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Friday, November 8, 2013

Interviewing Rachael Stapleton about her new fantasy romance ~ The Temple of Indra's Jewel

Today, I'm sharing an interview with Rachael Stapleton about her new fantasy romance release, The Temple of Indra's Jewel. Be sure to check out her book and also the wonderful contest at the bottom of this post. 

In The Temple of Indra’s Jewel, Sophia Marcil awakens from a snorkeling accident in the Lérins Islands to find herself in the chambers—and the body—of a nineteenth-century princess. Are other people in the nineteenth-century setting aware that the princess has changed and is actually Sophia? Or is Sophia convincing in her altered state? 

Sophia believes she’s washed ashore one of the smaller private Islands and been taken in by an eccentric millionaire. She actually causes quite a stir at the party because she’s so confused by their charades. They on the other hand, believe she’s bumped her head and is suffering from some sort of amnesia.

“Princess, you’re awake?” Anais said.
“What happened?” I murmured groggily.
“You fainted, Mademoiselle.”
My skull pounded. “I had the strangest dream.” I paused, recalling the details. “Did you say Princess of Monaco?”
“You see,” she whispered out of the corner of her mouth, eyes darting and shifting to someone standing on the other side of me.
“Yes, she’s really had quite the trauma. I’m afraid she needs more rest,” a man said.
I twisted my shoulders and looked in the direction of the male voice just long enough to see a long pointy syringe coming at me.
“No drugs.” I barely got the words out before the world went dark again.
Wrapped up in the quilts of my strange new bed, I groaned and twisted, suddenly opening my eyes. Beautiful warm rays of afternoon sun trickled in the quiet room. Shaking the memories away, I got out of the bed and stepped onto the balcony, breathing deeply as I stared out at the sea. If I could find a phone I could simply call a cab company to take me back. Of course it would help if I knew where I was.
I stopped mid-thought, as my last encounter with the maid came rushing back. She said I was the Princess of Monaco! Oh my God, the painting—it looked just like me, just like my reflection.
I pushed my confusion aside. Maybe I’d imagined the last twenty-four hours. Maybe I woke in this room earlier and created this elaborate hallucination. I was probably concussed from my fall at Marguerite Island.
Wandering the rooms, I felt along the wall for light switches but found only gas lamps and a few sconces. There was no phone in the room either.
That’s because it’s 1857, you fool.
“No, no, no, no!” I mumbled back to myself.
I hadn’t seen a phone anywhere in the palace, not even at the party. Usually people texted or perused their cell phones no matter where, even if they had been playing a game. Feeling a sense of dread, I walked to the desk and opened the diary. It couldn’t be. I couldn’t be. The back read Princess Sapphira Alexandrie de Monaco.

From your book’s description: In a confused state and with no idea of her whereabouts, Sophia embarks on a desperate quest for answers, hoping she can find her way back to her fiancé, Nick, and her true identity. After she finds a diary in an antique desk, Sophia follows a clue that leads her to a questionable alchemist. What tells Sophia that this man is questionable? 

Well for one thing he’s an older man with wild hair, a long white beard and thick glasses. Just imagine running into a crazy scientist in a Palace when you’re still struggling to understand what’s going on. He looks and sounds panicked and pulls her off to the side peppering her with odd questions.

I needed to be alone. I rounded the corner just as an older man with dishevelled grey hair, a long white beard and thick glasses caught up to me.
Prinzessin, what are you still doing here?” His ancient round face carried more lines than a modern atlas. He pulled me off to the side. “Didn’t it work?”
“What—” I started to protest when a lady appeared at the end of the hall.
“Rochus!” She shouted. “There you are! I’ve been looking for you.”
His eyes shot back to me as if willing me to be quiet. “Send one of your servant girls. I’ll give you another.” Then he turned to the woman. “Hannah, I was just asking after you.”
I struggled to understand what was going on. Was he the man who’d accosted me? I surveyed the room and saw that Viktor was busy speaking to a woman from dinner; Maria, Henri and Gabrielle were otherwise occupied. The door had been left unattended, so without any further thought, I slipped out.

The alchemist relays the history and magic of the mysterious amethyst Sophia inherited from her great grandmother— the only possession that made the leap through time with her and perhaps the only thing that can prevent her from becoming a pawn in a murderous plot for the throne. Is Sophia’s great grandmother related to the princess? 

