The Avenging Ghost: A Legend of Murder and Haunting in Kentucky from Cat Cavendish

Today, I welcome my good friend back to the site. She just happens to be an amazing author and I really love her books. She gives a reader good, old-fashioned haunting chills. I certainly love her guest articles too almost as much. This one will creep you out…it did me…enjoy!!

The Avenging Ghost

by Catherine Cavendish, Author of The Dark Avenging Angel

Pic 1 (1)

My latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – is, as its title suggests, concerned with revenge. In this case, revenge of the most demonic kind. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for…” Jane learns the truth of this in graphic ways.

Avenging angels and demons abound in the traditions and folklore of people all over the world. So are avenging ghosts. Take the curious case of Carl Pruitt. In this allegedly true story, the ghost has never been seen, but his effect has most assuredly been felt.

In eastern Kentucky, in June 1938, a man named Carl Pruitt arrived home from work to find his wife in bed with another man. Enraged, he took a small length of chain and strangled her but failed to capture her lover, who escaped through a window. Almost immediately struck with remorse, Pruitt committed suicide. Understandably, he was buried in a separate cemetery from his wife.

Soon afterwards, visitors to the cemetery where the murderer was buried began to notice a curious discolouration of the stone on his grave. It was forming a pattern which bore close resemblance to a linked chain, like the one Pruitt had used to kill his wife. The chain kept growing in such a way that it formed a cross, at which point, it stopped. Rumours began to spread that the site of Pruitt’s grave was tainted with evil. Haunted. Local residents wanted the gravestone cleared of its eerie pattern. They complained to the authorities who said nothing could be done. It would have to stay that way.

A group of teenage boys decided to take matters into their own hands and began to hurl stones and rocks at it, hoping to deface the strange pattern. Only one of the boys actually did any damage. His name was James Collins. And he only managed to chip a little off the stone. Then the boys went home on their bicycles.

pic 2 (1)

But James Collins never did get home. In a bizarre accident, he was killed. His bicycle chain flew off and wrapped itself around his neck, strangling him.

Even though James had managed to cause a small amount of damage to the gravestone, the next time anyone checked, it showed no sign of being chipped.

James’s mother was heartbroken at losing her son and took a small hand axe to Pruitt’s gravestone, until it lay in dozens of pieces on the ground. The following day, as she was hanging out the washing, her line broke. Strangely, it was made of chainlink, not the usual rope and she became entangled in it. The more she struggled, the more it strangled her, until she was killed. The legend has it that after her death, Pruitt’s gravestone once again managed to put itself back together, so that no trace of its destruction remained.

Then, one day, a farmer drove his wagon and horses through the cemetery and decided to take pot shots at the gravestone with his revolver. Stone chippings flew up and spooked the horses, who bolted. Family members travelling with the farmer managed to leap to safety, but the farmer hung on, trying to calm the horses. As the wagon hit a bump in the road, he was thrown off and became entangled in the trace chain. It strangled him. Yet again the damaged gravestone healed itself.

pic 3 (1)

By now, word had spread about the haunted and seemingly indestructible gravestone. Things got so bad that two police officers were sent to investigate. One night, they took photographs of the stone and then went back to their car, with the aim of talking to witnesses about the strange events that had been happening. As they drove off, the driver, who was the more sceptical of the two of them, looked in the car’s rear view mirror and saw a light coming from the direction of the gravestone. At first he thought it was a reflection, but then it came closer. The officer put his foot down and drove faster. The light kept coming closer. His partner pleaded with him to slow down, but then the car swerved, came off the road, crashed between two posts, and rolled several times before coming to a stop. The officer on the passenger side had been thrown clear, but when he went to his partner’s aid, he found he was dead. Not by the accident though. He had been killed before that. As the car swerved between the posts, a chain hanging between them had smashed through the windscreen and wrapped itself around the driver’s neck, strangling him.

pic 4

By now, people avoided coming to the cemetery. The last reported death involving Carl Pruitt’s gravestone concerned a rather foolhardy man called Arthur Lewis, who went there one night with a hammer and chisel, determined to destroy it once and for all. All residents nearby heard the hammering as he set about destroying the gravestone. They also heard the bloodcurdling scream that followed. When would-be rescuers found him, he was dead – strangled by the chain used to close the cemetery gates at night. It appeared that something had frightened him and he had taken off for the exit, forgetting about this chain.

Enough was enough and all the other bodies were moved to another cemetery. With no family left, Pruitt’s grave remained untouched, uncared for and undisturbed until a strip mining operation in 1958 destroyed it forever.

None of the deaths has ever been satisfactorily explained.

As for the whereabouts of Pruitt’s body – no one knows that either.


pic 5

Now, to give you a taste of Dark Avenging Angel, here’s the blurb:

Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it.

Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.

When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.

And here’s a brief extract:

Something had woken me from a deep sleep troubled by my recurring nightmare in which I was in a wood, being chased by some unimaginable horror. I never saw its face, assuming it even had one. But I knew if I didn’t find sanctuary, it would kill me. I had just made it into the strange little house that always appeared in the clearing, when my eyes opened and I gasped at the white, smiling face looking down at me.

That night, my angel seemed different somehow.

Oh, she looked the same. Same black cloak, but this time it shimmered and I wanted to touch it. I was sure it would feel soft as velvet under my fingers.

She put her finger to her lips and stroked my hair. Her touch was like a gentle breeze in summertime. My eyes wanted to close, but I forced them to stay open.

I knew I mustn’t speak out loud, but I could still whisper. “I wish I knew your name. Who are you? Please will you tell me?”

She continued to smile. Her lips moved, but the answering voice I heard was again in my head. Do not be afraid, child. It is not yet time, but soon you will have the power to avenge yourself on those who have done you harm. Look for me in the shadows and I will be there, taking account.

