Today’s weird day

Today is both Valentine’s Day for you lovers and Ash Wednesday for you Latins. Love and death locked in a strange embrace, which is why it is the official release date for The Visconti Devils! (In reality, the book is already out, and has been since late January.) Michael and Maggie make their trip to Milan during Carnevale, which this year would be right now…because in Milan, for some strange reason, Carnevale does not end with Ash Wednesday, but with the first Saturday of Lent! How can you be partying and doing penance at the same time?!

Amazon is having some issues with the paperback, which my publisher has been trying valiantly to correct. It is showing as only available from third-party sellers and on Kindle. So, if you are wanting a paperback copy, please either order it from one of the third-party sellers (and I have no idea who these people are) or from Barnes & Noble, which does not appear to be having any issues that I can see. It is also available as an e-book on both sites.

Next up: Heaven’s Irregulars, a new adventure starring Michael and Maggie’s son Gabriel. It’s a stand-alone story, and you don’t have to read The Visconti Devils first, but your enjoyment will probably be enhanced if you do. Or you could always go back and read it afterwards.

Psst…the prologue to Heaven’s Irregulars appears as a special “sneak preview” at the end of The Visconti Devils.

An aging warrior called out of retirement.

A gentle giant of extraordinary courage.

Eleven brothers seeking redemption.

Europe is in flames, presided over by an ancient evil bent on destruction, death and damnation.

Looks like a job for Heaven’s Irregulars.

Sterling Library versus the Cathedral of Learning

I am not a student of architecture – except that I like to look at ornate old buildings, and I have a particular fondness for Gothic architecture – but my first thought, when I moved to Pittsburgh and saw the University of Pittsburgh’s “Cathedral of Learning” (yes, that is the actual name of it), I thought, Oh, look, it’s Sterling Library on steroids.

Sterling Library at Yale

The Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh

Inside Sterling – a cathedral of books.

Inside CoL – a large, dark space.

Inside Sterling – books! Lights! Places to sit and read!

The CoL has classrooms, some of which are decorated in the styles of various nationalities, but they are locked during the weekends. And I think it is only the classrooms on the first couple of floors. There are a LOT of classrooms in what is essentially a Gothic skyscraper.

Why don’t they make buildings like this any more?

 

A Day on the Yale Campus

The first half of The Visconti Devils takes place in New Haven, Connecticut. Michael LeClaire works at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. I spent a weekend back in 2004, when I was writing the book, to tour the Beinecke and the Yale campus as I worked on the story. With my trusty but cheap camera in hand, I shot up 5 rolls of film – yes, it was that long ago – in those 2 days. (That is also why Maggie is changing the rolls of film in her camera when they go to Milan – that was what we did back then.)

I will be your tour guide. Please make a neat queue and try to keep up!

And here I am, in front of the Beinecke. There was a mess of construction going on outside, which did not make for good photo-taking.

Another view of the Beinecke. The Yale campus is chock-full of impressive Gothic architecture, and then we get…this.

Interior of the Beinecke. My cheap camera was not quite up to the task at hand. I had been told that the white marble panes – those squares you see at the top of the stairs – glowed amber when the sun shone through them. I visited in July, and it was quite sunny, but they did not appear to be glowing amber to me. I asked the gentleman at the front desk about it. Oh, he said, it really looks more amber and glowing on a sunny winter day. Oh, well, I guess I shall have to use my imagination.

Inside the Beinecke again, still dark. I guess you don’t have to worry about the books’ fading.

Sterling Library. Not far from the Beinecke, and far more impressive – to me, anyway. Too bad I couldn’t have Michael working at this library – it is definitely more his style. But the Cary-Yale Visconti tarocchi deck is in the Beinecke, so that’s where he got stuck.

The University of Pittsburgh has a building called the Cathedral of Learning that looks like the Sterling on steroids. I shall have to do a comparison post later on.

The Payne Whitney Gymnasium. This is where Michael goes to practice his fencing. Another Gothic skyscraper, for lack of a better term.

Over the doorway of the Payne Whitney. The Yale campus is full of gargoyles and intricate architectural details. Everywhere you look up, or about, you find something new and interesting.

Egyptian Revival gate to the Grove Street Cemetery.

“I saw him headed up Grove Street with a very long duffel bag. Naturally, I asked what was in it.”

“Have you been stalking him? You seem to ‘just run into him’ an awful lot. And lying in wait for someone outside the cemetery is not very nice. You could scare the crap out of somebody.”

