Today I am so pleased to welcome Tal Bauer to Joyfully Jay. I recently read Tal’s latest book, A Time to Rise, and was so excited about it I immediately contacted the author wanting to know more about it. Tal was gracious enough to agree to come by and chat with us today!
Thank you very much for having me here. I’m thrilled to be invited back to chat about A Time to Rise, and delighted that you enjoyed it so much! Definitely looking forward to chatting with you about the novel.
So I reviewed A Time to Rise here, but for those readers who aren’t familiar with the book, can you give us a quick synopsis?
Ooo, a quick synopsis? LOL. It’s… Angels and Demons meets Supernatural! Haha, just kidding. I won’t do a Hollywood mashup comparison.
It is a paranormal romance with supernatural elements. Set in Vatican City, A Time to Rise follows two soldiers in the Swiss Guard. One, Sergeant Alain Autenberg, a career soldier, lifelong member of the Swiss Guard, and a foresworn secret agent to a long-thought-dead Order, personally overseen by the Pope. And, two, Halberdier (an entry level soldier in the Swiss Guard) Cris Haase, brand new to the Swiss Guard and to Vatican City, and bearing a chip on his shoulder the size of the Sistine Chapel. On his way to being dismissed from the Guard in disgrace, the Commandant – a close friend of Alain’s – pairs Alain with Cris as his mentor in a last ditch attempt to salvage Cris’s tenure in the Guard.
The partnership is fraught with crackling, smoldering tension.
Alain, while trying to do his best for Cris, also must keep his main duties to the Order and to the Pope a complete secret. Working with his partner-in-supernatural-crime, Father Lotario, Alain must unravel a myriad of contradictory clues scattered around Rome, all seeming to point to a rising of the vampires that haunt the city’s catacombs. Darkness and deceit haunt their footsteps, and as the vampires rise, so too does Alain’s tragic past, and a pain he’d do anything to shield Cris from.
Even going so far as to push Cris far, far away.
Cris refuses to go quietly, and he fights for Alain, for the one man who has managed to see him, truly see him, and for the fragile relationship they’d managed to create.
But when the vampires finally rise, they bring more than just the promise of an undead eternity. Alain and Cris risk everything, and more, to try and stop the rising evil the vampires unleash.
Well, not quite a quick synopsis. But I hope I got the main points across. What do you think? How did I do? Anything you want to add? [Nope. Well, I’ll just second the smoldering tension part!]
One of the first things that struck me about the story is the incredible detail about Rome and the Vatican. I felt like I was right there with the characters and the sense of setting and places was fantastic. Can you tell us more about the research you did for the story?
Thank you! I appreciate the compliment. Setting and atmosphere are hugely important for me as a writer, so I appreciate that wholeheartedly. I really wanted to saturate the novel with an otherworldly atmosphere and an almost heady sense of antiquity and the supernatural. I wanted the reader to feel immersed in the world, wholly and completely. I’m so glad that it worked for you!
Firstly, my research began with my own lived experiences. I take from my personal experiences and put many of those details into the stories I write. In this case, much of the Vatican and Roman location research came from “boots on the ground”, so to speak. Where that ended, deep diving into Google worked great.
The book mixes a real life setting and the Swiss Guard at the Vatican with the paranormal world of vampires and demons. It is a blend of reality with fiction that I really enjoyed. How did you develop the idea of creating this alternate history and reality for real people/places?
Thank you! I have always loved stories that combine our real world and a sense of the other. Some kind of conspiracy, or an alien invasion, or the paranormal, or even something more ordinary, but right under our noses. Something that is privy to only a few, and something that occurs just out of most people’s sight. It’s a theme well-loved in media, and I think it speaks to our sense of wonder and fear, intertwined. In many ways, we all WANT to believe… but the reality of that desire can actually be quite frightening.
Philosophically, this theme can be understood also as our own search for “the truth” in our current lives. Our modern world is saturated with power plays and confabs and seemingly secret organizations, and much of the details of the “way the world works” seem to be undertaken behind closed doors and inside locked rooms. Distrust festers. Something dark, something sinister, must be occurring.
Is it? Who can say? But we all do wonder.
Stories that tap into that intersection of wonder, intrigue, and slight paranoia are a favorite of mine, both to read and write. It’s something I love to explore, and I hope that my readers love it as well.
For A Time to Rise, I wanted to play with some of the intersections and intrigues around our most deeply held beliefs, sacred myths, and horrors.
Here’s the promo for the series, Apocalypse of the Angels, of which A Time to Rise is book 1:
There is a time for everything under the sun…
Civilizations rise and fall, and before humanity, other beings steered the fate of the world and the heavens. The last, dying acts of a desperate people were to pass on what wisdom they could to a fledgling group of humans—starving, alone, and afraid—before the Veil closed, forever.
For the next ten thousand years, myths the world over told of that gift, given in a garden in the center of the world, and the knowledge gained from it lit a fire of original sin deep within Man’s soul.
