Gallery: Nightshade's Emporium

RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2024

click all images for a closer look

Writing humor is such a trip (well, duh), but it's also a crapshoot since my kind of humor can be a little too dark for some people. Gallows humor, they call it. I call it dry or deadpan humor along the lines of Blackadder, for instance. And from a recent blog post, I pointed to Sister Michael from Derry Girls. And when the subject of the book is death, it gets even trickier, so I sincerely hope readers can find both a fun escape as well as comfort in the story. 

I wanted to do my own take on Greek Mythology, and since I've read so many good books revolving around the better-known "generation" of immortals headed by Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades, I wanted to go back a bit and play with the first generation of deities according to Hesiod's Theogony. And seeing as how there are sooooo many deities listed under that heading, I focused on the ones that fascinated me the most -- not to mention gave me some pretty fun ideas on their dynamics as a family. 

The moodboard above basically just scratches the surface of everything going on in the book. However, I want to zero in on a few details. The first one is the physical appearance of Alma, Viktor, and Narcisse. Throughout the book, there's an emphasis on them looking like supermodels who make mortals lust after them and (in Viktor's case) be terrified of them without understanding why. I really dig the idea of a catwalk model talking in a monotone, be completely expressionless, and hold people psychologically captive with their ancient and primeval powers. 

Having Alma, for instance, be the cold, retribution-seeking Nemesis while looking like a supermodel gave me a good laugh. Same with Viktor and Narcisse. It's no accident that Barbara (Mrs. Nightshade or Nyx, primordial deity of night) is always shown reading high fashion magazines during lulls in the shop. 

Another significant element in the book is the presence of ephemera, which symbolizes not just the brevity and delicacy of a person's time on earth, but also the deeper and more precious workings deep down. I have a lot to say about this in the story, and it was through the use of ephemera that I was able to reflect on -- and come to terms with -- life, death, and immortality following my youngest nephew's death.

And for the final visual inspiration, I latched on to this amazing piece by Lee Madgwick. It was something I actually came across at my work, and I just had to take pictures of it so I could do an online search later for more info. It ended up being my primary inspiration for the Nightshade mansion in Chaos, which includes the cypresses ringing the structure in a way as to suggest two hands cradling it. In fact, the image is called "Embrace", and I absolutely love it. In the book, though, the mansion is a great deal more elaborate and gothic, but the starkness of its presence in a liminal world was the main point I was after. 

I'd talk more about what's in the moodboard, but I'll just rattle off the images included in the banner. The top left image is an artist's rendering of Nyx (the artist is Rene Gross). The bottom left image is a Medieval rendering of the Moirai, or the Fates. In the book, they're referred to as "the triplets". The middle image is a male model on the catwalk for Alexander McQueen's 2018 menswear show. Seriously, that lovely fellow is Viktor in the flesh, including the quasi-Victorian hairstyle. *chef's kiss* The bottom right is an example of a Victorian ephemera, and the top right is the inspiration for the Nightshade mansion.

The musical inspiration ran the gamut. I listened repeatedly to several songs that helped feed the energy of the story and keep the humor alive (with an occasional break for those more serious and reflective moments). So here's one of them, and it's more representative of the romantic dynamic between Viktor and Myles. 

I ended the book with the possibility of a sequel of sorts that'll focus on Narcisse. That said, it can still stand on its own, and a sequel will happen should I get inspired enough to move forward with it. 

Nightshade's Emporium is available in e-book for 99 cents and in print for $9.00. Go here for the book page and the list of online stores for your copy.