“I have not been stalking him, nor was I ‘lying in wait outside the cemetery.’ You’re a fine one to talk. Confess, Maggie. How many times have you seen him since last Saturday?”

If one leaves the Beinecke, and heads up Grove Street to the gymnasium, one will pass this gate, of course.

A scene inside the Grove Street Cemetery, not because it has anything to do with the story – just because I like to photograph old cemeteries.

A little dragon-slaying at Yale.

A squirrel hits the jackpot – pizza. Not to be confused with muscle squirrels of Philadelphia.

I’ll conclude our tour with a moody photo of some Gothic windows. Thanks for coming, and watch your step!

The Art of The Visconti Devils

The Visconti Devils was inspired by a real-life art mystery – why is the Devil missing from every one of the surviving Visconti tarocchi decks?

Let’s take a tour of the artworks that factor into The Visconti Devils.

We’ll start with the back cover.

“Female Knight of Swords” from the Cary-Yale Visconti tarot. This card is from one of the three Visconti tarocchi in existence. This deck is at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library on the Yale campus and is stored in an archive – it is not out on public display. The Cary-Yale deck is unusual, in that it has both male and female knights and pages.

“Death” card from the same deck.

Vanessa carefully perused the series of Dürer’s woodcuts depicting the Apocalypse. One picture in particular caught her eye. “St. Michael Fighting the Dragon,” she read the caption aloud. She studied the picture for a moment and then said, “Whoa!” Looking up, she called, “Aunt Maggie!” Getting no response, Vanessa stuck her finger in the book to hold her place, shut the book on it, and ran down the hall, shouting, “Aunt Maggie!”’

“What is it?” Maggie asked, not looking up from her drafting table.

Vanessa came to stand beside her and flipped the book open. “Look at this, Aunt Maggie!” She pointed to the angel in the top right corner of the woodcut, brandishing a sword and shield. “This angel looks like Dr. LeClaire!”

With her heart still pounding, she reached out to touch the book that lay open on the bed beside her. She propped herself up on one elbow and looked down at the woodcut depicting the Beast of the Apocalypse, each of his seven ugly heads sporting a crown, menacing the Virgin Mary. Maggie slammed the book shut and turned off the lamp before flopping back down on the bed. “I don’t believe in the devil,” she muttered. “I’m only going to dream of beautiful things…like angels.”

“Hey, listen to this, Michael. There’s a church in Florence—” Maggie tried to sound out the name slowly. “—the Santissima Annunziata—that’s supposed to house a painting of the Virgin Mary that was painted by an angel. What do you think of that?”

“Here we go,” Michael said, stopping in front of another painting. “‘Assumption of the Magdalen’ by d’Oggiono.”

Maggie stopped in her tracks and pursed her lips. “Yeah, my namesake has to be the naked woman. And why are her hands and arms so big?”

“She sort of looks like you, though—in the face, I mean,” Michael added quickly when he saw how Maggie was looking at him.

“Though, actually, the painting I think looks most like you isn’t here—it’s in the Uffizi.”

“Oh? And which one is that?”

“You’re familiar with Botticelli’s ‘La Primavera’?”

“Of course. That’s one of my favorites.”

“The Three Graces—you’re a dead ringer for the one on the far left. Except that your hair is redder, of course.”

Maggie smiled. “She’s the prettiest one.”

“Exactly.”

Maggie smiled shyly back at him before turning away once more and moving to the next painting, another by d’Oggiono, depicting three Archangels surrounding the devil, who was pitching headfirst into a hole. “This must be your namesake,” she said, pointing to the angel who hovered over the devil, brandishing a sword. “But I can’t say you look anything like him, though. Why is the devil the only one here who looks like a guy? Why do they tend to make angels look feminine? Shouldn’t they look masculine instead? I mean, Michael, Raphael, Gabriel—who’s the fourth one?”

“Uriel.”

Maggie moved around the room until she came to a painting of a reclining Venus, obviously asleep, or pretending to be, with a small Cupid in the foreground and two satyrs who appeared to be pestering her. Maggie stopped and stared at the painting, a frown creasing her forehead as she regarded the satyrs. Sheesh, they’re ugly, she thought. That one looks like a Neanderthal. She looked over at Venus, who was very pale-skinned and amply fleshed. Mary Magdalene in that other painting may have had my face, but this Venus has my figure. Well, maybe not the arms and legs so much. Too bad this isn’t considered the epitome of beauty nowadays.

