Gallery: The Heart of Ameinias

RELEASE DATE: May 16, 2023 

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This book was really a story idea I had that had been meant for a Ghosts and Tea novel, but it didn't have enough material to justify a book longer than 50K words. By this time I'd already begun working on my Grotesqueries collection, and I decided then to make all of my sequels long novellas. In addition to that, I'd already reached the point where I wasn't able to sustain writing longer stories anymore and so made the move to focus on the long novella (not short, not medium, but long) for my writing and publishing sweet spot. And it's been working like a charm. So whew!

The Narcissus myth tends to pop up in my books, the idea of a drop-dead gorgeous man being yearned for (tragically or not) by someone (with the added spice of some sort of punishment meted out by some unknown force or by twist of fate) always playing a number in my imagination. So I always run with it. This is only second to my ultimate favorite gothic / folklore trope: the demon lover.

The image on the left is by artist Bao Pham (though I also see Thien Bao used), who specializes in digital fantasy art. There are a lot of artistic depictions of Narcissus, but I've only seen one for Ameinias, the luckless youth who falls in love with Narcissus and ends being not only rejected, but mocked with a sword, which he uses on himself but not before cursing Narcissus. Hopefully, down the line, more artists will attempt to interpret him as a victim of misplaced devotion like Echo.

In the case of the novella, the star-crossed lovers follow a tweaked version (i.e., my own) of the myth -- but with Freddy, Jonathan, and Brodie lending a helping hand of sorts. Which, of course, means a lot of fun thrown into the mix given how dorky everyone is in my imagined universe.

Ruins are a given in just about every book I've written, especially the latter ones where I dive completely into historical fantasy / gothic horror. Abbey, castle, and even humble cottage ruins are a source of some of my favorite story ideas, largely because of the history they contain. There are so many stories behind every crumbling rock or empty window, and the presence of a ruined structure left exposed to the elements and slowly being reclaimed by nature is a pretty effective symbol of mortality and the brevity of human life. And so taking from gothic fiction of the past, I thought to play with ruins as a site of a pair of lovers' tryst in addition to the place where a lonely, brooding ghost would spend its afterlife -- pining for what was lost, wishing for what could have been.

The image on the right is by German romantic painter, Caspar David Friedrich, easily my favorite visual artist of the Romantic Movement. I can easily see Seabrooke being the contemplative, romantic Narcissus looking out into the distance from the empty window of Coalfell Abbey's skeletal ruins, dreamily thinking of Hargrave and planning the next tryst. That the lovers would come together, at last, in the shadow of a religious structure ties in nicely with all the metaphors and symbols I love playing with in my stories.

This fantasy village art is by Ivan Trespassers, at least according to what I could find online. I might very well be wrong with my attribution, and I apologize if so.
And as candy sprinkles to top off a fun story to write, I decided to include a village that's a kitschy, colorful painting brought to life. Otterbury is a place of positivity and happiness and color cranked up to extreme levels. Even Jonathan Beverly, the more level-headed of the main romantic pair of the series, is completely overwhelmed by joy and chatter that he (along with Freddy and even Velasco) end up suffering from headaches after each visit to the place. In Velasco's case, the poor horse endures the humiliation of being draped with colorful strips of cloth by the children of the family being interviewed.

And, finally, for musical inspiration, I actually listened to a darker and far more sinister track, which I obviously adore enough to use it for a comedy. If anything, this specific piece of music is still inspiring me with more gothic horror ideas for future books, and I'm not one to say no to those.

The Heart of Ameinias clocks in at 50K words and is available in e-book for 99 cents and print for $9.00. It's the first of three long novella sequels I have planned to cap off my Ghosts and Tea collection. You can go to my book page at Books2Read to purchase a copy from different online stores. Other than a painful exposure to Otterbury's extreme happiness, there are no content warnings for this book.