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Welcome to Castle d'Orleans!
if you will, the secret history
Richard d'Orleans, a.k.a. Richard Dun--
Camelot's greatest knight!
Books in reading order:
of the King
Buy at Baen
Wolf and Hound
-- short story featuring Sabra du Lac in Dracula
Barnes & Noble
Collaboration Panel w/P.N. Elrod & Richard Hatch - inside information on
how different writers handle working together to make a book!
audio book performed by Nigel Bennett!
on cover to buy!
For those of you who haven't watched any TV in
the last dozen years, Nigel Bennett is an actor
of outstanding talent who's graced countless shows as a guest. He has an
impressive list of film and stage appearances and starred in Forever Knight
as the seductively villainous LaCroix for which he won the Gemini award for
best supporting actor in a dramatic series. To get yourself in the loop
about Pat's partner in crime, please check out his website at www.blackhatstation.com.
AggieCon 30, 1999, a shot of
co-writer Nigel Bennett helping pass out awards with
Ted Raimi who is best known for his Joxer character on Xena,
Warrior Princess. Pat says, "Ted is just as funny and charming as his character, and did a heck
of a job leading off the AggieCon Dance. You should see his Travolta imitation!"
Three of Pat's favorite people: Natsuko
(Captain Cohen from Forever Knights second season), John
Kapelos (Don Schanke), and her favorite collaborator, Nigel
Bennett. They were all guesting
at a San Francisco charity auction together, Bridging the Knight. It was at this convention that Nigel and
Pat first put characters up for bid. Anyone with enough
cash could be a character in their book, His Fathers Son.
They had five up for
grabs and sold them all for a total of $1100.00 going to the charity! The highest? Over
500.00 for the Texas hooker who gets the bite from vampire Richard Dun. They
made sure to
scene extra hot for the lady who won!
cover of our first novel, Keeper of the King.
What if Lancelot had been a vampire?
What if he was still around today, keeping watch over the realm of England? And
if he has to go after the Grail? Again? And this time he cannot fail!
"The back story? It began at Galaxy Fair in
1995, put on by my good
friend Teresa Patterson (writer, artist, and current President of ASFA (Association of
Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists). Teresa was hanging with book packagers
Fawcett, who was looking at Nigel and asked aloud, "I wonder if that guy could write
a vampire book?" Nigel was starring in Forever Knight at the time, and to Bill
it seemed a logical progression as well as a heck of a marketing hook.
Teresa said, "Why dont you ask him?"
"Yeah, but what if he cant write?"
"Then team him with someone who can
"Gawd BLESS that woman! But they kept hush about it, so I
had NO idea that machinations were going on behind the scenes. I just sailed along doing
my convention thing, enjoying Nigels talks and generally having a great time.
Pat and Nigel meet for the first time
at Galaxy Fair 1995,
with no idea they'd ever be writing books together.
"About 6 months later Nigel and I were guesting at a
convention in Boston and he mentioned an interest in writing, so I gave him one of my
Handy Dandy How to be A Writer Kits. At that time it was a collection of Xeroxed pages with stuff on
writing I wished Id had starting out. He thanked me, and then I
interviewed him for my then hardcopy fan club newsletter.
Another six months after THAT, at a
convention in New Orleans, Nigel was about to go on stage and spotted me. "Pat,
PatI need to talk with you!"
I thought, "Hah? Whad I do?" I
couldnt think of anything but had to have a hint, so I broke line to find out.
"Nigel, the last time anyone said they had to talk with me I got fired
"Oh, nothing like that! Its about writing."
Whew. Writing. Well, I knew a few things about THAT, so I
relaxed and enjoyed the opening ceremonies. A couple hours later in the green
roomwhere the guests could all hang outhe sat opposite me, looking all eager
about something. Sitting next to us was the very dishy Michael OHare who played Cmdr. Sinclair on
Babylon 5. He and Nigel had been talking shop until then, and now he
listened with bemusement as more shop talk happened in a different venue of
Have I mentioned yet that I LOVE this job???
1995--Nigel, Deborah, P.N.
Elrod, fan GoH,
Michael O'Hare, Frank Paur at Crescent City Con 10.
"So whatís up?" I asked when we got back to the green room.
The place smelled of gumbo (yum), a TV was on in the corner and Michael
O'Hare flipped channels, keeping the sound low.
Nigel said, "Well, theres this guy (he
snickers) whos asked my agent if I might like to write a vampire book. Your name was on the
short list of possible collaborators."
Shock doesnt BEGIN to describe what was happening to
me inside. Outwardly I was all cool and calm like a professional is supposed to look.
Inside I was going
coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs, waaaaaahhhoooooo!
"Oh, yeah?" I said, acting like
this happens all the time, but failing to keep my elbow on
the chair arm. I was hard pressed not to pitch right outta my chair
with shock, but I didn't want to look like too much of a ditz in front of
Michael O'Hare. Nigel was, by now after two previous cons, well used to
the ditz factor in my internal programming.
So he told me what he knew about the project, and I was
mystified as to how Id gotten on this list. Bill and Teresa hadnt said ONE
word to me, which is just as well! As Nigel talked I kept thinking I dont have time
for this sort of a project, Im behind on other books, yadda-yadda. Then this sane
voice inside yelled "SHADDUP! Youre gonna MAKE time for this one!! Shut the
heck up and say yes!!!!!"
Then Nigel mentioned Bills name and I
this is a bud
I can trust him. Cool! This will be a project, not just
an idea." Whether it'd be a project that would include me had yet
to be determined.
I told Nigel that I thought I could fit this into my
schedule, but that he also had to have a lot of information before committing himself. I
promised to send him a "Publishing 101" letter outlining stuff he should know
before signing any contract. I also saidknowing full well that I could be talking
myself out of this fantastic jobthat he would be the best judge on who to
team up with. His best course of action was to read my stuff, read the other
writers stuff, and decide for himself whose style was most compatible with his own.
"If youre not comfortable with the writer, it aint gonna work."
Two days after the con, Id finished a 7-page letter
for Nigel and sent it off. Of course I phoned Teresa and talked to Bill, all excited,
hardly daring to hope I would get the job. It was very up in the air. I didnt want
to get too hopeful, lest there be a terrible let down. If it happened it would happen and
if not, then it was never meant to be.
A month later Bill phoned. I had the job and Nigel had my
An hour later Nigel phoned. He was all laughing and
excited. Me too. I had no idea what was in store, Id never before collaborated with
anyone, ditto for Nigel, but Bill had promised to come along and guide us through the
Two months later Im holed up in a Toronto hotel room with
Bill Fawcett, Nigel and a tape recorder, throwing ideas on the table and scarfing chocolate
The story storming session eventually became our James Bond with fangs
adventure, Keeper of the
King. A thoroughly wonderful experience.
Our first story-storming
session in Toronto. A totally weird surprise was finding out Nigel and
I had identical laptops. We were both a bit freaked, but took it as
a sign of good luck for the project.
I'm reacting to his color screen. I chose a B&W as being less distracting to my eyes. Hey, it was cutting edge in the 90s!
Day two of the outlining marathon. Nigel's still going
strong, but I'm running out of steam.
almost finished and good thing, we're out of cookies. Yoiks!
Photos copyright Bill Fawcett 2012
My favorite picture taken right after we finished
plotting out Keeper. If I look dreamy-eyed, its because my brain had turned
to oatmeal after six hours of story-storming!
It was a great experience; Nigel was terrific to work
with, enthusiastic, talented, thoroughly professional, and boy, did I learn a lot!
He came back the second day, having been up hours the
night before working on Chapter One.
So there I am with him reading what would become
the first pages of our book aloud, his blue eyes fired up and flashing. And
Iím thinking: "Day-umÖ.Iím getting paid to do this!!"
Our first bookstore signing, San Francisco at Dark Destinies. Hes in his
brand new Murder at 1600 cast jacket (just finished filming), Im in my
Harley-Davison halter top. Its leather. With it I found one of the straight
guys in the area. As I came up to the door of the shop this delivery man held it open for
me since my hands were full of bags and such. I said, "Thank you." The
guywho was very cutelooked at my bodacious cleavage and said,
.thank YOU!" What a nice, friendly town!
At a Boston convention -- panel talk on collaborating. Yes, there are
times when we couldn't recall who wrote what.
It was a morning panel and neither of us had had a chance to score any
Same convention -- We get lei'd!
