Please welcome my guest today, Jamie Fessenden, a fellow Dreamspinner author.  Jamie is here today to talk about his new book, Murderous Requiem, and the magick he used it the story.  Welcome, Jamie!

The World of Murderous Requiem

Murderous Requiem takes the reader into a hidden world of sexual excess and ancient magick, where names like Aleister Crowley and John Dee are revered, and the existence of spirits and demons is taken as a given.  Jeremy Spencer left this world eight years ago, but now he is drawn back into it by the man he never stopped loving, Bowyn, when a 500-year-old musical manuscript turns up that only Jeremy can transcribe.

Though Jeremy and Bowyn’s world is fictional, much of what is described in Murderous Requiem is real, in the sense that the occult order shaped by Aleister Crowley—the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.)—does still exist and has an active membership.  The Order in the novel is not the O.T.O., but is certainly inspired by it.  And there are many similar occult societies still active today.  The novel is dedicated to “the Brethren,” which is a coy way of referring a group that some of my friends belong to.

Do they really believe in spirits and magick?  (Note: the odd spelling of “magic” is an affectation of Crowley’s which has carried forward to today’s occult circles.)  For the most part, yes.  Some see the spirits as manifestations of the human psyche, and magick as fundamentally psychological.  But many modern magicians would say that “demons” are real—spirits, or even gods from ancient religions that fell out of favor with the Christian church in the Middle Ages and so were “demonized.”

Whether they see the spirits as real or psychological archetypes, magicians don’t consider them to be either good or evil by nature.  Instead, they can be angered or placated by the actions of the magician, just as people or animals can, and when they are treated well, they can become powerful allies and aid the magician in accomplishing his or her goals.  It is important to note, however, that they do not worship these spirits—they work with them.  Magicians are often devout Christians or Jews who believe that God granted man the authority to work with these spirits through King Solomon.  Even neo-pagans like Jeremy and Bowyn view these spirits as dangerous, if not necessarily evil, and as beings that should be handled with extreme care, rather than worshiped.

So I invite you to enter into the world of ceremonial magick—a sometimes frightening world, but one that I have found immensely fascinating, ever since I stumbled across a book about it in my college library.  Is it real?  I’ve always teetered on that razor edge of skepticism between my conviction that the world can be understood through science and the belief that there is something wondrous and perhaps unknowable lying just under the surface.  The “magick” in Murderous Requiem reflects this attitude and I’d like to think it’s possible for the reader, like Jeremy, to come out the other side, wondering… but still uncertain.

I’ll be giving away a free copy of Murderous Requiem this week, so just leave a comment with your email address (or, if you prefer, email that information to me privately at between now and Friday, April 19th, to enter into the running for it!


Jeremy Spencer never imagined the occult order he and his boyfriend, Bowyn, started as a joke in college would become an international organization with hundreds of followers. Now a professor with expertise in Renaissance music, Jeremy finds himself drawn back into the world of free love and ceremonial magick he’d left behind, and the old jealousies and hurt that separated him from Bowyn eight years ago seem almost insignificant.

Then Jeremy begins to wonder if the centuries-old score he’s been asked to transcribe hides something sinister. With each stanza, local birds flock to the old mansion, a mysterious fog descends upon the grounds, and bats swarm the temple dome. During a séance, the group receives a cryptic warning from the spirit realm. And as the music’s performance draws nearer, Jeremy realizes it may hold the key to incredible power—power somebody is willing to kill for.

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Irritated, I started to take my plate back up to the bedroom. Alex would kill me if I didn’t return it to the kitchen, but I could bring it down later. As I started to climb the stairs, however, I found my way blocked by Rafe.

“Brethren,” he said smoothly, somehow managing to make the word sound sexy. I could feel his eyes scanning my body as he smiled at me. “How are things in the Renaissance?”

I wasn’t sure if he was being sarcastic or merely playful, so I replied, “All right, I guess.”

“You guess?”

I shrugged, the plate of risotto starting to feel heavy in my right hand. “There are some symbols on the staves that I can’t make much sense of. I mean, they look familiar, but I can’t place them.”

“Symbols?” he asked, taking a step closer. His hand on the banister brushed against my left hand. I was tempted to pull it away, but couldn’t think of a compelling reason to do so. He was dead sexy, after all. And certainly Seth and Bowyn wouldn’t mind me flirting with him. Or doing other things with him, for that matter.

“I’m not sure what they are. Some sort of occult alphabet, perhaps. But nothing I recognize. They’re always paired with a Latin letter, but even those don’t make sense, because they’re all consonants. No vowels at all.”

Rafe was looking at me intently with those penetrating, dark eyes. There was something grave in his expression, even as his fingers lightly traced the length of my fingers in an unmistakably seductive gesture. “I remember seeing them on the manuscript,” he purred. “I can show you what the symbols are.”

“You can?” It was enormously arrogant of me to assume that, just because Rafe looked as if he belonged on a fashion runway, he couldn’t possibly know something that I, Herr Professor, didn’t know. So I mentally slapped myself and asked, “What are they?”

He smiled and bent down to bring his lips close to my ear. “Come to the chapel after midnight.”

His breath was hot against my earlobe, and my voice quavered a bit as I responded. “I’m not going to fuck you in the chapel.”

He laughed and kissed me lightly on the neck, causing me to shiver involuntarily. Then he said, “You can have me whenever and wherever you want, Brethren. But I’m not asking you to come to the chapel for sex. There are better places for that.”

Then he slid his rough, razor-stubbled chin along my cheek and finished by delivering a firm kiss to my mouth. He was a damn good kisser.

Rafe chuckled and pulled away, a smirk on his lips, before slipping past me to continue down the stairs. After a moment of standing there like an idiot, with my plate still in one hand and the beginnings of an erection tenting the cloth of my robe, I started to climb the steps again. Regardless of what happened in the chapel, I thought, I was seriously considering taking him up on that offer.