Original interview by DZC – find it @!interview-with-yves-fey/c17qi


Tell us about your mystery. What’s it about and why did you write it?

Floats the Dark Shadow is set in Belle Époque Paris in 1897—about 10 years after the Eiffel Tower went up. It was a golden age—but I show more of its dark and decadent side. My American heroine, Theodora Faraday, has had some rough years, but she’s still an innocent abroad. Theo’s living her dream, discovering herself as an artist in what was then the most exciting city in the world. She’s fallen in love with her cousin, one of a group of poets called the Revenants. The dream becomes a nightmare when children she knows vanish and are found murdered. Theo believes a sleazy Satanist committed the crimes. My detective, Michel Devaux, thinks one of the Revenants is the murderer. Theo and Michel first work at odds and then finally together to capture the villain, who believes he’s the reincarnation of Gilles de Rais, once Joan of Arc’s lieutenant and later the most prolific and evil serial killer in French history.


How did you come up with the title for your mystery?

I looked through French poetry of the era, especially Baudelaire and Rimbaud, hoping to find something evocative, and found Baudelaire’s A Madrigal of Sorrow.
The stanza I used reads:
When your heart is in horror lost
And over your present like a Ghost
Floats the dark shadow of the past.
It was perfect for my villain who believes he is possessed.

And is the villain possessed?

I tried to write the book so that readers who like paranormal thrillers would have enough validation from the story to think of him that way, but I made certain that the evidence and the psychological profile were all there and valid for lovers of pure mystery. My detective is at first scornful, then very uncomfortable with the mentions of the occult. He finds his own concrete answers. Theo is fascinated by the occult, but more as a game. She’s deeply disturbed when her friend Carmine’s Tarot readings come true. She becomes a believer, but not someone who will follow that path, even though she also shares a vision with Yeats and two leaders of the Golden Dawn who were living in Paris then. That mystical vision is inspired by Yeats’ descriptions of his experiences in the realm of the occult. Yeats was a practicing magician (much to the horror of most academics, who want that part of his work to just go away).

How important do you think villains are in a story?

You could probably write a family story with no real villains, just interesting, flawed humans. But—while you’d have a lot of readers who loved that approach, I probably wouldn’t be one of them. I really love a good old-fashioned conflict between good and evil. But those evil villains are often more interesting when they are also flawed humans. I think my Gilles is a flawed human, though what he does is utterly evil. And an over-the-top villain, one you love to hate can be very cathartic and fun.


Do you believe in the paranormal?

Yes. There are certainly a multitude of scam artists out there, but I have a number of friends who have some psychic ability. But no I know one can control it at all. Common sense probably does as well or better for finding answers, but it’s not as much fun and it’s not as thought provoking and poetic as using the Tarot or the I Ching. I have no extraordinary ability. Aside from thinking the same thing at the same time as my husband, with no obvious clue, I’ve only had a couple of experiences that were striking. One was throwing the I Ching. I did it several times, rephrasing the question because I didn’t like the answers. It finally had a snit fit. My next fortune told me that if I didn’t stop trying to force the answer I wanted, it would start lying. The other I blogged on my website. Twice, several years apart, I visited the room where Van Gogh died. Both times I felt a terrible grief descend on me. It was not a sadness welling from within because Van Gogh is a favorite artist and had such an unacknowledged life. It was definitely a sensation that descended on me as I climbed the stairs and entered the room, a weight—the way emotion can be heavy, and a pervasive gloom. The sensation departed once I left that room. But it did not seem to be a ghost. I believe it was what I’ve learned is called an imprint, a powerful emotion that lingers.

Have you written any other books? Did you use the occult in them?

I used to write steamy historical romance, but switched to mystery because my sensibility was really too dark for that genre. But I’m proud of them and I’m going to release them again under my name, Gayle Feyrer, and own imprint of Tygerbright Press. The Prince of Cups is set in Florence during the conflict between Savonarola and the Borgias. Next I did my take on the legend of Robin Hood, with Marian acting as a spy for Eleanor of Acquitaine and recruiting him. That was published as The Thief’s Mistress, but I’ll rename it to Marian. As Taylor Chase, I wrote two dark romances set in brash and bawdy Elizabethan England, Heart of Deception and Heart of Night. They all had some touch of the paranormal. I love the Tarot and it figures importantly in the first book. My Robin, while very human, also has a spiritual, psychic link with Sherwood, a touch of magic. One of the characters in the Elizabethan romances is a psychic.


Will you continue to use the occult in this mystery series?

There will only be a little of it in the next book, which is set during the political upheaval of the Dreyfus Affair, but there will be a thread woven through. And the occult element will return more strongly in the third book. The Golden Dawn has a fascinating history and I hope to continue to link up with it. One of my characters, Carmine, is studying Tarot with Mina Mathers, and I think another woman will also join. She is a little bit psychic and I believe she’ll become a perfumer, creating perfumes based on what she senses from the people who come to her shop.

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