Hi guys, today we welcome debut author Paul Comeau amd his upcoming debut release More Things In Heaven and Earth, we have a wonderful guest post from Paul as he introduces himself and his first release, we also have a great excerpt so you can check out More Things In Heaven and Earth, so guys check out the post and enjoy! ❤ ~Pixie~
More Things In Heaven and Earth
When young Danny Crawford’s father and a priest conspire to subject him to conversion therapy, Danny only sees one way out. But little does Danny know he’ll soon have a sentinel watching from the darkness, a guardian angel in the most unlikely form imaginable.
Damien, a vampire, is inexplicably moved by Danny’s plight. He takes it upon himself to make sure Danny’s father and the priest can never hurt him again, giving Danny a chance at a normal life. As Danny grows up, Damien struggles to keep the boy—and later the young man—from harm. He does not dare go any further, no matter how much he wants to. To do so would ruin everything he’s tried to do for Danny. He doesn’t realize that as Danny embarks on a successful modeling career and begins dating, Danny feels empty, longing for something—or someone—just beyond his reach: a shadow, a presence he despairingly believes forever lost to him.
When brutality and violence threaten Danny again, Damien must make a decision—risk revealing himself to Danny, or leave Danny to his fate.
Hello, everyone. I’m Paul Comeau and I’m delighted to meet you all, at MM Good Book Reviews if not in person. More Things in Heaven and Earth has been a joy and a challenge to write. As my bio indicates, I taught high school English language and literature for thirty-two years, during which time I wrote and had published several academic papers on various authors’ works and a book-length study of the fiction of Canadian writer Margaret Laurence. Working so closely with other writers’ words and stories, I grew increasingly to feel I might be able to do something of my own in the realm of fiction. Academic writing can be somewhat stilted, precise, and imaginatively restricting, at least I found it so. Once I was free of lesson preps and the endless marking that is the lot of a conscientious English teacher, I thought to try my hand at writing fiction. More Things is the product of that first attempt.
I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t composing scenes and scenarios in my head, but I wrote my very first short story when I was about ten or eleven, and by short I mean extremely short; it was all of seven hundred words long, hardly War and Peace, but I was pretty proud of myself that I had written that much. It was about an old, abandoned haunted house in which could be heard, wait for it, eerie sounds like disembodied creaks and footsteps and moans, and of course the walls dripped blood. I mean, why wouldn’t they? If I remember correctly, a skeletal hand even came up through the floor, pulling the main character down to God knows where. (All very Faustian, though I’d never heard of Faust at the time.) I say main character, but in truth there was only one, a cardboard cutout of vague description and no internal life whatsoever. How embarrassing! Even more embarrassing that I passed it around to one or two friends and relatives! I was also into sketching and painting at the time, so the cover was a beautifully drawn derelict house with broken shutters each hanging by a single hinge and a gravestone in the overgrown front yard. Don’t ask me why or how it got there! My most favourite thing to draw, however, was the face of a vampire with slicked-back hair and prominent fangs, reflective of the various vampires I’d seen portrayed in TV movies. Does anybody remember the cheesy 1960s vampire soap, Dark Shadows? I’d race home from school to catch it. I also used to stay up late Friday nights to watch the black and white horror classics starring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Lon Chaney junior, among others. Okay, I get it, I’m old!
Over the years, I’ve read every vampire book I could get my hands on, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. When it came to writing More Things, the challenge was how to make my vampire unique, knowing that on one level it would be pretty much impossible. So I asked myself, apart from vampires, what do I know best? Shakespeare! Shakespeare’s plays had not only been an integral part of the curriculum I taught for so many years, but had also been my favorite thing to teach, particularly Hamlet, Macbeth, and Othello. After thirty-two years, I had those plays virtually memorized. Then why not have a vampire who is prone to quoting Shakespeare? I asked myself. Good idea, my self answered.
What else do I know about? I asked next. Teenagers and teenage angst in high school! Almost every school year I’d have in one or more of my classes students (both male and female) who were struggling with their sexual identity while striving for a genuine sense of acceptance and belonging. Those were the students I sought to make feel most welcome in my classroom, so for that brief eighty minutes two or three times a week, they’d feel valued, safe, and secure. Exactly what my vampire Damien attempts to do for Danny. I’m not certain I always succeeded with my students, but I hope I was able to succeed imaginatively through Damien. Incidentally, Galaxy High in the story is modeled on the school I taught in for thirty-two years, and the play Dracula, in which Danny stars, is one of the plays I co-sponsored with the drama teacher in my first few years at the school.
In many ways, therefore, More Things in Heaven and Earth is a very personal novel for me. Damien embodies many of my own very human thoughts and feelings, as well as some of the preternatural abilities I’ve often wished I had. Isn’t that one of the attractions of the vampire genre, after all? Not sure I’d want to have to survive on blood, though! Danny is more or less an amalgam of those uncertain and questing students I mentioned above, though his situation is perhaps a tad more dramatic, at least I hope it is. I also hope you enjoy the story.