I understood nothing of what she said. But, from somewhere, a calm I had never felt before emerged and wrapped itself around me.

I blinked in the darkness as she faded from sight.

Then I closed my eyes and slept. I never had that nightmare again after that night. But what if I’d known what was ahead for me?

Some things are better off left in the dark.

You can find Dark Avenging Angel at~

Samhain Publishing

Amazon
Barnes and Noble 

Kobo

Catherine Cavendish, Biography~

pic 7

Following a varied career in sales, advertising, and career guidance, Cat is now the full time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly, and Gothic horror novels, novellas, and short stories. She is the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits In The Shadows.  Her novels, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine are also published by Samhain. Her next – The Devil’s Serenade – will be released by them in April 2016

You can connect with Cat here~

Catherine Cavendish

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Tsu

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Filling the Flask: Author Susan Spann Talks on Challenging Yourself in Your Writing and Dreams

Filling the Flask

By Susan Spann, Author of The Flask of the Drunken Master

One of the things I love most about writing mystery novels set in medieval (samurai-era) Japan is the ability use dramatically different “backdrops” for every novel, while maintaining the same detectives and central cast of recurring characters.

Japan has always been a land of dramatic contrasts—geographically, culturally, and socially. Even today, a ten-minute walk in a Japanese city can take you on a thousand-year journey from ancient temples:

Flask - Temple gate

Temple Photo Owned by Susan Spann

…to modern neon lights.

Flask - Tokyo Lights

Toyko Lights Photo Owned by Susan Spann

This diversity existed (though in a somewhat different form) during the 16th century, and it’s one of my favorite aspects of writing the Shinobi Mystery novels. Each new story takes my detectives, Hiro and Father Mateo, (and the readers, and me) into a new and curious part of medieval Japanese culture.

In Claws of the Cat, it was the entertainment district, home to the teahouse culture and the entertainers who came to be known as geisha:

Flask - Geisha dance

Geisha Dancing, Photo Owned by Susan Spann

In Blade of the Samurai, the victim died within the shogun’s palace, and the investigation focused on the samurai warriors’ martial culture:

Flask - Samurai Palace

Samurai Palace Photo by Susan Spann

Perhaps my favorite novel so far is the newest one, Flask of the Drunken Master, because it lets me take Hiro and Father Mateo—and, hopefully, you—on a journey into the heart of Kyoto’s sake brewers and moneylenders’ guilds.

The idea for Flask came from my desire to spend more time with Suke the monk, a balding, nearly-toothless Buddhist cleric who often sleeps in the alley outside Ginjiro’s brewery. I’ve loved Suke since Claws of the Cat, and he fills a ‘standard’ role in Japanese fiction—the part of the holy fool, who speaks with equal parts silliness and wisdom.

Once the idea sprang to life, I needed to find a way to make a story revolve around a secondary character who spent most of his time either drunk or living in a world that had only a tenuous connection with the reality the rest of my cast calls home. I knew Suke would spring to the defense of the brewer whose shop he frequents—and that his creative view of reality would pose a challenge for those around him. That proved especially true for Hiro, my ninja detective, who ends up having to channel Suke’s awkward but well-intentioned efforts to prevent the monk from derailing the investigation altogether.

Fortunately, Hiro likes a challenge as much as I do.

I think it’s important for people to challenge themselves on a regular basis. If we do only the things we recognize or know we do well, we’ll never know how far our skills can improve, or how far our dreams and abilities might take us. That theme appears in my novels, too—especially in Flask, where Hiro begins to accept that his personal path from assassin to bodyguard is also requiring him to become a detective. Fortunately, he enjoys that role as much as I enjoy writing novels, and I have many more exotic locations (and crimes) for Hiro to visit in books to come.

Dreams are important, and lovely, but they can take us only so far. We have to push ourselves to fill up our “flasks.” I’ll continue to challenge myself to improve with every story, and to continue exploring exotic locations that offer unique and different opportunities to journey around medieval Japan. I hope you’ll join me on that journey—and also that you challenge yourself to pursue whatever fantastic places your own aspirations and dreams may take you.

The flask of your next adventure is yours to fill.

Flask - sake shop

Sake Shop Photo Owned by Susan Spann

And if you’d like more information on Susan and her books besides what’s provided below, please check out this interview I had with her a few weeks ago———–>READ INTERVIEW

02_Flask of the Drunken Master_Cover

Flask of the Drunken Master, Information~

Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9781250027061
Pages: 304

Series: Shinobi Mysteries (Volume 3)
Genre: Historical Mystery

GoodReads Link

August 1565: When a rival artisan turns up dead outside Ginjiro’s brewery, and all the evidence implicates the brewer, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo must find the killer before the magistrate executes Ginjiro and seizes the brewery, leaving his wife and daughter destitute. A missing merchant, a vicious debt collector, and a female moneylender join Ginjiro and the victim’s spendthrift son on the suspect list. But with Kyoto on alert in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, a rival shinobi on the prowl, and samurai threatening Hiro and Father Mateo at every turn, Ginjiro’s life is not the only one in danger.

Will Hiro and Father Mateo unravel the clues in time to save Ginjiro’s life, or will the shadows gathering over Kyoto consume the detectives as well as the brewer?

Flask of the Drunken Master is the latest entry in Susan Spann’s thrilling 16th century Japanese mystery series, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and Jesuit Father Mateo.

Shinobi Mystery Series Titles

Book One: Claws of the Cat (Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month)
Book Two: Blade of the Samurai
Book Three: Flask of the Drunken Master

Flask of the Drunken Master Available at~

Amazon 
Barnes & Noble

About the Author, Susan Spann~

????????????????????????????????????

Susan Spann acquired her love of books and reading during her preschool days in Santa Monica, California. As a child she read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day).

A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan. After earning an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, Susan diverted to law school. She returned to California to practice law, where her continuing love of books has led her to specialize in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts.

