An ancient curse
A forgotten love
A painting with secrets only one woman can reveal
Coco Rhodes is surprised by a horrific vision beneath her most recent painting: the violent attack upon a fragile young girl. When a link is discovered between an education-finance fraud and several girls disappearing from Washington, D.C. schools, Coco’s lover and leader of the Allegiance, the vampire-warlock Gabriel, vows to rescue the girls, and topple a corrupt congressman. Concurrently, the dark and twisted past of Kenan, the Allegiance’s sworn enemy, is revealed. With Kenan’s whereabouts unknown, members of the Allegiance begin to unravel his sadistic plan.
From New York and D.C., to Tuscany and the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy, the supernatural guardians of the Allegiance are guided by both the lessons of history and the shocks of present-day life. Through magical twists and otherworldly subplots, this supernatural thriller weaves a web of intrigue, love, and conflict. In The Devil and the Muse, Coco’s sense of duty to the Allegiance is tested. But will protecting her loved ones cause her to sacrifice her humanity?
A Gift From David Bowie
During my earlier life as a costume designer and stylist, I was lucky enough to work with David Bowie, first as the costume designer for the music video for his song “Day In, Day Out,” and subsequently asked to join the crew as head of wardrobe for the Glass Spider tour in 1987. After turning down the opportunity of touring more than once, I finally accepted.
In retrospect, touring was not exactly the ideal situation for me to be in as I had recently become sober, and the lifestyle of being on the road 24/7 was not exactly harmonious with the emotional and physical turmoil one experiences during the first year of sobriety. It would not be until many years later that I would understand the relevance of this part of my life’s journey.
After a few months on the road in Europe, I decided that for my own health and well-being I needed to resign and head back to the familiarity of the city of angels. But the tour marked a turning point in my life; a seed was planted in my soul when we stayed just outside of Florence in a sanctuary called Villa La Massa.
Skip ahead thirty years…
While researching locations for The Creatives Series and searching for a lost stapler, I happened to open a drawer and pick up a bunch of old papers. As I went to stuff them all back where they belonged, something fell to the ground. I picked up the fallen paper and a flutter of recognition sparked my curiosity. It had been nearly twenty-six years since the Bowie tour, but time did not quell the host of images that flooded my mind. The paper in my hand was a brochure for a small luxury boutique hotel just outside of Florence: Villa La Massa.
As I stared at the photo on the front of the brochure, I remembered the sense of nostalgia I had experienced the moment I stepped off the tour bus and onto the path that led to the entrance of the sixteenth-century Italian villa, way back in June of ‘87. Standing in the foyer while waiting for my room allocation, protected by a border of arches, I had felt safe and happy. Making my way to my room along the third-floor open hallway, I looked down at the foyer. From this vantage point, the arches brought to mind a flower opening her petals to the Tuscan sun – a welcoming of sorts. I recalled the vivid baby blue tones of my room and the view from the attic window – the gardens that bordered the terrace, and the reflections mirrored upon the surface of the Arno River.
There are pieces of Villa La Massa woven into The Creatives Series, in particular, Antonia’s home in Florence, and Gabriel’s Tuscan villa outside of San Gimignano. Through a strange series of events I was drawn to another property in Tuscany called, Spannocchia, and this became the model for Gabriel’s villa. One look at the turret and I knew I needed to visit this place. My wish came true earlier this year and Spannocchia did not disappoint – complete with the snuffling sounds of wild boar lurking behind overgrown hiking trails!
Not a day goes by where I’m not grateful for the short time I spent working with David Bowie. He was the ultimate Creative – a sweet and sensitive man who loved to read and engage in philosophical conversations during long flights and family-style Italian dinners.
The purpose of a stapler is to bind things together. Although I never did find my missing stapler, I believe it more than adequately fulfilled its mission.
Mandy Jackson-Beverly is the author of A Secret Muse, and The Devil And The Muse; the first two books in The Creatives Series. Mandy is a contributor to The Huffington Post and a book reviewer for The New York Journal of Books. Her first novel, A Secret Muse, won first place in the fantasy section of the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Awards. Mandy has taught Advanced Placement Art, and previously worked as a costume designer and stylist for photographer Herb Ritts, and directors Joel and Ethan Coen, David Fincher, and Julien Temple, and music icons David Bowie, Madonna, and Tina Turner, to name a few. If you’d like to learn more about Mandy you can visit her website, follow her on Facebook, and Instagram.