Raven’s Peak Novella Series being launched soon!
We are thrilled to announce the launch of an exciting new adventure in the village of Raven’s Peak. It is the beginning of a brand new novella series that will follow the life of fledgling vampire Jake Fonteine. We invite you to come and join us in the dark depths of Raven’s Peak where there is a whole new society of vampires just waiting to be discovered. Jake become part of something far bigger and older than anything he has ever encountered in his short life before and he has no idea what to do about it. He is lost amidst this new world he has been violently thrust into with no way out. He is head over heels in love with a beautiful blood witch and he would do anything to be able to be with her. Vampires and blood witches are like chalk and cheese; you can’t mix the two together.
The Raven’s Peak Novella series will be coming to you soon so be on the lookout for the launch of the first instalment of stories. The Rose will be the first novella to begin Jake’s journey that will have him confessing his true identity to the woman he loves as she turns her back on him and walks away. His desperate fight begins right from the very start to save their love and to fight for the life that was stolen from him. Will she come round to understand his world or will she turn her savage power on him? Will he be able to survive as a vampire in his new destiny? Come join us to find out where his journey will take him as he delves into a horror story as old as time itself.
This novella series will tell the story specifically of the Toran clan of vampires. They live in Raven’s Peak district and we will be focusing specifically on their unique struggles with the vampire nation. These stories will follow Jake as he comes to terms with immortal death and what that means for him, both good and bad. He will make lots of new enemies and a handful of good friends along the way. He hates his maker with a passion and tries to kill him but finds himself restricted by blood rites he doesn’t understand. Raven’s Peak Governess steps in to create order in the imbalance left behind from Torren’s reckless behaviour and Jake is grateful for her assistance. Which way will he go? Will he choose the light and possible death or the darkness and guaranteed salvation? Which will he become as he battles forces beyond his comprehension?
Jake will have to face the biggest challenge of his existence to make a path for himself in a disturbingly dark new world. He is like an angry child, lost but not alone, suffering his misery that leads him into all sorts of trouble. He is desperate to regain his humanity and will stop at nothing to find a way back, no matter how slim the chances might be. There is a war coming to Raven’s Peak and a rebellion has already started the fires blazing. Will Jake be at the front of the fight or will he defend his clan? Will he choose Riza, the love of his life or will he embrace the darkness and the power it gives him? Who is Jake Fonteine and why is he is important to the blood witches and vampires alike? What madness was it his sire possessed to see such high value in such a simple human soul?
Come with us on this rollercoaster ride and discover all the truths hidden to the secrets that breed like the unholy spawn of the dead. Come find out the true heart of Raven’s Peak and what really goes on in the night!!
Catherine & Angelique Nuza (C. A. Nuza)
PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER: Review of Revenge
April 1, 2018
Back with a vengeance: Review of Revenge, the second book in the trilogy Psycho-Analysis by Catherine Nuza
Barely six months after publishing the first book of her trilogy ‘Psycho-Analysis’, Catherine Nuza has released the second part, featuring a harrowing front-cover photo designed by the author. She describes ‘Revenge’ as the ‘pinnacle’ of the tale of a broken man riddled with bloodlust for his an-eye-for-an-eye justice. She was seventeen when she created Khedlar, a hero/antihero who morphs into a monster after growing up within a fragmented reality in which he has nobody to trust and turn to. However, the manuscript was left on the backburner until she and her wife and proofreader Angelique realised its value not just as fiction, but as case study – purely fictional, and yet crudely realistic in its make-believe parallel universe of ethically arguable society rules.
After ‘Khedlar’s Story – The Beginning’ cliffhanger ending, it was only fair that fans demanded to know the truth as much as the protagonist does, so Catherine worked around the clock to ‘flesh out’ her unravelling plot and, with Angelique’s collaboration, she completed the third installment, ‘Into The Shadows’, due for publication this summer, tying all loose ends after revenge is exacted and all family jewels are finally appraised.
At the end of Book One, Khedlar escapes the mental asylum he was unlawfully detained at with nothing to lose, since he has already lost his only double reason to live – his wife and daughter, whose murders he is accused of – except his desire of saving his daughter’s soul. He feels nothing but hatred now, so he is as driven to revenge as his reality is eroded by years of abuse and medication, and he seeks to uncover his family’s own agenda, by confronting the pawns in a mind game larger than themselves.
The action is set in present-time Dawn Vines, poetic toponymy for a dark territory with despicable secrets and where tradition is… murder. “Dawn Vines is completely made up and not at all inspired to any real cities on this planet, unlike in other novels where you can clearly see New York or London for example behind the gossamer veil of pseudonym, accurate down to the bend the river traces across the metropolis…” Angelique explains. “Here what matters is not a sense of place, but the pulsions that govern its citizens.” In fact, every society has its norms and what is normal for one may not be for others; and surely in Dawn Vines’s traditions are based on a moral code that makes most of us shudder: Catherine drops hints about cannibalism as a ritual practice performed in this society, whose rules outsiders are requested to abide, or else just run, if they don’t want to become prey. Rites of initiation may be the trigger of Khedlar’s misfortunes, and the labyrinth of lies that tarnishes his childhood and adolescence is responsible for his psychopathy, yet very lucid in his quest for justice.
