Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Guest Post, Special Excerpt and Giveaway The Temple of Indra's Jewel by Rachael Stapleton

Published: September 2013


Sophia Marcil awakens from a snorkeling accident in the Lerins Islands to find herself in the chambers-and the body-of a nineteenth-century princess. In a confused state and with no idea of her whereabouts, Sophia embarks on a desperate quest for answers, hoping she can find her way back to her fiance, Nick, and her true identity.

After she finds a diary in an antique desk, Sophia follows a clue that leads her to a questionable alchemist, who relays the history and magic of the mysterious amethyst she inherited from her great-grandmother-the only possession that made the leap through time with her and perhaps the only thing that can prevent her from becoming a pawn in a murderous plot for the throne.

Using her inheritance, Sophia races through time to the twenty-first century to solve the mystery of her family's past. But once she is there, she unearths a dire warning about a curse that clings to her heirloom, leading her down a dangerous path involving two men from different times and ultimately puts her life at risk.

In this tale of obsession, greed and passion, a woman on a journey through time struggles to regain a family heirloom and control its magic, hoping to break the curse before it breaks her.

Waking in the Chambers of Another: Writing about Reincarnation

Have you ever dreamed of living in another era? Maybe you would have enjoyed being a knight during the Middle Ages or a Painter in Florence during the Early Renaissance. Ever wondered if you have lived before and if so who you were? 

I’ve always found reincarnation to be a fascinating idea. When I was young, I remember watching movies like Dead Again and Defending Your Life. And while I realized that reincarnation didn’t fall in line with my family’s religious beliefs, the idea of it never grew less interesting. But while it was cool, explaining the ins and outs of reincarnation made my head hurt at times. There are a lot of details to consider when forming a theory on spirituality and how the cycle of life works 

When I wrote The Temple of Indra, I’d just finished reading Diana Gabbaldon’s first Outlander book–which, of course, is time travel–but before that I had also been reading a lot of spiritual books on Near Death Experiences and the afterlife. I was fascinated by the accounts of doctors and nurses who’d witnessed legally dead patients –come back and tell them about a conversation they’d overheard in the room. I’d also read a lot of books on past lives, hypnosis, and the other side. 

When I sat down to work out the logistics of my story, I found that after reading so many different ideas on the cycle of life, I had really begun to form my own. Not that I 100% believed it; I just thought what if this is how it works. What would happen if one of the spirits tied to you went bad and you got stuck with them and from that, the premise of my novel was born: A woman, cursed by a magical family heirloom, destined to be murdered in each life by someone close to her, and forced to travel back through time to her past lives in order to sever the tie. 

Being a history buff, writing about the possibilities of reincarnation, time travel and another era were fascinating to me because I basically got to study real accounts of people’s lives from the past and live things that were completely foreign to me. I still remember the first time I wrote the opening scene to the first book in the series, where Sophia wakes in the bedchambers of the Princess. I started typing, knowing the basis of my scene but each time I got a paragraph in, I had to jump back to the internet or my books. I remember thinking how do I write dialogue when I don’t even know what they would call a bathroom. Or if they even had plumbing by then? I couldn’t get more than one page without looking something up but that turned out to be a blessing. I wasn’t completely done the plot–and before I knew it, the research was sparking new ideas, giving me ways to twist and turn the story. The interesting part is that I was never really drawn to the Victorian era before. I had always thought it stuffy. 

Now the Gothic tales of the late eighteenth century were all right, with dark and mysterious characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, and Edward Hyde; but the sentimental lessons on improving nature and morals were not for me. That’s why I surprised myself when I chose it as the backdrop but it fit my need for political upheaval. 

However, given all that loveable learning, I am the first to admit it was and still is a lot of research especially when trying to represent the era well and make characters credible. I try to find as much information via books–although the internet is more–but the resources are not held as accountable. The good news is I’m not writing historical fiction in the purest sense of the genre so I definitely get to make some leaps. I used the internet a lot to look up historical photos to describe buildings, clothing, furniture, etc. I even went on sites like trip advisor to look up tourists photos. I would much prefer to travel to France and Ireland to authenticate but unfortunately until I’m a best seller I’m limited. The excerpts from Princess Sapphira’s diary were particularly challenging. I tried to find as many primary sources as I could to see what sort of language would have been used and to see just what sort of details and facts were written down at that time. I came across a journal and a few letters that gave me perspective but they were sparse and none really called for the nature that I needed–dark, ominous and embroiled in a plot. 

There was a reference book that was pretty awesome (unfortunately I found it much later) but it was called Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians by Marc McCutcheon. He also has one for the 1920s, which is fabulous since Book Two takes us back there to deal with Sophia’s family and their shady past. 

