Author Guest Post: Tony-Paul de Vissage

Today’s Author shares his thoughts on writing and the imagination. To listen to the inner muse.




AUTHORS NOTE: This story may or may not be true, and if it is, some of the events have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent…


Once upon a time, there was a little boy who eventually grew into a bigger boy and finally into a young man.

As he went along this journey, he realized he was going to have to work hard if he wanted to succeed.  After all, he wasn’t particularly handsome, or a possessor of any of the usual features stating plainly, “This young man is headed for Fame and Fortune.”

Truth be told, he was fairly ordinary, and definitely wouldn’t stand out in a crowd.

Unlike everyone else in his family, he wasn’t tall.  He could look Michael J. Fox in the eye, in fact, and where no one laughed at Michael J. Fox (at least not off-screen), even the young man’s family considered it acceptable to make him the target of continuous jibes and teasing.  Along with being not tall, he was also very slight, weighing in at one hundred and fifteen pounds sopping wet (and he was rarely that, having an aversion to being caught in rainstorms).

He wasn’t a good athlete.  If someone tossed him a football, he was more apt to drop it and trip over his own feet instead of running for a touchdown.  He was so slight a tackle would probably break all his bird-fragile bones.

The worst thing of all was that he had not one interest in common with those people calling themselves his kin.  They were farmers, hunters, footballers.  He was a bookworm, a scholar, a daydreamer…

Let’s face it, he was an N*E*R*D.

One thing the young man did have, however, was an Imagination, and while his body stayed the same size, that part of him continued to grow.  Throughout his life, Imagination would stick with him while other people left him bereft.

Since nothing fatal happened to prevent it, the young man finally became an adult.  He received an

Education, graduating from high school and going to college, all the while resisting his family’s efforts to force him into studies in which he had no interest, and majoring in those things he himself liked…art, English literature, music, drama…

He graduated with a Degree.  He found a Job.  He found a Spouse, had a Child, lost the former when she decided their lifestyles weren’t compatible, raised the latter by himself.  Through it all, he kept his Imagination.  He nurtured it and cherished it, allowed it to tell him stories when there was no money for outside entertainment, began to compose stories of his own when he couldn’t buy books…only in his mind, of course, never aloud, never allowing anyone else to see.

At last, Imagination had enough.

It gave the young man an ultimatum.  Stop telling me your stories…I’ve heard them until I know them by heart.  It’s time to let the World know what I do. Tell your stories to the World… or Else!!!

Or else what? he asked, surprised, because this was the first time Imagination had talked back. 

They’d always seemed to be of the same mind.  Until now.

Or I’m out of here, Imagination threatened.  I’m history. I’ll go to the Land of Unwanted Toys or wherever Imaginations go and you’ll never hear from me again!

Not wanting to call Imagination’s bluff, the young man thought about that.  And thought.  Then thought some more.  Finally, he decided to act.

What could it hurt?

Sitting at his computer, and feeling like someone suddenly finding himself on a stage under a huge spotlight when he had no idea what he was supposed to be performing, the young man began to think.  He delved into his childhood.  Into his innermost longings and loves.  He thought of a beloved Aunt, also misunderstood by her family.  He thought of his Father, a good man though thoroughly confounded by his Son.  He thought of his Mother, victim of PMLA, a disease still not fully understood, of the years she spent hiding from the sun because her own body, her very DNA, couldn’t repair the damage ultraviolet did to her skin.  He thought of all the movies he’d seen, hours and hours of sitting in darkened theatres or before a television screen watching make-believe monsters chase screaming heroines while stalwart, chisel-featured heroes rescued them.  He remembered all the books he’d read about those same monsters and heroines and heroes, and the idea began to unfurl.  Perhaps it had been there all along, merely waiting for Imagination to speak up and push him into freeing the germ of the idea.

The young man began to type…

He wrote stories of vampires—not really vampires, not the Undead-rise-at-night-dispatched-by-a-stake-through-the-heart kind, but of a people suffering from PMLA, a people misunderstood, a people set apart from those they might love, as his mother, his aunt, and his father had been.  A people allergic to sunshine who hid themselves away, not because they were evil but because people thought they were and because they were afraid of what that meant  He wrote of creatures considered monsters who were more kind and gentle than the people calling themselves human.

He sent out the stories and hoped, and felt crushed when one by one, they came back.

One day, he sent one and it didn’t come back.  It became a book and he took the copy his publisher had sent him and he held it up for Imagination to see.

Look, he said.  I did what you wanted…and here’s the result!