Susan’s interest in Japanese history, martial arts, and mystery inspired her to write the Shinobi Mystery series featuring Hiro Hattori, a sixteenth-century ninja who brings murderers to justice with the help of Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest. When not writing or representing clients, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, horseback riding, online gaming, and raising seahorses and rare corals in her highly distracting marine aquarium. Susan lives in Sacramento with her husband, son, three cats, one bird, and a multitude of assorted aquatic creatures.

For more information please visit Susan Spann’s website and blog. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

04_Flask of the Drunken Master_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/flaskofthedrunkenmasterblogtour/

Hashtags: #FlaskoftheDrunkenMasterBlogTour #HistoricalMystery #ShinobiSeries

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

High Sea Historical Adventure, Blackwell’s Homecoming, is Entertaining Third Book in Series

02_Blackwell's Homecoming_CoverReview~

I recently had the pleasure of reading Volume III of V.E. Ulett’s Blackwell’s Adventure series. In Blackwell’s Homecoming, she takes to the sea once again and highlights the drama of the Georgian Age.

In this adventure, Blackwell and his family, which now includes grown children, return to England, but quickly get caught up in the drama and society demands of the day. He’s called away and wounded, saved by his son, who is also now in the Royal Navy, and returns to take a position that leads them to Hawaii on Sandwich Islands. As with usual Ulett type of action and suspense, the adventure is not an easy one on the high seas. It’s a joy to read about this family again in its progression, as Ulett has made them such vibrant, multi-dimensional characters over the course of several books. I especially was happy to watch the life and love grow between and with Blackwell and his wife Mercedes.

Beyond the story of the characters, Ulett’s adventure books bring us action and suspense that keep the pages moving, and certainly, I feel this book is her best yet in terms of hooking me to the pages. I love action on the sea and this gives me a proper dose of that all wrapped within a story that is truly layered. I love the history she uses, and even some actual historical people she makes into characters so that they come alive for us as the reader.

It’s an emotional tale as well as you follow along their lives and adventure. It has a little bit of it all, from drama to romance to action. It’s like a fantasy adventure for adults that can sweep a reader into another time and place. Filled with description and detail, I felt the turmoils and the joys right along with the characters. I think that the pacing, plotting, and connectivity improved even from the first book and I can’t wait to see where she takes this series next.

Speaking of description, I also absorbed through her words the lush area of the exotic islands and the sights, sounds, and smells of the sea. I also learned about the conflicts on the island during this time period and found it all very fascinating and interesting. Beyond that, the story she creates is highly fun and entertaining in many ways as well, as well pull for the family and jeer at the villain.

If you like adventure that crosses the sea and takes you back in history, then I highly recommend Ulett’s writing in this dramatic adventure that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. Hoist up the mast head and get ready to be swept away by the sea wind across every page. The whole set would be a great gift for a history buff who favors historical sea adventure.

Excerpt~

Emma was collapsing with fatigue, her feet ached from the heeled satin pumps she wore, and she guessed it must be four o’clock in the morning. She was more than willing to retire, but when she looked into the card room she gave a little gasp. The card tables had already been taken away, and there were only servants remaining, carrying out chairs and glasses. She hurried, her heart thumping a little, and took a place in the line of people waiting for their carriages. It was always she who ordered the hackney or their carriage to be brought round, that was not a problem, but Emma missed Edward standing near her. She felt she must be conspicuous, an unescorted female, especially after the attention paid her earlier.

When her turn came at the head of the line, Emma spoke up. “A hackney coach to Curzon Street, if you please.”

“Oh, no, Miss! Not for you.” A man in pigtail and seaman’s garb was suddenly at her elbow. “His lordship, Captain Lord Cochrane sends his carriage.”

Emma recognized the coat of arms on the carriage, and with a murmured, “How kind”, she allowed herself to be handed in by the rough seaman. The man shut the door of the carriage and jumped up on the box alongside the driver. Emma sank back into the padded seat with a sigh, put off her shoes and promptly fell asleep.

She awoke when the carriage lurched to a halt. The door was opened by the same seaman, the steps let down, and Emma was out of the carriage and upon the pavement before she looked about her.

“This is not Curzon Street. Why have you brought me to Harley Street? This is Lord Cochrane’s house, surely—”

“Pipe down, Missy.”

Another man had appeared at Emma’s side, together the two seamen hustled her up the house steps and into the foyer.

02_Blackwell's Homecoming_CoverBlackwell’s Homecoming, Info~

Volume III of Blackwell’s Adventures

Publication Date: December 19, 2014

Publisher: Old Salt Press, LLC
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 278

Series: Blackwell’s Adventures, Book 3
Genre: Historical Fiction

“A very satisfying conclusion to the Blackwell’s Adventures series, with lusty escapades tempered with amusing side passages, lively characters and a lovely ending.” – Broos Campbell, author of the Matty Graves series

In a multigenerational saga of love, war and betrayal, Captain Blackwell and Mercedes continue their voyage in Volume III of Blackwell’s Adventures. The Blackwell family’s eventful journey from England to Hawaii, by way of the new and tempestuous nations of Brazil and Chile, provides an intimate portrait of family conflicts and loyalties in the late Georgian Age. Blackwell’s Homecoming is an evocation of the dangers and rewards of desire.

PRAISE

“This entire trilogy has lots of adventure, lots of romance, and lots of wonderful settings that will thrill any historical fiction reader.” – Meg Wessel, A Bookish Affair

“A real pleasure to read, this book can stand alone, although I recommend reading the previous volumes to see additional development of the main characters.” – Jeff Westerhoff, Historical Novels Review

AMAZON (KINDLE) | AMAZON (PB) | BARNES & NOBLE (PB) | BARNES & NOBLE (NOOK) | ITUNES

V.E. Ulett, Biography~

VE Ulett photoA long time resident of California, V.E. Ulett is an avid reader as well as writer of historical fiction. Proud to be an Old Salt Press author, V.E. is also a member of the National Books Critics Circle and an active member and reviewer for the Historical Novel Society.

