Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Strangely, Darkly Beautiful Guide to Absinthe by Phaeton Black

Excerpt from Chapter One

The year is 1889, and Phaeton Black has recently taken up 
residence in London's most notorious brothel...

“Well, well. Scotland Yard's most celebrated agent, Zander Farrell come calling.” Phaeton buttoned his pants and settled back with a grin. "Something desperate has happened to bring you here, below stairs.”  
     “I admit it took a bit of ferreting about.” Farrell ducked under a sagging floor joist. “You’ve made quite a comfortable nest for yourself down here.” He lifted an aquiline nose and sniffed the air. “A bit moldy in winter, perhaps.”
     “Due to my recent loss of employment, I have found it necessary, indeed, prudent to conserve resources.”
     Never one for small talk, which Phaeton greatly appreciated, Farrell got straight to it. “We appear to have another monstrous character about on a killing spree. Chilcott wants the case solved before the bloody press clobbers us. He'll not have another debacle like the Ripper.”
     “I can assure you Jack is gone. I took a stroll through Whitechapel just yesterday. Not a trace of the fiend's miasma.” 
     Zander glared. “Exactly the kind of green fairy talk that got your contract cancelled.”
     “Chilcott doesn’t like me. Never has.” Phaeton noted the barely perceptible clench in the man’s jaw. Farrell seemed strangely unnerved, a rare state of being for him. “Something’s got you rattled, what is it?”

 Absinthe is commonly referred to in historical literature as "la fée verte" the green fairy.

     “There is some kind of beast or––vampire stalking the Strand.”
     Phaeton never laughed, a self-imposed rule that had remained unbroken for years. Otherwise, he would be rolling all over the cold stone floor of his new flat at this very moment.
     So he grinned. “Perhaps an actor costumed as Varney the Vampire? Or an Empusa. Might I look forward to a seduction by a bewitching female blood sucker?”  
     Zander’s glower gave way to a wide-eyed blink. “I thought you’d be pleased. You claim to believe in fairies and all that undead rubbish.”
     “My interest in the occult is not a matter of faith, actually.” He rose off the couch and signaled Farrell to follow. Rummaging through a set of pantry cabinets, he withdrew a bottle of liquor. “Nevertheless, I am honored and amused that Scotland Yard appears ready to consult the fey world.”
     He sensed darker undercurrents and listened momentarily to a fog of whispers. “The notion of an unearthly murderous evildoer is intriguing.” He pulled out a chair. “Why don't you brief me while I louche us a glass?”
   “Whiskey for me.”
     He swung back and raised a brow. “Certain about that? A bit of absinthe might help the investigation right about now.” 
     Zander exhaled a bit too loudly. “As you wish, Mr. Black.” 
     Phaeton set up two glasses and poured the dark green distillate. He angled slotted silver spoons etched with the likeness of a naked flying nymph across the rim of each vessel, and placed a lump of sugar on top.
     The number two Yard man leaned back in his chair. “Quite an elaborate ritual.”
     “H-mm, yes. I suppose it falls somewhere between a witches’ Sabbath and the Eucharist.” He retrieved a pitcher of iced water from a makeshift cold closet. “Just as the water looses the spirit of absinthe, so does the absinthe free the mind.” 
     As the chilled liquid dripped slowly over the sugar cube, Zander’s glass changed from deep emerald to a delicate, cloudy swirl of pale green elixir. “Ah, the transformation, when essential oils bloom and the fairy is released. To quote Rimbaud––”
     “A meandering, scatological French poet.” Zander huffed.
     Undaunted, Phaeton poured a last splash over nearly dissolved sugar. "As I was saying: ‘the poet's pain is soothed by a liquid jewel held in the sacred chalice, sanity surrendered, the soul spirals toward the murky depths, wherein lies the beautiful madness––absinthe.’”
     He settled down and lifted his glass. “I know what they say about me at the Yard. Eccentric, when they’re feeling charitable, a menace or madman otherwise.”
     “That’s not true. Gabriel thinks the world of you.”
     “Then you and he are the only ones.”
     “Not me, just Gabe.” Zander sipped a taste before taking a swallow. “Frankly, I can’t say enough about a man who can step into a crisis situation and disarm a Fenian bomb without a care. I don’t know where that kind of courage comes from, Phaeton, and neither do a lot of other agents who would rather call you mad than try to understand a man who invites death and fears nothing.”
     Phaeton shrugged. More pale green potion slipped down his throat. “I miss those small hours of the morning. You know as well as I do, from all our stakeouts, the coldest chill of night happens at the edge of dawn.” His hazy gaze landed on Zander. “The time when shadows are not deep enough for spirits and abominations to hide in.”
     Zander leaned forward. “I need you back on the job. Murdering hobgoblin, vampire––whatever or whoever the killer turns out to be. Take the assignment, Phaeton. But don’t do it to prove the other agents wrong.”
    Taken aback, he blinked. “Why not?”
    “Because you are mad.”

