Monday, September 29, 2014

A Chat with Jennifer M. Fulford || BLOOD, LOVE AND STEEL: A MUSKETEER'S TALE

He who loves not is but half man. Athos, the famed Musketeer, seeks the ultimate release from heartbreak — death. Cruel memories of his first love, Milady de Winter, torture Athos to near madness. At the end of a streak of wagers to end his misery, Athos attempts a suicidal dare that gamblers in Paris, including the Musketeer, believe he cannot survive. When his plan backfires, he lands at the country chateau of Nicole Rieux, the pious Comtess de Rochefort. To save his reputation and please the King, he is bound by a bet to seduce her. Nicole shows compassion. She sees through his pain as she tries to forget her own. Athos must decide whether to love her and save himself from self-destruction. Only God — and her husband — may stand in the way. 


Hi Jennifer, welcome to the Snarkology! Thank you for joining me. Do you have a process for coming up with character names and book titles?

Relevant question. An agent who read my debut novel, Blood, Love and Steel, requested that I change the name of the heroine. Her name was Rochelle, but she lived in Rochefort, and the Musketeers fought at the Siege of La Rochelle. Too many Rs, Os and Cs. She's Nicole now. For other names, I steal great ones from friends who have French ancestry. One of the men in my book is Camille, a French name for a man, but for me, it's my youngest daughter's name.

Please tell us, what does your writing space look like? 

Like a deep thinker. I tweeted last week that my only infamy may come from making the list of the Top Messy Desks of Writerly People. Might be the only prize I'll ever win.

Please tell us about your current work in progress. 

I'm revising Book Two in my Musketeer Series, “Athos and Milady: In the Beginning,” the story of how Athos meets his nemesis and former wife, Milady de Winter. They fall lustfully in love, then fall apart. She's the reason Athos becomes a Musketeer. Alexandre Dumas, who wrote The Three Musketeers, left so many holes in the backstory of these two central characters that I decided the story needed to be fleshed out. And flesh out, I did. “Athos and Milady” is a story of spiraling sexual disaster. Fun to write. I also intertwined the story of Genesis as a theme. Religion and sex, great companions. It should be out next year.

Do you write with music going in the background? What are some of your favorite types/bands?

No music while I write. It's too much of a distraction. I like a quiet, empty house. But I do rely on music to put me in a mood for scenes and themes. I listened to a lot of Pearl Jam and Nirvana when writing “Blood, Love and Steel.” Right now, I like the dark, head-banger music of my oldest daughter. She's into Pierce the Veil, Bring Me the Horizon and Breathe Carolina. AWOLNATION also rocks my socks, or is the reason I can't find their matches.

Alexander Dumas 1855 (Wikipedia)
Name one person, living or dead, you'd most like to meet.

Alexandre Dumas, no question. He was a prolific writer who wasn't trained as a writer. He also loved women. Chased them plenty. I wonder what he would think of me and my work.

What is your favorite book genre? Who are your favorite authors?

I gravitate toward dark, sexy literary fiction. Right now, I'm reading “The Last Werewolf” by Glen Duncan. It's delicious. I also like Nicholson Baker, who writes mainly literary fiction but also another genre: smut. (“Vox” and “House of Holes”) I met Baker at a book event last year in Portland, Ore., by complete happenstance, and he was so gentle and kind and forthcoming. He says he just likes to mix things up.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three modern conveniences would you take with you?

Fire, ice and a water filter, those are as modern as I'd get. Oh, and a few thick hardbound books to read and burn for warmth, including Moby Dick, which I would likely burn before reading. In other words, you won't find me on an episode of Naked and Afraid anytime soon.

Quick quiz:
Favorite food? Cheese and more cheese, add in a little wine
Favorite color? Red
Favorite animal? My two, Ollie the cat and Lady the dog
Biggest pet peeve? Socks, their sorting and care
Dream car? Anything driven by James Bond


What fun! Three cheers for Snarkology


Athos left the coach and approached the entrance of her church as the choir inside began Mass. The thick doors represented a passage he had never intended to cross alive. He gazed up at the pale sky while a faint wind nipped his shirtsleeves. He needed an inkling of composure.
He summoned the image that focused him: A starless night, away from people and fire and earthly distractions, only
a black moon.
He stealthily pushed one side of the church's double entry. Its dark iron hinges swung open without a sound. He found a vacant pew near the back. No one turned to acknowledge him, not even the baby thrown over a shoulder three rows ahead, who was fascinated by a mote of dust.
He had last visited a church for Porthos’ wedding, and Athos had not taken communion. Inside Nicole’s sanctuary, he was reminded of a deep snow he had travelled through on a mission for the King—beautiful—but menacing. The grand designs of a church were purposeful—to calm the masses into thinking all the circumstances and drudgery of life changed upon entering. His purpose was to soothe his soul in another way.
He scanned the back of the heads. No Nicole. Sliding to the other end of the empty pew, he resumed his search until he found her. She was not sitting near the front, as Athos would have guessed, but four rows from the back by a group of older women. He was near enough to see her eyes closed in prayer.
What am I doing?
He fought for an ounce of sanity. She was devoted to God, but he couldn’t help returning to the recent hours when her baser human qualities surfaced. When his hands wandered scandalously close to compromise. She was as real, weak and yearning as he was. He wanted her more. He wanted every fragment of detail. Being near her, even in church, fed his self-indulgence, though here the barriers were much thicker than the sash around her body.
Father Audric began the sermon.
 “In Revelations, Jesus redeemed His people and made them priests like Himself before His future fulfilment in glory. As the
scripture says ‘He is coming amid the clouds and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him.’ For the faithful, this seeing is the completion and the acceptance of Jesus. For the unbeliever, it is the judgment and lament.”
Emptiness filled Athos’s lungs. Nevertheless, he waited for communion with a stillness rivalling death. He wanted to see her receive. She rose for the ritual, followed the faithful line, crossed her body, and summoned peace as the bread of life mixed with her blood. A lifetime had passed since he had done the same, but he knew the feeling well. It was a melting oblivion, like her skin on his tongue, fortifying his body with salt and the impressions of salvation.
Without a doubt, my soul is damned.
She might contest it, say it wasn’t so, but to sit in a house of God, without a splinter of reverence—desiring a woman bound to it—sealed his damnation. She was a devotee; he would never be one again.
Why does she want me here? To remind me of my wrongs? To bring me back to God?
He dug his nails into his palms and waited for more singing. Athos believed no one knew he came or left.



  1. Hi Jennifer,
    Welcome to the Snarkology. Thank you for joining me today and sharing your story with us. I love the idea of a new romantic take on old literary classics. What was your inspiration for Blood, Love, and Steel?

    1. Thanks for asking (see below). Oh, and also thank you for having me on your wonderful site! Many good blessings to you. jf

  2. I loved the character Athos, who was played by the British actor Oliver Reed in a Three Musketeers movie in the late '70s. He played Athos dark and mysterious, so heartbroken. Once I read the book, I realized Athos was the only Musketeer who hadn't taken a lover. So, guess what? He was prime for a new story. Oddly enough, Dumas wrote a sequel to The Three Musketeers (titled Twenty Years After) and in it, Athos appears to have a son. So...something happened in the interim. I just filled in the blank.