Natalie-Nicole Bates is a book reviewer and author.
Her passions in life include books and hockey along with Victorian and Edwardian era photography and antique poison bottles. Natalie contributes her uncharacteristic love of hockey to being born in Russia.
She currently resides in the UK where she is working on her next book and adding to her collection of 19th century post-mortem photos.
Places to find Natalie-Nicole:
Inspiration for SEE ME…
I did not begin as a writer. For many years I was simply a book lover who turned reviewer. About two years ago, I decided to start writing my own novel. A year later, I was a happily published author of two contemporary romances.
I was always fascinated by paranormal romance. But as a reviewer, I watched the paranormal market literally explode. Vampires, werewolves, shifters, even zombies were making appearances at an alarming rate. Writers were writing these markets and writing well.
So what to do?
Inspiration came fast. I am an avid collector of Victorian-era photography. To me, there is much beauty in these old photographs, and to my delight—much inspiration as well.
My first published paranormal short story, Antique Charming, was centred on a cabinet card from 1896 of a man standing outside of a funeral home.
Antique Charming was successful, but could I write a paranormal that would be a longer length than Antique Charming?
Once again, I returned to my photographs. I had recently bought a Carte de Visite (1860’s) of a beautiful little girl about age 3, her photo surrounded by a memorial wreath. In my mind, Baby Charlotte was born.
SEE ME begins in 1896, where we meet sixteen year old Charlotte. Charlotte always knew she was special, but never knew why. She believed it all stemmed from a near drowning incident when she was three. An incident her family members refused to speak of.
Her hunch comes true one day in 1896 during a lumber yard fire when her true powers reach fruition.
One very small photograph from the 1860’s suddenly became one huge idea for a novella.
I then went in search of my Daniel Tremont, the hero of SEE ME. Daniel’s inspiration is a magnificent 1860’s Daguerreotype of a young man. The matt on this photograph is purple, which is usually the colour of significance for mourning, which means this young man probably passed away young. He was perfect.
Sometimes what you know well can be a powerful ally. In writing, this is so true. I took my love for Victorian photography and turned it into a plot for a novella that combines romance, paranormal, and a touch of my beloved horror.
I hope you will read SEE ME, now available at Leap of Faith Publishing. To view the photographs that inspired both SEE ME as well as Antique Charming, visit my new blog Ghosts and Phantoms.
Carly Anders is hearing voices in her head. Another one of her kind is trying to contact her. She knows of the malevolent freaks—others who are eternal like her and seek out the weak to inflict pain upon. For years, Carly has held up huge protective walls to keep herself and her secrets safe. Now, physically and mentally exhausted, Carly needs protection and rest.
She accepts the invitation to visit an internet friend who needs help appraising a collection of antique photographs. The situation is not ideal, but Carly hopes a male presence in her life will deter the determined suitor who haunts her thoughts and dreams.
Daniel Tremont is not what Carly is expecting.
The former funeral director has a secret of his own. Not only is he eternal like Carly, he is her creation from all those years before—her abomination she thought she killed.
Daniel has been searching for Carly for years. He knows she is the piece of his life that he has been missing for so long. Now that he has found her, he has no intentions of letting her go.
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“Carly, my angel,” he whispered and cupped her cheek into his palm. He revealed in the silkiness and warmth of her skin. Still, she didn’t react. She was almost…a zombie.
His own body jerked in reaction to the fear she was emanating. She was clearly sleepwalking and in the throes of one hell of a nightmare, yet she didn’t cry out any longer. It was all now playing out inside her mind.
“Charlotte, see me,” he implored.
Her lips twitched at the mention of her real name.
“See me,” he repeated.
Suddenly, her body gave way and she collapsed. Catching her, he lifted her into his arms and carried her to the bed. As he laid her down, her breathing became ragged. He placed a hand over her heart as it raced, and passed healing calmness through his hand, feeling the energy pulsate against her skin. Beneath his hand, he would feel her heartbeat slow to a normal rhythm.
“Daniel?” Her voice was mere caress.
“I’m here, my angel. You’re having a nightmare. You’re frightened. It’s okay now, I’m here, and I will never leave you,” he promised.
“Everyone leaves, Daniel. You can’t understand, you can’t…” Her body started to tremble.
He climbed onto the bed and straddled her body. Leaning close to her face, he said, “Carly, let go of your fear. I can take it. Let go and see me,” he commanded.
Her breath came out in a whoosh, and a wall of fear and resistance hit him like a blow from above. It wasn’t exactly painful, more startling than anything else.
His vision flip-flopped, and he could see an image from inside her mind of two souls forever entwined as the result of one act. It made perfect sense. She was reliving the day their souls became one. The day of the fire.
He then saw black, suffocating water. She was reliving her own death, as well.
As the visions left him, he was consumed with the mishmash of fear, loneliness, and resistance within her.
He had to make her understand that it was over. “I will never leave you, Carly. That is my promise to you,” he insisted.
A flicker of life ignited in her eyes. Her hands came up to his face, and to Daniel’s surprise, tears bubbled from his own eyes. He was releasing the pain and fear he had absorbed from his beloved.
“I’m so sorry, Daniel, so sorry,” she murmured.
“There’s nothing to be sorry for, my love. It’s over. It’s time to move forward now.”
“You don’t understand what I am, Daniel.”
“I do understand, Carly. I am what you are. See me for what I am.”
In his mind, he could see the moving clockwork gears of her thoughts once again as she tried to process what he was telling her to be true.
“Just accept it, and let’s move forward.”
She drew his face to hers and her lips parted beneath his. Time blurred and he drank in the essence of his Carly. Her soft, barely covered curves molded themselves against his the hard planes of his body. Her hands were under his t-shirt, her fingers stroking him.
If he pressed on, he knew she wouldn’t refuse him. But in her vulnerable state, he wouldn’t let anything progress further that night. Carly needed time to process everything that happened. There was plenty of time to pursue a physical relationship. They weren’t going any where…he hoped.
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