Sunday, March 15, 2009

Guest Blogger ~ ZA Maxfield

I'd like to welcome Z.A. Maxfield today as my March MLR Press guest author. She has a new work coming that involves several of my favorite things: Vampires, alternate history and antiquities and Italy! We also shared participation in the I Do Anthology and that story involved one of my favorite spectator activities: the Tango!
Welcome, ZAM!

I want to thank Jeanne for the opportunity to be here today. I’m fairly new to the blogging world, in fact, I’m fairly new to the writing world! I’ve been published as Z.A. Maxfield since last July (Bastille Day) and it’s been a very exciting ride! I have three full-length novels out, Crossing Borders, The Long Way Home, and Drawn Together, one novella, St. Nacho’s, one stand alone short story, Burning Up, and I participated in two anthologies, Artistically Yours, and the I Do Anthology, (whose proceeds go directly to Lambda Legal Fund for marriage equality).

Everything I’ve done has been some sort of flight of fantasy for me, whether it’s contemporary, romantic suspense, historical romance, or paranormal. I don’t think I’ve found a niche or a voice yet; I’m still exploring and letting my writing take me wherever we can go. To that end, it’s been hard to categorize my work, except to say that you’ll probably find a relationship between two men who are going to fall in love, and there will be a positive ending. Maybe I don’t always write a ‘happily ever after’, but at the very least I can’t stop writing unless I’m hopeful.

One of the newest I’m working on is Notturno, my very own vampire novel, in which Adin Tredeger, an expert in antique documents, is lucky enough to find the well-preserved journal of an obscure Italian petty noble which details a long and passionate love affair between two men.

Tredeger is delighted. He’s gay, the document is beautiful, and having it for his University collection puts him on the top of the food chain personally and professionally. He’s handsome, young, arrogant, wealthy, and now, the envy of all his academic colleagues. The only problem is that the man who wrote it, Nicolo Pietro di Sciarello, now calling himself Donte Fedelta, wants it back.

Now that it’s resurfaced after an almost seventy year disappearance, he has the money to buy it. When he’s prevented by a computer glitch, he knows he can take it from the man who bought it. First he tries seduction and trickery, then reasoning with the man. Donte is certain that once Adin learns who is truly on top of the food chain he’ll get his book back. He doesn’t count on enjoying the process, or admiring the mortal, who at the very least doesn’t seem to be suitably impressed.

Then someone else enters the picture, taking the journal from both of them. Donte plans to find it, Adin is determined to fight for it, and in the meantime, their growing attraction for each other creates a whole new set of problems, including terrible danger that nearly destroys their fragile bond forever.

Here’s a little excerpt of Notturno, due out soon from MLR:

