Today is day five of my Blog Tour for, The Calling and I want to thank everyone here at Divine Magazine for hosting me. Since the launch of The Calling, well even before it was released, I’ve been asked why I place a majority of my stories in San Jose, California and not someplace else better known.
The short answer is San Jose is my home and I wanted to show off the place I live. The longer answer is that San Jose and all it’s surrounding areas have everything I need for my characters. The San Jose metropolitan area provides a unique background for the stories to take place.
In my debut novel The Calling I use the following cities and towns: San Jose, Los Altos, Saratoga, Santa Cruz, and Morgan Hill.
Picking San Jose as the backdrop of my story provided me with several different locations that most people have probably never heard of. I use some of the following places; The Winchester Mystery House, Santana Row, Main Street in Los Altos, and Westfield Shopping Town at Valley Fair.
One of my favorite San Jose locations is the 88 (a high-rise luxury condo building in downtown San Jose) architecturally it’s beautiful and has an amazing style to it. I had to make a few changes to the building’s design to fit the story, but nothing major. I also had to make a few other changes including the name in the book its called The Heights. The Heights is the home of one of my characters; Victor (a fan favorite). He demanded a home with a unique style and commanding views. This building provides them.
When it came to my main characters I wanted a location that provided a small town feel and I knew it had to be Los Altos. Los Altos is about twenty minutes from San Jose and is nestled in the west foothills. The town had all the locations I needed. There is a beautiful and lively main street that houses one of my favorite made up locations; Los Altos Beaux Vêtements, a clothing store. The shop doesn’t exist, but if you know Los Altos you’ll be able to figure out where this store would be and what’s there now.
Another location I needed, I had a lot of fun with was the Lumière d’espoir Foundation. Once I knew that Juliet owned and managed a foundation. I knew right were it would be and of course it was in Los Altos. Again, if you’re from the area you’ll know exactly were to find this building.
As I wrote The Calling I knew that my main character Duncan would absolutely have to have dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, which happens to be in Saratoga. I’m not going to tell you name now, you’ll need to read the book to find out. However, once learn the name you’ll want to go to restaurant to figure out why I picked it. A little spoiler is that it has the perfect atmosphere for a vampire dinner and a vampire book.
For an instrumental moment in the book I needed Duncan to go to the coast and I instantly wanted it to be Santa Cruz. Even though I don’t spend a lot of time there with Duncan it’s one of those locations that is so unique to the area I was happy to use it.
The last town I used in my story is Morgan Hill. I needed a location that felt rural without it being too far from San Jose, so I picked Morgan Hill, which is about a twenty-minute drive south of San Jose. It serves as the home of another character, Kirtus, and I think it works well as the rural setting I was going for.
So, that is a little about the various cities, towns and other locations I use in The Calling. This by no means is a full list. You’ll have to read The Calling to learn about all the different amazing locations I use. If you every make it out to San Jose, you have to check them out, especially the restaurant I mention, it’s worth it.
Title: The Calling
Author: M.D. Neu
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: January 1, 2018
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Paranormal, paranormal, gay, dark, immortal, magic users, psychic ability, vampires
Being a nobody isn’t Duncan Alexander’s life goal, but it’s worked for him. He has a nondescript job, a few good friends, and overall he’s content. That’s until one fateful trip to San Jose, California, where he is “Called” to meet the mysterious Juliet de Exter. Juliet is a beautiful, wealthy, powerful Immortal who is undertaking The Calling—a search for a human to join her world of Immortals. Inexplicably, Duncan’s calling is more dangerous than any of the Immortals, even Juliet, ever thought it would be.
There is more to this nobody, this only child of long-deceased parents, than anyone thought. When Duncan experiences uncontrollable dreams of people he doesn’t know and places he hasn’t been, Juliet and the other Immortals worry. Soon, his visions point to a coven of long-dead witches. The dreams also lead Duncan to his one true love. How will Duncan navigate a forbidden romance with an outcast Immortal? How will he and the others keep the balance between the Light and Dark, survive vicious attacks, and keep the humans from learning who they truly are? More importantly, who is this implacable foe Duncan keeps seeing in his dreams?
M.D. Neu © 2017
All Rights Reserved
What is death?
I once believed there was only one definition: your body stops functioning, your soul leaves and what’s left turns to dust. That was what I thought, until it wasn’t.
I’ve discovered when you’re a nobody, the world can be an amazing place if you want it to be. Your life can change in a heartbeat and not make the least bit of difference to anyone but you, or so it would seem.
That was my case.
I’m by no means whining or complaining. I had a job, a small place to live, and friends, but no real family, and that was something I desperately missed and wanted. My life wasn’t bad and I was happy. However, I was just a random person, one of the many faces you see on the street and never glance at twice. It was dull. Of course, as with me, the majority of society didn’t know our world had hidden secrets, unseen by most.
The other important thing I want you to realize about me is that before I met her, I wasn’t a lucky man, not with money and certainly not with love. I made enough to live on, but never enough to take fancy trips. My idea of travel was staying at home and watching movies. That was my price range. And as for love, it was forgettable.
The day my life changed was like all the others, until it wasn’t. It was August 19. The year isn’t important. But we had finished celebrating the Olympics, and in a few short months, the country would be picking between the lesser of two evils for president.