I could get lost in these books for days but the trick is to know when to flip the switch and get back to writing. Eventually I just wrote and the rest was pointed out and authenticated by my writer’s group–and thank goodness for them, otherwise Sapphira’s dresses might have had zippers ….the shock and horror of it all! 

Writing about another era and being in another body was both rewarding and difficult. Would I do it all again? Hell yes. Only this time I’d choose a new era. Why make things easy when you can live and learn, but maybe that’s just my way of reincarnating.


Excerpt from The Temple of Indra’s Jewel - Chapter 21

I saw my breath as I unlocked the car door. I was glad I’d had the sense to pull on my oversized knit sweater and scarf before leaving the house. Grabbing my grey fringed bag from the passenger seat, I took one last glance around and scolded myself for being nervous. 

A thin, brittle-looking woman with sharp cheekbones and jet black hair pulled back in a tight chignon answered the door. 

“I have an appointment,” I said, admiring her expensive suit. Judging from the bracelet she wore, I’d say she wasn’t the housekeeper. She took me to a beautiful sitting room with, oddly enough, leopard-print antique furniture and plush white throws. 

“You’re the woman who called,” she said in a frosty voice. “My mother doesn’t usually see people at the house. Please wait here.” Then she turned on her Gucci heels and promptly strolled out. I peeked around the room, admiring the antique clock in the corner. A collection of shiny stones on one of the bookshelves drew my attention. I moved closer and pinched one between my fingertips, rolling it around. 


I jumped and turned around. An older lady of about seventy stood in the doorway, frowning.

“It’s you! You’re the psychic from the store.”

“Please don’t touch my crystals, they’re personal.” She studied me as if seeking to know how many I had touched.

“I’m sorry.” A sheepish grin tugged at my mouth as my fingers absently curled around the charm on my chain. 

“You’re the girl with the malignant spirit attached to you,” she said calmly as she strolled into the room. She set down a tray of tea and biscuits, as if she’d just commented on the weather. 

“Yes. I’m sorry for running out on you the other night. I was a skeptic up until recently. Your name is Ms. Brun, right? You have a lovely home.”

She nodded. “Let’s sit down. Please have a cup of green tea.” She sat back and crossed her arms. 

“Honestly, I’m really sorry about the other night. I’ve just been so scared lately. I feel like someone’s always watching me. When you got so excited over the book, I was frightened.”

“It’s all right, dear. I understand. I didn’t mean to spook you. You don’t have to tell me where you saw the book.”

“No, it’s okay. It’s in the archives at the library. I’m a librarian.” 

I had also seen it in Rochus’s house, but I wasn’t about to explain that. 

“I also found a note in my great-grandmother’s belongings in the same Persian script, warning me of a curse.”

“So you know magic has been strategically hidden all over the earth by the devil to tempt us.”

“No. I wasn’t aware of that part.” I reached for the tea pot and poured myself a cup.

“Where do I start? Let’s see. Spirits on the other side write a life plan. This usually involves a group to make sure we stay on track with the lessons and goals we each want to learn. We are then sent to Earth to learn and understand. When the lessons are complete, we return to the other side through the revolving door. However, there are some spirits who find and become mixed up in the devil’s hidden magic.” 

She paused, pouring herself a cup of tea before slowly selecting a cookie. I took the opportunity to grab one as well. I needed to keep my hands from shaking.

“They become obsessed, warped by delusions of power. When they die, instead of returning to heaven to regroup and evaluate, they choose to return to Earth, forced to experience the same lessons they’ve just failed at. This becomes a curse for the souls tied to the fallen soul.” 

Everything she was saying made sense and checked out with what Bill had said. 

“Those souls then have two options: they can sever the tie, damning the soul, or they can continue the circle, destined to relive the same mistakes until the lesson is finally learned. I’m afraid this is your story, darling. You are tied to a soul who has coveted the power of the throne; he became obsessed with the cursed Purple Delhi sapphire.” 

I almost choked on my cookie, sputtering its remains into a napkin. She looked at me queerly and went on.

“As I was saying, he became obsessed with the cursed Purple Delhi sapphire in your first life, discovering that it held magical powers that would allow him to achieve his political agenda.” 

“What political agenda?”

“I don’t know exactly. I see the symbol of a snake. I see the plotting of death in the monarchy. It looks to be a secret society fighting over the rule or territories of a kingdom. In refusing to learn the lessons and follow the plan decided by you and the group prior to coming to Earth, he has damned you and the other souls tied to him. Everyone has been forced to go round and round, stuck in the same nightmare, while he attempts to gain possession of the gem, always murdering you, the owner and the object of his affection, sending both of you into the next life. I can tell you that in the following two lives he becomes even more obsessed with it, understanding that the sapphire alone offers him the power to time travel. If he can get his hands on the jewel, he can travel back, ensuring his place on the throne although he failed the first time. The only way to break the curse is to stop the cycle. You have to sever him.”

