Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman from the time of the Matabele Wars in what is now Zimbabwe.
She is an adventurer, a friend to famous people, and a vampire.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
Questions regarding background are devilishly difficult for such as I, in that one is always cognizant of two separate and very different “births.” I spent my last mortal years in the metropolis of Manhattan, and was, I think, much like any other young woman there at the time. I was intelligent, a tad ruthless, attractive (if I may say so), and soon to be something else entirely! In the years since I’ve traveled extensively, exploring not only Matabeleland but the hidden wonders of Empress Cixi’s China.
What do you do now?
I have been, I am, and I hope to continue to be for some time to come. Having at one time been persona non grata among my Kind as a result of my unconventional “making” (I was created accidentally and against my will, thus contravening all regulations regarding the creation of a new member of the Kin), I am now considered to be, if not a leader per se, at the very least a spokeswoman for my Kind in America. I currently operate out of my fiefdom in Washington D.C., and look after the wealth that my travels has afforded me while attempting to enhance the invisibility of my Kin and defend their status against those who would usurp it.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
The tale currently available concerns the First Matabele War in what is now Zimbabwe. At the behest of a cabal of Britishers, including Lady Ellen Terry (“Ageless” stage actress and undead Mistress of the City), Cecil Rhodes, and Sherlock Holmes, I traveled to Africa to see what influence I might have on the troubles then subsuming that region.
What did you first think when you came to Africa?
I confess that I was not at all intimidated by the challenges presented by the “Dark Continent.” Guided by the very capable Frederick Courteney Selous (a renowned hunter and naturalist), aided by my trusty Horace-Wilkershire Coilcycle and a falling-block rifle by Gibbs of Bristol, and confident of my own speed and strength, I felt well prepared for whatever Africa might send my way.
What was the scariest thing in your adventures?
The temporary loss of my eyesight was likely the most challenging of many difficulties that I faced, and gave me a new understanding of the powers of scent. And though what Roosevelt termed the “beasts of Raven” were certainly at times formidable, I was reinforced in my belief that the cruelest of beasts arise from the race of men. I discovered, for example, that King Lobengula, though a monster, was a man, and that my dear Selous, though I can attest he was every inch a man, was a monster.
What is the worst thing about being a vampire?
Initially attempting to hide my nature by pretending to consume “normal” food and drink was tedious, though I became quite adept at moving my meals around so it would appear that I ate, and the almost mystic formulae of tea drinking made shamming that practice easier still. Before the adventure came to an end, however, my capabilities and handicaps were pretty much understood by most who traveled with me.
What is the best thing about it?
My relationship with Selous, though many would term it scandalous, brought me real pleasure and on more than one occasion provided needed sustenance. I have always been catholic in my taste in lovers, and have seldom been shy in satisfying my own needs.
Tell us a little about your friends.
Lady Terry was a great boon to me in my early years among the Kin. She was not only the author of my first adventures, but was instrumental in providing what was to become the seed from which my fortune would grow. I will also always have a soft spot for Selous, though I note that I appear nowhere in his writings, and forgive the forgetfulness that must have been a balm to his broken heart.
Any romantic involvement?
Unlike many of my Kind, I passed into my new state with the hungers of the flesh undimmed. I am, or so I have been told, neatly made, and as such have had little difficulties encountering paramours of either gender. It is commonly said that the Kin are without odor, though I have been told on more than one occasion that there are faint but unique aromas and flavors to be found in La Monot that others find pleasing. A simile would perhaps explain these further, but that would be more of an intrusion than I’m inclined to allow.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
One of the revelations of long life has been the fact that there are very few true villains, merely individuals or creatures whose aims do not at the moment mirror one’s own. Certainly there are those among the Kin who I have been at odds with, and we are far from being the only “unnatural” creatures that share this planet, but thus far I have proved to be as formidable as any that I’ve encountered. It may be that I have become a monster of a kind myself, but of course I do not view the matter that way.
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
As Lugosi said in one of the first attempts to portray my Kind on screen, “I don’t drink…wine.” I do still love to read, and am constantly aware of my surrounding; on the lookout for whatever might be on offer in terms of pleasure, sustenance, or challenge.
What does the future hold for you?
I’ve been fortunate enough to be present during some of the most interesting points upon which human history has pivoted. I wouldn’t be surprised if my role in the Boxer Uprising and in the early days of the American Suffrage movement will some day come to light.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
As the Bard said, “There are more things on Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy.” And perhaps the most telling moments in human history were moved along by creatures that were more than they seemed. Were, for instance, the Red Lanterns of the Boxer Uprising beautiful, virginal, and capable of flight and fire-starting as was widely reported at the time? I was able to satisfy my (and others’) curiosity on these points, and while doing so braved encounters with creatures previously unknown to me and considerable more powerful than I.
How is it that your stories are now coming to light?
I had never intended that my adventures would add to the drivel that currently masquerades as tales of the Kin (or vampires in the argot of the day). The fact that they have done so means that either there has been some sort of terrible mistake or that I, Paulette Monot, have taken a mortal lover. The latter is perhaps more likely. Lucky you.
Bruce Woods is a retired writer/editor with more than 30 years experience in magazine editing and public relations, who lives in Alaska with his wife and two cats. His children graduated from Minneapolis College of Art and Design and Bennington College. Hearts of Darkness will eventually be a trilogy, and a separate trilogy featuring many of the same characters is complete and looking for a publisher.
You can find Paulette on the pages of Royal Blood.
Join us next week to meet a young Victorian woman involved with ancient curses, poetry, murder, intrigue, magic, and love. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.