You are invited into the glittering midnight world of the ancient. The immortal. The vampyre.
Intrigue, murder and madness welcome Captain Vincent Bantry home to the
of 1892. In the London Far East he fought opium smugglers and Manchu
warlords, but no experience prepared him for meeting young Irish occultist
Intrigue, murder and madness welcome Captain Vincent Bantry home to the
The future unfolds in the Tarot: danger, pain, struggle -- but the end of their story cannot be foretold. And what of the past? The mystery of Flynn draws Bantry into an alien, irresistible world. Instinctively, he knows Michael is different, not merely beautiful, brilliant, exotic, but unlike anyone he ever knew … and love is painful.
Soon Vince is webbed in tangles of deceit, cruelty and danger, one jump ahead of the law. He and Flynn are hunted for crimes of which they are innocent, sheltered by a Parisian vampyre house which draws their enemy like bait, with appalling consequences. And all the while Vincent is seduced by the grandeur of a midnight realm he has glimpsed and greatly desires.
Keegan paints this vampyre world on a panoramic canvas spanning centuries -- possibly the richest, strangest tale from Mel, as detailed as The Deceivers, as vastly plotted as Hellgate, with numerous twists and a delicious sting in its tail.
Novel length: 195,000 words
Rated: adult (18+; sex, violence, language)
Publication date: August, 2011
Price: $6.99 - ebook
Order from Amazon Kindle
Order from Smashwords in a wide variety of ebook formats
Order in paperback
See also the sequel novel, TWILIGHT...
MEL KEEGAN COMMENTS ON NOCTURNE
Here is a story that's been 'close to my heart' since I did the first draft, way back in the mid-1980s. It's been through four drafts since I had the idea for a 'gay vampires' opus, and the last version is most definitely the best. For two years or so, I had believed Millivres would be doing the book, but nothing has developed in that court, so ... long enough has elapsed for me to 'pull' the manuscript from submission. This one is a book 'with a history,' in more ways than one. What follows is a potted version of that history which spans almost eighteen years! I wrote the first draft in 1986, and at the time I did it as a straight (het, non-gay, whatever) book, for good reasons: I was trying to establish a career as a writer and I thought I had a helluva plot here! It *is* a helluva plot, but the fact is, it was wasted utterly as a straight book. It didn't, and couldn't, come to life until it was given the Mel Keegan treatment. I'll leave it to you to figure out what the non-gay version was like and how it was plotted, but I'll give you these clues: all the characters in the '86 draft are still in the current version ... they've just been rearranged in the FOUR subsequent drafts!
A second version of this story was done in 1991, and it was gay; it was extensively "beta read" at the time, by boat-loads of people, and well received ... but I was never happy with it, because parts of it were terminally underdeveloped, and it was already 160,000 words, while GMP (with whom I was on-contract for both EQUINOX and FORTUNES OF WAR at the time) couldn't even handle that narrative, let alone the 225,000 words it was trying to be. So I never went any further with the gay-beta version, well-received though it may have been
Fast-forward through ten years, and suddenly I'm with Millivres! I approached my then-editor with the book, and he didn't have a problem with the 205,000 word third draft, which had, along the way, undergone a title change. It was now called NOCTURNE, which is the definition given to a piece of music 'sonically depicting' the night. I showed the third draft to Millivres in August 2002, and never received any firm answer regarding publication or scheduling. At one point the editor faxed me that he'd reserved a berth for me in the mid-2003 list, but I heard nothing back, and that date came and went. I faxed in January '03, offering Millivres the book through Christmas '03. *That* date came and went! And there was the cut-off line for my pride, if not my patience. I faxed again, informing Millivres NOCTURNE was withdrawn, and would be issued via my other gay-fiction outlet.
At the time of this writing, it's January 2004, and Millivres's continuing silence in response to the news regarding NOCTURNE is being read, by all of us here, as consent to go ahead. And here we are!
The version of NOCTURNE that is going into print on January 27 is 'tightened' from 205k to around 200k, to bring it into line with the current Keegan style, and I'm thrilled with the cover.
The British Empire, the French Camague, The Vet from Peking, The Vamp from Ireland, the Surgeon from Wales, The Singer from Milan, the Immortal from Iberia and the Doctor from Zambia...!
You're probably thinking that the research for this novel was close to a full-time job -- and you'd be right! The good thing is, it was all done for the first version (which wasn't even a gay draft; see above, in the potted-history of this piece of work), so the subsequent drafts (first gay version, c.1991; vastly reworked in '99 for Millivres; and tightened into the DreamCraft final draft at New Year, 03/04) were easy (or easy by comparison.)