Myths from a time before the rise of humanity tell of ancient beings, beautiful and full of grace, who served as ancient messengers and soldiers of God. A time when angels and their kin lived in the world…before their fall, before the closing of the Veil.
But, like all civilizations, humanity’s time has come to an end.
A new power is rising.
The story is a little bit of an atypical love story, as the suspense elements play a big role in the book, but at the same time the chemistry between Cris and Alain is very intense. Was it difficult to find the balance between romance and suspense?
It’s not difficult for me as a writer, because I had a pretty clear vision of where I wanted this entire universe and story to go. I can totally see how some readers would have a harder time with it if they wanted more of the typical love story. I wanted to bring in an “enemies to lovers” theme, and a lot of fraught, anxious tension. Alain is very reluctant to fall in love, despite everything in him wanting to go to Cris. Cris is used to hopping in and out of beds, but something about Alain stills him. They crash into each other and can’t find up from down for a while. : )
I will say that, overall in this universe, the entire compendium of stories is an epic love story. Will certain novels perhaps not be as hot and heavy on the romance? Yes, I’ll admit to that. But taken in whole, as a series, I would describe this series – Apocalypse of the Angels – as a truly world-shattering romance on multiple levels. Alain and Cris are a part of that, and this is the start – but not the end – of their story.
So Father Lothario is one of my favorite side characters in a long time. He is kind of jerk, not to mention obnoxious and foul-mouthed, but also very sweet down deep. Was he a fun character to create? Did you have any issues making someone who is a priest also such a jerk?
I LOVED writing Father Lotario. He’s a complete jerk, totally obnoxious, and I love how he curses. He does have a true heart of gold, and throughout, he’s always doing what he can to take care of Alain, in body and in soul. Much of that stems from Father Lotario’s role in Alain’s past, but also from a true, deep friendship and platonic love that formed between the two men.
Did I have any issues making a priest character a jerk? No! LOL, does that make me a bad person? I think anyone in Lotario’s line of work would have to be a bit salty. They’d have to have developed a thick skin and a gallows humor, what with what they face day in and day out. And, a take-no-shit, let the world burn attitude, since he’s often perceived as being something Evil himself. After almost two decades of being despised, feared, and ostracized, wouldn’t anyone be a bit rough around the edges?
This story is the first of a series (and there are some pretty jaw dropping things that happen at the end of the book). Can you give us some hints about what else is to come from future books?
Oh man, so much more. I put the promo for the series above, which I hope tickles some people’s antennas a bit. I can’t reveal too much of the ending, because that’s too huge of a spoiler, but for those who have read the book, the next story launches from the fallout of the ending. There are Consequences (with a capital C) for how everything goes down. Alain and Cris are not the only couples, but they won’t be abandoned or forgotten. They have huge parts to play in their future, and in the coming apocalypse…
Is there anything else you are working on that you would like to tell us about?
Yes! Thank you! I am currently finishing up the sequel to Enemies of the State, my political thriller that released in January. We expect to release it this fall. I’m also planning on much more, both in that universe, sequels to A Time to Rise, and many more standalone romances. Next year will be a big year for releases, I’ll say that much!
If my readers want to learn more about you or your books, where can they find you?
I am active on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/tal.bauer.7 – and on Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14930584.Tal_Bauer. I’m hoping to redesign my website this year and make it a better place for readers. But right now, those are the two best places to find me. And, you can always drop me a line via email! I always respond.
Thanks so much for stopping by today!
Thank you for having me! I’m delighted to be here! Much appreciated!
History says the Knights Templar were destroyed in 1307.
History is wrong.
Vampires haunt the sewers beneath Rome, revenants desecrate graveyards, ghouls devour helpless passersby, and incubi stalk dark alleys and seedy nightclubs in Italy’s capital. Deep in the Vatican, a brotherhood exists, sworn protectors of the earth, and they stand firm against monsters from the dark depths. Operating in secret and silence, they protect our world from the sinister, the etheric, and from the evils that exist beyond the Veil.
But it’s a lonely life, and Alain Autenberg knows that more than most. His lover was ripped from him years ago and he vowed never to get close to another soul again. Even when the loneliness presses down on him, and his empty heart cries out for something more.
Something more comes in Cristoph Hasse, a new soldier arriving in Rome to serve in the Pontifical Swiss Guard. Young, brash, and fitting in at right angles everywhere he goes, Cris struggles in the murky, deceptive labyrinth of the Vatican.
Propelled forward by a past he can’t understand, Cris collides with Alain, and both men crash headfirst into the darkest secret of the Vatican… and of the world.
Tal Bauer writes LGBT fiction and romance, bringing together a career in law enforcement, trauma medicine, and international humanitarian and disaster relief work to create dynamic, strong characters, intriguing plots, and unique, exotic locations. Tal’s stories weave together pulse-pounding adventure, cunning intrigue, and sweeping romance.