with Linda Thomas-Sundstrom
Hello to everyone. I’m Linda Thomas-Sundstrom, author of paranormal romance and urban fantasy, visiting today to share a disturbing (and therefore inspirational) way to stumble upon an idea: Travel (to odd places).
Of course, inspiration can come from anywhere, and for me, pretty much everywhere. A couple of years ago, my niece married a Frenchman, so my family traveled to Paris for the celebrations. A family member suggested we climb the 387 steps that wind through Notre Dame Cathedral like an old spinal column, to get to the Gallerie des Chimeras . . . to not only get a birds-eye view of Paris, but to see the world-famous Notre Dame gargoyles up close. So, we did.
It was one of the spookiest places on the planet, (and I’ve been to quite a few) because this Gallery is a walkway populated with lots of grotesque stone sculptures, most of them life-sized. And around it, in numbers too great to count, are the rest of Notre Dame’s strange, dramatically ugly creatures – the whole shebang, from gargoyles and angry dogs, to every kind of mixture of beasts. There are actually hundreds of these monstrosities that supposedly guard Notre Dame’s rooftops.
So what comes to mind for a writer who loves this sort of gothic experience? A question:
Are those freaky stone critters actually guarding the Cathedral, as people say? Really??
Notre-Dame de Paris is an historic Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the Ile de la Cite in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. It’s considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, and among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. Construction began in the year 1163.
However, it wasn’t the building that tapped at my inspiration buttons. It was those eerie creatures, and their sheer numbers. Right there, face-to-face with them, my next story was born. Because, like most authors, more questions formed that I just had to answer. I could not let it go.
- What do these beasts do after nightfall?
- How could things so ugly be attached to a cathedral, at all? What was up with that?
- If they aren’t really guarding the Cathedral, what are they doing? Are they up to no good?
- What happens up there when the sun goes down? – Cuz folks, I would NOT want to be there when the sun went down and the big iron door closes.
This launched me into a flurry of research following that visit. My story idea came together quickly, and “Trapped in Stone” was born as the first urban fantasy novella of a new series titled Dark vs Light. Here’s the tagline that took shape for that first story: “Her lover’s soul is at stake . . . She was vowed to change his fate.”
You see, there was a man trapped inside one of those grotesque stone statues on that rooftop. I just knew he was there and I had to find a way to get him out. That’s how Izzy, the femme character in my book, came to be. It became her job to free him, to help her lover breathe again, as a man. Tristan is trapped for 364 days of the year, and can shed the spell that can release him on only one night — the 365th. On that night, Tristan can find another to take his place on the unwholesome Gallerie des Chimeras. The number of monsters must remain static, or the cathedral’s walls might finally crumble after decades of cheating on the pacts made between Dark and Light.
Does there have to be romance in an urban fantasy? Of course not. But since I love romance (who doesn’t?), and I write a lot of paranormal romance novels, this “urban fantasy” novella has plenty of it. What could be more romantic than a woman who waits for the one night when her lover can shed his stone casing and be with her again? Will she sacrifice her limited time with him in order for him to succeed, or be greedy? Of course, in a well-crafted book there is always more at stake than merely the outcome of a relationship between two people. Maybe even, in part, the balance of the world, and everyone in it. So, as I developed the story, the tagline expanded: “High above the streets of Paris a war has been going between the forces of Good and Evil over the soul of one man . . . and a woman stands in the way.”
What a woman that would have to be, right, to face those things down?
For me, this was one of those magical moments when the stars align, and a story writes itself. Moments like that don’t happen real often for authors working against tight deadlines for other books. When they do, we have to find the time to fill in the page with the quest of these two people, so that we, as writers, can see what happens. Sometimes we can’t rest until we know. That was the way it was for me with Trapped in Stone. This gothic, romantic urban fantasy, with gargoyles, chimeras and much darker things set in the late-night streets of Paris, reveals really happens on the walls of one of the world’s most famous cathedrals after dark. I hope you’ll take a look at my novella.
Questions? Ask away. Or just leave a wave so I know you have stopped by. I’ll look forward to hearing from you, and am really excited to be here, guest posting on Roberta’s beautiful site. And if you’d like to make some Gargoyle magic of your own, try out the recipes below.
Linda Thomas-Sundstrom is the multi-published author of nearly a dozen fantasy, paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels.
(yields 16 wedges)
1 pg soft corn or flour tortillas
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup (4 oz) finely shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup chopped ripe olives
1 tablespoon salsa
Preheat oven to 450°F. Sprinkle cumin evenly over tortillas and rub gently to lightly coat tortillas. Cut each tortilla into 4 wedges. Coat a nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray, arrange wedges on baking sheet allowing space between wedges. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the wedges (allowing cheese to spill over slightly) then sprinkle with olives. Bake 4 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Top each wedge with about 1/2 teaspoon of salsa in center and place on serving tray or large platter. Do NOT stack wedges.
AND TO WASH IT DOWN:
“GARGOYLE BREW”: 1 part Captain Morgan® spiced rum, 3 parts Mountain Dew citrus soda