Thanks for this opportunity to chat with you.
He and Alexandra had just left the movie theater, a late showing of Interview with the Vampire, perhaps the greatest irony of all. She’d encouraged him to read the book the year before, and he’d frankly thought it a pile of shit: a couple of fag vampires and a little girl vampire who did nothing but whine and shriek. He cheered when she finally got burned to a crisp by the sun. But he was smart enough not to say as much to Alexandra, telling her instead he’d found the book “fascinating,” his go-to cop-out word. When the movie came out amid much controversy over the casting, he pretended to be eager to see it. Alexandra was crazy about Brad Pitt, who was pretty good-looking, he had to admit, if you liked girlie guys, that is, which he didn’t, just for the record. What a fucking waste of time and money, he remembered thinking as they left the theater and made their way to the car.
He’d parked it a couple of blocks from the theater to save money, and as they turned into the dark alley, something jumped him from behind. He shouted for Alexandra to run as he grappled with his attacker. He was no weakling, but no amount of twisting and straining could break that iron grip. He yelled and swore as loudly as he could while trying vainly to wriggle out of his leather jacket. If only he could turn around and face the bastard to gouge at his eyes or head-butt him, anything. But he couldn’t. He was powerless. Seconds later, clawlike fingers held his face in a vise grip and putrid breath made him want to puke. The last thing he remembered before passing out was something sharp piercing his neck. Then darkness.
The change took place over several hours, not all at once. Damien came to in the alley feeling so weak and disoriented he couldn’t stand. His body cramped excruciatingly as his internal organs writhed and constricted. He prayed for death to end his agony. His head was splitting, and the sun blinded him. He’d experienced a severe migraine once or twice before but nothing close to this. He dragged himself a few yards down the lane to what looked like an abandoned shed and sat propped against a rotting woodpile.
He couldn’t think straight! He pressed his fingertips to his temples and squeezed, as though this might help to focus his thoughts. He recalled being jumped and then something puncturing his neck—it was still sore where he rubbed it—two small holes, it felt like. He’d need a mirror to be sure. And then…. Alexandra! Holy shit, Alexandra! Was she okay? He crawled back out into the lane. Fuck, the sun was bright! He shaded his eyes and focused as best he could. No car. She must have used the spare key he’d told her about. Thank Christ! But why hadn’t she returned this morning? Did she think him dead? Or didn’t she give a shit? There’d been no police, so obviously she hadn’t reported it. Fucking bitch! His head spun as he groggily sank back into the shed and blacked out.
Thinking back, it was a miracle he’d survived at all. Jesus, he hadn’t even known what he’d become exactly, much less what he was supposed to do. He wasn’t human, at least not entirely; that much was clear. He was mesmerized by the way the dark hair on his arms and hands stood out against the pallor of his skin. Two of his teeth, canines he thought they were called, had grown more pronounced and pointed and his seemingly unquenchable thirst for blood revolted and intrigued him simultaneously. He could smell it, taste it almost, in those he passed on the streets at night while trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible. At night! That was the other thing. He had to hide from the sun, because it seared his eyeballs. Which made him what, for Christ’s sake? A goddamn vampire? How was that possible? Did such things even exist? It had to be an insane nightmare. Except he couldn’t wake up. So there he was, a walking, breathing blood vacuum. Like he’d been dropped into the cinema world of Louis and Lestat, or stepped out of it, and he hadn’t a clue what the hell was going on. Yet he’d never in his life been a victim and wasn’t about to become one now. So he took control of his unlife.
His first instinct, after realizing he could never return to his apartment and the other tenants’ prying eyes, or to his job at the Honda dealership, had been to find some place to hide. He thought about abandoned sheds, but there weren’t many, and those he happened to find were too open to the sun and definitely not to his taste. He trolled the cemetery but the eeriness of the place creeped him out. He could almost picture skeletal hands reaching up from the graves and grabbing him, like in horror films. Besides, why think in terms of hiding? He was growing stronger by the day and the whole process of stalking and killing became easier with each victim.
From his cell phone, he texted his boss and, after some uncharacteristic soul searching, his parents to say they wouldn’t be seeing him again. He then dumped Alexandra in similar fashion. He knew his parents would be hurt, especially his mum, but there wasn’t much he could do about that. And Alexandra? Watching from the shadows one night, he saw her walking arm-in-arm and laughing with some guy he didn’t recognize, so he figured she’d easily survived her emotional setback. Like he gave a shit, anyway.
The old arrogance had quickly returned, ratified by the new, sexier name he chose for himself, Damien. Fortified by this new identity and a steady cash-flow from those of his wealthier victims who still carried cash, he rented the basement suite in a Georgian-style mansion owned by a wealthy importer-exporter from Hong Kong, who needed someone to live in and keep an eye on his investment during his prolonged absences. It wasn’t ideal, but it could be made comfortably dark during the daylight hours and beat the alternatives all to hell.
