Laura, please take the stage:
The writing of the Virtus Saga
Writing the Virtus Saga was a real challenge, particularly since I’m still not sure on how to go about creating a series. Mine, believe it or not, built itself on its own, starting with a recurring image in my mind—a horse rider lost in a place close to home who finds shelter from a thunderstorm in a beautiful woman’s run-down shack, and she looks too familiar to be a stranger, though he has no recollection of her, of who she is, not even of a name—and developing apparently on its own, details being added as I went along without any pre-conceived plot. As incredible as it sounds, it felt like I was reading it, rather than creating it. Yes, like any other reader starting with The Sex, I had no idea what the plot would turn out to be or why characters did certain things, then progressed to The Game, Book 2, and The Festival, gathering information without the chance to glimpse ahead. All I had was a concept, which I’ll gladly share with your readers for the first time ever.
The planet Sendar is controlled by a mechanical device as part of a vast social experiment. This sophisticated mechanism channels people's aggression into sex, which in turn guarantees their feudal society knows no violence.
Other than the above, I didn’t know myself where the story was going when it started, so much so I still don’t have a definite ending to it.
Interestingly enough, the characters played inside my head for quite some time before I set them down on paper. At first, I saw this handsome dark rider, a prince I thought to myself, with long hair flying wild as he braced nature’s hostile elements—a storm about to hit him just to make the situation more tragic—on his black horse, utterly lost in a land he should’ve known like the back of his hand but oddly didn’t, until he sees candlelight shimmering in a window. When he gets to it, he realizes he’s not lost at all, in fact he’s very close to home, only with the storm’s fast approach, he decides to stop there for the night if they’ll offer him hospitality. But the woman standing on the thresholds feels awfully familiar, though he hasn’t the slightest idea who she is or why she should feel like someone he’s intimate with. Now why doesn’t he remember Ylianor since he’d grown up with her? And since readers will find the answer in Book 4, The Leader, it proves how little info the characters shared about themselves while I was writing, telling me only what they wanted me to know when it was time to know it, no earlier, so from the first line to the last, which is still to be written, it was just small pieces until they composed a great picture that still amazes me for its complexity.
And Christopher Templeton is the key to the whole design, although he came to me after Duncan falling for Ylianor, overshadowing what would have been a classic romantic meeting with its predictable ending had he not been there to make it different from the start. So I gathered he had been Duncan’s only love from the beginning, no question about it, since the earliest age possible, and no woman would ever replace him in the prince’s heart, not if he has any saying in it. In time, I’ve come to love how Chris defends his territory, fiercely eliminating competition, doing his dammed best to make sure things stay the way they started out, however impossible that will be to accomplish. Yet in the end, readers realize Lord Templeton loves Duncan so much, he’ll only do what’s in the prince’s best interest, even if it means having to step aside and forego the most precious thing in his life like he does for two entire years of pain and agony away from his lover’s side. But I guess it’s what makes Christopher so fascinating and so attractive in his own diabolical way, unpredictably evil at time while capable of a love so all encompassing he’d be willing to sacrifice everything to it, his life included. And unsurprisingly, it all came together with the phase, the planet Sendar’s unique way for boys and girls to experience sex for the first time with someone of their own age and gender, which for both Duncan and Chris is a clear-cut choice given the powerful attraction to each other that will inevitably draw them closer than they ever imagined possible.
PG EXCERPT (The Sex)
“But, Mother, Chris is Duncan’s best friend, almost like a brother, so who better than him to make your son come to his senses?”
Suddenly interested, Chris brightened. “What happened?”
Sophia Caldwell’s hesitation lasted a fraction of a second before plunging into the story. “Well…it seems my son had the bad taste of employing a woman as a stable keeper and of course, we aren’t very happy about it.”
“Mother, if Chris is to help Duncan, he must know the truth.” She turned to him, eyes alight with barely suppressed emotions. “You see, this woman is the daughter of my father’s mistress, a servant he had the misfortune of…fancying.” She frowned as if recollecting something. “I think you may have known her, too. She used to play with Duncan when they were still children.”
Ylianor Meyer! How could I forget? “Vaguely.”
“Anyway, when Father died, Mother banished this…creature from the house. Now Duncan has brought her back.”
Chris turned to Lady Caldwell. “You really banished her?”
“Of course, I did.” Sophia spat. “To have to suffer her presence after Charles died would’ve been intolerable.”
“So it happened after your mate died in…” He creased his forehead in an effort to remember dates.
“About ten years ago,” Elizabeth supplied.
“And you’ve had no contact with her in all this time?”
He raised an eyebrow. “Not even Duncan?”
Elizabeth shrugged. “If he had, he made no mention of it. But I really don’t think so.”
“Then how did he find her?” And more importantly, how did he manage to remember her?
“We…” Elizabeth faltered and looked at her mother. “We don’t know.”
“I’m not interested in how he found her.” Lady Caldwell scoffed. “I want him to kick her out again.”
Elizabeth shook her head sadly. “Unfortunately, he offered her the position her father once held as stable keeper.”
“Yeah, I remember her father worked here.” Using a cautious tone, he pretended memories were returning to him.
“Yes, well…” Elizabeth looked uncomfortable as if debating whether to include more information or not. Then she made up her mind. “Actually, there are gossips going around about her origins. Malicious lies, for sure, but—”
“My mate is not that creature’s father.” Sophia Caldwell almost shouted.
“Mother, calm down!” Elizabeth turned to look at Chris apologetically. “Please, forgive her. It’s still a touchy subject for her and she tends to get very upset about it.”
“Of course, I understand.”
“Naturally, we know she’s no blood relation.” Elizabeth’s tone was firm as if wanting to dispel any residual doubts. “It’s ridiculous even to think it, but people can be very cruel sometimes, especially if they can talk bad about someone.”
“That servant had the baby when pledged to John Meyer, our stable keeper,” Sophia explained in a gentler tone. “Charles never pledged to her and as you well know, Lord Templeton, that’s essential before you can have any children.”
Chris nodded in agreement.
“John Meyer is her father.” Elizabeth set the record straight once and for all. “Or rather was. He died just recently.”
Chris frowned skeptically. “And this made Duncan want to replace him with his daughter?”
“I don’t think—”
“It has nothing to do with John’s death.” Lady Caldwell was quick to end her daughter’s sentence. “That woman, just like her mother, is a witch and she used witchcraft to seduce and enslave Duncan into bringing her back here. That’s exactly how her mother worked her way into my poor mate’s heart.”
“Come now, Mother, they’re just women.” Elizabeth tried to argue persuasively. “That’s all. Can you really see Duncan fall prey to witchcraft?” She looked steadily at Chris. “Maybe you can find out why he insists on keeping her on the premises.”
He shrugged annoyed. “If I ever get to see him.”
Laura Tolomei aka Lalla Gatta
JUST RELEASED Visionquest