And here’s a bonus – another from Dürer’s Apocalypse series, “The Angel with the Key to the Bottomless Pit,” which is going to be the frontispiece to Heavens’ Irregulars, a new adventure featuring Michael and Maggie’s son Gabriel. Stay tuned!

Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471 – 1528), The Angel with the Key to the Bottomless Pit, 1498, woodcut on laid paper, Patrons’ Permanent Fund and Print Purchase Fund (Horace Gallatin and Lessing J. Rosenwald) 2008.109.16

All quotes from The Visconti Devils (c) 2006 by Ria Dimitra

VISCONTI DEVILS update

It’s getting closer! Release date is 14 February 2018! Note that this year that day is both St. Valentine’s day and Ash Wednesday! (I’m Byzantine, and we don’t have “Ash Wednesday” – it’s a Latin thing.)

Check out my “Media Room” for a Press Release, which is available as a .pdf you can download.

Also available now in the “Media Room” is a .pdf of book club questions for The Visconti Devils which you can download and print.

Book reviewer/bloggers, please contact me for an advance reading copy. Galleys should be available soon.

SELENA’S REQUIEM now available on Amazon Kindle!

Selena’s Requiem, with new cover art by Consuelo Parra, is now available on Amazon Kindle!

I now have all three of my vampire romances available as Kindle e-books. Next month, look for the re-release of The Visconti Devils!

And don’t forget to enter my giveaway on Goodreads for one of the few remaining paperback copies of Fiend Angelical, along with a pair of my handcrafted earrings (ends 31 January 2018). This will probably be my last Goodreads giveaway, as they have just changed their giveaways from being free to charging $119+ to run. I’ll be looking for other ways to run some new giveaways, so keep checking back here for updates.

THE BLOOD WALTZ now available on Amazon Kindle!

At last! The Blood Waltz is now available as an e-book on Amazon Kindle! With new cover art by Consuelo Parra which suits the book much better. The old cover was pretty cheesy – I remember at the time being thankful they didn’t give me some dorky-looking guy on the front. Now I get to choose my own cover artists. Just one of the perks of self-publishing!

Selena’s Requiem will follow shortly, also with a new cover. My goal is to have all my titles out in e-book format this year. I don’t care for the electronic format myself, but I understand a lot of people do. I much prefer curling up in a chair with a book with actual pages. Call me old-fashioned, but some things never go out of style.

THE VISCONTI DEVILS re-release!

The Visconti Devils is being re-released 14 February 2018 (which is both St. Valentine’s Day AND Ash Wednesday this year!) as a trade paperback from Aventine Press AND as an e-book from Amazon Kindle!

It will have the same fantastic cover art by Christine Griffin (see above) but will include a bonus at the end – a sneak preview of my new novel for 2018, Heaven’s Irregulars, which will be out around late March/early April.

Heaven’s Irregulars takes place 15 years after Devils, and is about Michael and Maggie’s son Gabriel. It will be my first fantasy/non-romance. Check back here for updates, including excerpts and first look at cover art!

I will be running giveaways on Goodreads for both books, and the lucky winners will also receive a pair of my handcrafted earrings from my “Immortal Romance” collection from my Etsy shop.

Check back here often – I will be posting updates on The Visconti Devils and a list of questions for book clubs!

Follow me on Twitter, too!

This is going to be an ass-kicking 2018!

Fiend Angelical now available as an ebook!

All right, I’m finally getting round to going digital – 2018 will be the year to see all my novels in ebook format! I’m starting a little early – it’s still 2017, after all – and releasing Fiend Angelical first. It’s available on Amazon.

I’ll be releasing the others in the coming months, so check back here for updates!

The Visconti Devils will be also be re-released, as both a trade paperback and ebook. Then look for my new novel this summer – Heaven’s Irregulars, the follow-up to The Visconti Devils. You heard it here first:

It’s been 15 years since Michael LeClaire defeated the Devil in a swordfight high above the rooftops of Milan. Since then, he’s been content to lead a quiet life in New Haven with his wife Maggie and their son Gabriel.

But Gabriel is no ordinary teen. When he saves a bus full of passengers in Aachen from a terrorist attack, he finds himself pursued by both sides in a new Crusade for the soul of Europe. Does he have what it takes to face down the Prince of Darkness?