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theloyalmanClick to PurchaseHave you ever thought about what you would do if your spouse came back to you after having an affair with a vampire?  On the one hand you love her.  On the other hand, what will happen to you when... well, you know.  How far would you go for love?  How loyal could you be?  That's the question Lansing author Michelle Montague Mogil tackles in 'The Loyal Man', the second novel in the Love Eternal series.

'The Loyal Man' continues the story of Ana and Ethan Trent, whose marriage was in a bloody shambles in the first book.  In 'The Gentle Man' Ana, suffering a midlife crisis, allows herself to be seduced by an older man who tells her he is an 800 year old vampire.  The story takes place in a fictional town in Tompkins County that is very much like Lansing.  Ana thinks Trent has lost interest in her, and certainly their communication has shut down.  So when an older man takes an interest she is receptive, even though he claims to be a vampire.

"She starts out thinking he's a looney who needs psychological and medical intervention," Mogil says.  "He wins her over.  She decides her husband doesn't want her any more.   She's feeling neglected and along comes this guy who thinks she's amazing and wonderful.  But it ends tragically.  Then it turns out the 'good guy' husband still loves her and comes back to her."

The second book explores loyalty and the true nature of love and the reality of being a vampire -- if being a vampire were real.  Mogil says that her stories are less about horror that the everyday challenges of dealing with hopelessness, but with a glimmer of hope.  She takes a down to earth approach to vampirism.  Her vampires don't turn into bats and fly into the night.

"There's not a whole lot of blood splashing around," she says.  "My 800 year old fellow explains it to Ana at one point.  He says, 'No, that's impossible.  You're an idiot for thinking that!'  There are limitations.  It's just a very different physiology.  The do have to avoid direct sunlight, and there is a limited diet.  It's one substance, but it's really hard to get.  If this were to happen, how would you deal with it? How would you survive?  So there is some realism in there.  I tried to make it as realistic as I could, given that it's an unrealistic premise."

michellemogil400Michelle Montague Mogil

So what do you do when your wife comes back from a disastrous affair with a vampire?  Does living with a wife who sucks blood... well, does it suck?  While the physical changes might be a trial, Mogil's characters really struggle with the concept of love and what meaningful love really is.

"She thinks it's infatuation," Mogil says.  "She thinks having this guy that is completely and utterly in love with her is the way to go.  She doesn't realize that it's better to have somebody like her husband who is very steady.  He may seem like he's being neglectful, but that's her perception.  There's a definite failure of communication."

Mogil studied photography at Ithaca College, but got a job at a print shop that Dennis managed at the time.  First she got a job, and that led to a husband.  Eventually she  worked in IT at Cornell.  She began 'The Gentle Man' after being laid off from that position.

thegeltlemanClick to PurchaseThat was her first novel, but she says she's been composing stories since she learned to write in elementary school.  A few stories were published in the Ithaca Times, one on garage sales and one on pig races.  She wrote one about a Harley Davidson poker ride for cancer research.  She also had a short story called 'The Worms Crawl In' published with 14 other authors in an anthology called 'Theme-Thology: Invasion'.  While vampires have become the 'it' creatures in modern culture, Mogil says her infatuation with them began decades ago.

"I've been into horror movies and this sort of thing since I was a kid," she says.  "I can remember watching Friday Fright Night with my dad.  So I've been into this since the '60s.  One of my favorite shows was 'Dark Shadows.'  So I've always been into horror movies and Bela Lugosi."

Mogil says that writing from the male perspective was a challenge for her that may have strained her own marriage a bit.  She says the character of Trent is vaguely based on her husband Dennis, but notes that he is assuredly not a vampire in real life.

"It was amazingly difficult," Mogil says.  "I kept following Dennis around and getting clues as to his mannerisms and what he would say in certain situations.  I think I drove him a little nuts."

Response to the series so far has been encouraging, which will mean more installments.  Most of the work on a third installment is done.  It tells of an author who has written books about a vampire couple.  Her characters actually show up at a book signing, and the story takes off from there.  She says the author in her story is fictional and not at all based on herself.

And if Dennis came home one day and told her he had turned into a vampire, what would she do?  Would she let him bite her?  How would she handle turning into a vampire herself?

"I wouldn't mind," she says.  "I'm not a particularly sunny person to begin with.  I wear sunglasses on cloudy days because my eyes are so sensitive.  Dennis thinks it's terribly funny.  I would jump at the chance.  I think that would be kind of interesting."

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