Past, Darkly: The Backstory

What if you blended history with fairy tales and dreams?


With that thought, I began working on a series called The Dreams. For over a year, I’ve been researching the Battle of Chickamauga in north Georgia. (Those who study the US Civil War will understand how complex and brutal the battle was.) From there, I began looking into the universal appeal of fairy tales and folklore, and what makes the stories so topical in our contemporary society. They tap into our collective consciousness and their appeal is timeless. While studying, I discovered that many cultures share similar tales, sagas and fables. And, I’ve been a student of dreams and the subconscious for a lifetime, so it was easy to develop a plotline where symbols, imagery and a vivid dream world merge.

swirlMost of us have had at least one incident where we have shared a dream with someone close to us. In The Dreams, rock star James van Lee (stage name Jago) shares a dream world with Dr. Maggie Pickett, a professor on folklore at Emory University. In Story 1, Lovers & Sinners, the separate worlds of James and Maggie were introduced. James is charismatic and his abusive past lead him to seek adoration from the stage. Along the way he meets his best friend and mentor who, along with his band, TASTE, become the family he has always yearned for.

Maggie is from a small Southern town and has loved Rhett Turnquest her entire life. But, Rhett is drawn to the seductive allure  of Maggie’s best friend, Annie Bragg. The three move to Atlanta–Maggie and Rhett pursue their education, while Annie changes her name to Natasha and seeks fame as a rock singer.

Vicswirl1Past, Darkly begins in Chickamauga during the Reconstruction Era which followed the Civil War. The Chattanooga area has a different history than most Southern cities in that the town grew from a tiny population to over 8,ooo people following the war, the majority of whom where Northerners. In the generation before the war, the Chattanooga and Chickamaua areas were part of the Cherokee Nation. With the influx of industrialists and entrepreneurs, medicine shows were popular in the area, as Chattanooga had been a medical hub in the Civil War. The shows were the only way to sell medicine in a time where only a few men came back from the war intact – both physically and mentally. Plus they gave a rural population some much needed entertainment in the era before vaudeville and radio. In this era, James is the medicine man in a traveling show and finds Maggie abandoned in a field. The subplot develops from there. Here’s a list of the characters in 1873 and 2016:



James van Lee, real name of traveling medicine man Dr. Garrett Cleighton

Maggie Pickett, lost waif found by James in Chickamauga, Georgia            

Rhett Turnquest, performer in the traveling show, spice trader and notorious womanizer.

Natasha, Rhett’s favorite prostitute during the Civil War, now a dancer in ‘Dr. Cleighton’s show.

Frank Vletzen, primary investor in Cleighton’s Original Kaleidoscopic Elixir and the traveling show which sells it.

Sugar, widow with a small farm who sells herbs to the show in order to make the elixir.

Charlotte, the French wife of the owner of the Stanton Hotel in Chattanooga.

Moz, bearded lady in the traveling show.



James van Lee, rock star known as  Jago

Dr. Maggie Pickett, Emory University professor      

Rhett Turnquest, med student and lifelong love of Maggie.

Natasha, rock wannabe and lifelong seductress of Rhett. Maggie’s best childhood friend.

Frank Vletzen, James best friend and mentor.

Sugar, Frank’s protegy and European actress; ménage partner of Frank and James.

Aunt Charlotte, the fairy godmother and Maggie’s aunt.

Moz Art, guitarist in James’ band, TASTE.

swirlThe contemporary story finds James and Maggie meeting at an encounter unknowingly arranged by Rhett and Natasha. You’ll have to read it to see how the fairy tale evolves. I’ve drawn heavily from the Russian story of The Firebird , The Ice Queen, and the French version of Sleeping Beauty, along with some Russian history and even connected it with Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. The book includes exclusive photographs shared with the permission of the Library of Congress. And, there is a special picture from the first school in the US to be co-ed and open to all races and ethnic backgrounds. That school was in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Thank you in advance for reading my book. As you can probably surmise, this story is truly a labor of love; to me a magical combination of historical facts, rock & roll, and make believe. Many thanks for allowing me to share my creative process with you!

Where do dreams end and reality begin?

Look for an upcoming dream journal to accompany the series, which will be available soon. I’ve worked extensively in developing that with Dr. Beth Lynne, Ed.D, and a Jungian dream analyst to allow those who dream to better understand the symbols and motifs hidden within behind a wall of sleep.


Pre-order now for only 99c/99p!


Where do dreams end and reality begin?

Sexy rock star James van Lee and Dr. Maggie Pickett meet in Atlanta, at an encounter unknowingly arranged by Rhett Turnquest and Natasha. This complex story continues, taking it’s intriguing cast of characters from the Reconstruction South of 1873 into contemporary 2016. Past, Darkly blends historical fantasy, fairytales, and a dash of Victoriana into a enchanting read. This version includes Story 1 & 2 in The Dreams Series.
Please note: The story from 1873 is written in a southern US dialect used in the late 1800s. For historical accuracy, this book includes exclusive photographs and maps shared by permission of the Library of Congress.

Editorial Reviews:

  • If you are looking for a steamy Victorian Romance with a hot, contemporary vibe of adventure and suspense, then this is the book for you.” Jennifer Theriot, USA Today Best Selling Author.
  • “As magical and sexy as Outlander or Human Croquet.” C.P. Mandara, USA Today Best Selling Author.

8 Comments on “Past, Darkly: The Backstory

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: