Several of the reviewers who read Deadly Curiosities commented that the first book didn’t feel like a first book. Instead, they said it seemed as if the characters and setting was already lived-in, as if they were coming in to the middle of an established universe.
They were. I’ve been writing short stories in the Deadly Curiosities universe now for several years, both the modern setting you’ll see in the book, and settings in the 1500s and 1700s, other times and other places that give readers insight into the background of Sorren, the story’s nearly 600 year-old vampire.
If you want to know what Sorren and the Alliance were up to before Cassidy’s time, here’s a brief recap.
Sorren was brought across as a vampire in 1465. He was “the best jewel thief in Belgium” until he botched a job and nearly got caught by the night guard. As he was hiding in a cellar, certain to be caught and dragged off to a dungeon, a stranger emerged from the shadows and offered him a way out. That stranger was his maker, Alard. Alard was already part of a nascent project between immortals and mortals to get dangerous magical objects off the market, the Alliance.
In 1565, Alard introduces Sorren to his first job for the Alliance, fighting a demon in Antwerp. Alard also introduces Sorren to his human partner, Carel, and Carel’s son Dietger, who run an antique shop (Vanities) that gets bad items off the market. Later on, Sorren teams up with Dietger on several more adventures in and around Antwerp. (Find the details in the short stories “Vanities,” “Wild Hunt,” and “Dark Legacy” on Kindle, Kobo and Nook. “Vanities” also appeared in the anthology, “The Bitten Word.”)
Skip ahead to the 1770s, and Sorren is now a major player with the Alliance. He has several antique shops around the world to help remove bad objects from circulation, including one in Charleston, South Carolina in the American Colonies. When two young men run afoul of pirates and a murderous necklace, Sorren and his human partner Evan jump in to take care of matters before more people die. Those two young men, Dante and Coltt, become Sorren’s new protégés, privateers in the Alliance’s cause. Haunted bag pipes, a soul-stealing judge and other nasties await. You can find details in the short stories “Steer a Pale Course,” “The Low Road” and “Among the Shoals Forever”—all on ebook as short stories. (The original stories appeared in the anthologies “Rum and Runestones,” “Spells and Swashbucklers” and “The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women.”)
You’ll meet a lot of Cassidy’s neighbors, friends and allies in Deadly Curiosities, but Charleston is a big place, and there’s too much going on for just one book. And, a number of things mentioned in the Deadly Curiosities novel connect back to the short stories. You don’t have to have read the stories to understand the book, but if you do, you’ll have an insider’s perspective.
For example, readers first meet Voudon mambo Mama Nadege in “Among the Shoals Forever”. She and her descendants, Lucinda and Caliel, are two of Cassidy’s most important allies. Caliel isn’t in the novel, but he shows up in “Coffin Box” (on ebook as a short story), and in “The Restless Dead”, a story for the Realms of Imagination anthology coming this fall from Dark Oak Books.
Mrs. Ernestine Teller, sweetgrass basket weaver and powerful root worker, plays a crucial role in the Deadly Curiosities novel, but she is also an important part of the story in “Retribution”, a story for the Athena’s Daughters anthology from Silence in the Library Publishing. And she figures prominently in “Wicked Dreams” (on ebook as a short story).
Father Anne Burnett, an unorthodox Episcopalian priest, makes her first appearance in “The Final Death,” (my free novella on Wattpad) and she also plays an important role in “Wicked Dreams.” She’s the descendant of Father Conroy, one of Sorren’s allies from the 1700s, and a member of the Society of St. Expeditus, a secret organization of Anglican priests who help fight monsters and dark spirits. It’s also where you’ll first meet Ryan Alexander who leads a team of Urban Explorers. “The Restless Dead” introduces readers to the SPOOK ghost hunters, led by Kell Winston—expect to see both men and their groups show up often in future stories!
Deadly Curiosities Book Two won’t be out until 2015, but there will be more short stories direct to ebook and in anthologies coming between now and then. You may want to grab them all so that you don’t miss a thing!