need for revenge—but is her love worth dying for again?
Condemned to play host to a demon, the scarred Romani leader has amassed a fortune with only one goal in mind—to possess Hannah Worthington, the traitorous beauty that has eluded him for over a decade. With an exchange of coin, everything he has been striving for is within reach but nothing is as he imagined. The tender, sharp-tongued woman he encounters tests the bounds of his convictions and he is torn between the promise of reckoning and longing for a love that once destroyed him.
Exchanged for a purse of gold and informed she is to be a slave, Hannah vows she has not survived a lifetime of loss only to wither under the likes of Merik Hearne. And she will do everything she can to make sure he knows it. Despite his overbearing manner, his fierce scars, and her own determination to escape him, she begins to see that something beautiful might lie beneath…something that belongs only to her. She must discover the angle from which the great lord plays before his dark desires consume them both.
As they struggle to find truth amid pasts marred by sorrow and secrecy, they are unaware that a vengeful apostle orchestrates the rise of a forgotten god—and the end of their chance at a life together.
As Merik looked about the darkness of his cell with new eyes, he saw Hannah standing in the corner. He knew she was not truly there, but the voice of the other ensured he did not look away as it whispered in his ear. He saw her many times, always a mirage, always torturous. Unsure if his rage outweighed his disappointment at her absence, he listened.
She mocks you, young one. She told those men where to find you. She told them lies about you. They could know nothing without her betrayal. You will find her. Make her bleed. You will find her and make her pay for each transgression. Sink your teeth deep within her and watch the blood flow over the ground. Drink her dry until her offences are but a memory. It will ease the agony, as nothing else will.
Merik saw her a thousand times during his short stay in the cellar. The pain sliced through him, and it would not ease no matter how much his father fed him. Nothing helped to suffuse the suffering until he began seeing Hannah in the confines of the cell.
He saw her exactly as she looked that night at the clearing. In spite of himself, he found himself reaching for her hand, and did so each time she appeared to him. Desire bubbled to the surface and he despised it, closing his eyes against the sight of her. The image played over and over in his mind, running like a crooked wheel. He saw the woman who destroyed him, the woman who destroyed his brothers, and he could think only of making her suffer—until he thought of touching her again.
The bottle shattered in his hand from the force of his grasp, and he looked down to see shards of glass embedded within the flesh of his palm. When he looked up, Hannah was gone.
Hannah realized Merik had left her doors unlocked. Again. Did he believe she would stay now that she knew his true name and nature? She dare not utter the real question plaguing her, but it invaded her mind nonetheless.
Is he right? A large ember escaped from the iron latticework in front of the fire, landing on the rug at her feet. She watched it smoulder.
Smoke curled up in delicate tendrils, disappearing before reaching the high ceiling. She stared for several long moments, willing the flame to grow, to consume her. It held the colour of Merik’s eyes, burning gold and crimson. A small flame flickered to life, hungry for progress until she stamped it out with the heel of her foot.
Rising from the fire to flop on her bed, she stopped short as an echo rang through the hall. Certain her battered senses played tricks on her, she pulled back her covers to lay down but heard it again.
Whether it was a call of rage, grief, or agony she could not distinguish. It came from Merik’s quarters, echoing deep within the shadows of the hall. Padding to her door, she warred between anger over his treatment of her and the desire to ease his pain.
She could not ignore the fact he’d told her the truth. Pulling a robe about her shoulders, she kicked off her charred slipper. Without consulting her mind, she made the decision with her heart. She rested her hand on the door, opening the barrier between her and the unknown.
“Shit. Shit, shit, shit. What am I doing? I can stay in my rooms. There is hardly any need to go out there.”
Another tortured cry rose in the air, strengthening her resolve to help Merik.
Lighting a candle, she forced herself to go into the hall. Another cry rang through the air, and as she got closer to Merik’s chamber, she finally understood what he was saying. Her name.
“I’m coming, Merik.” Running to his room, she entered through the open door to see an empty chamber. Desperation overrode the fear hammering her heart against her chest. The room smelled of blood, of sickness. Could Vetala even get sick? Could they die?
“No, please no, not again. Merik? Merik, please call my name.”
He groaned. As she followed the source of the noise, the candle shook in her hand. The hot wax stung her flesh when she stopped several steps in front of a half-open door set in the wall.
“Merik?” The smell of death clung to the entrance and she gagged. The candle wobbled in her hand. She steadied it, saying a quick thanks to God it did not go out. She could not bear to go forth in the darkness without light. Setting the candle on the floor, she swung the door wide. The candle flickered as she picked it up. Fear twisted her guts and no matter how she tried, she could not stop her hands from shaking. She took another step.
“Merik?” It took her eyes several moments to see more than a foot from her face. When she saw him in the dim light, she gasped. He now stood in front of her. It took her several more moments to realize he was not standing of his own volition, but rather restrained by chains embedded in the stone wall. When he lifted his head, she covered her mouth to stifle a scream.
Eyes of molten gold and crimson stared back at her. His jaw and facial bones were distended, his hands curled into claws. The changes were much more severe than the few instances she attributed to the loss of her mind.
“I…I…” Stepping back toward the entrance, her gaze never left Merik’s. She turned her back on him to commence a rather spineless retreat, but could not get her feet to cooperate.
“Hannah?” The voice held much more than pain. What? Desperation? Hope? She could not move as her heart and mind waged war. Despite his appearance, she knew beneath the angled bone protruding from his flesh, his distorted face, and the fangs visible in his mouth, Merik stood in front of her. The man she met a decade before. The man looking at her with the same single focused intensity with which he always did. The man she loved.
Taking another step and hearing nothing but her own harsh breathing, she took one more.
About the Author:
Michelle Hiscox is a Paranormal Romance fan and author who hails from Drumheller, Alberta. The dinosaur bones buried in the hills of her hometown inspired the first stories she ever wrote, and she feels blessed to walk those same hills with her daughter today. Crocus flowers and dust bowls full of cactus never fail to inspire.
While her little girl and husband provides many welcome distractions to writing, it's something she always finds her way back to. Michelle is the proud, and slightly crazy, owner of two dogs and three cats, all animals she loves more than she reasonably should. She's been reading voraciously since she was a child and, one night, pulled her nose from a book to start writing her own.
Website – http://www.michellehiscox.com
Amazon Author Page –http://www.amazon.com/l/B00VO2K990
5 print or ebook copies of A New Day at Midnight (winner’s choice, print available to US and Canadian Shipping Only)
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