About the Angelus Trilogy

Inspiration:

Each night, since the consecration of Lausanne Cathedral in 1275, it was the duty of a man to climb the tower steps and raise a lantern against the dark and call the hour over Lausanne. The man was chosen for the sound of his voice, as well as his sense of duty to the protection of the cathedral and Lausanne. He is called le guet…pronounced ‘le geh.’ The title is derived from the French military term faire le geut: to keep the watch, or lookout. Today, that title is held by Renato Häusler.

First in the acknowledgements of The Watchers, Jon Steele writes: “My deepest gratitude to Renato Häusler. who at the time this story was written was serving as le guet de la cathédrale de Lausanne. His genuine kindness and devotion to the cathedral were the inspirations for this story.”

In addition to his work as le guet de Lausanne, Renato tours Europe illuminating churches and cathedrals with hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of candles in remarkable displays of light that seem to breathe life into the very stones.
He designs and makes all the illumination devices in the belfry of Lausanne Cathedral between the calling of the hour.

He calls the project Kalalumen…

 

Characters:

Katherine Taylor
Stunningly beautiful, craving pleasure, she traded undergraduate studies at UCLA for a degree in the fast life, paid for by men of immeasurable means. In Lausanne, Katherine hits the big time. Her clients are the richest and most powerful men in Europe. Men who can give her all the pleasure she craves. Katherine has no idea she is being groomed for a terrible purpose.
Jay Harper
A phone rings in a crummy flat and wakes Harper from a drunken stupor. A voice from Guardian Services Limited is on the line, telling him there’s a job in Lausanne, Switzerland. Like waking up in somebody else’s life, not even knowing who the somebody is. Only thing Jay Harper knows…he doesn’t have a bloody choice. He’s on the trail of a missing Olympic athlete, a trail littered with mutilated bodies, a trail that leads him to Lausanne Cathedral and the truth of who he is.

Marc Rochat
A young man, brain injured at birth, calls the hour and watches over the town of Lausanne, Switzerland from the belfry of an 800 year old Gothic cathedral. A modern-day Hunchback of Notre-Dame, he imagines the bells and statues and stones of the cathedral to be alive, and that is his duty to protect them. His cat, Monsieur Booty, keeps him company in the bell tower, along with the ghosts who come and go to remind him of the place he calls beforetimes.
Each night, since the consecration of Lausanne Cathedral in 1275, it was the duty of a man to climb the tower steps and raise a lantern against the dark and call the hour over Lausanne. The man was chosen for the sound of his voice, as well as his sense of duty to the protection of the cathedral and Lausanne. He is called le guet…pronounced ‘le geh.’ The title is derived from the French military term faire le geut: to keep the watch, or lookout. Today, that title is held by Renato Häusler.

 

 

The WatchersThe Watchers wasn’t so much researched as it was distilled from the grain of my own life.
I was raised Roman Catholic and educated at the hands of ‘the one true church’ for twelve years.  I read the Bible, I prayed before the statues of saints, I believed.  And though I fell away in spectacular fashion, the mystical elements of Catholicism…the Latin High Mass, the sacraments, the legend of a divine savior sent by the Creator to save the souls of men…never let go of me.In my twenties I worked every job going, from mailman to liquor store night clerk to FM radio DJ to small time dope dealer.  I also discovered I was dyslexic and set out to teach myself to read properly.  I started with Shakespeare, then Twain, then London, then Hemingway…Kerouac, Bukowski, Bulgakov, the great Phillip K Dick.    Just me wandering through a library and picking a book, reading the first sentence and the last sentence to see of I’d be interested in the middle bit.  Then came the writer who drilled his way into my consciousness deeper than rest, Raymond Chandler.  The Long Goodbye took me to another place.  A place where good and evil battled it out in shades of noir.  Then I saw the real thing in living color.I landed a gig in with a British television network as a news cameraman.  I travelled the world for twenty years.  I gained a reputation as a shooter who took good pictures in bad places.  Rwanda, Chechnya, Bosnia, the Middle East.  Places where evil wasn’t a religious concept or a literary device.  It was real and it stalked the earth in the forms of men.  But in Baghdad the day the Iraq War began, I knew I’d witnessed the slaughter of innocents one too many times.  I was haunted by their dying eyes…and I knew it would never end.  I put my camera on the ground and quit.  Evil had beaten the crap out of me.I needed a place to hide, wandered about, ended up in Lausanne, Switzerland.  Nestled on a hillside above Lake Geneva, surrounded by mountains and vineyards, it was as if I’d stumbled across all that was left of paradise.  One night, driving with a friend through the streets of Lausanne, I saw a spark of light moving counter-clockwise around the belfry.  My friend told  it was the lantern of le guet de Lausanne, the Watcher of Lausanne, the man who spent his nights in the belfry and called the hour over the sleeping city.  I was told le guet de Lausanne was the last watcher on Earth.  Seems every cathedral had a man in the belfry to call the hour and watch for fires or invaders, once upon a time.  But as the world filled with marvelous inventions, the Watchers disappeared.  Everywhere but Lausanne where the tradition was kept alive and unbroken from the time of the cathedral’s consecration in 1295.   I was sure he was pulling my leg about the man in the bell tower and told him so.  He looked me and smiled, ‘Would you like to meet him?’