Eighteenth and nineteenth century journals and letters inspired the writing of CAPTAIN BLACKWELL’S PRIZE. The sequels takes Captain Blackwell and Mercedes to the far side of the world, on new personal and cultural adventures. Coming soon from V.E. Ulett, a historical adventure with a fantastic edge.

For more information visit V.E. Ulett’s website. You can also find her on FacebookAmazon,

Giveaway~

To enter to win a paperback of Blackwell’s Paradise, please enter via the GLEAM form HERE!!!!!!!!!

Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on August 3rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US, UK, Canada & Australia only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/blackwellshomecomingblogtour/

Hashtags: #BlackwellsHomecomingBlogTour #Historical

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt

05_Blackwell's Homecoming_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Interview with Susan Spann, Author of the Shinobi Mystery Series: Writing, Her Recent Travels to Japan, and Sea Animals

I have a wonderfully interesting interview with Susan Spann, author of the Shinobi mystery series, filled with all kinds of good information and beautiful photos of her trip to Japan. Join us in our fun discussion, located right after this intriguing cover of her third historical mystery, Flask of the Drunken Master, which is available July 14, 2015!

02_Flask of the Drunken Master_Cover

HI, Susan, my friend! I know you’ve just swept back to California after a whirlwind trip to one of your favorite places to see and talk about—Japan! Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by here (I promised I wouldn’t make you get up at 4:30 a.m. to ride the bullet train, but it’s still a little journey across the U.S. I know)! I’m glad you made it safely home to California and from what I saw, you had a wonderful time?

Susan: Thank you so much for inviting me to Hook of a Book! Japan was spectacular. I went to research my next few books, and came home with not only the research but a bunch of pictures, stories, and memories.

Erin: Since you’ve graciously joined us here, let’s start by singing you Happy Birthday since your birthday was just July 6! I’ve baked you a traditional Japanese cake and have little tea cups to fill with tea…..ok, no, I didn’t, but I did bake you a more simple cake and we can have whatever your pleasure of drink is to start out.

HBSC

Come and sit down in my big library chairs and get comfy and I’ll get things brought out. What would you like to drink with your cake? I’ll be having some sun tea made with fresh mint leaves.

Susan: In Japan, I discovered a sweetened, iced matcha drink—in Japan, it’s “uji-shimizu,” though my husband calls it “frog in a glass.” Matcha is finely powdered green tea, the same kind used in traditional tea ceremonies, though in this case it’s mixed with finely ground sugar (and water) and iced. As you can see, it’s lovely with tea (but it does look a little like liquefied frog…).

HB Uji-Shimizu

Above: uji-shimizu! Photo by Susan Spann

Erin: That sounds fun, but alas, how do I make it? For you, I’ll try! Now that’s we are settled with our drinks and cake, let’s talk more about you! Primarily of note is that your third Shinobi mystery, Flask of the Drunken Master, releases July 14 from Minotaur Books! I have loved every one of your mysteries so far, this one especially. I can feel your writing style and your characters growing stronger with each book. What do you feel is one thing that ties all three books together into such a strong series?

Susan: Thank you so much. I’m delighted you like the books—nothing makes me happier than hearing someone else enjoys spending time with Hiro and Father Mateo (and me). I think it’s easier to tie the books together, even though the mysteries stand alone, is that I have a “series arc”—a larger story I’m telling “behind the scenes.” Although each book is a self-contained mystery, I’m also exploring the way Hiro and Father Mateo’s friendship grows and matures over time.

Erin: I know, undoubtedly, that you are excited about releasing a third book. But can you share your thoughts and feelings about the progression of your work so far? For instance, do you still get excited for the same things now as you did for the first book? Does it all seem easier now, or more difficult?

Susan: Some things are easier—for example, knowing how Hiro and Father Mateo will react to new situations. I know them better now, so I can anticipate (mostly) what they will do with each new challenge. However, it’s definitely harder to write without revealing the identity of the killers (or suspects) from previous books. I’m managing, though, because It bugs me when I discover a series by reading a later book, and the story ruins an earlier book in the series. I’m trying not to do that!

Erin: You do a great amount of research for your novels, you can easily tell upon reading them. How did you do your research for books 1-3? What types of things do you research? As you continue on with the series, what research will you use of things you’ve discovered?

Susan: Over the years, I’ve built a fairly extensive personal library of books on Japanese history, culture, architecture, and even niche areas like moneylenders (a topic that comes up in Flask) and theater. I know a historian and a tour guide who live in Kyoto, and they help me too. Finally, I do some Internet research, but I’m leery of trusting online information unless I can verify it with at least two other sources. Fortunately, I really love research.

Erin: That’s wonderful! I love research too! As much as that I love travel. Can you tell us more about the various things you saw on your trip to Japan? Any highlights or moments that spoke to you personally and why? What are your favorite memories? What are the favorite places you visited?

Susan: How much time do we have? I could talk about this for days! One of my favorite parts of the trip was the night we spent on Miyajima, an island off the coast of Hiroshima. Itsukushima Shrine, which sits on the island, is the setting for one of my upcoming novels, and we spent the night at a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) so I could spend two full days on the island. Between the breathtaking scenery, friendly deer (I’d always wanted to touch a deer…) and amazing ryokan experience, it ranks in my top life experiences.

Below: Miyajima deer / Photo by Susan Spann

HB Miyajima Deer

I also had a fabulous time climbing Mount Inari at Fushimi Inari Shrine (Photo by Susan Spann):

HB Fushimi Inari (Mt Inari)

And visiting the temple where the famous 49 Ronin from the Japanese epic Chushingura are buried (Photo by Susan Spann):

HB Shrine of 49 RoninI could go on and on – it was truly an amazing journey.