I do not know why those things were floating about, but
since it was the closest I could get to Hawaii, what the heck, why not?
the AggieCon 30 -- or as it came to be known AggieCon XXX!
At this point Nigel
was still growing his hair out from having had to shave his head for a part in The
Secret Adventures of Jules Verne. When the series came out I flipped over it and
eagerly awaited Nigels episode. He did a great job playing this crazed guy who was
tattooed all over. Nigel said it took them only 30 minutes to apply the makeup, but
they had to do "casts" of his head and body to make the templates for the
airbrush. They would then press the stencils against his skin and spray on the paint. He
mentioned it felt very strange having that done to his bare head!
A VERY memorable AggieCon, indeed! I had the dubious pleasure
of playing Magenta in their Rocky Horror Picture Show presentation, which was outdoors in
50-degree wind. We got through it somehow!
I had it easy, only having to mime my way
along while the film played behind me. Nigel had been in the for-real stage production
previously, playing Riff Raff in Italy. He said he used to hang from the theater rafters and
glare at the audience. Oh, for a time machine to go back and see THAT!
HIS FATHER'S SON:
Jamie Murray's wonderful cover for His Fathers Son with
and without the printing. The original of the cover was as you see here, with the Richard
Dun character facing left; the art department flipped it for better composition with the
title lettering. Nigel Bennett was guesting at that same Aggicon in 1999. Before he could
make one round of the dealers room I dragged him into the art show to see
Jamies work. "Wouldnt this guy make the BEST cover artist for our next
book?" I asked. Nigel was too engrossed by the superb portrait Jamie had done of him
to reply right away, but he eventually came out of the spell and heartily agreed.
The book packager, Bill Fawcett, who had put me and Nigel
together phoned Jim Baen of Baen books right then and there in the art room and asked if
an artist had been picked for the job yet. No, it was still open. Jamie was invited to
submit some sketches. Jamie, looking rather stunned, needed to be led back to our tables
in the dealers room. "Are you okay?" I asked. "I cant feel my
legs," he said. He was in shock for most of the weekend, but he and Nigel did put
their heads together to discuss ideas. Nigel had lots and Jamie was VERY glad for the
suggestions. The final result turned out GREAT!
it started! Nigel me and Jamie Murray at the Aggie Art Show. He'd never
seen Jamie's work before. In the back
ground is the portrait Jamie did that blew everyone away.
delighted that Baen Books picked it to be the cover for SIEGE
The background on His Fathers Son:
Nigel and I
had to write the sequel to Keeper pretty quick, which meant some fast
outlining work. I
decided I needed a vacation, too, even a working one. Come early Novemberwhich is a GREAT time to see
TorontoI flew up and parked in Nigel's guest room to do some plotting.
He had a marvelous turn-of-the-century house in an artsy section of Toronto then, and when
on my own time I explored the neighborhood thoroughly.
Work was a joy, as always. And oddly
easy. The first day I was pretty determined not to talk business,
thinking I'd still need to settle in and get my bearings. Besides, Nigel
and I hadn't done any kind of a story storm session since the last book, which
was quite some time ago. To play catch-up, we walked around the corner
to a little restaurant for dinner and before we quite knew what was happening
we were suddenly plotting and planning away, with me scribbling notes on a
The next day we went up to his home office, I
got my tape recorder spinning, and then our ideas literally tumbled free!
When it comes to writing, our brains are on the same wavelength,
but Nigel comes out with stuff I'd never think up! It was WAY too much fun.
At night Id tap away on my laptop either in my room or the kitchenwriting
is hungry work!slapping the outline into order.
During the last book it was decided early on that Nigel
was best at writing the romance scenes for Lord richard! He has a positive talent for writing hot nookie, so we
gleefully figured out what would best work for this new project. Nigel
wanted to open the story with a love scene. "Who do you think you
are?" I asked. "Jackie Collins?" He just
grinned and chuckled.
Our original title was His Brothers Keeper,
but it never seemed quite right for the story, which carried a theme about father-son conflicts.
But we knew we had something VERY special with it. Some months later we were guesting at a
New Orleans convention and came up with the final title, His Fathers Son,
which was exactly right. Still working out bugs in the outline, Nigel tossed a superb
idea for the book at me over a lunch conference. It was so devastating I choked on my soup and then had to
sit and stare a lot. (Cant give it away, but if youve read the book Ill
tell you all about it in person.)
