It lives! I’m thrilled to share the cover of UNNATURAL CREATURES: A Novel of the Frankenstein Women by Kris Waldherr, a woman I’ve known for some time now in the writing world and deeply admire for all her creative talents. Among other things, she is also the author of a book I immensely enjoyed, The Lost History of Dreams (Atria).
I’m so excited for her newest endeavor! UNNATURAL CREATURES reveals the untold story of the three women closest to Victor Frankenstein in a dark and sweeping reimagining of Frankenstein. Stunningly written and exquisitely atmospheric, it shocks new life into Mary Shelley’s beloved gothic classic by revealing the feminine side of the tale—you’ll never see Victor Frankenstein and his monster the same way again.
Right? Gorgeous!! As most of you know, besides working as an editor and PR consultant in publishing, I’m a reader of both genres in which I work too – horror (especially love gothic) and history, and as well, enjoy learning about women in history. This book ticks so many pleasure boxes for me! I’ve added to my GoodReads and you should too.
Coming October 4, 2022! To read advance praise and get first dibs at a special pre-order offer from Kris, visit KrisWaldherrBooks.com/cover/
About the Cover –
I was really interested in how Kris said she created the cover so I wanted to share with readers.
“The cover was designed by me in Photoshop. The central photograph of the woman is by Rekha Garton, which I collaged over two photographs, one of the Alps near where Frankenstein takes place and the other of an electrical storm. The imagery is meant to provide a feminist counterpoint to Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, a famed oil painting by the German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich. It’s also a painting that’s often used on paperback editions of Frankenstein.”
Cool, isn’t it? If you’ve seen the Dover Thrift Editions using this painting, you might see how she took back the feminine power for hers. I love it!
Kris Waldherr, Biography –
Kris Waldherr’s books for adults and children include The Lost History of Dreams, Bad Princess, Doomed Queens, and The Book of Goddesses. The Lost History of Dreams received a Kirkus starred review and was called “an unexpected delight” by Booklist. The New Yorker praised Doomed Queens as “utterly satisfying” and “deliciously perverse.” The Book of Goddesses was a One Spirit/Book-of-the-Month Club’s Top Ten Most Popular Book. Her picture book Persephone and the Pomegranate was lauded by the New York Times Book Review for its “quality of myth and magic.” Her fiction has won fellowships from the Virginia Center of the Creative Arts, and a works-in-progress reading grant from Poets & Writers.
As a visual artist, Waldherr is the creator of the Goddess Tarot, which has a quarter of a million copies in print. She has had illustrations published as greeting cards, book covers, and in calendars and magazines. Her art has been exhibited in many galleries and museums including the Ruskin Library, the Mazza Museum of International Art from Picture Books, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Kris Waldherr works and lives in Brooklyn in a Victorian-era house with her husband, their daughter, and a very vocal Bengal cat.
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It’s #InternationalWomensDay, or #IWD2022, and people around the world are celebrating women and the unique and important gifts they give this world. I’ve been proud to promote this day for about fifteen years in some shape or form, and each year builds momentum as it’s utilized as a catalyst for change year round instead of only awareness. However, I’ve been a supporter of women’s issues in various ways for even longer.
In essence, International Women’s Day is the marker to honor the Women’s Rights Movement and all those who came before us who were spit on, jailed, starved, ridiculed, and more as they fought for women to have the rights to vote, own land, have a bank account, and not be locked away in asylums. I was humbled and astounded when I was able to experience the “Rightfully Hers” 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and Women’s Suffrage Movement exhibit at the National Archives in Washington D.C. in 2019 before the pandemic truly hit. It was wonderfully done and you can find information about it here and even see some exhibits virtually!
Just as women did then, I’m happy to see women banding together now too, with help from male allies, and continuing to make progress on so many issues.
The theme this year for IWD is #BreakTheBias, and they ask us: ”Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.”
I can imagine that, and if not for myself, for my two daughters at least, who are now 18 and 14! As my daughter makes choices in the next couple months or so on what university she’ll attend for marine biology, I hope for the end of gender bias in STEM, tech, and science-related careers! I want my daughters to know their work is as valuable as any man’s and be able to earn appropriate respect for their hard work no matter their gender or race.