…and Imagination said, I knew you had it in you.  Now get to work and show me what else you’ve got!

Once I felt like a One-Trick Pony.  Three short stories and one novel…that’s all the writing credits I had.  The three short stories are about my own special kind of vampires, and they have as many foibles—they suffer, they are foolish, they cry, and they laugh—as any human.  Now, of course, I’ve twenty-one stories,  including a series, and another to be released in March, 2017.

The series is the story of the Second Species, Mankind’s second branch, those misunderstood people who became the source of the vampire legend.  Specifically, it’s about one family, the Strigoi, the family from which their prince selects his assassin, the Shadow Lord.

When Janos Strigoi is murdered, his eldest son demands retribution but is denied. He decides to seek it on his own and for his disobedience is exiled, along with his family, into the Outer World…19th century Europe…and there the story begins… of a relentless hunt through the centuries for their father’s killer.  Before they achieve their goal, the Strigoisti will settle themselves in New Orleans, find and lose lovers, and discover the most deeply-buried secret of their species. Every reviewer who has read it gives it stellar compliments, so I know I’m doing something right. 


“…De Vissage’s prose reads almost like dark poetry and possess a distinct rhythm all of its own…” – JAM, Amazon review

“…the author has mastered the genre to the point of being able to take it in new directions even as he honors its conventions…”—MES, Amazon review.

“…The Second Species series promises to be an epic…” –Vampire Romance Books review.


I’ve strive to live up to these comments…and Imagination is right there at my elbow, cheering me on, and that makes me know that sooner or later, the rest of my stories will wend their way into existence.

The moral of this little tale?

Listen to your Imagination, listen to your heart, keep sending out those manuscripts, and when they come back, send them out again, and again, and sooner or later, they won’t come back, and you, too, will hold that book in your hands and say to your own Imagination:  See?  Here it is.  I did what you demanding of me, and I thank you for doing that.


While Humans multiply into Earth’s dominant life-form, the Tree of Man sprouts another prolific branch—the aventurieri, winged, nocturnal hunters with a dietary need for blood. As legends evolve about them, Mankind’s half-brothers live their twilight lives in the Carpathians’ shadowed heights, where they develop their own civilization, laws, and religion—and a prophecy of a savior paradoxically betraying his people
When one of their kind murders another, his son’s demand for revenge expels him into the outside world of 18th century Europe. Marek Strigoi’s existence, as well as that of his species, will be forever changed as he seeks his father’s killer.

When both the hunter and the hunted are vampires, not even Hell can stand in the way.


Though the sun had been down for many hours, Elsabeta Suvoi was still abed.  Her lover liked it that way, wanting his woman where she was convenient whenever his lust seized him.

Elsabeta was slavishly in love with Mircea Ravagiu; he was violent and  insatiable, as cruel in bed as out of it, but she worshipped him.  It had been so from the moment they’d met.  With the greatest reluctance, her father had invited him to a banchet and she’d taken one look at the darkly handsome, black-eyed warrior, saw the lustful gleam in his eyes, and left with him that night against her parents’ wishes, sullying the Suvoi name to become his iubita.

He never spoke aloud that he loved her, though often he praised her body for the satisfaction it gave him, said straightaway she should never expect marriage or offspring, but Elsabeta was from a family of women who were mere chattels to their males so she accepted his domination without argument.  Running away with Mircea had been her one independent act.

At first horrified by the bloody orgies and attacks upon the deomi—the humans who lived on the edges of his estate, she now ignored his rapaciousness, letting his prowess in bed and his brutal little games distract her.  When her lover and his soldati returned from one of their hunts, she would lock herself in her bedchamber to drown out the screams coming from below.

It was the cries of the children which cut most into her soul, and at those times, she thanked the Oracle that Ravagiu had sworn he’d never get her with child, for it came into her mind that—had it happened—her own infant might become one of those shrieking out its life in the castel banquet chamber.

To Elsabeta, Mircea Ravagiu was like one of the dreadful Ancient Gods who ate its own offspring, and she believed he wouldn’t hesitate to rip out his own child’s throat and drink its blood should the thought come to him, and yet—with that perversity Nature renders some—she loved the man and never thought to leave him.

She was jerked from her semi-slumber by the chamber door being kicked open, sat up to stare at the figure in the doorway…Mircea, upper body bare, wings hovering around him.  They were still quivering, evidence he’d flown rapidly and had just landed.  From where she sat, she could hear his harsh panting.

He held something in his arms.

“Get dressed.”  No words of greeting or love.  Just an order.

