In Rome, American Jesuit priest Thomas Kelly searches for an ancient document stolen from the Vatican. An enigmatic letter leads him to the work of a 19th Century poet, where Thomas discovers cryptic messages that might lead to the missing manuscript. His search unexpectedly entwines with that of Italian art historian Livia Pietro, who tells him destructive forces threaten to expose the document’s secrets. Mysterious men who would cross any line to obtain the document relentlessly chase Livia and Thomas through Rome. They surmise that the pages hold a devastating, long-buried truth. Livia, though, has a secret of her own: she and her People are vampires, called the Noantri. But all this pales in light of the Secret that Thomas and Livia discover together—a revelation more stunning than either could have imagined.
The authors added, “The novel is ultimately about faith and community. But it’s also about vampires and the Catholic Church. Because one of the main characters is a Jesuit priest and two are Noantri (vampires), readers might have come to them with preconceived ideas. Our job was to divest them of this baggage and make each of them a fully human individual.”
BLOOD OF THE LAMB garnered favorable opinions of three NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors. Steve Berry said, “You never quite catch your breath as the secrets unfold one at a time, all the while building to a first class conclusion. History, secrets, conspiracies, adventure. What more could you want from a thriller?”
Katherine Neville said, “Wow. BLOOD OF THE LAMB is totally unlike any novel ever written about vampires or secret societies or Roman art mysteries or Vatican conspiracies. But Sam Cabot has combined all of these, in this refreshing potpourri that provides us surprising and wonderful insights into each—and at the same time, endless fun!”
F. Paul Wilson weighed in with: “A heady blend of Christian mythology and ecclesiastical reality, BLOOD OF THE LAMB is an intricate puzzle of a novel—intensely researched, deeply spiritual, and profoundly sacrilegious. I loved it.”
The authors explained which scenes make the novel most compelling. “Those where history, art, and geography collide to create moments of revelation, such as when Thomas Kelly faces the reality of the nature of the Noantri. Also, the scene where Livia Pietro, a Noantri, stands in an underground crypt before the leadership of her people, to confront her own past and the ramifications of a mistake made many years before.”
Carlos Dews explained the inspiration and research involved. “In short, the neighborhood of Trastevere in Rome, specifically the layers of art and architecture that reflect the faith of the people there, inspired the novel. Since one of the original motivations for BLOOD OF THE LAMB was to provide alternative or additional explanations for historical events, art, architecture, and artifacts, a great deal of research was essential.”
As for the mechanics of writing, both chimed in. “We made small changes to the story, in particular the addition of some minor characters that were not part of the original conception, but for the most part the story remained the same. For the outline process, we spent a great deal of time world building. We sat across the tables of various coffee shops and restaurants in New York, Rome, and Assisi, and we talked through the book chronologically and in terms of story. We made copious notes but never committed to paper an actual narrative outline.”
Regarding rewriting, both authors opined. “Our writing is an iterative process. It involves writing a finished draft of each chapter while being willing to go back and change already written material on the basis of the writing that follows. Each bit is complete before we go on. If we need to fill in gaps and make changes, we do. Once S.J. finishes writing a chapter, she continues on to the next one while Carlos works on the chapter she just finished.”
S.J. and Carlos are at work on the second book in the Novel of Secrets series. Three of the characters from BLOOD OF THE LAMB will return, this time in New York. The working title is SKIN OF THE WOLF, which is due in August 2014.
They have an interesting perspective about eBook versus Tree Book. “The story is the object and the rest is delivery system. As long as people are reading, the format is not as important.”
Both authors tossed in closing comments. “S.J. has been going to conventions for years. ThrillerFest was Carlos’s first time at such a gathering. We went as the two halves of Sam Cabot, and Sam Cabot had a marvelous time.”
S.J. Rozan is the author of many critically acclaimed novels and short stories that have won crime fiction’s greatest honors, including the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, Macavity, and Nero awards. Born and raised in the Bronx, Rozan now lives in lower Manhattan.
Carlos Dews is an Associate Professor and Chair of the English Language and Literature Department at John Cabot University where he directs the Institute for Creative Writing and Literary Translation. He lives in Rome, Italy.