As I am a creative, I hope for more inclusion of all women in this field, especially in certain genres. As always, I will work myself to raise female voices and elevate women in the publishing field of all races, ethnicities, and orientation.
On my site here, you’ll find many great articles on women in history and making history, both on the page dedicated to that series, as March is also Women in History Month, but in interviews and book reviews as well. I’m currently taking articles about women in history or women making history, and as it’s now women in horror month, women in that category as well! Please contact me to arrange! I would love to learn about some amazing women.
In the past, I’ve also often interviewed and reviewed books by women on this site and you’ll easily see that if you take a quick perusal through the archives. In fact, in 2020, 2021, and so far in 2022, I’ve read all women as far as books go (with one exception in 2020 for a book I pre-read for a male friend, some short stories or stories by men and in anthologies edited by men, and books of my wonderful male editing clients). I didn’t really do this on purpose either, so I’m not boycotting men, and I am sure I will read a man’s book again soon, but this only goes to show the increasingly stellar offerings from women of all backgrounds! In my editing career, I’ve worked with many women and I try to elevate them by offering yearly discounts and promoting their work and voices. This year, women who schedule with me in March 2022 for editing work anytime of the year I’m available will receive 35% off.
Outside of publishing, I’ve spent decades fighting for women’s causes, from when I was senior news editor at my college paper and I fought against campus rape and it not being reported properly only to be quieted from the higher powers, to when I worked in healthcare public relations and became the Young Careerist representative for Ohio at the national Business and Professional Women’s organization’s annual conference where I spoke about making strides for heart health in women. I’ve sat on a sub-committee for women’s health education, primarily in regards to those underprivileged, of the board of the Ohio Governor’s Office for Women’s Initiatives (a much needed department and program that Republican Governor Kasich did away with when he took office) and assisted with statewide events to empower women. I’ve raised funds through events I’ve put on for women’s health, women’s shelters, and those battling cancer. I was the chair of the board for several years at our local mental health center which also oversees our local rape crisis and domestic violence shelter. In all of these situations, I battled men in the workplace who wanted to keep me down, lower my voice, halt my efforts, and belittle my achievements even to the point of threatening me. I even battled other women who preferred patriarchy. All while battling and/or healing as a domestic violence survivor. But I persevered.
In my writing, I fight against domestic violence, rape, assault, healthcare bias, and confinement with my words. My poetry and short story collection Breathe. Breathe., my short story within the anthology Hardened Hearts, and my short story in We Are Wolves have all tackled these themes. In fact, the entire We Are Wolves anthology tackles this theme of women fighting back and proceeds have gone and still go to women’s organizations in the UK and US.
There is always more to do. I’ll keep doing it. I’ll make time to write more essays so my own voice is heard. I’ll keep those women in history alive, those marginalized, those without a platform. I’ll keep serving those crying out in need and the disadvantaged who need our support. I’ll share news for women, cheer them on, hear their voices, read their words. I’ll keep helping women out however I can.
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” – Gloria Steinem
I’ve read several books this month (see my note at end of post) so I’m off to a good start meeting new goals. I decided to begin book reviews this year with The Appeal by Janice Hallett, a crime mystery drama, because it was released in hardcover yesterday in the US from Atria books!
UK pub 01/14/21 and 07/01/21 Viper US pub 01/25/22 Atria (hardcover)
Summary, Per UK Publisher – (because I like this one better!)
IN A TOWN FULL OF SECRETS SOMEONE WAS MURDERED. SOMEONE WENT TO PRISON. AND EVERYONE’S A SUSPECT. CAN YOU UNCOVER THE TRUTH?
Enclosed are documents relating to the events surrounding the Fairway Players’ staging of All My Sons, and the tragic death of one of its members. Another member is currently in prison for the crime. We have reason to suspect that they are innocent, and that there were far darker secrets that have yet to be revealed.
We believe that the killer has given themselves away. It’s there in writing, hidden in the emails, texts, and letters. In the events surrounding the charity appeal for little Poppy Reswick, and the question of whether that money was truly being used to fund her life-saving cancer treatment. Will you accept the challenge? Can you uncover the truth? Do you dare?
The standout debut thriller of 2021 that delivers multiple brilliant twists and will change the way you think about the modern crime novel.
