It's wonderful to have Michelle Hiscox here today as my guest. She's sharing about a vacation site that inspired her new paranormal romance, A New Day at Midnight. The place that inspired her was Rome, one of my favorite spots too. My husband and I were there in 2012, and I can imagine how it prompted Michelle's book. Be sure to check out her new release as well as her great giveaway contest at the end of this post.
WHAT I FOUND IN ROME
I started writing my paranormal romance, A New Day at Midnight, in 2006. It wasn’t until I visited Rome in 2011 that I got to see the very place I pictured the father of Merik Hearne, my main character, standing. While much of the novel takes place in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, Rome represents a place of great change for the Hearne family. Below is just a sample of the inspiration I found in Rome, a localedisplaying both the light and darkness of the human soul…
The Roman Colosseum, or Flavian Ampitheatre, was commissioned by Emporer Vespasian in AD 72 on the site of the Nero’s palace, a ruler whose fondness for cruelty and excess led to his demise. The Colosseum had a great impact on me when I visitedand despite the historical significance of the site, I couldn’t wait to get off of those grounds.
Roman gladiators fought many battles in the Colosseum, and they were usually slaves, prisoners of war, or criminals. Combats were attended by the rich and poor, often with the Emperor watching over the bloodshed. The cries and curses of the audience resonated within the walls, and cheers for the victor often reached a deafening roar.Contests occurred one after another, and when the ground became soaked withblood, a layer of sand was thrown over it and new contests began. Humans and animals fought and died within the confines of the Colosseum, and all in the name of entertainment.
The suffering that took place here was palpable; I could hardly bear to look at the cells they kept the people in before combat, or the cages they kept the animals in before they set them out to destroy each other. For me it was a place of sorrow much more than one of simple fascination.
Tivoli, particulary Villa d’Este, is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in person. My favorite picture is of the woman hanging her sheets to dry from her apartment window, as the image encapsulates the medieval hill town that Tivoli is. It’s like stepping back in time. Several mothers stood outside the old stone school, strollers in hand, chatting, until the bell rang and their children ran out, throwing themselves into their mother’s arms. I’ve never seen a place so tranquil yet so full of life.Villa d’Este is teaming with Italian gardens, fountains, grottos, nymphs and a variety of attractions featuring plays on water. There are caves, waterfalls, and unparalleled elements of art and history, all magnificent and waiting to be discovered by the enthusiastic traveller. Hanging gardens and terraces dominate the landscape, hinting at elements of an ancient world. In contrast to the Colosseum, the beauty and light in Tivoli shone through any darkness.
Tivoli inspired the gardens found behind Rosehearne Manor, the stone and marble monolith built by my brooding hero, Merik Hearne, in an unconscious quest to reclaim the love he lost. Intricate plots of flowers, especially roses, adorn the back of the manor in a labyrinth lit by torches.
3. MONUMENT TO ANNITA GARIBALDI
I felt awe when I reached the monument of Annita Garibaldi, a woman who representsall of the strength and courage I hoped to emulate with Hannah Worthington, one of the main characters in my novel. The love she shared with her husband, Giuseppe Garibaldi, is what romantic legends are made of. Below is a brief explanation of what this amazing woman overcame to find her way back to her husband.
In the Battle of Curitibanos, Giuseppebecame separated from wife Annita, who was captured by the rival group. In captivity, the guards told Annita that Garibaldi had died.Distraught for her husband and the child they were expecting, Annita asked if she could search among the dead in battle. When she didn’t find him this gave hope to Annita, who after a while crept up on a camp horse, mounted it and escaped at a gallop. The soldiers chased her with the ordered to return her dead or alive. They shot and killed her horse, but not Annita. She escaped, came upon the river Canoas, and waded across. The soldiers thought she would not survive and left her for dead. Annita spent four days wandering without food or drink in the woods until she found a group willing to provide her with food. She contacted the rebels and was reunited with Garibaldi in Vacaria. A few months later their first child, Menotti, was born. – Wikipedia Content 2015
4. THE DOMUS SESSORIANA & THE RELICS
The DomusSessoriana is located within an archaeological site that includes the ruins of the Temple of Venus and Cupid, which in times past housed Councils of State, and the magnificent Castrensian Amphitheatre, built in the time of Emperor Heliogabalus. - www.domussessoriana.it
Now a hotel, the DomusSessoriana looks out on the city of Rome, and provides a gathering place for citizens stopping for a rest on their walks or taking their dogs for a stroll. I stayed in the hotel, but the magic wasn’t to be found inside of the rooms, it was everywhere.A church within the walls of the hotel held far greater treasures than a comfortable bed, it contained the Relics.
The Relics of the Passion of Jesus comprise three fragments from the Cross, a Nail from the crucifixion, two Thorns from the Crown and a piece of the Title of the Cross. The authenticity of the relics has been the subject of various studies down through the centuries, but ithas been confirmed by historical and scientific studies that some of the Relics now reside within the Basilica housed by the DomusSessoriana. – www.domussessoriana.it
I am not, by nature, a religious person, but when I stepped into the home of the relics, I found something I didn’t realize I’d been looking for. For a moment, I found peace, a reprieve from much of the weight that life can pile on, or which I placed on myself. Through tears I prayed, and for a time it seemed as if God were listening. Even as a writer, I can’t truly describe what I encountered there, but I know some of thatemotion flowed through me and into my writing.
My time in Rome changed me, and it enhanced my connection to and understanding of a place I wrote about but had never been.I’m not sure if I, orA New Day at Midnight,would be quite the same if I hadn’t explored those ancient grounds.
A New Day at Midnight
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.
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.
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)