Erin: Amazing! Staying on the island sounds amazing, as does visiting the temple. I love the story of the 49 Ronin! In Flask of the Drunken Master I loved how you utilized a medieval Kyoto brewery. That was so unique and it brought us more into the meat of the culture of this time and place. Did you think about showing any differences between the Shogun’s family and palace/grounds and the more common people of the village, the merchants or was that happenstance of the plot?

Susan: I’m thrilled that you picked up on the fact that this novel brought the reader to a different part of the culture. One of my goals—in addition to telling fun mystery stories—is taking readers on a journey through the unique parts of Japanese culture that many people don’t realize existed. Since Blade of the Samurai took a look at the shogun and the samurai culture, I wanted Flask to show how the commoners lived.

Erin: You have two strong male characters in your protagonist Hiro and his sidekick Father Mateo. However, I like how you portray the women in this novel as well. I was especially surprised at the end and I really loved what you did with it. Can you talk about why and how you chose your specific male and female characters in the novels? How do you find a balance with the genders?

Susan: I try to pick characters who are historically accurate but also unexpected. Yoshiko, the female samurai warrior, is a good example. She made an appearance in Claws of the Cat, but I always planned to bring her back in a larger role in Flask. Most people don’t realize that women from the samurai class could become warriors—it was rare, but it happened, and I love that the novels let me give those unusual women a voice.

With both male and female characters, I try to pick interesting people—people who have unusual jobs, or people who have an interesting worldview to explore. Ginjiro’s daughter Tomiko is one of my favorites—a girl who would rather run her parents’ brewery than marry and raise a family. Suke the monk is a favorite too. People often ask me if Suke is wise or just crazy, and whether there’s more to his story—and if I will ever reveal it. The answer (to all of them) is “yes.”

Blade of the Samurai

Erin: Speaking of characters, yours are so dimensional and connective. As a reader I really feel as if I know them, or could know them. How do you formulate your characters or do they just appear to you? (You know like invisible ninjas—lol)

Susan: Thank you! Before I start writing each new novel, I write a journal entry in the “voice” and from the perspective of each new secondary character (including the killer(s)). I try to get to know them beyond their “expected role” in the novel, because it helps me remember that characters seem more real, and better rounded, if the author takes the time to develop them rather than treating them only as pawns to move around on the page.

Erin: I think that Flask of the Drunken Master is my favorite so far. Are you working on a fourth book? How many do you hope to write in this series?

Susan: My agent currently has the manuscript for book 4—currently titled Mask of the Fallen—which involves the murder of an actor’s daughter. It’s also the last book set in Kyoto—after that, Hiro and Father Mateo will “hit the road” for a group of novels set in other parts of Japan, including the ninja stronghold at Iga.

My current outline will allow at least 15 more books in the series—and I hope I’ll have the chance to write them all!

Erin: Wow, 15 would be amazing! I’d need to devote one shelf just to you! Wonderful to hear. Have you thought about writing of other times and places? If so, where, what, when?

Susan: I just completed the first draft of a side project—also a mystery—set in Japan, but several centuries earlier than the Shinobi books. I’m really excited about it, and we’ll see where it goes.

I’ve always loved history, myth, and legends from all corners of the world, so although I’m sticking with Japan for the moment, I could see myself “traveling” to Denmark in the Viking age, to Genghis Khan’s Mongolia, or even to South America and Africa, if the right story came along.

Erin: Do you think in any of your next book you might include more sea or animal life? I know have a penchant for ocean life. The seahorses you raise are so beautiful and special.  I’d love to see Hiro take on a more serious case along the sea. Would that be doable with his locale and time?

Susan: I love the ocean, and I do have at least one book in the Shinobi series set in an island location.

(Erin: Ah, yes, that’s true! I wasn’t thinking of that!)

I’ve also considered a book for children with photos of my seahorses—they’re a special passion of mine, and I love to share their photos and stories.

(Erin: Yes, please! Addie begs for me to show her what seahorse photo you’ve posted for the day. A couple years ago we did a home lesson on seahorses and we even made her a suit from a paper bag. It was lots of fun and she’s loved them since she was little. Me too!)

HB Seahorses

Above: Photo of seahorse in Susan’s tank. Photo by Susan Spann

Erin: Speaking of sea horses, how difficult are they to care for? What draws you to them? What fascinates you?

Susan: I’ve always loved horses, and dragons, and seahorses seem like a hybrid of the two. They’re mysterious and exotic—and they have a lot more personality than I realized before I started keeping them. The ones I have are definitely individuals, with different likes, dislikes, and characteristics. My largest female, Kirin, is the alpha, and she can be a bit of a bully at feeding time. Little Magellan, who has a disability that stunted his growth, is the friendliest of the bunch, and loves to hitch himself on the other seahorses’ tails or bodies because it makes him feel secure.

I’ve heard it said that on a difficulty scale of 1 to 10, seahorses are a 12. That’s not quite true, in my experience, but they definitely qualify as “special needs pets.” For example, they have no true stomach, so they have to eat at least twice a day, every day, or they can get sick and die. On the other hand, if you take the time to feed them and clean the aquarium once a week, and make sure all the other species in the tank are compatible, they’re not really that difficult to keep.

Erin: I saw that you went to an aquarium when you arrived in Japan. How did it differ from U.S. aquariums? What types of things might you find there? Is the sea very accessible to the Japanese now in modern times and do they enjoy it?

Susan: The Japanese people have great respect for the ocean—historically, they have depended upon the sea for food in ways non-island nations don’t have to do. I ended up visiting both the Kyoto Aquarium and Tokyo’s Sunshine Aquarium while I was in Japan, and both are lovely, clean, modern aquariums with an emphasis on visitor education.