At another convention Nigel read an excerpt from
the opening scenes in the book, which included a hot seduction. Not ONE gal in the
audience moved, hanging on every syllable! It was a blast!
Nigel does wonderful readings of the books as you can well
imagine. After a too-long hiatus, the audio
book he made for Keeper of the King is available once more. Please
see the HOME page of this site for the purchase address for it. I sold
many at the conventions with,
"How would you like three and a half hours of Nigel Bennett softly whispering in your
ear?" I have yet to meet anyone who could resist THAT temptation!
It took us longer to finish the second book; Nigel and I
were VERY busy with other projects and made it hard to link up on the phone or by e-mail
at that time.
His acting work kept him on the go with lots of globe-trotting, and I was
working on my solo projects, but we managed.
opinion, Keeper was a great book, but His Fathers Son blows it out of
the water into the desert. Our NEXT novel, Siege Perilous,
then topped them BOTH.
In addition to the five people who made the high bids at a
charity auction to have characters named after them, we commemorated two real-life people
in the book. Young Deborah Heinrichs, who had been Nigels assistant at some
conventions died tragically in a car accident not long after we began the
writing. We assured
her friends she would be remembered as Richard Duns assistant in the
friend, Ruth Woodring, was taken from us by breast cancer and was one of the bravest, most
cheerful, loving people Id ever known. She was a great fan of Forever Knight and of
vampires in general, often wearing her fangs to work to tweak reality for her
customers. Ruth adored dancing of all kinds and was very active at Ren Fairs and other
events in her persona of Vashti of the Flaming Tresses. I like to think she would be quite
tickled to know her seductive alter-ego got to flirt with Richard in this book.
Ruths name was also used in Dark Sleep as, you guessed it, a dancer.
In San Francisco at the Bridging the Knight Convention.
John Kapelos clowns with a table centerpiece.
Backstage in the green room with John Kapelos and
Natsuko Ohama. It's such a sweet picture of them and I love the gorgeous
background painting, I just had to keep it on the large side!
Nigel auctions LaCroix's ring at the charity
Also auctioned: the chance to have a character
named after you in His Father's Son.
Five generous winners added over 1100.00 to the
Professor Rivers and Richard Dun?
Nah, John & Nigel chum it up backstage.
Nigel reacts to one of Jon's comments on a panel
at "Bridging the Knight."
They were almost competitive about who could get the other to
laugh the most, taking the audience along for the ride!
I went up to Toronto again so Nigel
and I could get to work (this was work?) on the novel that would become our third in the
Lord Richard series, Siege
Were old hands at
the plotting process now. We threw ideas on the table, wrote them on index cards, then I
lined them up on the floor in rough order. At the end of a few hours, we had a pretty good
direction of how the book would go. As more ideas occurred, I'd
scribble those out and fit them in between the existing cards so we could
plot the flow of the narrative. It's a great time-saver and keeps
everything out where we can see it.
Our number one rule for a story storming session: The word
"no" is not allowed. When youre guaranteed that ANY idea wont be
shot down, you get amazingly free and creative! This was a little something I learned from
the peerless Chuck Jones. The idea sessions for his cartoons never allowed "no"
in at any time. This explains why his were the BEST!
Siege Perilous is going to be our best
Taking a break. Were feeling pretty good. We know
A small 1800's chapel in a cemetery close to Nigel's
neighborhood when he lived in Toronto.
It's the setting for funeral
services in Siege Perilous.
In perfect condition, beautifully conserved,
it was a tranquil place to sit and rest a bit. I'd been doing a good deal
of walking, scouting for locations to use in the book.
Ironically, there's almost no description of
it in the story, as the character of Richard decided he couldn't bear to go in
for the services.
In Keeper of the King, the assassin Charon escapes capture by rapelling
down from the building
on the right behind the cyclist -- the Novotel Hotel --
to a waiting limo.
On a drive along the Gardner
Expressway, with the lake on the right and the city on the left, Nigel pointed
out the Novotel as a possible location for Charon to set up a sniper's
nest. Just like in the book the eastern
end of the Novotel commands a view of the Royal York Hotel.
I tried to have a look inside, but lobby
security for the residents there wouldn't allow it. Meh, I probably wouldn't
have been able to get on the roof anyway.