Gigi’s family is definitely tied to the jewel but there’s no proof that she’s a relative of the royal family. Sophia actually discusses that very topic with Leslie. They’re searching through her great grandfather’s belongings when Leslie finds a nineteenth-century portrait ripped from a history book. The picture is grainy, but she recognizes how much it looks like Sophia and they discuss reincarnation.

After cleaning up our dinner dishes—which consisted of take-out boxes and chopsticks—I poured us each another glass of wine before I lit some candles and reached for the beat-up brown cardboard box I’d inherited. With all the recent excitement I’d forgot about it ’til now.
“What’s that?”
“It’s my great-grandfather’s, from the secret cubby.” I pulled it the album stuffed on top out first and took a seat by the hearth. Leslie bent down and grabbed a stack of papers and then moved back to her spot on the couch.
“Hey, Les, I forgot to ask earlier: Did you see any pictures of a ring with a snake on it?”
“No, sorry. I was really just scanning text today. Why?”
“It’s probably nothing. Just … Sapphira was always calling him the snake, and Cullen mentioned that he dreamed of a man who wanted to hurt me wearing a viper ring.”
“Whoa, so Cullen knows of your trip through time now too?”
“No, I haven’t worked up the courage to tell him yet. I overheard him telling his brother about the dream.”
I looked down at the album. The first snapshot made me smile. It was an old Polaroid of my mother lying in a field of wild flowers. My mother’s dark brown hair was permed and surrounded her face in a halo of soft curls. Her penetrating blue eyes and petite, curvy figure were almost identical to mine. I shuffled to the next picture; she was smiling, on the verge of laughing, with me on her hip.
Leslie picked up a paper and then turned it toward me pensively.
“This is you!”
“Very funny.”
It was a nineteenth-century portrait ripped from a history book.
She held it closer. With a jolt, I realized she was right. The picture was grainy, but I recognized it. The caption below read Princess Sapphira Alexandrie of Monaco, 1857.
She flushed and glanced at the picture and then back at me. “It’s uncanny.”
“This is her. This is me, or what I looked like when I woke up. I saw this painting; it hung in the study. Now do you believe me?”
“I’m beginning to. Oh God, they’re going to lock us both up and throw away the key. How can you look so much like your ancestors, anyway—especially when there’s over a hundred years separating you?”
“I don’t know that I’m related to the Princess. Maybe it’s a past-life thing.”
“Well, is this lady a past life too?” she said, holding out another photo, “because, seriously, this is you at sixteen.”
“That’s my Great-Aunt Zafira, Gigi’s sister.”
“Genetics are so fascinating,” Leslie said.
“Gigi always told me how much I reminded her of her sister And Rochus said something about me being tied to a great aunt. I didn’t really put two and two together, but perhaps he meant her. So, yes, maybe she was a past life. Who knows anymore?”
I pushed my feet a little closer to the fire, hoping to rid them of the chill.  

Using her inheritance, Sophia races through time to the twenty-first century to solve the mystery of her family’s past. How does she travel? 

Great Question. Philosophers, physicists, and people all smarter than me have put forth a number of viewpoints; from the idea that history cannot be changed to the notion that it would create a paradox thus by destroying the universe. These are all very deep concepts that as a writer I researched and by that I mean searched on Google and considered for all of about 10 seconds before abandoning and creating a time-travel story based on my own warped imagination. All I know is Doc Brown had the DeLorean. Diana Gabbaldon had the stones. And Sophia? She has the Purple Delhi Sapphire. 

This is the mysterious stone that inspired parts of the series. Of course I completely changed the look of it – it needed to be glamorous. The actual gemstone was rumored to have been stolen by a British solider from the Temple of Indra, during the Indian Mutiny of 1857. It was brought to England by Colonel W. Ferris, whose family then supposedly suffered many financial and health woes.  Heron-Allen, wary of its alleged powers, locked it away in seven boxes and surrounded it with good luck charms. After his death, his daughter donated the amethyst to London's Natural History Museum. Along with the stone, she gave them a letter that her father wrote cautioning future owners against directly handling it. So far no one has reported time travelling through it but you never know. 