One of the neatest things I saw was the Deep Sea Sunfish—a very rare, peaceful species that’s difficult to keep in a captive setting. I’d seen documentaries about them, but never seen one in person, and I was thrilled to see the lovely, healthy specimen at Tokyo’s Sunshine Aquarium.

HB Deep Sea Sunfish

Above: Deep Sea Sunfish. Photo by Susan Spann

And since we’re talking aquarium stories…I also wanted to share a photo of the pelican at Sunshine Aquarium that spent almost 15 minutes trying to persuade my son to feed it:

HB Pelican

Above: Pelican! Photo by Susan Spann

Erin: That’s amazing!! How amazing to be able to see and learn about the sunfish and other species! Being to Japan recently, and also with your interest in the country and its history, what do you wish more Americans knew about Japan or the Japanese? What are the things that stand out to you that make it/them unique? What draws you to learning about their culture?

Susan: One thing I’d recommend to all Americans—to all people, really—is taking the opportunity to experience other cultures “on their terms.” In Japan, this might mean spending a night in a traditional ryokan (a Japanese inn), where you eat traditional food, sleep on a futon on the floor instead of in a Western bed, and go without the Internet for a day. The richest experiences I’ve had in foreign countries always came when I stopped trying to fit the cultures into my own expectations or preconceptions, and opened myself to experiencing the beauty the culture and people had to offer.

Erin: I’ve heard it’s a very beautiful place, outside of the cities. What natural areas did you enjoy? What types of flowers might someone find there? Was there truly serenity as I picture?

Susan: It was exactly as lovely and as serene as you imagine, and then some. From climbing Mount Inari after a rain, smelling the cedars and hearing the crunch of pine needles underfoot…

HB Fushimi Inari (2)

… to walking through Tofukuji’s famous iris garden in the rain…

HB Tofukuji Irises

…to the famous “dry waterfall” and lake in the Zen garden at Tenryuji, in the mountains northwest of Kyoto…

HB Dry Waterfall

The trip was one amazing experience after another. Many of the flowers would be familiar to Americans, because we’ve imported so many of the Japanese favorites here. Irises, orchids, and flowering trees (like cherry trees) are all very common there.

<Photos above by Susan Spann>

Erin: Beautiful! I can only imagine that your trip will make your writing even better in book four! How do you manage to write a book a year as well as keep up with your law practice and your #PubLaw assistance for authors? You are a very busy woman. How do you stay organized enough to get writing done so quickly?

Susan:  I don’t sleep.

More seriously – I tend to practice law on weekday mornings, and write in the afternoons, evenings, and on weekends. It was harder before my son left for college. I miss him when he’s away, but I have to admit, it’s helped my writing time!

As far as organization, I’m a big list-maker, and I use both an online calendar and a physical day-planner to help keep track of my obligations and deadlines.

Erin: Are you a plotter with an outline or a fly by the seat of your pants writer? Do all mystery authors somehow have to be plotters due to creating twists and turns that need to tie up nicely?

Susan: I’m a “plantser”—meaning, I write an outline for every book (two, actually—one for the onstage action and one to keep track of what the characters are doing “offstage” at any given point) but once I start drafting, I let the characters leave the outline if they want to. (They usually do.) The outline ends up being more of a guideline than a mandate. It helps me to know “whodunit” and how the investigation will unfold before I start writing, but once I start drafting, all bets are off.

I do know some mystery authors who write entirely from the seat of their pants, not even knowing who the killer is before they start. Their skill amazes me—I need to know how the story unfolds before I put words on the page.

Claws of the CAt

Erin: I know you like martial arts, knife throwing, etc. You’re probably a female ninja (maybe THAT’S how you get it all done). But what do you like to read, either for pleasure and/or as a way to perfect your own writing?

Susan: I’m an avid reader, in almost all genres. I try to read at least two books a week, though when I’m under a deadline I sometimes only manage one. I read a lot of nonfiction—I’m a narrative nonfiction junkie, especially when it comes to books about mountain climbing or other outdoor adventures. I also love science fiction, fantasy, middle grade and young adult fiction, and—for obvious reasons—mystery and thriller. I just finished re-reading Ernest Cline’s fabulous READY PLAYER ONE, and Delilah Dawson’s HIT was one of the biggest “hits” of this summer for me.

Erin: What are some of your favorite REAL people from Japanese history? If you could meet three for sushi who would they be?

Susan: Tokugawa Ieyasu—the man who unified Japan in the 16th century and established the Tokugawa Shogunate;

Above: The first Tokugawa shogun. www.japanvisitor.com

Matsunaga Hisahide (who plays a role in my novels)—a samurai who overthrew the Ashikaga Shogunate and seized control of Kyoto in 1565;

and Matsuo Basho, a seventeenth-century Japanese poet whose haiku are still famous and beloved in Japan. I love his work.

220px-MatsuoBashoChusonji

Above: A statue of Bashō in Hiraizumi, Iwate. Wikipedia.

Erin: What’s your favorite type of Asian food? What new food did you try in Japan (I know you did so, I know you’re a person who would try something new wherever she went)? What do you like and don’t like?

Susan: I’m actually allergic to fish, so I didn’t try any traditional sushi! However, I did try a lot of new foods in Japan. Wherever possible, I passed up the familiar options and went for something unusual, because I wanted as wide a range of experiences as possible.

My favorite “new” food is Inari Sushi (aka “Inarizushi”), which I ate in a teahouse high on the slopes of Mount Inari. The dish is made by wrapping aburaage (a fried tofu product soaked in a sweet solution to soften it) around a mixture of black sesame and sushi rice. It’s absolutely delicious—and I completely understand why legend says it’s a favorite of Inari’s fox messengers.