I have vivid memories of researching NOCTURNE ... I spent a lot of time pouring over books: the history of art, music, Ireland, Europe, the British Empire, and Queen Victoria's armies in India and China. In one early set of notes, Vince Bantry was coming home from India, not China. I changed this detail on a whim, because I have a greater affinity for China, and I know a heck of a lot more about Taoist magic than about any form of occultism from the Subcontinent (is there a form of occultism from India that isn't bound up with, or based on, one of the religious forms??)
A couple of the characters mentioned in NOCTURNE are actually real human beings of the era: Helena Blavatsky (who features in one scene with a speaking part); Eliphas Levi, and obviously the writer and social reformist, George Bernard Shaw, (no relation to either Robert or Martin), and Oscar Wilde were real individuals. But they form only small facets of the background of the era.
The 1890s was a very fascinating time, where the surface morality of England was a kind of scab over a festering wound of cruelty, neglect and downright immorality. On the surface, adultery was condemned and if you happened to be gay, you were headed for a prison cell ... two inches under the surface, brothels prospered, and some of them were full of *very* young kids who should never have been within a mile of these places. In NOCTURNE, I've tried not to gloss over anything, but I also haven't glamorized the dark side of London and Paris. I tried to depict every 'face' the city could put on, faithfully.
To get a feel for the era, you could do a lot worse than run some movies set in the 1890s. Filmmakers have been depicting the era accurately for as long as movies have existed. The very best depictions I know of are MURDER BY DECREE (Sherlock Holmes solves the riddle of Jack the Ripper), and the JACK THE RIPPER miniseries done about 15 years ago, where Michael Caine solves the riddle, and isn't even Sherlock Holmes. There's also the late-1980s HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (Ian Richardson), which was very well done; and if you're curious about the British presence in the Far East, run FIFTY-FIVE DAYS AT PEKING (crudely synopsized as Charlton Heston, bless him, wins the Boxer Rebellion).
My favorite part of NOCTURNE is the biographical chapter in the middle: a man's life in 10,000 words, spanning four centuries of adventure, misadventure, love, loss, drama, desperation, the works. This is the bit where I, as a writer, get to jump in with both feet and let the fantasy roll ... this was also the part where the research consumed my spare time for about five weeks, back in 1986. All of the names I'm dropping (Caravaggio, Titian, David, Palestrina, Handel, Mozart), are obviously historical figures. If you don't recognize them, pick up an Encyclopaedia. It was massive fun to whisk my vampyre through the Europe of the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth Centuries.
But 95% of the action takes place in the world of 1892-1893, and I strove to get it right. I was nipping and tucking the research all along the way. For example: the country in East Africa which is now called Zimbabwe used to be called Rhodesia. But not in 1892! What in the world was it called prior to inheriting its middle-period name from a Brit explorer? Turns out, it was called Zambia. Another example: if you hailed a taxi-cab on the street in Vince Bantry's day, it would he horse-drawn, and what was it called? If it had four wheels and you called it a hansom cab, you'd be wrong, because a hansom had *two* wheels only! (And the spelling of 'hansom' is correct ... there's no 'd' in that word). Research questions to be answered: when did telephones become common, when were houses plumbed for gaslight ... what the (bleep) is a gasmantle, what fiction was contemporary in '92 ...? Suffice to say, it was quite a job to get it all right and movies won't help much! But if you enjoy reconstructing a past age, it can be very gratifying.
The geography of NOCTURNE was a major challenge, and I admit, a large part of it was done from maps. But I was lucky enough to be able to draw on the real-life reminiscences of an old friend who, looooong ago, visited the Camargue and was able to describe it as it would have been a good half-century ago. I'm playing a hunch that little changed beteen the 1890s and the 1950s, and the Camargue as reconstructed by me for this novel is based on those real-life reminiscences.
The book's Languages were another challenge! Most characters in the novel are English, but some are French, Italian, one is nominally a Spaniard. I tried to stay away from putting too much into French and Italian, because nothing annoys me, personally, more than being confronted by a ream of dialog I don't understand, because I just plain, flat-out, don't speak a third or fourth language. There are snippets of French, Italian and Latin in the book, but not enough to be annoying, I guarantee. However, I had vast fun in designing the way the opera singer from Milan speaks English. Luigi Scozza turned out to be one of the best characters in NOCTURNE, and his speech patterns were both a challenge, and a load of fun.
The previous edition:
This mobile friendly version of MEL KEEGAN ONLINE created and posted by webmaster JADE.