Raymond St. Elmo wandered into the street outside the University of Texas at Austin, where he was struck by a degree in Spanish Literature trailing a minor in Arabic. This collision left him with an obsession for magic realism. A more sensible intersection with computer programming gave him a job, leading by entirely logical steps to a fascination with artificial intelligence and virtual realities, which inevitably left him standing astonished back in the world of magic realism.
          Raymond is the author of novels that would wind up in the 'literary fiction' shelf. Each is a 1st person comic-adventure narrative concerning mysterious manuscripts, highland vampires, eccentric pursuits and strange women whose names always begin with the letter ‘K’. Raymond currently lives in Texas.



 The Origin of Birds in the Footprints of Writing

         Clarence St. Claire is a programmer who cherishes an orderly life. His motto: ‘work is important; people, not so much’. His determination to be The Most Serious Person on the Planet is threatened when he becomes haunted by a mysterious manuscript from his past: 300 pages of possibly random bird tracks. Risking his career and self-possession, St. Claire dares to pursue the manuscript against the opposition of hackers, the NSA, the ghosts of famous writers and doubts of his own sanity.
         Lost in a maze of bird-prints and their possible meanings, St. Claire determines to summon the late writer Jorge Louis Borges to help with the translation. He will dream Borges into existence, exactly as Borges wrote of doing. But this act stirs the opposition of a secret order of past writers, who may, possibly, have their own agenda. The duel between St. Claire’s reality and theirs leads to a final encounter in The Dark Library, before the dread conclave known as The Tribunal of Dreams.
         ‘Origins’ is a book about books, about magic realism and artificial intelligence, virtual reality and languages, and how sensible people wind up in strange situations by strangely sensible steps. It is built of the words books whisper to each other alone after the library has closed. It ends as it must: with the hero tossed into a pit by Edgar Alan Poe.
         Kidding. I mean, that last does happen but the final ending is the hero finding the answer and getting the girl, as well as his sanity back. Mostly back.

From the book:
         I sat on the bed in the dark, my back to the wall. I began a new web page. Time to tell the world the truth, I thought, and felt a surge of pride. This would upset the Secret Powers of the world. But hey they had cost me my $400 security deposit. It was payback time. I would tell the world. But tell what? I typed out the flat truth to see how it looked.
         There is a secret society of dead writers who live in the wall spaces between realities, in the silence of empty rooms, in the Schrödinger-uncertainty of unopened books. They call themselves the Tribunal of Dreams. Often they appear as birds. They peek out of mirrors and walk the shadows of libraries. They are old and sly and are not retired. They have vast plans. They have me barricaded in my bedroom and they painted my windows black. They are listening at the door now. Send help.
         I read it over several times. It expressed all the facts nicely, yet it lacked something. Specifically, it lacked the power to convince the world of anything except that I was insane.

 The Book in the Bottle

         A family finds a mysterious bottle. Within the bottle, a book. Within the book, a story. And within the story their own adventure. Supposing a book were to appear sewn from all the different parts of your favorite stories. What could it be, but a tale of change? .Frogs become princes, orphans become kings, kings become beggars, milkmaids become knights. Duels become dances, tombs become houses, a deathly chase becomes a coronation.
         We read to children bedtime stories that warn them and promise them: all thing change. Then we click off the light, expecting them to be unchanged when they wake in the morning.
         In a bottle is a book, and in the book is a city built of pieces. In that city is a beggar who became a duke, a rat who becomes a cat, a song that became a promise. Ghosts, assassins, kings and cobblers shift and dance across this city, finding who they are by what story they tell of themselves. And in the very center of the dance, a man stands balanced on a wheel.

From the book:
         I consider. "A good adventure story has a chase through a graveyard. There shall be a duel on a cliff by moonlight or firelight or lightning. There must be treasure. A magic ring. A haunted tomb and a ruined castle. Guards tricked, villains confounded. A lost heir, disguises, an assassin, ghosts, revenge, mutant tigers -"
         "What?"
         I ignore that. "- mutant tigers, an ancient battle between good and evil, an execution, a daring escape. There must be a prophecy that actually surprises, a final battle with an unexpected ending. There must be dull villagers, street-smart orphans and an impossibly clever-but-wicked noble villain."
         "What book is this?"
         I brush that aside. "No one book. It is my list of pieces from the best. Adventures by night in a graveyard are in Tom Sawyer, in Great Expectations, The Horse and His Boy, in Harry Potter. Duels are in The Three Musketeers and The Princess Bride. The Westing Game and The Three Musketeers have mystery and disguises. The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn and The Hobbit and Treasure Island and Tom Sawyer have treasures and a mystery. The High King and The Mouse and His Child have a prophecy that actually surprises. Lord of The Rings has magic rings and ghosts and the lost heir and mutant tigers -"
         "Does not!"
         " -and The Beggar Princess and The Prince and The Pauper have the clever street-wise kids. Harry Potter and The Black Cauldron and The Sword in the Stone and Momo and The Wizard of Oz all have the crazy wizard and the orphan with a destiny and The Last Unicorn and Lud in the Mist and The Thirteen Clocks and Three Musketeers and The Princess Bride have the sly noble villain."
         I have to stop for breath. I must be getting old.