He spent weeks furnishing his lair: a rich burgundy velour sofa, armchair, and matching rocker for the living room; a queen-size bed (no pretentious satin-lined-coffin bullshit for this vampire) for the master bedroom; a roll-top desk, oak bookshelves, and leather armchairs for what he laughingly called his library. (He’d never been much of a reader but figured he might as well start, now that he had endless time on his hands.) He’d paid little attention to the bathroom and less to the kitchen he’d never use. Early on, in a fit of self-pity and denial, he’d wolfed down a cheeseburger just to prove he could do it, only to be wracked by cramps almost as agonizing as those on the night he turned. The bathroom he used only to shower off the sweat, smell, and random blood spatters from his more pungent and energetic victims; and since the blood he drank was somehow assimilated into his own, bodily functions requiring the toilet were a thing of the past.
Each of his subsequent homes, including his current one, had been mirror images of this first. There was always some foreign, absentee landlord looking for a live-in tenant to fiddle the taxes by claiming the place was occupied, and Damien paid well. Money hadn’t then or since been a problem, given the unintended generosity of his upper-class victims; he’d even discovered credit cards were ridiculously easy to acquire through the mail, so over the years he’d invested wisely and spent lavishly, purchasing the latest designer clothing and every electronic gadget available, including high-powered computers. He spent hours, nights, weeks surfing the Net for answers to what he was.
His main problem was how to separate fact from fiction. The facts of which he was certain were few and basic, many coming clearer to him only with the passage of time. He learned, for example, that religious artifacts like crucifixes and holy water had no power to touch him, despite the pious beliefs of some of his more religious victims. He also learned that sunlight, though a major problem, was not completely debilitating, with heavily tinted windows, dark glasses, wide-brimmed hats, and even umbrellas in a pinch.
Nonetheless, if he awakened early, he generally remained safely indoors, blackout curtains drawn, at least until late afternoon, when the sun’s rays were less direct. He knew he needed blood to survive, though he had no lust for the so-called “feeding frenzies” of his fictional counterparts. His eyesight had grown more acute, especially at night, and his strength beyond human, but he certainly couldn’t picture himself wearing a red cape and a blue jumpsuit with a stylized S across his chest.
He was barely twenty-two when he turned and hadn’t aged a day since—that too was a fact. He couldn’t fly or levitate, though his movements, if he chose, could be incredibly swift and fluid and ultimately undetectable to the human eye, which made him the equal of some of the paperback blood drinkers he read about. Unlike them, however, he had no knowledge of any governing body or council of elders or whatever the hell group was sanctioned to establish and enforce vampire rules, so for him, there were no rules. To all intents and purposes, he was a lone wolf, a solitary killer.
Some nights, in a possessive frame of mind, he’d stand atop a local mountain and look down on the city—his city for the taking, one drop at a time. It became for him an emblem of the unlimited freedom of his existence. He wanted and needed nobody!
He certainly no longer needed the empty shell that lay cradled in his arms. With a final smirk of indifference, he propped the corpse against a dumpster and quickly checked to see the coast was clear. Not that he cared if anybody saw. He’d dispatch them too, quickly enough. The cool, crisp breeze riffled his shoulder-length hair as he looked upward to his constant companions, the indifferent stars. A beautiful night, he sighed. And the blood had been unusually satisfying. So why, at this moment in time, was he not content? Why did he feel at loose ends, that something—or was it someone?—was missing from his life.
Perhaps after two decades in the blood he was simply bored. What had his preternatural existence amounted to after all but an endless variation on a deadly theme? The more he thought about it, the more he realized that had to be the answer. He needed a change, something to offer him a greater challenge than this endless skulking around seedy bars, public parks, and deserted alleys. He grinned at the wicked idea that slowly took shape in his mind, this one an irony for the ages. Outrageous and dangerous and against all reason, precisely the sort of diversion he was looking for. Could he do it? Was it even remotely possible? Why the hell not? He was Damien! He was a vampire! He could do anything!
And that is how, in the fullness of time, Father Damien, itinerant Roman Catholic priest, was conceived and brought forth into the world. No guiding star, roving shepherds, or angelic choir heralded his nativity, albeit in the heavenly realm there could be heard an unseemly wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Paul is a proud Canadian, who has recently retired from teaching high school English and is relieved to have finally traded the drudgery of lesson prep and essay marking for the pure joy of writing fiction. He is addicted to paranormal investigator shows, horror movies, all things vampire, mystery novels, long morning walks, and jigsaw puzzles. He is blessed with a loving and supportive wife, who keeps him grounded in reality while helping him navigate the intimidating world of technology, and a daughter who understands the highs and lows of the enigmatic writing process, being herself an accomplished writer and poet. When he is not compulsively tapping the keys of his laptop, he can be found at the dining room table matching the shapes and patterns of his latest jigsaw puzzle or in the kitchen roasting, stewing, grilling, and baking. He views cooking as a creative activity, like writing fiction, with the outcome often as interesting and unexpected. He imagines his characters, plots, and dialogues in the process of doing any or all of these things.