“I am from South Africa,” Angelique explains, “where European heritage balances the strong native society, so that monotheism, witchcraft, hoodoo, shamanism and cannibalism coexist. Despite certain practices being frowned upon and ruled illegal, they still play a big part in tradition. This inspired the motives behind Dawn Vines self-containing set of rules, which may be an abomination to any rationalist, but cannot be denied because they are steeped in heritage. We all exercise some kind of ‘socio-police’ role, enforcing what is normal to our individual or collective judgment, yet one cannot blindly accept tradition if it goes against conscience, and this subjective questioning is what makes the character of Khedlar come to life.”
Step by step, Khedlar reconstructs the past his family and carers have kept from him, finding out who his aunt and uncle really are. One may think that his bloodlust ran in the blood, but the reasons for Khedlar’s wife and daughter’s disappearance are far more sinister and ‘convoluted’, thus the Nuzas describe them. The trilogy opens on Khedlar being accused of having butchered the only two individuals to whom he has developed a healthy attachment, and being interned in a mental institution after their bodies aren’t found and any proof for conviction is circumstantial, yet he is slowly but surely instilled with guilt, no matter how strongly he protests his innocence, and he is given psychotropic medication that, being unnecessary, instead of healing him, leads him down a path of psychotic episodes. Here, the author introduces a veiled criticism to the current ‘Dr Knock’ mentality that maintains there is a miracle pill to pop for every alleged illness, even those diagnosed out of excess zeal, for character traits with no cure laid out in the future, attributable only to lack of prevention. Later, doubt storms his already fragile mind when he is told that his wife cheated on him and his precious daughter isn’t really his, so that the reader may be led to believe that the double murder amounts to a honour killing carried out by senior family members to preserve the clan reputation; but there are far chillier reasons behind it, and it is the doing of more than one individual, covering up for each other. If Khedlar exacts his revenge at the end of Book Two, it will take the entire Book Three to disclose the whole horrifying truth of a deeply dysfunctional family, proving that psychopathic tendencies may run in the family indeed, but nurture is as much responsible as nature when it comes to unleash the evil nestled in one’s genes.
Catherine points out that Khedlar wasn’t born evil, but was made so by circumstances, and she manages to sketch a likable character with flashes of dark humour to endear him to his audience, who can visualise his wrath in peaks of exaggerated violence. “Some passages remind me of Quentin Tarantino’s style,” Angelique purports. “The scene in ‘Kill Bill’, where the samurai slashes his opponents and then orders everyone out, and the victims just stand up, gather their detached limbs, and hobble out of frame… this kind of surreal, almost cartoonish, dark humour, the outlandish brutality that audiences enjoy, is employed throughout the novel to defuse the tension and make the protagonist multifaceted.” There’s catharsis in a quick chuckle, or cackle, and if laughter won’t bury you, surely will terminate the family no-one can choose not to be born into.
Angelique describes Khedlar as a psychopath rather than a sociopath, because his actions are random, while a sociopath would be cool and collected in mimicking what is considered normal behaviour. “Khedlar is socially awkward as a child as much as he is as an adult,” Catherine says, “and he has to practise his moves and facial expressions in front of a mirror like an actor before stepping out in the real world searching for the murderer, for his little girl’s sake.” Pages are spent to describe his psychology in detail, as he matures and develops the kind of self-assurance he needs for his mission.
His counterparts are steely sociopaths and he is has to gear up for a clash of titans: “This is a controlling clan in which survival of the fittest is the dominant rule,” Catherine adds. “The matriarch is narcissistic and she loves to play her children against each other for her own benefit. And they fall for her web of deceit, because they don’t know any better. There is method in her madness, and what looks like warped reality to us is perfectly logical for her. This is indeed horrifying to our ethical system, and we come to question it as much as Khedlar does. This book is intense and pure horror, not for the faint-hearted like my pitch claims, but it also is thought-provoking as it puts you in Khedlar’s shoes and begs the question: what would you do in his stead, if you were pushed to insanity by your own flesh and blood? Is murder ever justifiable in a state-of-nature society that doesn’t legislate against it?”
The noir fascination with Dawn Vines doesn’t end here for Catherine, who is already spinning the plot for ‘The Artist’, an independent trilogy set there, and a stand-alone thriller titled ‘Remember Me’, set in Hag’s Cliff, the outskirts of Dawn Vines where tribal societies dwell.
‘The Beginning’ and ‘Revenge’ are published in Alaska (to add the extra chill down your spine), and are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and soon as audio-books. For updates and trivia, visit CatherineNuza.org.
PURE & RAW – Dilapidated backgrounds maximise the impact
October 1, 2017
Against the media sensationalism splashing the monster all over the front page for the newsboy‘s convenience, writer Catherine Nuza wants to tell the story of a serial killer from a human point of view, to explore the triggers of psychopathy.
