Fang: Gothika is now available for preorder! (It will be released on October 15th, in time for Halloween!) This is a reunion of some of the authors of the Gothika anthologies originally edited by Eli Easton and myself (#5). Eli and I were joined by Sue Brown and Kim Fielding in this presentation of creepy vampire stories for the holidays!
TRICKLE OF BLOOD by Sue Brown
My vampire clan is dying. Human blood is too tainted to sustain us. On the brink of giving up, the last thing I expect to find is the saviour of my clan, a non-human. He is my mate.
I know I must ask the impossible of my mate. If he walks away my clan will die. I don’t know if I’ll be able to let him go if he says no. Do I give him that choice, or his body and blood mine to command?
ADARK HEALING by Eli Easton
The life of a healer is a lonely one. Feared by the local villagers for being both a healer and an albino, Darian lives alone and spends his days picking herbs, making remedies, and talking to his dead teacher. Then one day he finds a mysterious man in the woods who’s been shot through with an arrow. Darian takes the man, Locke, back to his little hut and tends him as best he can. Locke is a strange creature—at times imperious and at other times nearly feral. But he is stunningly beautiful, and, more importantly, he finds Darian beautiful and unique—like a white unicorn. The two lonely men take comfort in each other’s company, and they bond over the days of Locke’s healing. But when killings begin in the nearby village, Darian must face both the nature of the man he invited into his bed and the villager’s wrath.
THE QUARRY BOY by Jamie Fessenden
A visit from a fearful apparition has marked Josiah Crayne as the next to die. August Walker returns home to confront the ghosts of the past—not only his painful memories of a friend’s death, but also his own sexuality.
As August investigates the tragedy that’s befallen the Craynes, it may turn out to be too much for him to bear—especially when he begins to suspect this man marked for death could return his affections.
FARKAS by Kim Fielding
Lee Harker has never fit in anywhere. Not with his immigrant family in rural Nebraska, not on a Navy ship during World War II, and not in Los Angeles as associate in a law firm. But when he’s sent to a remote mansion to complete some paperwork for the reclusive Vincent Farkas, Lee encounters the most unsettling circumstances yet. Caught in a place where things truly do go bump in the night, he must face his fears—and his desires—and acknowledge his true nature.
Borderland was a “labor of love,” as they say, from the start. FE Feeley, Jr. (henceforth referred to as “Fred”) proposed we work together on a horror novel over two years ago, and we tossed ideas back and forth until we settled on a ghost story set in a haunted inn in Vermont.
So much time has gone by, it’s now impossible to sort out who thought of what, but I recall Fred being interested in Vermont, because he wanted to visit New England. I’d never officially lived there, but they don’t call Vermont and New Hampshire the “twin states” for nothing. Jump in the car and you can reach anywhere in either state in a few hours. I’ve spent a lot of time there, especially near the border. It’s a gorgeous state: heavily forested, mountainous, and dotted with old farms. It’s about the same size as NH (but “upside-down” ;-p ), and the population is just over 600 thousand—half that of NH, and we’re not exactly struggling for elbow room.
Fred can also be credited with the idea of working the flu epidemic of 1918 into the story. I want to be clear that he thought of this years before the COVID-19 pandemic. Frankly, we might have veered away from the topic, if we’d known about the pandemic, since so many readers have had family affected by the virus. Instead, one might call it a bit of prescience. The story had already been submitted to our publisher by the time the pandemic hit the USA.
Writing with another author was a new experience for me, and it didn’t always go smoothly. We wrote scenes and showed them to each other, usually liking what we were piecing together, but as the order of the story was rearranged, some scenes had to be tossed and others extensively rewritten. One scene was simultaneously written by both of us, leaving us with the decision of which to keep. In final edits, we noticed that the music box was somehow upstairs in a bedroom and on the fireplace mantel in the living room at the same time. And who the heck was Meghan? Oh, that’s right. We changed her name to Grace…
But under the guidance of our wonderful editor, Debbie McGowan, at Beaten Track Publishing, we hammered the novel into something we’re all very proud of. And the reception has been wonderful. Here are some quotes from our favorite review sites:
“I very highly recommend this ghost story. It is one of my favorite reads in a long time. If you have Amazon, one-click it now. You won’t be sorry.” — Dan at Love Bytes Reviews
“If this is what a story becomes when FE Feeley and Jamie Fessenden collaborate, then sign me up for more. These two have put together an amazing combination of mystery, thriller, and horror, and then intertwined within all of that darkness, is a sweet, poignant romance that will stick with you long after “the end”.” —Melissa Brus at the Paranormal Romance Guild
“It was with great expectation I awaited this book…..I am a longtime follower of these two authors and expected nothing less than perfection….I received it hands down!!” — Gloria Lakritz at the Paranormal Romance Guild
“Yes, there is a sad element to this book. But there’s also hope, as well, and that’s deftly written by FE Feeley and by Jamie Fessenden, as well. I really enjoyed this book. It was an emotional roller coaster for me. It won’t necessarily be that way for everyone, although I would imagine that most people that read this book will have a definite visceral reaction to it. So, for me, Borderland is a lovely piece of writing. I thoroughly… I’m just really glad that I got to read it, and I’m giving it five stars.” — Kazza at On Top Down Under Reviews
I’m very proud of the work Fred and I did on the novel. Perhaps in the future we’ll collaborate on another one, and hopefully our process will go a bit smoother from our experience with Borderland. In the meantime, I hope readers enjoy their visit with the hotel and it’s residents… both benign and evil.
They were young. In the prime of life and recently married. And then the diagnosis came. Cancer.
George and Jason make arrangements to travel back to George’s home state of Vermont so he may pass away in the town where he grew up, but a terrible storm diverts the couple into the gates of an out-of-the-way hotel called Borderland.
Sure, the employees are well dressed and polite. Sure, the food and entertainment are old-time fare. But it’s all a schtick, right?
Or is there something far more sinister at work here?
Welcome to the Borderland Hotel, where you may check in, but you’ll never, ever leave.
I missed Halloween with this post, so I’ll aim for the Day of the Dead instead! My intent was to blog about some of the scary/creepy stories I’ve written over the years.
I love horror, so I’m actually surprised I haven’t written more of it. For a very brief time, I made micro-budget horror films. They were of variable quality, and unfortunately you can only see one, at present, on YouTube. It’s really grisly, so don’t watch it if you don’t go for gore. I made it for the Eerie Horror Fest in 2006. They had a contest for filmmakers to submit ads for the festival. Sadly, ours “won,” simply because it was the only submission, but I’m proud of it. We were experimenting with lighting and learning how to use our new camera crane (basically a teeter-totter device that allowed the camera to smoothly pan up and down). If you go to the YouTube channel for Dunkirk Studios, you can see some trailers for other films we worked on. Some made it into festivals, but our big project, “The Resurrection,” was never finished, due to lack of locations willing to allow naked people covered in blood to run around on their premises. It would have been epic. EPIC.
After publishing some short stories and novellas (one I’d consider novel-length, in its second edition), I decided to dive into a full-length novel in same vein as The Da Vinci Code, in which the characters are piecing together an occult mystery by researching ancient tomes. The result was Murderous Requiem.
In this novel, I delved into the writings of Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), the Italian scholar who was more or less responsible for bringing the works of Plato to the West, and who believed that music could heal the human body by bringing our pure spiritual form into harmony with our physical form. He was a jack-of-all-trades – a doctor, philosopher, writer, and composer – so the story is about the discovery of a mass written by Ficino, which could go one step further and pull the soul back into the body after death. The story involves a beautiful drug addict with the voice of an angel, a murder, nearly everything my music theory major taught me in college, and ominous, supernatural flocks of ravens.
Bigfoot Hunters in Love was originally a free short story I gave away on my blog. You can still get it here. But I thought it needed more, so eventually I expanded upon it and contracted Scott J. Coatsworth to create a cover that conveyed both the silly elements of the story and the creepiness. It’s about a man who moves to the country and is chased into the forest one night by a monster. He loses his slippers and his dignity, eventually crashing headlong into a man who’s been hunting the creature for years. Along with our hero’s trusty dog, Thor, they set out to uncover proof that the creature exists.
Sadly, the anthology of bizarre stories set in the Old West edited by my friend and fellow author, Kim Fielding, is no longer available, except in used paperbacks. I’ll have to republish my short story from it: The Sheriff of Para Siempre. This was one of my favorite of my own stories, about two young men hiring themselves out as law-enforcement in a dying mining town. It ultimately involves a man who simply won’t stay dead, and the ending is the most tragic thing I’ve ever written. As one reviewer said: “I’m a blubbering mess right now, so if I’m not making sense, you can blame it on Jamie Fessenden. Quite simply, this story broke me. It broke my heart and it made me speechless.”
Author and friend, Eli Easton, came up with a great idea for an anthology: Gothic horror romances to be released each Halloween, each with a specific theme. The first was called Gothika #1: Stitch, and Eli did the cover for it. It was gorgeous. I even made a book trailer, which looks a bit clunky, in retrospect, since it was the first time I played with Movie Maker. But I’m very proud of the music I wrote for it. (Yes, all those tens of thousands I spent on my music theory degree paid off!)
I won’t describe all the wonderful stories in these anthologies, since that would take forever, but I’ll briefly describe the stories I wrote. For Stitch, I wrote a story called Watchworks, about a watchmaker in Victorian London, who is called to the home of a wealthy gentleman for a bizarre purpose: to repair the intricate mechanical hand of a handsome young man. The hand is so lifelike, it’s impossible to tell it isn’t flesh, unless the artificial skin is removed. But as the watchmaker attempts to repair the hand, he begins to suspect more and more of the young man is clockwork. Just how much of him is still human?
For Gothika #2: Bones, I wrote a Young Adult story about two teenagers living in a Latinx neighborhood in Manchester, New Hampshire. One has a grandmother (abuelita) who runs a botánica – a shop that sells folk medicine and magical items used in vodou rituals – and when he attempts to acquire a copy of the dreaded Book of St. Cyprian for the shop, he accidentally releases a dark spirit that possesses his friend’s dog. The two boys work frantically to exorcise the spirit, before it can hurt the dog or, worse… abuelita finds out what they’ve been up to.
Don’t expect any sex with this one, but it’s fun and creepy and has some interesting stuff about local vodou practices. I had a couple of Spanish-speaking friends take me to the botánica in Manchester, so we could quiz the owner and see what she had for sale. And, yes, the Book of St. Cyprian is a real book, rumored to be so evil, anyone who reads it risks losing their soul.
Isolation (Gothika#3: Claw) is adapted from a screenplay I wrote, but was never able to film – mostly because we weren’t able to find a good location. It follows a man who once had a great relationship with his best friend and lover, but chickened out of a long-term gay relationship and married a woman. Years later, after his marriage has disintegrated, he comes back with his tail between his legs, hoping to rekindle what he and his friend once had.
But he finds his friend living deep in the woods, isolated from the town, and not at all willing to get into a relationship with him… or anyone, apparently. And he soon discovers there is something sinister prowling through the forest at night…
For Gothika #4: Spirit, the theme was ghost stories, and I delved into the history of the old mill buildings in New England, which were plagued by fires that killed massive amounts of workers – usually young women. The most famous is the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire which killed 146 workers, mostly Italian and Jewish immigrant women in their teens and early twenties (the youngest was 14), because the doors to stairwells and exits were locked to prevent workers from sneaking out on breaks.
For The Mill, I adapted a ballad about the Granite Mill to my fictional mill building, and had a team of ghost-hunters investigating appearances that have frightened off construction workers so often the building now lies empty and abandoned.
The last Gothika we did was called Contact, and it dealt with stories of alien abduction.
My story was called, not surprisingly, Abduction. It’s about a man who visits an old boyfriend and finds that he’s basically had a nervous breakdown and ranting about aliens abducting him and implanting things in his body. Our hero agrees to stay the night and help watch for aliens, and to his horror, he’s abducted.
The aliens don’t experiment on him, but that’s because he was abducted by different aliens than his friend was abducted by. In order to save his friend, he has to take sides in an interstellar war and befriend the commander of the ship he’s a prisoner on. Over time, he and the commander discover they have a connection…
So I did have a novel (Violated) come out in the fall, and it did pretty well. It’s pretty dark, and the resolution — while happy — isn’t the big catharsis a lot of readers hoped for, simply because my goal was realism. A story like this isn’t resolved by an epic bout of sobbing in your lover’s arms. Ever. Derek and Russ find the best possible, realistic happily-ever-after for them.
At Christmas time, I was delighted to be offered the chance to do a Christmas story on the WROTE Podcast — one of twelve stories representing the twelve days of Christmas in the carol. I hadn’t had time to get out any of the Christmas stories I was working on (I have one contemporary novella in the works, a free holiday story that revolves around the characters in the Dreams of Fire and Gods series, and a re-write of a previously published novella), so this was a great opportunity. I’m delighted with how the story came out, and Brad Vance‘s wonderful narration! All of the stories are terrific, so if you’re still in the mood for Christmas….
Moving forward, I’m currently working on a novella about alien abduction for the next Gothika anthology (see previous installments: Stitch, Bones, Claw, and Spirit). Eli Easton, who originated the series (I helped a little), won’t be joining us on this installment. The authors participating in this issue are Kim Fielding, BG Thomas, FE Feeley Jr., and myself.
As far as which novels I’m working on goes, I’m having a little trouble with that one. I have several in the works. My YA novel Martian Born, a novel about a spy in the Soviet Union during the cold war (currently called Chimera), and a novelization of the Jomsviking Saga, about a fortress full of Vikings in the tenth century. I’m also tentatively working on an untitled novel about “cavemen” (what we used to call Cro-Magnon Man, but is now referred to as “Early Modern Humans” or “Anatomically Modern Humans,” because they are physically no different from us).
This probably sounds like I need to focus, and that would be correct. Martian Born is closest to being finished, but it’s intended for the mainstream science fiction market. This means a long, tedious process of sending queries to agents — most likely over a year or two, if not longer — because mainstream publishers, by and large, no longer accept submissions directly from authors. So while I do want to get that process moving, I’m also looking at getting other novels out more quickly.
This probably means I’ll either finish up Chimera or The Vikings of Jomsborg. But both still have a lot of work to do on them.
In the meantime, I have two stories that will be coming out soon. One is actually the first part of Chimera, presented as a short story called Train to Sevmash. This will be part of an anthology published by DSP Publications. I wrote the story first, then got permission from the editor of the anthology to expand it into a novel.
The second story is in an anthology put together by BG Thomas called A More Perfect Union — a collection of stories about same-sex marriage written by gay men who are actually married. My story, Destined, is a fictionalized account of how I met my husband and how we created our life together. The characters aren’t exactly me and Erich, but the events are largely true.
This has gotten lengthy, and I haven’t even touched on other projects I’ve been working on, such as finishing the Dogs of Cyberwar trilogy (I’m nearly done the second novella (A Mote in the Eye), but my publisher wants the third, before we move ahead), the samurai tale I’ve been adapting (Shinosuke), and the sequel to Murder on the Mountain, which is in the plotting stages (murder mysteries take a lot of plotting).
Yes, I’m a bit over-extended. But it’s my fault — ideas keep popping into my head. I just need to focus and prioritize.
In the meantime, I have the re-release of my first novel, Murderous Requiem, available for pre-order on DSP Publications. It will be released on March 22nd. This edition isn’t enormously different from the first, but I did go through and tighten things a bit, as well as clarify some of the confusing sexual issues in the novel. The story centers around an occult order in what is basically a “free love” commune, so all of the characters are in open relationships. This upsets some readers, who regard it as “cheating.” I do not. I wrote it for my friends who are involved in open or polyamorous relationships where everything is up front and honest, and everyone’s feelings are taken into account.
But that isn’t actually what the novel is about, anyway. It’s about an ancient manuscript containing a requiem mass that, when performed, may cause death… or possibly may resurrect the dead.
This anthology contains three stories about werewolves and shifters by me, Eli Easton, and Kim Fielding. Here’s the blurb:
“Beasts lurk in the shadows of wild and forgotten places and in the hearts and souls of men. They are the stuff of dreams and nightmares, but are they feral and savage, or just misunderstood? Creatures of myth and legend stalk these tales of dark desire and animal passions. Three men come face-to-face with such creatures and find they are much more than they seem. While there is danger, there might be unexpected benefits as well, if they can accept the impossible and dare to venture into the primordial regions where nature and the beasts still reign. Three acclaimed authors of gay romance explore the boundaries between man and beast and the place where their worlds overlap.”
My story, Isolation, is a classic werewolf story about a man (Sean) who gave up on a life-long relationship he’d had with his friend, Jack, to go to college and marry a woman. When the life he tries to lead falls apart, he seeks Jack out in a last-ditch effort to rebuild the relationship he foolishly tossed away. But Jack has changed now. He’s living in a cabin in the woods, isolated from people, and though he’s happy to see Sean, he resists allowing him back into his life. I was going for a creepy and mysterious atmosphere, with a little humor tossed in and a good bit of erotic tension.
Here’s an excerpt:
He dreamt of that night when they were camping near Cedar Pond with the best camper accessories he has ever had. They were both fifteen, both randy as hell, and their friendship was still burning with an intensity few adults could understand. So it was little wonder that here, isolated from the rest of the world, they finally gave in to what they’d both been wanting for such a long time. They didn’t talk about it. Sean, especially, was afraid to. Talking might have given it a name, and he was terrified of that name, of the contempt his father and uncle would have had for him if they’d found out. So he and Jack just did… what they did. And when it was over, they held each other in the darkness of their tent, caressing and kissing until they drifted off to sleep.
Later he awoke and was disturbed to find himself alone in the tent. It was still dark, and without Jack’s body heat warming the tent, Sean felt cold. He hoped Jack had just crawled outside for a minute to take a leak or something, but he waited and waited and his friend didn’t return. Finally, with growing trepidation, Sean unzipped the tent door and peered outside. The moon provided a faint light, though the forest floor was thick with shadow.
“Jack?” His voice sounded quiet and a little fearful. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was very wrong.
He crawled out of the tent and stood, wrapping his arms around his naked body in a vain attempt to stave off the cold night air. Then he saw Jack, standing silent and still about fifty feet away. He was naked, beautifully illuminated by a shaft of blue-gray moonlight. But when Sean called to him again, there was no response.
Cautiously, Sean walked on bare feet through the ferns and pine needles blanketing the forest floor. When he drew near, and Jack still hadn’t moved, he reached out to brush Jack’s bare shoulder with his fingertips. Only then did Jack turn his head to give him a strange, enigmatic smile.
“Listen,” he whispered.
Sean was shivering and wanted nothing more than to crawl back into the warmth of their sleeping bags—both him and Jack together—but he cocked an ear and tried to listen. At first he heard nothing. Nothing, that is, except the usual sounds of a forest at night—wind in the trees, the rustling of leaves, the occasional snap of a twig as a squirrel or deer slipped past in the shadows. But then he caught something—a faint sound like people whispering. The voices were elusive and impossible to pinpoint. He couldn’t be certain what direction they came from, or even if he was really hearing them.
“What is it?” he whispered back.
Jack’s smile was rapturous, as if he were hearing the voices of angels. “It’s calling to us.”
The next morning Sean woke to the sound of a vehicle pulling into the driveway. It was light out, and the clock on the fireplace mantle read nearly ten. Bright sunlight was streaming through the open curtains.
Before he could decide whether he was really awake yet, the door opened and Jack came in. Once again he was shirtless, which was a pleasant enough sight to wake up to, but the damp, sweaty T-shirt he tossed at Sean’s head was a bit less pleasant.
“Hey, deadbeat! You ever gonna wake up? I’ve been working for hours already.”
“Fuck you,” Sean muttered, but he sat up, tossing the shirt on the floor. “What have you been doing?”
“Landscaping at the Donnelly’s,” Jack replied cheerfully. He crossed the living room to turn on the water in the kitchenette sink, then started scrubbing his filthy hands. “They want to rent their house out when they move to Florida.”
“Oh.” Sean stood up from the couch, still fuzzy and half-asleep. He was wearing just a pair of tight briefs, and when Jack turned back to him, rubbing his hands on the dish towel, Sean was pleased to notice Jack eyeing his package a bit before looking away.
“Come on. It’s hot as hell, and I’ve got two hours ’til I have to deal with that old bitch, Mrs. Westcott, and her damned flower beds. Let’s go for a swim.”
“There’s a pond, just down the path behind the cabin.”
Sean rubbed his face with his hands and glanced down at himself. “I didn’t bring a suit.”
Jack quirked an eyebrow at him and tossed the dish towel onto the counter.
My story is called The Book of St. Cyprian and it’s a contemporary, somewhat lighthearted story about two teenage boys who bite off a little more than they can chew. The tone of this story is pretty much YA, so don’t expect lots of raunchy sex. Expect a horror story with a thread of sweet romance running through it.
Alejandro is the grandson of an old woman who runs a botanica—a shop that sells herbs, powders, and religious/magical supplies—in a largely Latino neighborhood in Manchester, NH. When his grandmother (whom he calls “Abuela” (“grandmother”)) sends him to New Orleans, where a friend has recently passed away, he rescues a number of items from the man’s botanica there to send back home.
One of the items he uncovers is a copy of El Gran Libro de San Cipriano—”The Great Book of St. Cyprian.” An old book of black magic, it was rumored to contain so much evil that to merely touch it endangered one’s soul. According to magical tradition, the book is sealed in a wooden box wrapped in a chain and padlocked shut.
Alejandro knows Abuela would never allow the book to be in her shop, or even in her home, so he sends it to his friend Matthew for safekeeping.
Matthew isn’t Latino, but he’s been living in the neighborhood since he was thirteen, and he and Alejandro are best friends. They would both like to be more than best friends, and that wouldn’t seem like much of a problem, since they’ve been out to each other for years. But it’s a big step to take, and one that has the potential to destroy their friendship.
So they just stay… friends….
Things come to a head when Matthew’s beloved pit bull pup, Spartacus, chews his way through the package Alejandro entrusted to his friend, unleashing a dark spirit that takes control of the animal.
At this point, I would like to assure everyone that I adore all dogs, including pit bulls. Spartacus is loosely based upon my friend Carmella’s pit bull, Neela, who is extremely mellow and affectionate. So this isn’t a story about how evil pit bulls are. It’s a story about how Alejandro and Matthew work together to save their little buddy.
Oh… and it’s also about how Abuela is not particularly amused by this mess her grandson caused.
So I hear it’s a good idea to do a blog tour, when your novel comes out. This consists of guest posts on other author’s blogs in a fairly organized sequence, promoting your book and generally giving away free copies.
Well, I’ve been trying to do that with Murderous Requiem since it came out, but the “organized” part has completely eluded me. Some of you may have seen some of the posts go by, but I utterly failed to present them in any kind of orderly manner.
However, for anyone interested in Murderous Requiem, there has been some interesting information in these posts, concerning magick, Marsillio Ficino, herbalism, Renaissance music, and other subjects that come up in the novel. So even though many of them are no longer giving away free copies, I thought I should post them in a list here, just so they’re easily accessible.
I intend to post one or two more, before I’m done with it. And the one on Renaissance music (on Shira Anthony‘s blog) still has a free giveaway going on until July 7th!
Over at MM Good Book Reviews, it’s received 4 out of 5 stars! “The mystery and suspense are good and leaves a thread of tension throughout the book. There’s death and betrayal, love and hope and occult dealings. I actually think this is an intriguing story that shows a ‘whiter’ or good side to the occult. It has informative information and you can see that the author has done a lot of research. I will recommend this to those who love mystery and suspense, occult dealings, twists, betrayal, underhand dealings, murder and manipulation and a happy for them ending.”
Here’s the Blurb:
Jeremy Spencer never imagined the occult order he and his boyfriend, Bowyn, started as a joke in college would become an international organization with hundreds of followers. Now a professor with expertise in Renaissance music, Jeremy finds himself drawn back into the world of free love and ceremonial magick he’d left behind, and the old jealousies and hurt that separated him from Bowyn eight years ago seem almost insignificant.
Then Jeremy begins to wonder if the centuries-old score he’s been asked to transcribe hides something sinister. With each stanza, local birds flock to the old mansion, a mysterious fog descends upon the grounds, and bats swarm the temple dome. During a séance, the group receives a cryptic warning from the spirit realm. And as the music’s performance draws nearer, Jeremy realizes it may hold the key to incredible power—power somebody is willing to kill for.
I just received the finalized design of the cover for Murderous Requiem!
This was created by Brooke Albrecht, whom I’ve never worked with before, but the design came out beautiful and I love it!
We don’t have a firm release date for the novel yet, but I’m told it might be some time in April.
EDIT: The cover design was just modified slightly, so I’ve uploaded it again. Originally, the characters in the center spelled out the Tibetan prayer, Om Mani Padme Hum, but that wasn’t really appropriate to a story about ceremonial magicians. So it was replaced with Enochian letters, which is the magical language the characters work with in the novel. The letters spell out the word Requiem.