“I’m not from here,” I blurted.
He laughed. “Not this again. I’ve been to your home in Monaco.” Relief momentarily flooded his face before being replaced by a frown. “That bump isn’t still affecting you, is it?”
“No, that’s not what I mean.” I shook my head. “There’s a time portal. I fell through it. Well, I didn’t fall exactly; I was pushed off a cliff, and I fell into the ocean. When I woke, I was here—well, not here, but here, as in the nineteenth century in Monaco. I’m from the future. That’s why I was laying in the sea when you found me.” I was gasping, half-sobbing, becoming less coherent by the second. “I found the name Rochus in one of Sapphira’s journals and I went to find him. He’s—he’s a—” I stuttered, grasping for a term he would understand. “A sorcerer.”
“A sorcerer!” he repeated in shock.
“Yes, and he helped me return to my own time.” I felt a surge of hysteria swooping through my intestines, looping under my ribs like a rollercoaster on fire. “But then I came back again.”
Why, oh why did I come back again? “Do you believe me?” I asked.
He blinked at me, unmoving.
“I said I’m a time traveler. I’m Sophia, not Sapphira, although I might have once lived as her.” My voice trailed off until I was mumbling. “Do you understand? Someone’s gonna kill me. The devil hid pockets of magic to tempt us. He put it in things like gems to beguile the greedy with questionable souls. The magical objects are cursed; if someone removes them, the curse activates! It spellbinds, and that poor soul becomes obsessed with its power, cursing them to remain on Earth. One of the pockets is in my amethyst, the Delhi Purple Sapphire. My jewel is magical!” I said, pointing to my bracelet. I was shouting now, and he nodded slowly.
I relaxed, shocked that he believed me.
“No,” he then said softly.
His face, inches from mine, resembled a statue: silent, cold and devoid of emotion.
“No!” I blazed. “No what? No, you don’t believe me?”
He just looked at me.
“Of course you don’t. Why would you believe me? I’m crazy, aren’t I? That’s what you think. I’m such a dope,” I said, smacking myself in the head. “I’m supposed to be trying to find my murderer.” I turned away and staggered, grasping for support. I flopped down on a log a little too hard, almost tipping it, and put my head in my hands.
“Sapphira,” he said, gently grabbing hold of me.
I looked up, surprised that he hadn’t left me here in the middle of the Swabian Alb. He remained, but his eyes bulged out of his head, and I realized he was creeped out by me. Or was he?
The strain of it all caught up with me. I tore myself out of his grasp and ran to the water’s edge. I dipped my hands and patted my face. I turned, panting, and stared at him for a moment.
An eerie calm emanated from him. He took my wrist and slid Gigi’s bracelet from it, studying it in the light.
“Let’s return to the schloss. I’m sure Mutter will be worried by now, and you need a rest before dinner.”
“What? That’s all you have to say?”
Where were the questions, the shouts of outrage, any sort of reaction whatsoever? I thought of Leslie, and doubts once again entered my head. Why hasn’t he given me my bracelet back? Why is he acting like I just told him to pass the milk? Was he the obsessed spirit after all?

Once Sophia arrives in the twenty-first century, she unearths a dire warning about a curse that clings to her heirloom, leading her down a dangerous path involving two men from different times and ultimately puts her life at risk. Who may have originally cursed the heirloom and why? 

The idea behind the curse lies in the spiritual thread of life. Spirits on the other side write a life plan. This usually involves a group to make sure we stay on track with the lessons and goals we each want to learn. We are then sent to Earth to learn and understand. When the lessons are complete, we return to the other side through the revolving door. However, there are some spirits who find and become mixed up in the devil’s hidden magic. They become obsessed, warped by delusions of power. When they die, instead of returning to heaven to regroup and evaluate, they choose to return to Earth, forced to experience the same lessons they’ve just failed at. This becomes a curse for the souls tied to the fallen soul. Those souls then have two options: they can sever the tie, damning the soul, or they can continue the circle, destined to relive the same mistakes until the lesson is finally learned. This is Sophia’s story. She is tied to a soul who has coveted the power of the throne; he became obsessed with the cursed Purple Delhi sapphire and now he chases her through every life trying to get it so he can go back to the beginning and rule.