Perilous offered me a second opportunity to
explore more of Toronto, and I planned things carefully, picking
a nice little hotel about a mile from Nigel's general area that had a tram stop only 50 feet from the door. I
didn't need to rent a car for my week-long visit; you can go just about
anywhere via the electric trams and subway. Day after day and in the winter it might get old, but from a
Texas visitor it was a delight. No parking worries, no getting lost in the
streets looking for parking, and you can really SEE the city.
When visiting Niagara Falls I had
no idea Nigel and I would be using it as background in one of our key scenes,
so I missed some research opportunities. Guess I'll just have to go up
again to check them out! (Oh, gosh, someone twist my arm!)
Unknown to me, the hotel I'd
picked was in the middle of a neighborhood where Nigel had lived at one time a
few years earlier. When we went to lunch, I told him about this great
spot I'd found, then upon arriving, he laughed and told me that was a favorite place where he used to
hang all the time. It was weird! I think we were separated at
birth or something!
I checked out other places like
Casa Loma, a massive Victorian folly which is used in lots of TV shows
Knight, Psi Factor, Le Femme Nikita, Friday the 13th
the Series, and Smallville. I also got a charge when watching the movie X-Men
and recognized Casa Loma's halls, conservatory, and the riding stables as part
of the "school for the gifted." It is an impressive, HUGE
pile, but I can't imagine anyone living there, past or present. I think
the master bedroom had more square footage than my whole house! The place did help in my
writing, though. I used the 600-foot underground tunnel connecting the
house to the stables in a scene in The Adventures of
Wanting the full Casa Loma experience, I
made the perilous spiral star climb up BOTH towers of this New World castle. It
pooped me out, and I don't recommend trying it while weighed down with a
leather coat and camera looped around your neck. It is also NOT for
anyone who doesn't like heights. I hate them, but got over it for the
duration. Now that I have done it, I will likely do it again. All
you have to do is cling to the railings like
grim death. The views are great, though. Maybe by my next visit
they'll have elevators.
You'd think the place would be
haunted--I looked around for creepy spots--but nothing jumped out at
me. Really! Not until I explored the stables. They were all
clean, but with a leftover scent of horse from the last film crew who had been
through, and it was all rather neat. Then for some reason, as I passed
what had once been the stable master's office this kind of uncomfortable being
feeling came over me. It was right out of Ghost Hunters.
I like a good ghost story, but have no desire to be IN one! The
weirdness seemed to cling to me, and I just wanted OUT. There were other
people around, but they seemed too far away, even when they were right next to
Whatever it was, the
creepy-crawlies followed me as I retraced my steps to get back to the main
house. You can imagine I was NOT happy with walking alone down that long
dimly lighted tunnel, which curved in places so you can't see what's coming
before or behind. I was right in one of those curving spots when my
imagination--or whatever had followed me from that empty office--got the
better of me. I bolted at a dead run, feeling very silly, but gosh,
there was no way I'd stop!
Then another curve straightened and up ahead
another crowd of chattering tourists came toward me. VAST relief.
I slowed to a sensible walk and tried not to puff too hard.
I don't know if what I experienced
was real or not; my imagination is a necessary asset to my career, but there
can be times when it works against me. Perhaps on a second trip I'll
check out that office again, just to be sure.
But I'm bringing along
by Jamie Murray
hero Richard Dun, once called Lancelot, is back in the latest book in this
exciting, critically acclaimed fantasy series by award-winning actor Nigel
Bennett and award-winning writer P.N. Elrod.
old enemy from Richardís past, Charon the Assassin, returns and is
literally hell-bent on bloody revenge. Heís acquired deadly new powers that are annihilating the
nebulous plane of Otherside and threaten the very existence of the
Realside plane. Unless balance is restored both will be destroyed.
the sultry Yucatan forests to the chill green fields of ancient
Glastonbury, Richard Dun marshals his allies, mortal and immortal, for a
fight that will span dimensions and centuries of time.
He is no stranger at battling to the death, but how can one
earth-bound vampire challenge a monster able to destroy the gods
for preview chapters and discount downloads!
out Nigel Bennett's website at: www.blackhatstation.com
Buy the audio book!
Three hours of Nigel Bennett
softly whispering in your ear...can you take it???
2012 P.N. Elrod