I didn’t know how I’d feel about reading this book when I first started it, given it’s an epistolary novel. I wondered if it would be hard to follow or get lost in as much as I like with regular mysteries and thrillers, but soon enough I was immersed in the story being told through e-mail and other correspondence. It was as if I was a voyeur looking in, or perhaps, an additional solicitor sorting through the evidence along with those on this case (which the novel is framed around). In that regard, it became a fun game, hinging on my already investigative nature, and I was certainly caught up early in what I knew must be a mystery unraveling among a very interesting cast of characters.
We get to know those who feature with the most email correspondence the best – Issy, Sarah, Martin, James. The rest we are only given a view of based off other characters’ feelings (which is biased, of course, when you think about it) – but I did have my own feelings on quite a few of them! I don’t think it would be a read for you if you really love the feeling of being connected to characters. You have to be alright with unreliable characters, which I am, so it worked fine for me.
I mostly became invested instead in wanting to know what was going on with the charity appeal, who was going to be murdered, etc. – I enjoyed “watching” the characters interact within their various social circle hierarchy and trying to understand who might be possibly shady and why. I like suspenseful drama and this book certainly brought that – it’s fitting these characters were part of a community theater. It was hard to tell who was putting on the performances of their lives off the stage and into their emails, too – and as it unraveled, I found myself shaking my head at some of these characters! It also had me as a reader putting clues together and seeing which theory I aligned with, which made it a fun sort of mystery puzzle, which I adore. Hey, I became a lawyer, or detective, for a few days!
As far as any critical notes, about seventy percent into the book the author started a lot of info dumping, under the guise of the solicitors writing their various theories into a report. I wanted to skip much of it since I felt I had already gathered or understood a lot of it myself from the correspondence. I suppose I can understand why it was included, to wrap it up for us, but yet for me I could move past it. I think, in another format, it would have been better set-up as courtroom or dialogue scenario with the characters. Instead, it read like a long report, a legal report, which is how information was passed to the reader due to the epistolary format. That’s why this book would be a great tv show or film. As that it would light up. As the last half of the book went on, it also read as if it was written as a screenplay or stage play and could easily be converted. I’d watch any of the above!
I enjoyed the humor that came in text messages and such from the solicitors and their boss at times. The post-it notes as art on some of the pages was a good touch. The way we really could gather some personalities very well over emails showed excellent character development. There were some red herrings, strategically placed clues, and a twist or reveal that was shocking to an extent (though I had my suspicions!).
If you’re looking for a novel that is a simple mystery crime thriller you want to relax your brain with, this might not be it. Your brain needs to keep track of information in this one, which made it fantastic as far as I’m concerned. If you’re tired, rushed, or stressed, you might not be ready for this, so know yourself and be prepared in that regard.
Overall, a unique, enjoyable read that kept me guessing and thinking, had wit and humor in all the right places, was a study in the social hierarchy construct and its pitfalls, and would make an amazing tv show! It was certainly good enough to garner four stars because it kept me turning pages and wanting to get back to my reading time so I could continue in the drama and unraveling of the mystery. I was guessing some parts right up until the end!
I’ll definitely want to read more from Hallett in the future and look forward to it. I know her next book is available now for UK readers (so those who are my UK subscribers here, go get both!). I look forward to it also arriving in the US.
I thank Atria Books for the advanced copy for book news or review consideration.
I could not find this book on bookshop.org, though I recommend using it for books to support independent shops, as well as looking at your local indie bookstore (or asking them to order). Ask your local library, too!
Janice Hallett, Biography –
Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist, and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office, and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and cowrote the feature film Retreat. The Appeal is her first novel.
Noteworthy Stuff –
For those who love covers like me. UK alternate covers – I LOVE!
Note to my readers: For 2022, I am trying to be more disciplined and cut social media use and other time wasters and instead increase my reading and my own writing again. I’m wholly behind on reviews of the past, especially these last few years, but as a mom who is very hands-on with my kids, a hardworking editor and public relations professional, being an author/writer myself, a cat mom, and maintaining my physical and mental health, I’m pulled in many directions. All I can offer now are my goals that include better reading organization and to not over-think reviews (which ones I do, when, and how). I’ll read what speaks to my mind and I’ll review and write and highlight what I can. I’ve made good progress on this so far, and positive attitudes around me will help that continue.