 “Did you have a nightmare?” I asked anxiously.
Then a troubled frown knit her brow. “He’s there! Turn around!” she whispered in a panicked breath. A sorrow deeper than despair hit me. I wondered if she was hallucinating.
“He wants Mama’s jewels!” she cried. “Hide them.” For a fleeting second, I wondered if Gigi knew more than she had let on. Then guilt hit me as I realized I had done this. I never should have told her what happened—it was just too much. I felt overcome, but I swallowed the sob. A nurse wheeled in another bag, fussed with the intravenous line, attached an access joint to it, and began another drip.
“Morphine,” she said. “That should help.”
As I tried not to think about what she’d just said, I realized I should call my grandmother, Greta.
We were moved to a room with monitors, a chair, and a television suspended above the bed, with curtains that could be drawn for privacy. It wasn’t brightly lit, but whispers of grey light filtered in through the window. Gigi was transferred to the bed, and I prayed the morphine was working. An hour later, the nurse returned to apply cold compresses to her forehead, as if we were living at the turn of the century and there was nothing to do but apply a damp cloth for comfort.
Gigi bolted upright. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven,” she mumbled. “A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant.”
“Gigi, what are you talking about? Are you singing right now?” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“Ecclesiastes three,” she whispered. Her words were so jumbled, they were hard to understand, but by the fourth time, I knew she was quoting her favourite passage in the bible.
“A time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” I finished the passage with her, which seemed to agitate her more.
“Too soon. I need to show you.” She fought me as I tried to lay her back down. “You don’t understand. My bible. Where is it? Find it!”
I guess everyone wants to hear God’s word in a situation like this, I told myself, scanning the room for a bible. Then the nurse returned.
After watching the nurse give Gigi another shot of morphine, settling her quite comfortably, I sat holding her hand until she fell into a deep sleep. The nurses had been very kind and brought me a reclining chair that I could doze in and out of in a dreamlike state.
Finally she woke. She seemed much better. She turned to me, tears brimming in her eyes.
“Come closer, child.”
I dutifully moved out of the recliner and into the chair by her bedside.
“I’m so sorry, Gigi. I never should have said anything.”
“Now, now, hush. Let your Granny speak before it’s too late … I know I romanticized life for you when you were younger, telling you magical stories my Opa told me, but I never told you everything … I never told you what she said … about the jewel being cursed.”
“Who said the jewel was cursed?”
I shook my head, forcing back tears as she patted my hand.
“Opa-Johanne playfully spoke of it at dinner one night—the night my mother wore the necklace. Oma grew very agitated. Opa called her superstitious, said she was upset because she blamed it for Velte’s disappearance.”
“Velte was your father’s twin who died on the passage over from Germany, right?”
“You do pay attention, don’t you, dear?”
“Of course, Gigi; you never talk of your family much, so when you do, I listen.”
The nurse returned; we both stopped speaking. She asked Gigi some questions about her pain and pulled back the blankets to check her leg.
Gigi groaned as the nurse moved her.
“Is it your back, Mrs. Jackson?”
Gigi nodded, squinting in pain.
“I’ll get you something for that. I think it’s time for a heavier dose. Just a minute.”
The nurse left the room, and Gigi turned toward me. “We don’t have much time. I can’t think through these drugs, so listen up. Oma said the gem was cursed. She said Velte touched it and that’s why he died.”
“Where did your Opa get the jewel set from?”
“He got the original gem from a curator in Ireland. He had it made into a necklace, bracelet and ring set for Mama. It was accompanied by a typewritten note that warned of a curse. The answer lies with the curse.”
“A curse?” I asked just as the nurse returned. I wanted to ask what the curse said, where the note was, but I knew Gigi’s pain was bad. She was starting to shake, and I figured I could wait until she was better.
I never left her side. I woke with every IV and shift change. Sometimes she was lucid, but she was never as clear as the first time. More and more she confused me with her sister, Zafira, and mumbled incoherently about the family curse. That alarmed me, based on everything I had been through. Could she know something more? I rocked back and forth on my feet, needing an outlet for the energy that was rumbling inside my bones. I tried to question her further, but the nurses told me I should let her rest, that the drugs created hallucinations and the patients were apt to ramble incoherently. I had trouble accepting that, but what more could I do? It was like she had a million secrets to tell and I would never hear any of them.
She died two days later. I went into a numb state. My grandmother Greta and Great-Aunt Addie had been notified, but no one had arrived yet. My friend Leslie picked me up from the hospital and took me home to Gigi’s. I cried for hours, and I just couldn’t sleep. Every time I tried, I had a horrible nightmare.
I was tired, too tired to concentrate on firing my engine back up and yet too restless to continue watching the TV program I’d switched on. Leslie stayed with me all evening, attempting to comfort me. She finally put me to bed in Gigi’s room, where I insisted on sleeping alone, and she retired to the guest room.
I slept for a bit, but it was hard to ignore the scent of her ghost that hung in the air. On impulse, I walked to her closet and pulled her fur coat out. I wrapped it tightly around me. From behind closed eyelids, I could picture her ensconced in the bed the first night I came to live with her. Her room reminded me of a pillow—so peaceful with all its soft grays and muted creams. At the far end were two banks of diamond-paned bay windows, half veiled by gold-and-cream brocade shades and valances. The windows looked out over the dark, still lake. Chairs and loveseats were arrangement in front of the windows. Against another wall was a large fireplace; across from that was a king-size bed with a large trunk at the end of it. She’d been wearing a sage green peignoir, reclining against a mountain of satiny pearl pillows. There was a tea tray on one side of her, and she had been engrossed in a book. I had been terribly homesick and lost without my mother’s embrace. As I walked in, she had turned to face me. A bright smile lit her tired face.
“Sophia, darling. What’s the matter? I thought I tucked you into bed an hour ago.” Her words rang in my ears as if she’d just spoken them yesterday. She’d held out her arms for me to come to her. Of course, I climbed on top of the giant bed, and she enveloped me in her arms, bending to kiss my cheek. Gigi’s hair had still been that incredible shade of fiery copper; her eyes—always her best feature—were wide and green and striking. Her skin and nails were meticulously cared for. She smelled and even sounded like my mother, so I curled in.
I could feel her ghostly arms snuggled around me now.
“Do you remember the story I told you when you were little?”
“Which one?” I remembered asking.
“The one about the magical stone that controls time.”
“Of course. I remember every story you tell me.”
“There’ll come a time you won’t.”
I shook my head.
“Yes, dear, but it will be all right. I don’t remember everything my Oma told me. I wish I did.”
“I’ll never forget,” I insisted.
She’d smiled at that.
“You do have a much better memory than me. What if I told you the magic was real?”
I’d thought about this for only a moment and blurted, “I’d ask if I could use it to go back and save Mama.”
I could still picture Gigi. She’d swallowed hard.
“If you could … I’d ask you to save mine too.”
Wiping away a tear, I opened my eyes. That was the night she’d given me her rosewood box. I’d forgotten all about what she said. What else had I forgotten? 