HB Inari Sushi

Above: Inari Sushi! Photo by Susan Spann

Erin: Moving away from focusing on Japan, I’ve been wondering….who are your female idols, role models, or women now or in history, that carry the ideals that you feel are important to our gender?

Susan: I have great respect for women who choose to live a life that is true to themselves and their dreams or callings. That includes both famous women like Joan of Arc, and also the “normal” women whose actions may never make the news, but whose strength inspires the people who know them. My mother’s love and dedication to her family and her profession continue to inspire me, and she will always be one of my heroes, too.

I think one reason I strive to create female characters who act with strength, even from a place of (actual or perceived) weakness is that I believe honor and character are traits that don’t belong only to the famous and powerful—and I admire them equally in women who act on the global, historical stage and those who act within the family sphere.

Erin: That’s wonderfully stated, Susan. What is something you want to try to do that you haven’t yet? What are five things on your bucket list?

Susan: Climbing Mt. Fuji (I haven’t yet been able to work it into a trip, but I promised myself I’ll do it next time!); returning to Ryokan Iwaso on Miyajima for a week in the autumn, to watch the maple leaves change; a horseback trip through the Australian Outback; trekking to the base of Mt. Everest; and continuing to write books for as long as I’m breathing!

Erin: I could probably ask you a million more questions, Susan, but I’ll stop for now. Let’s talk about recent books we’ve read and I’ll pour more drinks and we can relax. Would you like more cake?

Susan: There’s always room for more cake! In addition to the books I mentioned earlier, I’ve recently finished Kerry Schafer’s THE NOTHING (the fantastic conclusion to her wonderful fantasy series, THE BOOKS OF THE BETWEEN), RODIN’s LOVER by Heather Webb, and THE THIEF by Fuminori Nakamura; I’ll be traveling a lot on book tour this summer, and I’ve already got my reading list: AFE Smith’s new fantasy novel DARKHAVEN, Douglas Preston’s THE CODEX, and a middle grade retelling of the Snow Queen called OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY.

Erin: I’ve read Rodin’s Lover by Heather which tore me up inside in all the best ways and also you’ll enjoy Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy! I’ll have to check out the rest myself! Thank you so much for chatting with me today. I’m so happy to know you, Susan. Thanks for being such a great role model and friend. Best of luck with Flask of the Drunken Master and with new writing! 

Susan: Thank you so much for having me – I’m delighted that we’ve connected and it’s been great fun to share your blog today!

02_Flask of the Drunken Master_Cover

Flask of the Drunken Master, Information~

Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9781250027061
Pages: 304

Series: Shinobi Mysteries (Volume 3)
Genre: Historical Mystery

GoodReads Link

August 1565: When a rival artisan turns up dead outside Ginjiro’s brewery, and all the evidence implicates the brewer, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo must find the killer before the magistrate executes Ginjiro and seizes the brewery, leaving his wife and daughter destitute. A missing merchant, a vicious debt collector, and a female moneylender join Ginjiro and the victim’s spendthrift son on the suspect list. But with Kyoto on alert in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, a rival shinobi on the prowl, and samurai threatening Hiro and Father Mateo at every turn, Ginjiro’s life is not the only one in danger.

Will Hiro and Father Mateo unravel the clues in time to save Ginjiro’s life, or will the shadows gathering over Kyoto consume the detectives as well as the brewer?

Flask of the Drunken Master is the latest entry in Susan Spann’s thrilling 16th century Japanese mystery series, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and Jesuit Father Mateo.

Shinobi Mystery Series Titles

Book One: Claws of the Cat (Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month)
Book Two: Blade of the Samurai
Book Three: Flask of the Drunken Master

Flask of the Drunken Master Available at~

Amazon 
Barnes & Noble

About the Author, Susan Spann~

????????????????????????????????????

Susan Spann acquired her love of books and reading during her preschool days in Santa Monica, California. As a child she read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day).

A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan. After earning an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, Susan diverted to law school. She returned to California to practice law, where her continuing love of books has led her to specialize in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts.

Susan’s interest in Japanese history, martial arts, and mystery inspired her to write the Shinobi Mystery series featuring Hiro Hattori, a sixteenth-century ninja who brings murderers to justice with the help of Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest. When not writing or representing clients, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, horseback riding, online gaming, and raising seahorses and rare corals in her highly distracting marine aquarium. Susan lives in Sacramento with her husband, son, three cats, one bird, and a multitude of assorted aquatic creatures.

For more information please visit Susan Spann’s website and blog. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

04_Flask of the Drunken Master_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/flaskofthedrunkenmasterblogtour/

Hashtags: #FlaskoftheDrunkenMasterBlogTour #HistoricalMystery #ShinobiSeries

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @SusanSpann @StMartinsPress

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Spanning 10,000 years of history: Learn about the Release of The Memory Painter-Weaving History and Science

02_The Memory Painter_Cover

Check out this new book that came out in April! I haven’t read it yet, but I’m anxious to read and review it. Sounds like it blends a lot of genres and time periods together very well, especially for a debut novel. Here’s all the information below and you can ENTER TO WIN a copy!

“Womack’s debut is one of those rare works that impresses from the first vivid, unsettling scene, gradually building an atmosphere of secrecy and trepidation that ensures that the suspense remains high throughout. Part mystery, part science-fiction plot and part romance, this is a novel with broad cross-genre appeal, and the well-drawn scenes and flashes of humor and insight give this thriller a rare depth as well.” (RT Book Reviews)

The Memory Painter, Synopsis and Info~

Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Picador
Formats: eBook, Hardcover, Audio
Pages: 336

Genre: Supernatural Historical Thriller/Romance

GoodReads Link

READ AN EXCERPT.

What if there was a drug that could help you remember past lives?

What if the lives you remembered could lead you to your one true love?

What if you learned that, for thousands of years, a deadly enemy had conspired to keep the two of you apart?