Happy New Year 2022, readers and writers! Did I just type 2022? Seems unreal. How is this new year, this fresh start, finding you? I’d love to hear in comments below or send me an e-mail.
Here on Oh, for the Hook of a Book!, which is the site and blog surrounding Hook of a Book as a whole, we’ve been lax with posts in 2021 due to heavy work load, and simply, heavy life in a pandemic, to update as much as I wanted. It’s enough keeping up with multiple social media! But I am determined to spend more time here with essays, thoughts, updates, and reviews and interviews in 2022 as time permits so watch your inboxes (and sign-up to receive via e-mail if you haven’t yet).
Also, today is the eleventh anniversary of this site as well! Eleven years!! It started out a place to host updates on my writing projects and feature books as a side thing to my regular PR work. It turned into so much more. Still going strong too, because no matter how much I post any given year, the content here has staying power and some of it seems forever evergreen, which means my links are clicked on time and again either from authors who’ve linked here on their websites or due to great SEO. The site is still garnering views, mostly via Google searches. I am really happy so many fellow authors have been helped via this site over the years and I hope it continues. More on that to come as I celebrate.
So my goals for 2022?
I hope in 2022 to better balance work (my editing and PR business) and busy home life to make time for being here more as well as back to more reading and my OWN writing! I have some poetry collections to finally put together (a couple written that I want to publish), more submissions of poetry and fiction to do, and a novel to write.
At the Ladies of Horror Fiction site today I was featured with some really excellent fellow authors talking about our resolutions. In addition to the above, I also said most importantly I wanted to be sure to be a good role model to my daughters. For me, whatever I accomplish is for all three of my kids, but I want my daughters especially to see how a woman reaches for the stars, even through adversity. You can read the article on LOHF, and all the resolutions, here.
And to put a bug in your ear, yes… I’ll be doing a little in February for black creator month, I am switching women in horror to March with women in history, and the national poetry project in April again.
On the work side, I have some great editing deals off and on, including a substantial couple at beginning of this first quarter, so be sure to check out my editing page.
As I continue to work on myself, I’m finding more balance but I admit I am rather scared lately of the world. Pandemic life is taking its toll. Let’s all be kind and generous and compassionate to each other. Patience and gratitude is key.
My friend Evie Hawtrey (aka historical novelist Sophie Perinot – in a new, darker, incarnation) has recently revealed her cover for her crime mystery debut! AND BY FIRE is a dual timeline novel, pitting two extraordinary female detectives—tempered by fire and separated by more than three centuries—against a pair of murderous geniuses who will burn the world for their art.
Isn’t the cover cool? Check out the full book description below, and PRE-ORDER today for a Spring 2022 arrival.
About And By Fire –
Nigella Parker, Detective Inspector with the City Police, has a deeply rooted fear of fire and a talent for solving deadly arson cases. When a charred figure is found curled beside Sir Christopher Wren’s Monument to the Great Fire of London, Nigella is dragged into a case pitting her against a murderous artist creating sculptures using burnt flesh.
Nigella partners with Colm O’Leary of Scotland Yard to track the arsonist across greater London. The pair are more than colleagues—they were lovers until O’Leary made the mistake of uttering three little words. Their past isn’t the only buried history as they race to connect the dots between an antique nail pulled from a dead man’s hands and a long-forgotten architect dwarfed by the life’s work of Sir Christopher Wren.
Wren, one of London’s most famous architects, is everywhere the pair turn. Digging into his legacy leads the DCIs into the coldest of cold cases: a search for a bookseller gone missing during the Great Fire of London. More than 350 years earlier, while looking for their friend, a second pair of detectives—a lady-in-waiting to the Queen and a royal fireworks maker—discovered foul play in the supposedly accidental destruction of St. Paul’s Cathedral…but did that same devilry lead to murder? And can these centuries-old crimes help catch a modern-day murderer?
As Nigella and O’Leary rush to decode clues, past and present, London’s killer-artist sets his sights on a member of the investigative team as the subject of his next fiery masterpiece.