I sat at an outdoor café in Santana Row. I’d spent the afternoon going on a tour of the Winchester Mystery House. Once my stomach had started to growl, I decided to grab a bite to eat.
I had come to San Jose, California for a vacation that I couldn’t afford and didn’t particularly want to take. Why San Jose? Why not San Francisco or Monterey or Vegas or Yosemite? To be honest, I don’t know, but it’s like everything inside and around me pulled me there. Out of the blue, I got emails from the San Jose Visitor Bureau. My dreams were filled with images of the city and the surrounding hills and mountains. It seemed that old song, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” by Dionne Warwick constantly played. Still, San Jose isn’t the place most people consider for a ten-day vacation, especially someone alone who had never been to the Bay Area before.
Despite my apprehension, from the moment I arrived, I immediately felt at peace. I’d never been this calm or relaxed anywhere before, not even at home. There was another reason for me coming here, one I didn’t understand yet, at least not on a conscious level.
I would find out why soon enough.
I don’t want to get things out of order, so back on point. I sat at this Italian-style outdoor café watching people walk by, enjoying the scent of roses and vanilla that filled the air. The aroma tickled the back of my brain. I smelled it everywhere, which should have been my first clue that something was different.
After enjoying my Italian-style chicken marsala, and while I sipped my strawberry lemonade, I felt a sharp pull in my brain. It wasn’t like I heard voices—it was more like vague images filled my head: a house, a woman, gardens, a gate, hills covered in trees, and a pair of eyes. My hands shook, and my glass fell to the floor and shattered. An intense pressure grew between my eyes, and I pinched the bridge of my nose to ease it.
When the tug came, three things happened to me at once.
First, I had the realization that I had an important meeting in Los Altos Hills. I had never heard of Los Altos Hills and even had to look it up on my phone to see if it was real. I would have to check my GPS when I returned to my rental. I knew the address of the house and who I was going to meet. She had blonde hair and mysterious eyes. I knew her, but I didn’t understand how.
Second, the waiter came to my table.
“Sorry about the drink,” I said.
He gave me an odd look and informed me my meal had been paid for and to enjoy my evening. Flabbergasted, I stared at the server.
I glanced around the café and wondered who paid the bill and why. I wasn’t even done yet.
“Mr. Alexander, are you all right?” The waiter scanned me up and down. “Do you need me to call someone? You look pale.”
“No.” I shook my head. “I’m fine.”
How did the waiter know my name? Stranger still, when I checked the table, my drink sat there and nothing had fallen to the floor. I wasn’t sure what was happening.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Sorry. Just a headache,” I said.
“All right. I hope you have a pleasant afternoon.” He smiled and started to walk off but turned back. “Oh, I almost forgot. I’m supposed to remind you about your meeting tonight.”
A lump stuck in my throat, and I nodded. It was spooky, but I wasn’t scared.
The last thing: I got a text from my closest friend, Cindy Martin. Good luck tonight. I’m sure it’ll be you.
I remember thinking, What does she know that I don’t?
I’ve known Cindy for years, and for her to say anything that short and sweet was rare. In fact, I don’t suppose I ever got a message from her without any emoticons.
As bizarre as all of this was, I realized that no matter what, everything and everyone I cared about would be okay. Clearly, there was something more to this trip and my being here. I didn’t know what. But it wasn’t just some free meal. It was bigger than that. If I was selected for what? I had no clue. And if I wasn’t, then I would get to see them again. There would be no questions.
Part of me wanted to worry, but I wasn’t bothered, which in itself surprised me. I’ve been a pessimist for as long as I can remember. It probably had to do with the strange death of my father when I was a kid. A death never fully explained. So, for this not to make me worry was one more mystery. What was about to happen was something that would just be. Instead of freaking out and worrying, I was calm and accepting of whatever adventure or fate awaited me.
Even though I was short on time to get to the house in Los Altos Hills, I wanted to enjoy my lunch. Reflecting on it now, I’m pretty sure that was the cynical part of my brain trying to exert some kind of control. I took my time, finished my meal, and when I was done, I tipped the server and left.
I walked back to my rental car. I wanted to take in as much of the classical European architecture and lush landscaping of the outdoor mall as I could. I managed to get a few decent cell phone pictures of the place.
I stopped my lollygagging and got moving. I had someplace to be and what appeared to be no choice in the matter. Before you go crazy, understand this wasn’t like one of those stupid movies that you watch, shaking your head, yelling at the screen for them not to go into the dark forest or spooky house or whatever. It wasn’t like that.
I’d like to hope I’m explaining this well enough so you don’t sit there and think, “Oh this is stupid. I’d never do anything that dumb.” It wasn’t like I had a choice. I had to go—something compelled me to her. I had to meet this woman, calling me. It was hard-wired into me, no matter how much I tried to slow down or stall, I moved forward.
I moved toward her.
When I finally got in the car and took a breath, I wasn’t clammy or shaky, and my heart wasn’t pounding in my chest. I should have been anxious, but I wasn’t. I was fine.
Knowing without understanding what I had to do, I headed to the freeway.
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Meet the Author
M.D. Neu is a LGBTQA Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.
Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man, he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.
When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric, his husband of eighteen plus years.