In Dreams Begin has officially begun — I turned the finished manuscript over my editor today. I started research on Yeats a year and a half ago. Now, a teetering stack of books, two weeks across the ocean in Ireland, England and France, four false-starts, seven drafts, 111k words and a deep breath later, it’s out of my hands. It feels a little like putting a complicated recipe in the oven. I think I’ve done everything right, but I won’t know for sure until it’s out, cooled and on the table. In the meantime, for anyone who likes to lick the bowl:
“Close your eyes tightly—tightly—and keep them closed . . .”
From a Victorian Ireland of magic, poetry and rebellion, Ida Jameson, an amateur occultist, reaches out for power, but captures Laura Armstrong, a modern-day graphic artist instead. Now, for the man or demon she loves, each woman must span a bridge through Hell and across history . . . or destroy it.
“Every passionate man is linked with another age, historical or imaginary,
where alone he finds images that rouse his energy.” W. B. Yeats
Anchored in fact on both sides of history, the women are linked from the moment Ida channels Laura into the body of celebrated beauty and Irish freedom-fighter Maud Gonne. When Laura falls—from an ocean and a hundred years away—passionately, Victorianly in love with the young poet W. B. Yeats, their love affair entwines with Irish history and weaves through Yeats’s poetry until Ida discovers something she wants more than magic in the subterranean spaces between Laura’s time and her own.
With her Irish past threatening her orderly present and the man she loves in it, Laura and Yeats—the practical materialist and the poet magus—must find a way to make love last over time, in changing bodies, through modern damnation, and into the mythic past to link their pilgrim souls . . . or lose them forever.
Halloween Night, 1893, in Samois’s small graveyard . . .
In Paris, Halloween festivities would be mocking the rites and devils Ida and Maud hoped to make real tonight, in the little village of Samois. Through the provincial streets to its tiny cemetery, Maud had walked, a priestess or a secret witch cloaked and hooded with Ida, her familiar bird, wing-in-elbow beside her. But inside Georges’ little burial chapel, Maud shrunk to an Irish crone, her ritual robes a weathered shawl wrapped over curling shoulders and the hollowed-out hole where her heart had been, and Ida, her carrion bird behind her.
She plucked the pins from Maud’s hair. “Let’s prepare you,” she whispered.
Maud did not move while Ida’s pecking fingers unwound the braided skeins of rust and shadow. It slithered free over Maud’s shoulders, and she absently pushed back the strands snaking into her face. She caught Ida’s hand in an icy grip. “Ida, I’m frightened.”
Maud choked on the blood-scraped whisper, but Ida had heard, and her smile broke like a towering thundercloud. Maud’s deathbed promise to her father broken—to never to be afraid of anything, not even death—and Ida here beside her. She sank down beside Maud’s shuddering shoulders and wrapped her robe-winged arms around them. “Shhh,” she murmured, cheek in flowing hair, lips to sunken throat. “You must master your fear. There is no other way. The moment Lucien arrives, we must begin.”
In Dreams Begin will be published by Berkley Books in December 2010.