That same night I stood at the base of the belfry tower, watching my friend call up to le guet de Lausanne.  A shadowlike form then leaned over the high-above balcony railings.  We told him we had a bottle of wine and wanted to offer him a glass.  The shadow disappeared.  I thought he was coming down the tower to let us in.  Instead, he reappeared at the railings and began to lower down the key to Lausanne Cathedral at the end of a hundred meter piece of string.  As I unlocked the belfry tower door, le guet rewound the string.  And as I climbed the tower stairs, I listened to my echoing steps and smelled the eight hundred year old stone.  When I reached the lower balcony of the belfry, le guet de Lausanne was waiting in the shadows of the bells…lantern in hand, black floppy hat on his head.  ‘Hello, it’s only me,’ he said.

He took me around the belfry, introduced me to each of the seven bells and told me their stories.  And the stories of the thousand year old timbers that housed the bells, and the cathedral stones.  He walked me through the cathedral with nothing but his lantern for light.  He took me along narrow walkways above the nave and through secret passages under the roof.  He took me to the crypt where ancient skeletons slept in open graves.  And back in the belfry, in his small room between the bells, we polished off the wine and le guet made tea.  It was then he told me of his dream.  He wanted to light the nave with thousands of candles so people would see the cathedral for what it was, a place of wonder and hope.

Then Marie Madeleine, the largest bell in the tower, rang for midnight.  The belfry timbers shuddered in the wake of her tremendous voice.  Le guet put on his black floppy hat and re-lit his lantern.  ‘Allez, come with me,’ he said.  I followed him to the east balcony where he stood very still waiting for Marie to finish ringing the hour.  Then he slowly raised his lantern into the night and called, ‘C’est le guet.  Il a sonne douze, il a sonne douze.’  Then to the north, the west, then to the south.

The sound of the fading bell, the sound of le guet’s voice, the light of his lantern against the darkness; these things fired my imagination.  A cathedral high on a hill overlooking Lausanne and Lake Geneva…a strange young man who lived in the belfry, calling the hour through the night, believing his cathedral to be a place of wonder and hope…and me knowing the evil I’d witnessed stalking the earth lay just beyond the mountains on the far shore, and it was coming to destroy all that was left of paradise.

‘My God, there’s a wonderful story here,’ I mumbled.

Le guet said, ‘Then is your duty to write it.’

 

Angel City

Angel City is the second part of The Angelus Trilogy.  Picking up where The Watchers left off, the reader again follows Jay Harper, Katherine Taylor, and Inspector Gobet as they try to survive in a world under attack by the forces of darkness.  The story rips back and forth through time, and crashes along at breathtaking speed, leading to a shocking close that sets the stage for the part three of the trilogy, The Way of Sorrows.

I’m often asked what was my inspiration for the trilogy.  Why did I set out to write an offbeat take on the story of angels and men?  Good question.

Angel City wasn’t a work of inspiration, it was a creation of near biblical proportions.  At least, that’s what it felt like many times writing it.  Though unlike the Master of the Creation, who according to His publicity department took only six days to create His universe, my effort took a year and half.  But, basically, the mechanics were the same.  Insert hands into the goo of religion, science and creation mythology, stir till thickened, then remove a mysterious world that exists side by side with our own…a dangerous, alternate world populated by drugged-out, worn-out, PTSD-laden creatures from another place who dwell in the shadows and are on a mission to save all that is left of Paradisethe creatures men call angels.      

I’ve always been fascinated by ‘creation mythology,’ the legends and myths invented by human beings to answer three questions of existence:  Who made the universe?  Why do I exist?   What will happen to me when I die?  Our religions, our civil codes, our philosophies are all based on interpretations of the myths and legends.  By far, the most interesting part of creation mythology is discovering the similarities in those myths and legends; not only between ancient peoples who shared borders or trade routes, but isolated tribes who had no contact with ‘outsiders.’  For two and half million years, human beings have been telling each other strikingly similar tales of creation…as if, somehow, a common truth of creation has been bred into one nucleotide our DNA.  How the hell can that be?

Angel City is a tale of lost souls on mystical noir trip through the shadows of a Lausanne and Paris, searching for answers.