Absinthe is an anise-flavoured licorice spirit derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium (grand wormwood), together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs. Absinthe traditionally has a natural green color.

 Would you try a glass of absinthe? If not, what's your favorite drink? 
(If you don't drink you can make it can be a virgin Appletini.)

One signed copy of The Seduction of Phaeton Black to a commenter today plus a
chance to win the key to Phaeton's heart

A unique Steampunk necklace created by Ula Kapala: "Every piece I make is one of a kind. Even if I make similar items, there’s always some difference: color, size, type of wire, type of stone, pattern. My favorite materials are enameled craft wire, silver foil glass and various minerals."

All commenters will be entered to win the key to Phaeton's heart, so be sure to leave your e-mail contact info! The necklace winner will be chosen at random May 28th. Follow my blog tour over the next month or visit my website contest page for more chances to win the necklace.

***Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America  addresses only. If an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) is available, the author may utilize that option for International participants. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.


Tammy Yenalavitch said...

I am not a drinker, so I usually stick with water or lemonade. Thanks for the sneak peek. I really want this book, I am not a paranormal fan, but if you write it, I want it! Phaeton Black sounds like a very interesting character. Congrats too on your top 4/12 star review from Romantic Times.

May said...

Really looking forward to reading this one. :)

No, not a drinker at all. I am more of a coffee type person. Can't turn away from caramel latte. :)

Angi Morgan said...


I want to finish my work and read the book. Right now. Thanks, Jillian !


Gjillian said...

Water, lemonade...and a caramel latte...

bn100 said...

Great excerpt! I wouldn't try absinthe. I like hot chocolate.


Sandra Sookoo said...

Omg, I can't stand licorice so Phaeton's drink wouldn't be for me...but I adore any drink that's dainty and fruity. And by the way, this was a very good book indeed :-)

Gjillian said...

Oh no...really? Phaeton can't drink alone.

Gjillian said...

Thanks Sandra!

I have to confess I love a well made mojito with silver rum and plenty of mint! Yum!

Gjillian said...

Actually the absinthe they sell in the US is pretty tame. No extract of wormwood to cause green fairy hallucinations! Lol!

Hot Chocolate is good. I believe Doctor Exeter (Phaeton's Doctor Watson) spikes his with a bit of crème de menthe! ;)

Gjillian said...

Glad you liked the excerpt! ;)

Diane D - Florida said...

Thank you for posting such a great excerpt. I want to read "The Seduction of Phaeton Black" so badly. I loved "An Affair with Mr. Kennedy" so, it goes without saying that this book is sure to be another winner. I love the necklace, it's simply gorgeous and would lovely hanging around my neck. :-)

Thank you for this amazing opportunity.

dpd333 (at) aol dot com

Barbara E. said...

I was offered absinthe to try when I was younger, and I absolutely refused. It seemed really scary to me at the time, and I don't think I'd want to try it even now. I don't really drink, but I recall drinking a strawberry margarita in the past that was pretty yummy. Whenever I have had a drink, it's usually been a girly, fruity type drink. :D
I've had this book on my wish list since I first heard about it, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Barbed1951 at aol dot com

Susan M. Boyer said...

Loved the excerpt, Jillian! Can't wait to finish my edits so I can read the rest. :)

Gjillian said...

Thanks Susan!

I think I just followed you on Twitter!

I'm just starting in on edits for #3 in The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series, but taking a short break to do a bit of promotion for Phaeton series.

Danielle Gorman said...

My friends are big drinkers of absinthe. I on the otherhand am not a big drinker and I refuse to try it.

I can't wait to read this book. It looks so good.


Jeanne M said...

I loved the excerpt from The Seduction of Phaeton Black and love the necklace. I could even picture Zander wearing it when I read the above!