“I am not justifying his behaviour or cajoling the reader into sympathising with him, but I am trying to present a realistic character with a complex back-story that he is piecing up in order to understand what is real and what isn’t in his dazed recollection of a heinous crime,” the author says about her newly published novel ‘Psycho-Analysis – Khedlar’s Story’, the first instalment of a trilogy that unearths, sometimes literally, an alleged serial killer’s skeletons in the closet. “Everyone has cracks, and when those cracks keep being bashed and bashed, sooner or later, it is inevitable for them to give way and result in a fragmented psyche: I am exploring how far someone can be pushed before he or she snaps, falls apart and becomes either violent and murderous, or withdrawn and reclusive, and why,’ the assistant nurse turned novelist explains. “I am not excusing the protagonist’s actions, but merely reconstructing the chain of events which led Khedlar to the mental asylum.”
All art work and photography by:
Despite disclaiming any psychology training and stating how the creation of this completely fictional character is based solely on her personal and sometimes professional experiences and her intense research in the topic, Catherine’s wife Angelique, who used to work in forensics and now takes care of the book’s marketing, assures us that ‘the psychopathy is accurate, free of blockbuster commercialisation’, and the readers will confront an all-rounded personality with several facets to his temperament, including a twisted but original sense of humour, a lucid mind in its own right when driven to scout the truth.
Reminiscent of the fortunate TV series ‘The Mentalist’ starring Simon Baker, in which the protagonist finds his wife and daughter brutally murdered by a serial killer dubbed Red John who signs the crime scene with a bloody smiley face, yet the viewer cannot help but deep down suspect him throughout the seasons as he keenly volunteers to assist the investigations with his ‘psychic’ powers, in Catherine’s book, the protagonist only recalls having found his family butchered and seen the murderer’s face, a man who looked like his image in the mirror. He cannot tell apart reality from hallucinations due to his being pushed to the limit as well as being under psychotropic medication, and he has no friends and nobody to trust in his quest for the truth. Not the empathetic male nurse he initially seems to warm up to, not even his mother and aunt, whose back-story will be the subject of the third book of this disturbing trilogy. A bookworm loner in his teenage years when he was fascinated by his aunt’s job at the morgue and himself dreamt to become a surgeon, and hold someone’s life and death in his hands, Khedlar does have a conscience – and nightmares. And, being unable to piece together the correct sequence of events, he remains marred by what he might be capable of doing.
“Humanity is riddled with imperfection and I want to dissect the remote folds of the human psyche to analyse facts without sugar-coating them, to stir your genuine reaction,” Catherine says. “We are animals after all: just imagine if society’s laws crumbled apart and we regressed to our feral state, what would happen then if all boundaries but the law of the jungle didn’t exist? Would we still have a conscience? Why and when would killing someone be justifiable? The story is about the mask we all wear in order to screen our emotions when inappropriate to function in society, and the coping mechanisms we put in place to survive, and the consequences of their malfunctioning.” However, she reminds her readers that this is purely fiction and she’s not accounting any clinical cases, or part of, she may have encountered during her experience with adult and child mental health patients: “One can only express and give what one learns in one’s reality, hence Khedlar is my own character who lives only on my own pages, but I want him to come across as real as possible and I hold my judgement and bias about him and his actions either way. I’ve always been different, with a different outlook on life and proud of it, that’s why I believe this book is unique.”
“The ending is a chilling and thrilling rollercoaster of emotions,” Angelique adds. “It raises goose-bumps and indeed creates a cliff-hanger to entice readers to the forthcoming second book.”
Catherine started writing ‘Khedlar’s Story’ immediately after the publication of her poetry collection ‘Raw’ 15 years ago, but never ‘fleshed it out’ until recently, treasuring her acquired knowledge on the matters of the grey matter. “My poetry is the unfiltered expression of my emotions, mostly dark, but also funny and loving, because I was in a dark place when I wrote it at the age of 17. As long as I had pen and paper where to record my feelings, I was healing. Poetry was my release and my soul medicine,” she explains. “I started writing random poems which only later I organised in a book, and designed the front cover, featuring a picture I took of my cousin modelling for me. ‘Raw’ is like a time capsule for me and when I re-read it, it feels like an abstract diary with keywords triggering memories I can nowadays distance myself from, to acknowledge I am a different, stronger person now. The past was raw and hurtful but it is firmly in the past and reliving it has helped the healing process. My readers tell me my poems are intense but mostly relatable.”
Catherine portrays herself as an all-round artist who moves confidently both in her visual and literary talents, claiming that ‘the creative process must not be a burden, but open and free-flowing’. In fact, she is an accomplished abstract painter, a style that allows her to express her raw emotions in an unfiltered fashion, and also empowers the onlookers in their turn to interpret and relate them to their own. When make-believe is no longer enough, reality kicks in for Catherine to work her magic on artistic photography, perceived as a platform to explore contrast in light and shadows, textures, dilapidated backgrounds and dolled-up models. She actually styles her models, usually friends or relatives, selects her outfits, designs their make-up and suggests the poses they’d strike, although the model’s input in the shot’s composition is always appreciated, and makes them stand out dramatically in a minimalistic urban stage of decay and desperation, to maximise the visual impact of the decadence of this contemporary society and the loneliness experienced by its most sensitive individuals.