Built upon the fabric of the author’s background as a member of the 1%, yet woven from whole cloth, this award-winning bestselling novel “Eye of the Moon” is an enchanting web of multigenerational intrigue, secret love affairs, sumptuous black- and white-tie dinner parties, potential murders, Egyptian occultism, vicious curses, unexpected magic, and secrets that break, or reshape, lives. It is peopled by characters like Russian dolls, with shocking elements revealed in layers over the five-day house party in Rhinebeck. Though the opening chapters are perhaps benign, readers and reviewers alike rave that they become ensnared in the story and can’t put the novel down, even if it means they burn their dinner or stay up to 4 am.
Percy, the narrator, begins as someone raised on the fringes of the elite, quasi-abandoned by his traveling parents. He is abruptly reunited with his pseudo-brother and pulled into his hijinks. They stumble upon the artifacts of the legendary socialite Alice, who had died mysteriously twenty years prior. Her letters and journals bring a darker world to the light and the two men dive headlong into the shadows. This inadvertently involves everyone at the estate, including the butler, Stanley, who was the only confidante of Alice with hidden knowledge of what happened behind closed doors before her death. She still lives in the places lit with magic, her narrative woven tightly with Percy’s. What will be the cost of revealing the truth? Where does Percy ultimately belong?
Targeted Age Group:: 18-80
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
"Eye of the Moon" was inspired by three facts and three ideas.
My grandmother was an Egyptologist who died reading the Egyptian Book of the Dead. "W Magazine" reported that she may have been murdered. Her house in Rhinebeck, NY, that passed to my father when she died, had been visited by the ghost of my grandmother according to several adult eyewitnesses. Those were the facts.
I was a kid. I didn’t see a ghost, yet I wanted to very much. My lack of positive results may have been due to the time I went to bed (early) compared to when apparitions would appear (late) or a peculiarity of the perceptions and psychology of adults in general. The psychological angle piqued my interest. “How come” is always an important question that I try to answer in my writing.
The three ideas were:
The action had to take place within a finite time frame of five days. This was based on the Greek model, which restricted the action to twenty-four hours. Since I wasn’t in ancient Greece, I extended the time allowed.
The plot would evolve from the situations the characters found themselves in. No outline was permitted.
The characters in the novel would be free to act in any way they saw fit with only one proviso, whatever they had a mind to do had to take place within the time frame allotted. I said, “begin!” and things happened. The plot took off in wild directions and often left me as surprised as I hope the reader is. I mean if the author is surprised, how could the reader not be?
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters were created partly from people I’ve met, but mostly from my imagination.
Percy, who is the main protagonist, is likely a darker, more paranoid version of myself. While Johnny, his best friend, is a more flamboyant me.
Additionally, Patrick O’Brian wrote a series of books (21) about life in the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. The most well-known of these is "Master and Commander", which was made into a film. Many of the characteristics of Dr. Maturin from that series can be found in Percy while many of the traits of Aubrey are in Johnny. There are differences, of course, but the mixture is similar. I always wanted a lifelong friend so I thought I would create one. The friendship is a major theme of the novel.
From another perspective, someone once said that it’s a bad idea to irritate an author because the perpetrator may end up as a character in their novel. I believe there is some truth in that. Some of the other characters were inspired in that very way but mostly they are made-up. All the characters have distinct personalities and ways of going about things. I never censored them and as I wrote, they formed into vibrant personalities that drove the story. They are still there in my head and have now found their way into the sequel. They have a life of their own.
The chauffeur stood by the limousine’s door as the entire
household hastily gathered outside in the driveway in
welcome. She was, after all, Mrs. Leland, John Senior’s
mother and Johnny’s grandmother. Even the von Hofmanstals and Malcolm Ault were in attendance. I had to hand it to her — she loved an entrance.
To Johnny and his family, she was known simply as Maw, a
nickname she had acquired well before my time. Because I was not family, and because the word conjured up the image of a large mouth filled with teeth, I called her Mrs. Leland.
In other circles, those made up of various board members of several large multinationals, she was referred to in more
disparaging terms. She was dubbed the Crone. She struck fear in some, irritation in most, and apoplexy in the remainder. Her reputation on the street was legendary, bolstered by a steady stream of rumor and innuendo, of which Johnny and I had heard many.