Did you know that they still drink Absinthe in Russia! I neighbor who is a physician that lives in our neighborhood told us of a visit he made to Moscow and the surrounding countyside and said that it was the "drink of choice there! (We're still trying to figure out why he's living in our humble neighborhood).

When I do indulge, which is rarely, it's with a fine glass of single malt whiskey from Scotland please - and serve it straight! Sorry but my Scotish ancestors would be disappointed if I had anything else! If you'd like to send a nice gift then a bottle of Glenmorangie Single Malt would be just the thing! In fact I can already picture myself sitting in a cozy chair reading Jillian's and Zander's story with a wee bit to drink by my side.

Gjillian said...

Phaeton's favorite single malt whiskey is Talisker's, from the Isle of Skye, so there you go, lassie! I was introduced to Talisker's by a bartender in Inverness, and then sometime after that traveled to Skye, which is...amazing.

I have to tell you that Detective Zander Farrell is not Phaeton's love interest, he is actually a he...but, I re-read the excerpt thinking what if Zander was a female...? I got a whole new idea for a future character in the series. ;)

Gjillian said...

I feel like I'd like to give absinthe a shot, just to say oh yeah, it's really awful or, It's really interesting and so it that green fairy!

Gjillian said...

Hi Barbara,

Thanks so much for your interest in Phaeton Black.

I think absinthe used to be really strong (19th century) and have a huge amount of wormwood resin in it. I forget the name of the psycho-active drug in the resin. Not sure how many glasses it takes to meet the green fairy but, I'm willing to at least sip on a glass, unless it's really wretched. Lol!

Gjillian said...

Very happy you loved Mr. Kennedy! I enjoy writing both The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series and thePhaeton Black series. One gives me a break from the other.

I adore the necklace as well. You should see how beautiful it is in person! The designer lives in Ireland and some of her more elaborate pieces are just dazzling.

Jeanne M said...

Gjillian -
Sometimes after a long day at work (and a nip of that scotch)my fingers work faster than the mind!

LizbethSelvig said...

Hi Gillian,
Wow, great excerpt and I loved the video. I admit to having heard of Absinthe but knowing nothing about it. I feel like this was a special "new thing for today" moment! I don't drink lots, but I love a good glass of wine or a cocktail. I'm mostly a fru-fru drinker (Sex on the Beach anyone? or a good Long Island Ice Tea) but I would try Absinthe at least once. Don't know that I'd love it, but my hubby is a beer brewer and I don't like that either but I love trying each new batch he makes!

Can't wait to read all your books (hanging head that it hasn't been accomplished yet). That excerpt has moved Phaeton up my TBR pile!!

LilMissMolly said...

I'm a dark beer drinker myself. No tini's for me!

Gjillian said...

Thanks Lizbeth!

First let me say Congrats on your debut The Rancher and the Rock Star!
Island drinks, yum!
And nice to have you on board. The more the merrier I say!

Gjillian said...

Dark like Guinness dark? Awesome. America Jones (heroine) drinks bitters!

Alexa said...

Whoohoo! Congratulations on your release, Jillian! I'd try absinsthe! I'm a beer drinker mostly- Guinness, Smithwick's- and I love scotch too!

Abigail Sharpe said...

Heh - my characters in my WIP drink absinthe as a way of Traveling (and not by car). I haven't tried it, but I'd probably be willing.

My drink of choice is amaretto and orange juice. YUM.

donnas said...

I do not like anise, so probably not. My favorite is a good flavored margarita or a vodka sunrise.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Eli Yanti said...

nice excerpt and beautiful necklace, great :)

Gjillian said...

Lol! Excerpts are tricky because the scene is out of context. Anyway, lIke I said, you gave me a great idea for a possible new character!

Gjillian said...

Alexa, Awesome adventuress!

Since both series are set in the late 19th century I figure that absinthe will be mentioned more than once in future stories. So by having a taste of absinthe I'm doing field research!

Gjillian said...

Amaretto and OJ does sound yum! As for absinthe, since we're writing about it, seems like we have an excuse to do some field research. Lol!

Gjillian said...

I love a really good margarita made with silver tequila, fresh juice and Cointreau. This is a ten to twelve dollar margarita, but so worth it!

Gjillian said...

Hi Eli!

It is a pretty necklace. Good luck and thanks!

molly.frenzel said...

The history of absinthe has always interested me. I would love to try it for myself!

Gjillian said...

Congratulations Danielle Gorman, you've won a signed copy of The Seduction of Phaeton Black!

I will contact you soon, Jillian