The Temple of Indra’s Jewel
Rachael Stapleton

Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Romance
Publisher: iUniverse, LLC
ISBN: 978-1-4917-0223-9
ISBN: 978-1-4917-0224-6
ISBN: 978-1-4917-0225-3
Number of pages: 274
Word Count: 75,279

Book Description:

Sophia Marcil awakens from a snorkeling accident in the Lérins Islands to find herself in the chambers—and the body—of a nineteenth-century princess.

In a confused state and with no idea of her whereabouts, Sophia embarks on a desperate quest for answers, hoping she can find her way back to her fiancé, Nick, and her true identity.

After she finds a diary in an antique desk, Sophia follows a clue that leads her to a questionable alchemist, who relays the history and magic of the mysterious amethyst she inherited from her greatgrandmother— the only possession that made the leap through time with her and perhaps the only thing that can prevent her from becoming a pawn in a murderous plot for the throne.

Using her inheritance, Sophia races through time to the twenty-first century to solve the mystery of her family’s past.

But once she is there, she unearths a dire warning about a curse that clings to her heirloom, leading her down a dangerous path involving two men from different times and ultimately puts her life at risk.

In this tale of obsession, greed and passion, a woman on a journey through time struggles to regain a family heirloom and control its magic, hoping to break the curse before it breaks her.

About the Author:

Rachael Stapleton grew up in a small town, writing as a hobby until the age of sixteen when she was given the opportunity to pen a column for the Orono Weekly Times. Today she is a dedicated writer who contributes to a weekly writer’s circle and is also a proud member of the Writer’s Community of Durham Region.

Rachael lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and two children.

Giveaway Contest:

$20 Giftcard and a copy of The Temple of Indra's Jewel
~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous epic fantasy romance: Book One, SEEKING A SCRIBE, Book Two, HERITAGE AVENGED, Book Three, LOST VOLUMES, and Book Four, STAUROLITE. For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.