One concerned a singularly vitriolic board meeting that left a member dead. Some say from an aneurism brought on by an excess of exasperation. Others say on account of him choking on his own tongue, and death was the result of overreaching and subsequent asphyxiation. Whichever was true, the poor man rose up suddenly from his seat mid-sentence, turned purple, and after a series of hideous convulsions died on the carpet in front of the
boardroom’s double doors. While others looked on in shock, the Crone stepped over him without so much as a downward glance as she left the proceedings — her majority secured with the death of the dissenting member. Whether that story was apocryphal or not, all agreed that as a boardroom brawler, she had few equals. She
gave no quarter, showed no mercy, and held her own counsel.
If she played with ferocity in the business world, she played with equal verve and passion in familial matters. Family was business after all.
Through marital death and adept administration, Maw had
amassed a fortune and corresponding economic power that
rivaled that of a small country. Much of this was hidden from public view by a complex labyrinth of trusts and legal entities, the total value of which was a closely guarded secret known only to one person.
Who would ultimately take the reins of this extraordinary
fortune when she passed was an open question that was much debated, even on the corners of Broad and Wall. The two most eligible candidates were her son, John Senior, and his half-sister, Bonnie Leland. Banks, accounting firms, investment houses, and all who wished to partake in trickle-down economics allied behind one of the two contestants. It was winner-take-all, and whosoever backed the victor would be amply rewarded.
But the Crone was full of surprises. If neither contestant lived up to her expectations, she was quite content to pass the baton to a third, a large foundation of her own making. The foundation existed as a shell for now, but that could be changed with the stroke of a pen, a possibility that was brought to bear if the contestants failed to compete with the appropriate effort.
Financial stocks took a beating the day this rumor was leaked, and the decline continued for several more until a highly placed but anonymous source asserted that, as a whole, the existing financial system was sufficiently robust to handle such an eventuality.
Order restored, all affected settled down to await the outcome. They were still waiting.
In the meanwhile, John Senior and his half-sister maneuvered, schemed, and plotted. John Senior had the lead in financial acumen, but Bonnie had managed to get close to her mother by being her constant companion. She had her mother’s ear, which neutralized John Senior’s apparent edge. Bonnie had taken full advantage of this position. In a recent coup de main, she had managed to secure from her mother the promise in writing that should she inherit, she would have the Fifth Avenue apartment and the Dodge family would have to vacate immediately. This move had not gone unnoticed by the Dodge household and had yet to be answered by Mr. Dodge. All awaited a response, but so far nothing. Johnny and I speculated that perhaps this little get together might have something to do with that. The fact that Bonnie was officially invited to Rhinebeck was unusual enough to cause us to pay attention.
Once everyone had assembled, the chauffeur, after receiving instructions from inside, opened the door. First came Bonnie, elegantly dressed in a dark shirt and skirt. She sported needle-sharp black patent-leather high heels. On her right hand was a diamond the size of a small egg. She pushed the chauffeur away, so she could hand out her mother personally. Her opening gambit displayed her privileged position while hopefully gaining her
mother’s approval by offering assistance.
Of this, I was not so sure. Maw demanded obedience while
despising those who were overly fawning and obsequious. The boundary between the two was a constantly moving target that was not easily discovered until after the fact.
Maw slapped her hand away and barked something at her that was unintelligible. Bonnie leaped back as if struck and contorted her face into a grim smile to cover her shock. Gambit declined. Her eyes flicked to her half-brother, who showed no response to her setback.
At last, Maw was out. She stood before us, arms akimbo,
cloaked in a full-length mink coat open at the front, revealing a light-blue denim work shirt and khaki pants. She wore roper boots of dull brown that were shiny at the front and sides from picking up stirrups. Her weathered face looked us over. Her gray hair was caught up in a ponytail held by an ordinary plastic hair clip. She gave the assembly a nod and said to Stanley, “I’d like some tea in the drawing room.”
Without another word, she marched toward the house as the door was quickly opened to let her pass. There was no infirmity that I could see for a woman who was close to eighty.
Bonnie reached into the car to grab her mother’s purse and her own, while the rank and file made our way inside. Harry and the chauffeur unloaded piles of luggage. I was last to the front door. As I watched from the steps, Bonnie managed to snag her heel on something in the driveway. It broke with a snap. She wobbled and almost fell. She looked down at the offending shoe and started cursing. She took it off and hurled it away. She took off the other, and it followed. In stocking feet, she limped rapidly toward the
entrance, muttering to herself. The gravel had sharp edges, making her progress painful. I went down to ask if she required any assistance, but she looked at me like I was something the cat had coughed up and hissed, “Get out of my fucking way.” She limped up the stairs and into the house. It was a rough start. I had Mr. Dodge ahead on points, but it was early yet.
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