AWAKENING MACBETH, the romantic thriller with a paranormal twist, is probably the most daring thing I’ve ever written. I’ve worried obsessively over the cover, a symptom of the unsettling feeling I’ve had about tossing it out there for the world to chew on.
The story is one of love versus evil and has its roots in both my Catholic upbringing and my love of books and learning. It also took me away from Acapulco, where the Detective Emilia Cruz series is set, and to some equally dreamy places.
The novel begins in Charlottesville VA, where history professor Brodie Macbeth plans to give bad news yet ends up getting some instead. I went to the University of Virginia for my Masters degree and taught US Foreign Policy there for a year.
Related: Read Chapter 1 of AWAKENING MACBETH
The University of Virginia campus was designed by Thomas Jefferson. The heart of the university is The Lawn with the original student rooms still in use. I lived off campus and when I walked to classes early in the morning, I often saw robed students with pails of toiletries on their way to the community bathrooms. (On a day like today, they’d be walking mighty fast)
Some of my favorite scenes in the book take place at the University, including a cocktail party in one of the gardens enclosed by Jefferson’s serpentine brick walls. The graduation reception for my department was held in one of the gardens and I still remember the air of colonial elegance. Another favorite scene takes place in the University-owned Boar’s Head Inn. One night a bunch of girlfriends and I got dressed up and went there for drinks. We were all on the brink of a shiny new graduate degree and the world was our oyster, as the saying goes.
Several years ago, we took a family vacation to Edinburgh. Our timing was off, however, and it was hard to find a hotel in the city. We ended up at the Dalmahoy golf resort and were we glad we did! In between tramping the city, touring Holyrood castle, and inspecting Loch Ness for sea serpents, we explored the walking trails and the small church on the Dalmahoy estate.
The Dalmahoy became the inspiration for the Dingerhoy hotel and golf course where Brodie and Joe Birnam have dinner, watch the sheep on the hillsides, and talk about survival, grief, and strength.
Another critical conversation takes place in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Garden, a beautiful bowl-shaped park in central Edinburgh. With all the fantastic architecture, art, and shopping that Edinburgh has to offer, it is easy to forget that the city is very green and offers wonderful spots to take in the city’s history. Right after that conversation, Brodie has her palm read by a knowing Gypsy, at a café in the shadow of the magnificent St Giles Cathedral.
Throughout AWAKENING MACBETH, Brodie is reading her inheritance: a library of British history. As has happened to me, she dreams that she is in places mentioned in the books she reads. In her case, it is:
–Shakespeare’s London and the Globe Theatre from SHAKESPEARE by Peter Ackroyd
–An Antarctic island with a polar expedition from ENDURANCE by Caroline Alexander
–A pub serving British flyers during WWII from FIGHTER BOYS by Patrick Bishop
–The Tower of London during Anne Boleyn’s execution from THE WIVES OF HENRY VII by Antonia Fraser , and
–With Wellington’s army in the Battle of Waterloo from NAPOLEON AND THE HUNDRED DAYS by Stephen Coote
So if you’d like to travel through British history in Professor Brodie Macbeth’s dreams, AWAKENING MACBETH is the novel for you.
Of course, the dreams have meaning and the book’s central secret is tied up in them. If you read carefully, you’ll guess the secret before Brodie does. But so far, readers have all been surprised by the twist ending.
When I first wrote AWAKENING MACBETH (with the cringe-worthy title of SOUL MATE, of which there are a dozen or so books already called that) I envisioned a trilogy (AWAKENING MACBETH, HUNTING MACBETH, KILLING MACBETH, you get the idea.) AWAKENING MACBETH ends with unanswered questions, the most compelling of which is what happened to Brodie’s mother’s soul?
I even wrote two chapters of the next book, which answers the question and sets up a new soul-stealing challenge for Brodie and Joe to surmount.
But I don’t know if I will ever write a second MACBETH book, let alone a trilogy. A writer has just so much time and emotional effort to expend.
While the romantic in me loves kindling relationships like that of Joe and Brodie, and Dr. Pedder’s evil disciples are still out there, I have too many plans for the continuation of the Detective Emilia Cruz series to stay away from it for long. Indeed, I didn’t even plan any real launch for AWAKENING MACBETH and delayed the paperback version because I was already working on PACIFIC REAPER, the 5th Emilia Cruz mystery.
So for now, Brodie and Joe are on their own, loving each other and dreaming dangerous dreams.
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I'm author Carmen Amato. I write mystery and suspense, including the Detective Emilia Cruz police series set in Acapulco. Expect risk, power, corruption. And relationships with heat. More