 Letters from a Shipwreck in the Sea of Suns and Moons

         A research team and a blind old sailor slyly spar over the truth of a long-ago shipwreck, a mad island of dead gods and the mystery of a lost manuscript. Neither sailor nor interviewer is what they seem; but both must work together to find what they seek.
         Seemingly, Clarence St. Elmo sits old and blind in the Sailor's Safe Harbor Home. A patient interviewer sifts his wandering memories for details of the wreck of the Unicorn, a cargo schooner lost long ago in the South Pacific.
         But Clarence St. Elmo is also a young man who finds himself on a cursed ship with a cargo of dead gods destined to be sunk in the Sea of Time. His love waits for his return, while mad voices in his head slyly pry for clues to a lost book. And always beyond the words and the memories, the dreadful storm circles closer.
         A romance of memory, across the sea of time.

From the book:
Describe the dance in the moonlight.
         The girl stopped dancing at the first bird chirp of dawn. The ruined walls pooled the remainder of night like a hollow on a beach when the tide draws away. Exhausted, I stared up at a patch of coloring on a tree-top. My heart beat for a drum. The girl looked at the sky, then regretfully towards the dark entrance to the crumbled house. She wasn't a bit tired. But she intended to retire for the day, no doubt taking me and Cut-Throat with her. She could do it, too. In the faint light her face was hungry and pretty and determined as a tiger’s. If I bolted she would be on me before I made the archway. I crossed looks with Cut-Throat. He shook his head slightly, telling me the same. I tried not to look at the other fellow, who had no eyes to meet. He just stood there in rotting sea-man's clothes listening for the clap of her hands.
         But our Cut-Throat had taken the girl's measure. He’d noted what rhythm and time made her feet stamp, made her toss her ropes of hair. Now he began a slow sad dirge for the dying night. She turned to him, hands raised to clap an order. But I took her left hand and bowed and stepped forward my right foot and she had no choice in her perfection of movement but to step back and then half turn as I did and we stepped forwards together two steps, then turned together as I placed my left hand on the small of her back and we skipped left three steps as the fiddle slyly slipped from dirge to a laughing tune that ran faster and faster till we were whirling and turning over the cold stones.

  As I was on my Way to Strawberry Faire

         Two strangers aide one other on a dark country road; and vow to meet again at the local Renaissance Fair. To do so they must learn to see beyond their own masks. And united, to win past a host of fairy glamours, crazed role-players, angry jugglers, sinister bikers and the secret of the ancient charter of Strawberry Fair itself.
         I will find you at Strawberry Fair,
         I will win you a lion, a tiger, a bear.
         I will buy you ices, electronic devices
         And give you a kiss for finding me there.


         A romance in masks.

From the book:
         I sat considering. And I might have remained in that strange trance, brooding, thinking idle thoughts, burning, muttering to myself, burning. But her offered hand woke me. I stood. The crowd shouted in surprise, as did the King. Yes, it felt good to move. No more straw man. I stood awake in a circle of fire. Time to move. What the hell had I been thinking? I leaped over the flames to land beside the beggar girl. I took the hand she offered, and though I only haltingly knew the steps, I stepped left with the music, expecting her to circle and step right.
         "What are you doing you nimrod?" she asked.
         "Aren't we going to dance now?" I asked surprised.
         "Guards!" screamed the King. "Security! Get them! Arrest them! Taser them!"
         "No, we are going to run for our lives now," she informed me gravely.
         Hands clasped, we ran for the exit.

  The Stations of the Angels

          In the quiet town of Angelica, Texas a street of quaint old houses attracts amused week-end tourists. And sometimes a family feels drawn to move within the circle, finding a home that echoes some need or truth within their lives. Because the homes of Circle St. are the Stations of the Angels; houses of fire and madness, clowns and lions, ghosts and dreams.

         

From the book:
         I lay in bed listening to the south end of the house burn; a faint grumbling thrum of a purr. I watched the comforting dance of fire-light under the crack of the door. I wondered about the face of the girl in the window. I now lived across from a haunted house. I'd probably seen a ghost. Wow.

  Quest of the Five Clans: The Blood Tartan

          Centuries ago a mysterious family of mad geniuses split into five clans; feuding, hiding, hording their secrets of fighting and art, magic and science. Now at the dawn of the mechanical 19th century, only the five clans united can hold back the blood-red tide of industrial apocalypse.
          Unless they dive into it laughing. I did say 'mad'.

         

From the book:
          A look of anger, of disappointment, of relief. She turned aside. “You despise me,” she accused the wall. “You think I am a wanton thing running naked, blood-spattered as a maenad in a Bacchanalia.”
          “I do not,” I affirmed. I was not familiar with Bacchanalias and Maenads. Something about hillsides and wine, mad-women and sacrifice. No, I just thought she was a vampire. I did not say so.
          She stamped a foot. “If there is to be blood, do you expect me to wear my best dress? Do you know how awful it feels to stand in clothes soaked in blood?”
          “Yes.”
          She stared, started to argue, stopped. She considered me. When she spoke it was in whisper. “Do you have any idea how frightening you are?”