“How?” I exclaimed.

She made a derisive sound. “There is an incantation. It was written on the stone. You only need say those words to him while he is touching it.”

“There are no words on the stone. I’ve seen it—it’s tiny.”

“Perhaps they were rubbed or scratched off. Or maybe the gem has been altered.”

“It was. You’re right. It was made into a jewellery set.”

“You must travel once again through the thread back to the beginning. Find the original jewel and you will find the incantation.” 

I cursed my Opa in that moment, not only for accepting it but for changing it. Sapphira’s murder flashed in my mind. Could Viktor have done it? If that was the case, why would he have saved me in the first place? I thought of the hidden diary and the map I’d seen tucked into the back of it.

“I don’t even know how to get back. And Sapphira was murdered. How do I avoid being killed?” 

Her expression transformed, and she eyed me with avid interest. “I don’t know, my dear, but you do. All I know is it’s someone close to you.”

“But who?” I asked, jiggling my knee in irritation.

“Someone you trust and perhaps love or will love. It’s unclear.” She glanced at the clock and then back at me. “I’m sorry. Nothing else is coming to me. In every life he has gotten lost; if you do not sever him, then he will follow you for all of your lives and ruin every experience and lesson that you ever hope to learn. He is a lost soul, and you must forever trap him in the jewel he so loves.” With that she stood up and left the room. 

I drew a breath and released it. Scanning the room, my eyes settled back on the bookshelf. The sparkle of her crystals once again caught my eye, and then I realized why. The book behind it was facing out and had a large image of the underwater cavern I’d travelled through. I read the title, Explore the Islands of the French Riviera. I cursed myself for almost missing it. Thank you for the gentle nudge, Rochus.

Hurrying to my car, I started thinking about what to do. The shift in the air set my teeth on edge, and I looked over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t being followed. I had to stop being so paranoid. If Liam was still in town, maybe I should take Cullen up on his offer and have him stay with me after all. 

I unlocked the doors, sliding into the driver’s side before I turned to investigate the backseat, assuring myself I was alone. I turned on the radio—loudly. Music was a good way to drown my anxiety. I drove, humming to the tune of an 80s remix about dreams, all the while reminding myself that I was safe. Yet somehow I felt like I was being watched. 

Arriving home without incident, I forced myself to walk at a normal pace. I desperately needed a drink. I unlocked the front door and flipped on the light, stepping inside. Gigi’s sweater still hung on the hook from her last visit. My heart ached for her. 

Though the entrance hall was empty, I felt watched. I listened. Raindrops murmured against the windows, as though the house grumbled of the moist wood rot and dampness that permeated its elderly skeletal structure. All was quiet, and yet an ill-omened hush seemed to scratch at my neck, like Daphne sharpening her claws.

I’m just being paranoid. 

My gaze swept the living area, and I froze in my tracks. The place had been trashed, furniture shoved aside and strewn about. Kitchen drawers were dumped upside down. Oddly enough I was reminded of a story Gigi once told me about Grandpa Eugene’s jewellery store being ransacked. 

Panic gripped me. What was I waiting for? What did I expect to hear? I was fearful to make a sound, a sudden move, terrified that something concealed waited for me in the shadowy recesses of the room. I had to force myself to take the first stride. 

The cushions were torn and the tables toppled over. Someone had been here looking for something. 

I flung down my purse and barrelled back toward the door, narrowly missing the elephant statue laying on its side. Every moment I anticipated a blade between my shoulders. I was almost to the door when I heard he footsteps rush up behind me a split second before I was grabbed. A coarse sack was pulled over my head.

Intuitively, I fought back. Shrouded by darkness, I struggled like a feral beast, even when I was hit so hard that I lost my footing, nearly collapsing to the floor. 

“Where is it?” a voice demanded.

I stayed silent.

Everything went black.

About the author:
Rachael Stapleton grew up in a small town, writing as a hobby until the age of sixteen when she was given the opportunity to pen a column for the Orono Weekly Times. Today she is a dedicated writer who contributes to a weekly writer’s circle and is also a proud member of the Writer’s Community of Durham Region. 

Rachael lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and two children.

Author's Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Unknown said...

Thank you for this opportunity! :-)

Mimi Smith said...

Thanks for the giveaway!


Stormy Vixen said...

Thanks for sharing the great excerpt and the giveaway. Sounds like a great adventure. evamillien at gmail dot com

Chaotic Karma said...

Sounds like a wonderful read! Thank you for the giveaway :)

~Veronica Vasquez~

Denise Z said...

I am intrigued. Thank you for sharing with us. I added to my TBR and am looking forward to more :)

Unknown said...

Terrific look at the book.. glad for the chance.. thank you.

Unknown said...

Sweet giveaway thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for the giveaway!