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there’s a secret to his success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. When Bryan awakes, he possesses extraordinary new skills…like the ability to speak obscure languages and an inexplicable genius for chess. All his life, he has wondered if his dreams are recollections, if he is re-experiencing other people’s lives.

Linz Jacobs is a brilliant neurogeneticist, absorbed in decoding the genes that help the brain make memories, until she is confronted with an exact rendering of a recurring nightmare at one of Bryan’s shows. She tracks down the elusive artist, and their meeting triggers Bryan’s most powerful dream yet: visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, died in a lab explosion decades ago.

As Bryan becomes obsessed with the mysterious circumstances surrounding the scientists’ deaths, his dreams begin to reveal what happened at the lab, as well as a deeper mystery that may lead all the way to ancient Egypt. Together, Bryan and Linz start to discern a pattern. But a deadly enemy watches their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried.

A taut thriller and a timeless love story spanning six continents and 10,000 years of history, The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack is a riveting debut novel unlike any you’ve ever read.

Praise for The Memory Painter~

“Gwendolyn Womack’s tale dazzles.” (US Weekly (Standout Spring Novels))

“The guy-meets-girl story as you’ve never heard it before…A mind-explosion of a journey ensues that involves time travel, mystery, love, and a whole lot of plot twists.” (Refinery29)

“Suspenseful and ambitious…We predict The Memory Painter’s story of love and revenge will be one of 2015’s biggest literary hits.” (Paste Magazine (Best New Books of the Month))

“It’s a thriller as well as a love story, spanning 10,000 years of history. And it sounds freaking mental.” (io9, The Most Essential Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of the Month)

“A time-travel tale, stylishly told.” (Elle Canada)

“Womack’s debut is one of those rare works that impresses from the first vivid, unsettling scene, gradually building an atmosphere of secrecy and trepidation that ensures that the suspense remains high throughout. Part mystery, part science-fiction plot and part romance, this is a novel with broad cross-genre appeal, and the well-drawn scenes and flashes of humor and insight give this thriller a rare depth as well.” (RT Book Reviews)

“It’s best not to try to analyze the ambitious plot of this thriller, which combines romance, fantasy, and adventure; just hang on for a wild and entertaining ride around the world and through the centuries back to ancient Egypt.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“A page turner that will keep readers up late into the night. Readers who love adventure, romance and fantasy will love this book.” (The Vancouver Sun)

“Womack makes a romantic case for the existence of destiny…and does a beautiful job…Dive into this sweeping, romantic journey that will leave you breathless and a little unsure of where in time you’ve landed.” (Kirkus Reviews (One of the Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Reads of the Month))

“Well-drawn historical flashbacks, engaging characters, and a twisty ending make this thrilling blend of neuroscience, romance, and ancient worlds good bets for Da Vinci Code and Outlander fans.” (Booklist)

“Some debuts cause a stir. [But] The Memory Painter makes quite a splash… On its surface, The Memory Painter reads like sci-fi. Fundamentally it speaks to the cultural, emotional, and spiritual connectedness that binds us all.” (New York Journal of Books)

“The Memory Painter is romantic and fun, full of history and science teased out at the perfect pace.” (BookRiot)

“Womack has crafted a dark story defined by fast-paced prose that at moments sings poetic…at the novel’s conclusion, all story threads have been tightened into a snug, satisfying knot.” (ZYZZYVA)

“The chapters recounting [Bryan and Linz’s] past lives are chock full of interesting historical tidbits…like being on a movie-themed ride at Disneyland.” (Publishers Weekly)

“In The Memory Painter, Gwendolyn Womack delivers a multi-layered debut novel like no other: passing through the veils of time and brimming with history, mystery, science, intrigue, and passion.” (Katherine Neville, New York Times and No. 1 internationally bestselling author)

“The Memory Painter is an absolute masterpiece. Spellbinding from beginning to end, this brilliantly woven tale of time-crossed lovers will keep you hooked well into the wee hours. Gwendolyn Womack is a storytelling virtuosa, whose sexy, action-packed mind-boggler of a book is destined to become a classic.” (Anne Fortier, New York Times bestselling author of Juliet and The Lost Sisterhood)

“A sweeping, mesmerizing feat of absolute magic. Ten thousand love stories, tales of revenge, inventions, histories, mysteries, and memories combine to serve up a complex and utterly riveting novel that leaves you with feelings of awe and wonder. A star is born!” (M. J. Rose, New York Times bestselling author of The Witch of Painted Sorrows)

“Layers of past and present form a rich pastry of a narrative–poignant and thoughtful, rich and suspenseful, filled with intrigue and dripping with meaning. Womack’s meditation on the beautiful mystery of memory is a riveting read from cover to cover, leaving us with the breathless realization that while grief may be eternal, so is love.” (Charlie Lovett, New York Times bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale and First Impressions)

Official Book Trailer~

Link: https://youtu.be/c4Cc_NS7lPE

The Memory Painter Available at:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million
iBooks
IndieBound
Kobo
Powell’s

Author Gwendolyn Womack~

03_Gwendolyn WomackOriginally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing theater plays in college while freezing in the tundra at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. During that time she lived in St. Petersburg, Russia on an independent study working with theater companies.

She went on to receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing theater and film where she was encouraged to write her own material. After graduating she focused on writing feature screenplays and was a semi-finalist in the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship.

In 2009 she moved to Japan and began THE MEMORY PAINTER the following year. Currently she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and son where she can be found at the keyboard working on her next novel.

THE MEMORY PAINTER is her first novel.

For more information visit Gwen’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Goodreads.

GIVEAWAY~

To enter to win a signed copy of The Memory Painter, please enter via the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on July 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Direct Link to GLEAM giveaway: https://gleam.io/pkst9/the-memory-painter

04_The Memory Painter_Book Blast Banner_FINAL

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized