the raven

Guest Post by Sylvain Reynard: Art, Faith, and Vincent van Gogh

I consider myself incredibly blessed that author Sylvain Reynard wrote this beautiful piece on faith and art for my blog.  Reynard is the bestselling author of the Gabriel’s Inferno Series and the Florentine Series.  The next installment of the Florentine Series, The Shadow, is due in February 2016.  

“Art, Faith, and Vincent van Gogh”

By Sylvain Reynard

In my novels, I explore the theme of redemption, along with the themes of faith, hope, and love. The characters themselves have varying beliefs, ranging from atheism to theism. I see each character as being on some sort of spiritual journey.

In what follows, I’d like to explore the connection between art and faith.

Indulge me for a moment and listen to the song “O Theo” by Matthew Perryman Jones:

Matthew Perryman Jones | O Theo

The song lyrics, (which you can read here http://www.songlyrics.com/matthew-perryman-jones/o-theo-lyrics/), are derived from letters written by Vincent van Gogh to his brother, Theo.

The song expresses Vincent’s experience as he struggled to be a preacher and then left that calling.  It also describes a romantic encounter and his longing for home. But there’s more to it.

Now consider this painting:

http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=79802

“Starry Night” is a painting of a skyline. It’s about a view of the sky and the stars and the buildings and trees below.  But there’s more to it.

I’ve chosen these two artistic works to illustrate a couple of points.

1)   Good art elicits a feeling of awe and transcendence in its audience.

I use “art” here to include not only the visual arts, but also the performing arts.

The feeling of awe elicited by good art is similar to what the Romantic poets and thinkers identified as the Sublime.

2)   Good art points to a transcendent reality that includes truth, beauty, and goodness.

Not only does art elicit an experience of awe in the audience, but art also points to something beyond itself – something transcendent.

3)   In my view, the transcendent reality that is truth, beauty, and goodness, is the object of faith.

It’s part of the human condition to long for home, as expressed in Vincent’s words to his brother.  We all long to be accepted, to love and be loved, for forgiveness, grace, and peace. We long for the sublime, the transcendent, the beautiful, and the good, even when we get so confused about the truth of those things we go searching for them in self-destructive and harmful places.

But every question has an answer. Every desire has an object.  And the object of our longing for home is precisely the object of faith, in my view.

There’s something about art (and especially good art) that stirs these questions while also pointing to the answers.

I try to express some of these ideas through my attempt at art, which is writing novels. But I tend to see it most clearly in the creative efforts of others, particularly in paintings and in music. I see it in van Gogh, whose work I admire very much.

What’s the piece of art or artistic expression that invokes feelings of the transcendent or the sublime in you?

-SR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71mExEKHmPU

You can purchase Sylvain Reynard’s books here

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Cover Reveal! The Shadow, Sylvain Reynard’s sequel to The Raven!

It’s here!  At long last we finally know the title of Sylvain Reynard’s new book! We also get a peek at the beautiful cover!
image

The Shadow is the highly anticipated sequel to The Raven and is the second book in Reynard’s thrilling Florentine Series, due out February 2, 2016. Read on for juicy details and links to order your copy!

New York Times bestselling author Sylvain Reynard presents the hotly anticipated, intoxicating follow-up to The Raven

Raven Wood’s vampyre prince has returned, pledging his love and promising
justice for every wrong done to her. In the wake of their reunion, Raven is faced
with a terrible decision—allow the Prince to wreak vengeance against the
demons of her past, or persuade him to stay his hand. But there is far more at
stake than Raven’s heart…

A shadow has fallen over the city of Florence. Ispettor Batelli will not rest until he
uncovers Raven’s connection to the theft of the priceless art from the Uffizi
Gallery. And while the Prince hunts a traitor who sabotages him at every turn, he
finds himself the target of the vampyres’ mortal enemy.

As he wages a war on two fronts, he will need to keep his love for Raven secret,
or risk exposing his greatest weakness…
Click below to pre-order your copy of The Shadow!
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25476303-the-shadow

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-shadow-sylvain-reynard/1121863842?ean=9780425266502&itm=1&usri=9780425266502&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10:1&r=1,%201

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780425266502

http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Florentine-Sylvain-Reynard-ebook/dp/B00X593E5G/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

http://www.bookdepository.com/Shadow-Sylvain-Reynard/9780425266502?&a_aid=goodreads

The Prince Speaks: An Interview with Sylvain Reynard’s Vampyre Prince of Florence

Recently I had the incredible honor of interviewing the Prince of Florence.  If you’re not familiar with his story, I urge you to read his introduction in Sylvain Reynard’s novella The Prince, as well as The Raven, which is the first installment of the Florentine Series.  The Prince also appears briefly in Gabriel’s Redemption; unbeknownst to Professor Gabriel Emerson and his lovely wife, Julia, the Prince is tied to the Emersons in ways they cannot yet comprehend. 

I would like to thank the Prince of Florence for agreeing to do this interview, and many thanks go out to Sylvain Reynard for making it possible.

Without further ado, I present to you the Prince of Florence.

Would you do us the honor of introducing yourself?

(The Prince looks around, obviously uncomfortable with his surroundings)

 I am the Prince of Florence.

How would you describe yourself?

As the darkness made visible.

 Is there anywhere else in the world that captures your interest as much as Florence?

I have a fondness for Rome and the city of York but for various reasons, I rarely leave the confines of Florence.

 What is your favorite book?

Lately, I’ve been entranced by “A Discovery of Witches.” It was very educational. (Author’s note: Deborah Harkness is the author of A Discovery of Witches and her All Souls Trilogy is soon to be featured on the BBC)

 You’ve been around since the 13th century.  In your estimation, what has been the most significant historical event you’ve witnessed?

I never discuss the event that had the most personal significance to me.

 But I can tell you the rise of the Black Death was incredibly significant for Florence and for my brethren.

 I’m a huge fan of Shakespeare.  In Sonnet 116, the Bard talks about the human frailty and the passage of time.  Love, however, is immortal.  “Love alters not with its brief hours and weeks but bears it out even to the edge of doom.”   Your thoughts?

 I’m afraid I’m new to the subject of love. My kind know little enough of it. But for the sake of a particular pair of green eyes, I’m willing to learn.

 Did you know that there is a whole genre of fiction, called paranormal romance, which revolves around women and vampires as lovers?  Would you have ever thought such a thing could be?

 I have a difficult time imagining such a thing.  If this kind of literature truly exists, it would pose a grave security risk.

 I must inform the other principalities …

 What would you like your legions of fans to know about you?

Fans?

 What is your definition of beauty?

I think women are beautiful. I like their softness and the way they smell.  But a woman who lacks intellect and a strong character is unattractive.

 “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Your thoughts?

It’s certainly true. But the question is what is one willing to do in order to maintain one’s power …

 Should humans fear vampyres?

Without qualification.

 You rule over the beautiful city of Florence.  Are there places in the world that are not good environments for vampyres?

Sunny climates are not especially conducive to vampyres, nor are areas built atop consecrated ground.

 Are there things you love about being a vampyre?  What don’t you enjoy?

We have time enough to spare and we heal quickly.

 I have trouble remembering what it was like to be human.  I miss the ability to sleep.

 In Interview with the Vampire, the reporter Daniel asks Louis if he can look at crucifixes and whether or not he sleeps in a coffin.   We know you’re very special (we won’t tell anyone, Mr. York!), but are there traits that all vampyres share?  Can you give us a primer?  Vampyres 101?

Vampyres are a kind of animal. They prey on humans and reproduce through the exchange of blood.  They have enemies, as every predator is prey to something.

 Your relationship with Raven is very special.  Why Raven?  What draws you to her?

In short, she’s beautiful and she has an exceptional mind. I’m drawn to her character and her very being.

 What does Raven mean to you?

It can’t be put into words.

Raven was able to get you to watch a film with her.  The Godfather.  Has she been trying to introduce you to other modern wonders?  What has captured your interest so far?

The film was interesting, to a point. She tried to get me to watch Star Wars, which reminded me very much of the Middle Ages. Jawas are Franciscans and the Jedi are Jesuits. I had trouble identifying the Benedictines and Dominicans.

When did you learn to ride a motorcycle?

 Many years ago.

What made you choose a Triumph as your motorcycle of choice?

A respectable vampyre wouldn’t choose anything else. It has to do with the way the bike handles and also the sound of the motor. Ducatis and Harley Davidsons simply can’t compete.

 Do you ever drive cars?  Which would you prefer—an Italian car, like a Ferrari or Lamborghini, or a British car, say, an Aston Martin or Lotus?

I’ve driven cars in the past – I favour Ferrari. But I prefer my motorcycle.

 Quickfire thoughts on the following:

 Anne Rice – Gifted

Bram Stoker – A paid propagandist

Women’s Fashion – I am more interested in what my woman looks like under her clothes …

Honor – Priceless

Love – Immortal

I can only imagine that Sylvain Reynard is a wonderful guide through your adventures.  We know you’re not fond of Dante, but SR does resemble Virgil in his own way. Can you describe your relationship with SR?

If he were the one responsible for revealing our secrets, I’d say his life would be very short-lived. Perhaps someone ought to advise him of this.

I’d like to thank the Prince for taking the time out of his busy schedule to do this interview.  If you’ll excuse me, I think I might need to send a note of warning to Mr. Reynard….

Book Review: The Raven, by Sylvain Reynard

The Raven

By Sylvain Reynard

Publication Date: February 3, 2015

Review by Sarabeth Pollock

 

When the sun goes down in Florence, the Prince of Florence awakens.

In Sylvain Reynard’s novella The Prince, we met the mysterious Prince of Florence.  Now in The Raven we learn more about the mysterious Prince and we also meet a woman who captivates him in a most unexpected way.

It’s May of 2013 and the Prince of Florence has just retrieved his prized collection of illustrations from the Uffizi Gallery.  They’re not copies, as Professor Gabriel Emerson believes.  They’re original drawings by Sandro Botticelli, and they had been stolen over a century prior.  But just as the Prince is about to celebrate, he hears a woman’s screams and he smells blood.  The vampyre rushes off to make sure he’s the first one to find her.

Raven Wood is an art restorer at the Uffizi Gallery.  On this night she’s walking home from a party when everything changes.   A week goes by that she can’t remember.  Raven wakes up and is literally a completely different person on the outside.  She also discovers that the Uffizi has been robbed, and she’s at the top of the suspect list.  It isn’t helping things that her disability no longer exists and she looks like a completely different person.

In the meantime, the Emerson Family-Professor Gabriel Emerson, wife Julianne, and daughter Clare-have arrived in Florence as the police search for clues in the robbery.  Little do they know, they’re being watched by a dark presence who presides over Florence when the sun goes down.

The Raven is a departure from the paranormal romance genre in that while the love story between Raven and the Prince (whose true identity is revealed in the book) is a large part of the plot, there are many other elements that come to the fore.  Salvation, hope, redemption, faith…these all play a central role in the story.  There’s also the political system at work in the vampyre world; the Prince of Florence reigns over the Consilium, a council of vampyre elders who serve their Prince much like a presidential cabinet.  There are rumors of hostility from neighboring provinces that keep the Prince in a state of constant vigilance, and when he finds himself falling for Raven, he knows that she will always be a target among his kind.  However, the Prince finds that his Cassita is worth fighting for.

The best thing about having my own blog is that when I write a review, I can say whatever I like.  Normally I try to stay as objective as possible.  But not today.  I love this book.  This book appeals to me on so many levels.  I love the characters, I love the story, and I love how the story is woven within the history of Florence to such an extent that Florence herself has become a central character.  Sylvain Reynard’s writing is magical that way. I’m not even sure that paranormal romance is a suitable descriptor for this new series.  It’s literary fiction, with a splash of paranormal romance, intermingled with historical fiction.  The lush prose and vivid imagery are utterly captivating.  The only real comparisons I can draw to other authors in the genre who write with such attention to detail are Anne Rice and Deborah Harkness.  I have spent the past weeks imagining the Prince and Raven and wondering what will happen next.  It isn’t often that characters capture my imagination so thoroughly, but Raven and the Prince have.

I am eager to see what Sylvain Reynard has in store for his Florentine Series.

 

Click here to read Part One of my interview with Sylvain Reynard

Click here to read Part Two of my interview with Sylvain Reynard

Click here to buy The Raven

Click here to buy The Prince

Interview with Sylvain Reynard, Author of The Raven, Part 2

Interview with Sylvain Reynard, Part 2….

I decided to publish this last segment of my interview with Sylvain Reynard after The Raven’s release.  I’m not a fan of spoilers, and while I don’t think there are spoilers in this interview, I wanted fans to have a chance to meet Raven and the Prince before reading this. So read on for more juicy tidbits from Sylvain Reynard….

(If you haven’t read Part 1 you can find it here)

 

The novella The Prince is followed by the full-length novel The Raven, in which we meet a young woman who finds herself thrust into the Prince’s world.  Raven is a very different character from Julia.  Both represent the epitome of goodness, but Raven finds herself with a man who (by all admissions and appearances) embodies darkness and, perhaps, evil.  How were you inspired to create her character?

When I began writing The Gabriel Series, there were two scenes that dropped into my head. First, the conflict in the classroom that opens “Gabriel’s Inferno,” and the scene in the orchard, which occurs a few chapters later.

 When I began writing “The Raven,” the scene that entered my mind fully formed was the scene in which Raven walks home after a party. I saw what she looked like, how she walked, and her entire history. I knew she was an artist and an art restorer, and that she was extremely intelligent, compassionate, and very creative.

Raven is a very intriguing character.  She’s brilliant but her confidence takes a hit from the frustration she feels with her self-image and her physical limitations. The Prince can’t understand why she feels the way she does about herself or her appearance, reflecting an interesting perspective on the changing perception of beauty over the centuries.  I’m sure that many readers will relate to her body image issues and appreciate that she’s not perfect.   What led to that particular aspect of Raven’s character?

As I mentioned, I saw her in my imagination fully formed, but I also intended her to be an atypical female lead. She doesn’t possess extraordinary physical beauty or bodily perfection and she isn’t thin.  She’s an attractive woman but much of her beauty comes from her character and her actions.

What’s next for the Prince and Raven?  

Thank you for asking. Readers will have a taste of the sequel to “The Raven” at the end of the book, because I’ve included a teaser.

 At the moment, I’m continuing to write the sequel and I can tell you that a lot of danger and adventure are coming their way. Please stay tuned …

To purchase The Prince, click here.

To purchase The Raven, click here.

Many thanks again to Sylvain Reynard for taking the time to do this interview!

Sylvain Reynard and E.L. James Go To Florence

I love this: http://blog.eljamesauthor.com/?p=1088

Bestselling authors and good friends Sylvain Reynard (Gabriel Series, The Prince and soon to be released The Raven) and E.L. James (Fifty Shades of Grey) teamed up for a fun blog post that celebrates Reynard’s newest venture: The Florentine Series.

The authors share a jaunt through the darker side of Florence, fully immersed in the world of Reynard’s characters.  They find themselves under the intense scrutiny of a mysterious figure in the shadows: The Prince of Florence.

I love this joint venture. It’s fun seeing the two authors “in” this environment. I love the collaboration between the two bestselling authors and the fact that it also gives fans a glimpse into their personalities.

(And imagining argyle-sock wearing, multilingual Sylvain Reynard defending Ms. James is hot…and I am not one to use that expression lightly…)

Book Review: The Prince, by Sylvain Reynard

The Prince

By Sylvain Reynard

Publication Date: January 20, 2015

Review by Sarabeth Pollock

 

There is a whole other world that comes to life in Florence as soon as the sun goes down.  With The Prince, New York Times Bestselling author Sylvain Reynard launches the brand new Florentine Series in which we meet the eponymous Prince of Florence.  The Prince is furious because one Professor Gabriel O. Emerson has arrived at the Uffizi with his young wife, Julianne, to celebrate the opening of the gallery’s newest exhibit: One hundred illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy, created by the Renaissance master Botticelli himself.  Emerson’s collection is the most comprehensive set of copies in existence…only the Prince knows better.  Not only are they not copies—they’re originals—they were stolen from him over a century prior.

Yes, you’ve guessed it: The Prince isn’t an ordinary man.  He is a vampyre.

The Prince is a novella that introduces readers to the darker side of Florence ahead of the release of the first full novel in the series, The Raven, due out on February 3rd.  It truly is an amuse bouche of a story, designed to draw readers in and captivate them with the mysterious figure known only (at this point) as the Prince.  Fans of Reynard’s Gabriel Series will delight in seeing The Professor and Julianne once again in The Prince; the novella is set during the gallery opening at the Uffizi in Gabriel’s Redemption.  Gabriel and Julia meet the mysterious Englishman in a chance encounter, and Gabriel is immediately suspicious of the strange man.  Little does the couple know, however, that they have been under his surveillance and he’s hell-bent on recovering his prized collection, at any cost.

The Prince of Florence is powerful, fierce, respected, alluring, and deadly.  Despite his power and his devastatingly good looks, there is an underlying melancholy in his demeanor that he must keep hidden from his council and the other vampyres around him.

As with all of Sylvain Reynard’s books, The Prince has been meticulously researched so that the setting is just as much a character as the Prince and the rest of his preternatural companions.  The city of Florence shines in the golden light of Reynard’s prose.  Reading Reynard’s books is like taking a survey course on the history of Florence and its art and architecture.

The Prince is a wonderful introduction to the Florentine Series.   Fortunately for readers, the next book arrives in a few short weeks, providing just enough of a taste to whet their appetites.

 

Click here to read my interview with Sylvain Reynard.

Click here to buy a copy of The Prince