Moving Forward on Fashion and Fiends

So last night I finished reading the final polished manuscript of my Fashion and Fiends series of horror novels.

There are probably at least six books in the series, though I totally believe the possibilities of the universe I have created are endless.

Recovery is the third novel in the Fashion and Fiends series. My friend Gayle and I are publishing the series as part of our little boutique “press,” Parisian Phoenix Publishing.

I copyrighted all three novels that are print ready tonight. It’s been… oh… 25 years since I copyrighted last. I was surprised to see it’s now $45 versus the $20 it was in the 1990s. And you can upload everything electronically now.

But interestingly enough, the Library of Congress website doesn’t appear to have changed at all since those days since the interface looks like this:

So to recap:

  • The name Fashion and Fiends refers to the mix of the high fashion world and the supernatural.
  • The first book, Manipulations, follows a 400-year-old witch as he tries to absorb a supermodel’s water magick in hopes of becoming an immortal being. The story mimics the realities of domestic violence, and the fantastically successful supermodel actually fights her own insecurities and body image issues.
  • The second book, Courting Apparitions, is a ghost story. The subtext explores grief, depression and impotence and their effects on human relationships.
  • The third book, Recovery, blends some supernatural craziness with sex and romance, while also diving deep into medicine, the military, and the African landscape. The subtext here looks at the ramifications of French colonialism and explores the complexities of how to blend Islam, multiculturalism and race in the modern environment. And a certain character comes face to face with the monster of Ghoubet.

But when I finished the third manuscript, I was shocked to see some of the rather dramatic things I thought happened in the novel Absolution happening in Recovery. One of my favorite characters was left in serious trouble. So, I had that special author distress where you know you need to save him.

But here lies the kicker— the next manuscript in the series no longer exists except for two large sections of the final two chapters.

So now I have to sit down and write.

Wish me luck.

PS— Tomorrow is Étienne d’Amille’s birthday. He is the fashion magnate in the series. He will be 62. Where does the time go?

Leaving this week… for Paris, Djibouti and Somalia

Americans don’t usually travel to Djibouti or Somalia. The last time we went, the airline check-in agent said people don’t usually board planes for the Horn of Africa unless they have a crew cut and camo pants.

I am almost ready for my upcoming trip to East Africa.

Today there was a suicide bombing in a restaurant near the presidential palace in Mogadishu.

I leave for Mogadishu soon.

Exciting times.

People don’t understand my fascination with East Africa. And I must admit I am somewhat trepidatious to visit Mogadishu, but it’s something I want. I believe it’s a special place and significant in the political landscape. I believe that to understand the impact of French colonization on the Horn of Africa, it’s important to understand the non-colonized regions of the Horn.

Djibouti is a traditional crossroads, ethically comprised of Issa Somali and Afar in addition to many other people, from Arab to European descent. So I’m curious to see how Somalia compares to Djibouti.

Maybe it’s crazy, but I am very excited to visit Djibouti for the second time and Somalia for the first.

En route: Preparations for Djibouti

The preparations for a voyage are perhaps as much of the “experience” of a trip as the actual travel. Passport photos, visa applications, daydreams of what itinerary you might want and packing a suitcase frame the essence of what the trip will be.

My traveling companion, M, whom I’m sure you’ll hear more about later, he reads the tourism guides, speaks the languages and books the hotels and modes of travel. I do silly things like fuss over shoes, shop for a new journal, and read books.

Thank goodness I got my new 2×2 photos when I did. The same day I visited the local CVS (poor new employee couldn’t load the batteries in the camera, use a memory card or figure out the photo machine— the store manager had to do it himself) I fell walking the kids home from school and took a chunk out of my chin that probably should have received stitches. The last of that scab fell off last night.

When M and I started planning this trip, he originally considered Mauritania. I took Nina Sovich’s new book, To the Moon and Timbuktu, from the college library (on my husband’s card). In the book, Sobich follows her father’s use of Timbuktu as a reference during her childhood and her own appreciation of Mary Kingsley’s Travels in West Africa to embark on her own journey in the region. She travels alone, in part to soothe her own marital restless and as homage to her Swedish mother who loved the African continent.

I read Kingsley myself 20 years ago in college. I still have the book and may reread it before embarking on my adventure, though we are no longer visiting Mauritania. Many of our destinations are decided by the availability of seats on airplanes and Djibouti proved logistically more feasible. This greatly excites me as I have wanted to see Djibouti for almost four years.

M thinks I’m crazy. It’s beautiful country, with a shortage of water, a small piece of land (the size of Massachusetts) carved out by the French colonial empire. As I type this, it’s 10 p.m. and 90 degrees. The French have abandoned Camp Lemonnier and the majority of their FFDj presence to the Americans, who are there to fight terrorism in the Middle East. Between piracy, terrorism and even cyber security, Djibouti’s strategic location on the horn of Africa has made it a garrison town for Western Europe, the United States and even the Japanese.

I can list many reasons why visiting Djibouti appeals to me. It received its independence from France in 1977, which means this country is younger than I am. It’s an artificial/crossroads kind of country. It didn’t develop organically but due to western involvement. It once served as the largest overseas French military operation. After the loss of the Algerian colony, while France still conscripted its young men into national service, thousands of French men spent a year here. The geography is supposed to be some of the most unique and breathtaking terrain (and most inhospitable but yet inhabited) in the world.

My husband thinks I’m crazy. Like Sovich’s spouse he doesn’t share my enthusiasm for the bizarre. My daughter has started her own travel memoirs and says some day she will visit Africa. I hope she does.

One month from today, I will board a plane for Paris and thus will begin my travels in East Africa.

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