“Caro,” he heard a voice say behind him. He was looking at the light panel on the elevator, watching the floor buttons fire up in a chaotic, random way that made him think of science fiction movies from the ’50s. He jerked forward to step off the elevator again but was prevented by the hand holding his arm. He felt the whisper of Donte’s breath against his ear.
“I’ve called you and called you, yet you only just now come to me. Stubborn.”
“What do you want?” asked Adin, refusing to turn.
“Only that which belongs to me.”
“And what would that be?”
“What do you think, Adin? Of course I want my journal back. And yet…I wonder if you recall how completely you gave yourself to me.” Donte’s sigh lifted the hair on Adin’s nape. “Perhaps I would like that back as well.”
Adin watched the blinking elevator lights and concentrated on thinking clearly. He kept his voice even. “Does this kind of thing work for you?”
“What kind of thing?” Donte stiffened.
“This whole, I am Donte.” Adin affected the accent, giving it a little more Bela Lugosi than was really, strictly necessary. “Come to me, caro, and your blood will sing in the moonlight.”
“Now, I know I have never said that.” Donte put a hand on Adin’s shoulder.
“It’s only a matter of time, I’m sure.”
“I fear it loses a little of the oompah if you are not looking at my face.”
Adin snorted. “I gathered.”
“Turn around, caro,” Donte ordered.
“Nope. When I look you in the eye, things happen inside my head that I don’t necessarily like.”
“I promise I won’t use mind tricks on you right now.” Donte tugged at him. “I am a man of my word, if nothing else.”
“I can tell when it’s happening; it’s no use anyway.” Adin turned.
“You would be foolish to assume that in the future. Just because you can tell it’s happening doesn’t mean you can stop it.”
“What is it, anyway?” asked Adin. The lights on the panel had stopped blinking maniacally, but the elevator moved at an impossibly slow speed, giving the impression they were hovering, floating in the glass-enclosed space.
“What? Oh, I don’t know, a kind of hypnosis, maybe, a push of thought that takes root in someone’s mind because they are weaker.” Donte leaned against the steel railing that surrounded them like a skeleton inside the glass car.
“I see.”
“You don’t like to think of yourself as weaker. I understand, but Adin, you cannot hope to prevail against me as you are.”
“You can’t have the journal; I bought it with proper provenance, but you may try, if you like, to dispute it in a court of law.”
“Yes, well. That presents a problem, though, doesn’t it?”
“Do you really expect me to believe the impression you have been constructing? The biting, the mind control, the Vlad the Impaler accent.”
“Vlad— I’m Italian.”
“Do you expect me to believe that you are…? I can’t even say it.” Adin raised his brows. “The undead. A creature of the night. The prince of darkness.”
Donte pursed his lips. “I believe that was Satan.”
“Yes. Well. Do you?”
Donte’s eyes met his, and he was relieved to feel only an attraction, not a confused jumble of painful desire and fear. “I don’t care whether you believe it. Your belief doesn’t alter the facts. The journal is mine; I drew it. I illustrated it. I lived it. It belongs to me, and I want it back.”
“You will have a hard time proving that in court.”
Donte looked out over the city skyline. “Did you ever hear the story about the brothers who were camping in the woods when a bear crashed into their campsite, enraged, and began to chase them? The first brother says, ‘I must outrun the bear,’ and the second says, ‘I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.’” He shook his head. “You know I cannot take this to a court of law, caro.”
Adin looked out at the city and the darkness beyond it. “Fair warning?”
“I like you a lot better without the glamour, you know? Whatever causes it.”
Donte’s teeth shone even and white as he smiled, and Adin wondered about that, Age of Enlightenment dentistry being what it must have been. Looking at Donte, he wondered about a lot of things. His most immediate question, which he framed with a smile of his own, crowded out all those other thoughts.
“So, how long do we have the elevator for?”
Donte’s bark of laughter caught them both by surprise. “Caro, you imp. This is almost as unseemly as that airplane bathroom. There are cameras…”
“Then in the morning we can Google ‘gay elevator sex video’ and see if we get a hit on ourselves.” Adin approached Donte, which seemed to be the last thing he expected, and touched their lips together lightly. “I find I very much like tight spaces if they have you in them.”
“This is a glass elevator,” Donte countered, kissing him back hungrily. “I think you should know that whatever you have planned needs to be accomplished before we reach the tenth floor or everyone in the lobby court will be witness to our passion and subsequent arrest for indecent exposure and lewd conduct…”
Adin snorted. “I think you might be that quick off the mark, at your age, but—”
“Invite me to your room,” whispered Donte.
Adin froze. “Ah, yes, well.” He backed up, regret in his eyes. “Sorry. I can’t do that.”
“Superstitious? I could make you do it.”
“Actually, I don’t believe you could.” This seemed as good a time as any to test it. If Donte could get Adin to do anything he wanted, then the game was over before it began anyway. He felt a tremendous wave of emotion wash over him, deep fear, which crawled over his spine like a vine. It was an interesting sensation, but because he expected it, he found he could remain distant from it, acknowledging it and exploring it without letting it touch him. Adin searched the fear, probing it like a sore tooth. At its core, he felt a desire to reach out to Donte for protection.
Donte watched him curiously.
“Hey, nice,” said Adin. “If you could make people think they’d eaten you’d be a remarkable diet aid.”
“I am the very apex of the food chain on this planet, Adin. Try to have a little respect.” Donte’s mouth quirked, the beginnings of a smile forming on his luscious lips.
“Nevertheless, it isn’t going to work on me now that I can feel it coming.” Adin smoothed a hand over Donte’s jacket and tie. Adin’s own tie, which Donte took from him on the airplane. “The color suits you,” he remarked with asperity. “Trophy tie?”
“You spent on my tie, Adin. I’m having it cleaned.”
“Ah.” There didn’t seem to be much more to say. Adin looked back at the numbers.
“Well. This is awkward,” said Donte.
“Give me a minute. I’m warming up to asking you out for dinner.”
Adin looked up at Donte, “Yes.” Donte’s perfect mouth formed in a small O of surprise.
“If I go with you, does that qualify as takeout for me, I wonder.”
Adin laughed again.
“You seem remarkably calm in the face of what could be a very short, very frightening night on the town, do you realize this?”
“Yes, I realize. You could probably kill me, then rent my room, then get your manuscript back. But you haven’t, yet. Instead you’ve turned on your enormous personal charm and turned off your mojo, so I have to figure I stand a chance, at least, to greet the dawn alive.”
“You think my personal charm is enormous, do you, Adin?” asked Donte, leaning in.
“As if you didn’t know you are every month in my Undead Playmate Calendar.”
“I like you, Adin,” said Donte warmly, and the elevator moved again.