“Why?  What’s the matter?”  A crash of sound came through the doorway, voices crying.  “What’s that noise?”

“My men are disposing of the vanjosi.”  He answered as calmly as if he were merely announcing that the moon had risen.  “Strigoi’s freak is on his way here and we have to go.”

“You should’ve expected this.”  She dared to remind him of what he’d done,  though she knew it might jeopardize her own life.  “Did you think you could slaughter his family and he wouldn’t retaliate?”

She’s been horrified when he returned from his brother’s castel announcing they’d been executed by the Prince’s Taietor, didn’t believe it when he said he planned to kill the Shadow Lord and his family.  She hadn’t thought he could succeed and waited to be told he was dead—resigned to losing him and living the rest of her days as an outcast for the choice she’d made…and then, he’d returned, bloodily triumphant…and Janos Strigoi and his wife were dead and their children carried away, to be tortured before their blood nourished their father’s enemy.

“I never thought that book-bound scholastic would have balls enough to take a sword in his hands!”  He stalked into the room.  The sounds from below got louder, women screaming, men shouting, voices abruptly cut off to be replaced by others just as terrified.  “Get up or you’ll join my servants!”

Sliding from the bed, she hastened to obey but as she reached for her chemise and overskirt, he said, “We’re flying.  Make certain your wings are unhampered,” and the bundle he held suddenly moved.

It began to squirm, kicking itself out of the swathing blanket—a plump little leg, an arm…

…a baby, a little girl-child.

She looked so tiny and out of place in Mircea’s deadly embrace.

“Dear one!”  Elsabeta stopped with the garment in her hands.  “W-who’s that?”

A sick dread twisted inside her.

“My daughter.”  His answer was as short as if he’d bitten the word.  “Now.”

Daughter?  How could he have a child?  Hadn’t he told her he wished no brats, that the only thing he wanted from them was their sweet, immortality-laden blood?

Shrugging her wings out of their concealing pouches, she peered at the infant who turned her head and held out her hands with a little whimper.  The child was blonde and blue-eyed, not quite a year old.

This is Janos Striogoi’s child.

Elsabeta’s heart felt as if it had been wrung dry.

“What are you going to do with her?”  Even as she asked the question, she knew she had to prevent it.  If she had to risk her own life and finally brave Mircea’s wrath, she couldn’t let him harm this child.

“’Twill be fitting, don’t you think?”  His laugh was harsh.  “Raising the Shadow Lord’s brat as my own, teaching her how to be a Ravagiu and some day…letting the survivors know…”

“No!  Please—”  A woman’s scream floated up to them, dying away to a bloody wail.

“Are you ready?”  He thrust the child into her arms.  Elsabeta cuddled it against her naked breast, holding the little body tightly.  All she could think was that she was going to do her utmost to protect this baby.

If it kills me.

He held out his hand.

She placed her own in it, asking, “Where are we going?” as he led her toward the window.

“I’m fortunate my brother saw fit to have holdings in other countries and I’ve traveled to them.”  One fist struck the shutters, sending them flying.  He stepped upon the sill.  “We’re going to Budapest.  Hold tight to the brat.  If you drop her, I’ll kill you!”

He flung himself through the window into the air and Elsabeta followed, clutching the child.

Releasing her hand, Mircea circled and rose swiftly upward, his body completing a graceful curve as he aimed himself over the trees, Elsabeta trailing after him.

Below them, the killings continued for another hour.



Personal MottoNil Sine Magno Labore (Nothing without Great Effort)

Motto of Brooklyn College and Tony-Paul de Vissage


A writer of French Huguenot extraction, one of Tony-Paul de Vissage’s first movie memories were of being six years old, viewing the old Universal horror flick, Dracula’s Daughter on television, and being scared sleepless—and that may explain a lifelong interest in vampires.

He jokes that a personal meeting with some visiting vampires earned him his tuition through college but the real truth: he’s simply paying back his very permissive parents by writing about vampires.

A voracious reader whose personal library has been shipped more than 3,000 miles, Tony-Paul has read hundreds of vampire tales and viewed more than as many movies.

While still an unpublished vampire novel, The Shadow Lord placed third in the erotic paranormal romance category in the 2009 “Reveal Your Inner Vixen” contest sponsored by the Maryland Romance Writers. It was also named one of the Top Ten horror novels of 2013 by the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll for that year.

TPV no longer lives in the South though he considers the Big Easy his spiritual home.


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Shadow Lord and the other novels in the series are published by Class Act Books.


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