Notturno by Z.A. Maxfield, coming soon from MLR press. Thanks a bunch for inviting me I’m glad to be here! You can find my weblog, my books, and my links, as well as some free short stories at my website, here:


Charlie Cochrane said...

Hi, ZA

You know how I love banter so the last few lines of this excerpt were my faves.

Why Italy?


Jeanne said...

Why not? :~D
Loved the banter...

Z.A. Maxfield said...

Hi Charlie... I do love banter as well. I really don't know why Italy. I studied French in college and had to learn Italian. Still, Donte just came Italian. A lot of the book is journal entries and I had a total blast writing those, lots of flowerly language. I think having extremely articulate characters totally floats my boat.

OHMYGOSH... I stayed up till the wee hours reading Lessons In Desire last night and I got to the scene! I LOVE YOU, MAN! I have rarely loved characters like I love Jonty and Orlando. I never want it to end! I didn't finish it yet because I just couldn't keep my eyes open, and I have no doubt if I read it during the day I'd never get a word written!

Z.A. Maxfield said...

Thanks Jeanne! Italy was an odd choice for me but I didn't think about it twice. I just ran with it.

Charlie Cochrane said...


Articulate characters are great fun to play with. Long, langorous words...

I'm so glad the lads are amusing you. 'That scene'? The Charlie-can't-write-sex-so-plays-it-for-laughs scene?

Hee hee


Z.A. Maxfield said...

The scene where Orlando discovers the books he read in the previous novel Lessons in Love don't quite tell the entire story.

Charlie Cochrane said...

Aha. The finger waggling scene. :)

Ain't we daft, the pair of us?


Jardonn Smith said...

Thanks for the inteview, Jeanne, and the excerpt, ZA. You've created some clever, fast-talking characters, and I'm sure readers will want to know which, if either, or both, get to keep the journal.

Z.A. Maxfield said...

We are Charlie, daft. And maybe a little... dare I say it precious? Between your finger waggling and my inability to use any other word besides 'member' when I first started out you'd think we were a couple of prudes!

Z.A. Maxfield said...

Thanks Jardonn! I hope I've piqued some curiosity. I have to admit these two men are my most verbal and that's saying a lot, since all my guys are talkers. (Including my very own guy.) I like articulate men!

Jeanne said...

Thanks so much for visiting, ZA.
I really am looking forward to reading this one!

Z.A. Maxfield said...

Jeanne, thank you so much for having me. It's really fun to be a guest blogger if you remember in time where you're supposed to be. (I don't suppose you saw my frantic LJ post the other day where I said, "Can anyone remember where I'm supposed to be on 3/16?") I had people write and tell me! Dakota and Kris had our backs. ;-)

Now I know we have all that in common I'm going to have to look into your other books as well as Bend in the Road. I had a great time!