Praise for And By Fire:
“BONES meets the Restoration Court in Evie Hawtrey’s AND BY FIRE, a taut dual-timeline mystery that races along at the pace of an inferno! …. Fresh, dynamic, and crisply researched, AND BY FIRE WILL appeal to histfic fans and mystery readers alike—I couldn’t put this one down!“
—Kate Quinn, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Alice Network
Evie Hawtrey is a Yank by bir t h but a sister-in-spirit to her fierce and feminist London detective, DI Nigella Parker. Evie splits her time between Washington DC, where she lives with her husband, and York, UK, where she enjoys living in history, lingering over teas, and knocking around in pubs. Check out her website at www.eviehawtrey.com.
So excited to share some recent book mail of another anticipated read for me this year, a spy thriller called Red Widow by the acclamied author Alma Katsu. I purchased it, and it arrived last week, but things were a little nuts at our home so I didn’t get a chance to show it off or say happy belated book release to my friend Alma, who is an amazing writer and such a stellar person! As an author she’s put out three major books in three years, two during a pandemic (The Deep and Red Widow). This third book is all thriller – a contemporary spy thriller with a female lead – and I’m so excited to dive into it!!! I hope you will too. Congratulations, Alma!
Alma has worked in government intelligence with various agencies or consultancy for thirty years so she knows what’s she putting in her fiction! And it’s going to be made into a TV show on Fox! So if you like this genre, now is your chance to read the book first, which I recommend.
From the publisher:
An exhilarating spy thriller written by an intelligence veteran about two women CIA agents whose paths become intertwined around a threat to the Russia Division–one that’s coming from inside the agency.
“Katsu’s real-life experience and skill at maintaining taught, nail-biting tension make Red Widow a standout espionage thriller.”
Publisher’s website (Putnam/Penguin) for a list of purchase options:
Lyndsey Duncan worries her career with the CIA might be over. After lines are crossed with another intelligence agent during an assignment, she is sent home to Washington on administrative leave. So when a former colleague–now Chief of the Russia Division–recruits her for an internal investigation, she jumps at the chance to prove herself. Lyndsey was once a top handler in the Moscow Field Station, where she was known as the “human lie detector” and praised for recruiting some of the most senior Russian officials. But now, three Russian assets have been exposed–including one of her own–and the CIA is convinced there’s a mole in the department. With years of work in question and lives on the line, Lyndsey is thrown back into life at the agency, this time tracing the steps of those closest to her.
Meanwhile, fellow agent Theresa Warner can’t avoid the spotlight. She is the infamous “Red Widow,” the wife of a former director killed in the field under mysterious circumstances. With her husband’s legacy shadowing her every move, Theresa is a fixture of the Russia Division, and as she and Lyndsey strike up an unusual friendship, her knowledge proves invaluable. But as Lyndsey uncovers a surprising connection to Theresa that could answer all of her questions, she unearths a terrifying web of secrets within the department, if only she is willing to unravel it….
Alma Katsu, Biography –
Alma Katsu’s books have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal, been featured in the NY Times and Washington Post, been nominated and won multiple prestigous awards, and appeared on numerous Best Books lists including NPR, the Observer, Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Goodreads, and Amazon.
RED WIDOW is her first spy novel, the logical marriage of her love of storytelling with her 30+ year career in intelligence. As an intelligence officer, Ms. Katsu worked at several federal agencies as a senior analyst where she advised policymakers and military commanders on issues of national security. The last third of her government career was spent in emerging technologies and technology forecasting. She was also a senior technology policy analyst for the RAND Corporation and continues as an independent consultant and technology futurist, advising clients in government and private industry.
Ms. Katsu also writes novels that combine historical fiction with supernatural and horror elements. THE HUNGER (2018), a reimagining of the story of the Donner Party, was named one of NPR’s 100 favorite horror stories, was on numerous Best Books of the Year lists, and continues to be honored as a new classic in horror. Her first book, THE TAKER (2011), was named one of the top ten debut novels of 2011 by Booklist.
Ms. Katsu has relocated from the Washington, DC area to the mountains of West Virginia, where she lives with her musician husband Bruce and their two dogs, Nick and Ash.
Thanks again for stopping by! I love the times I can help bring more audience to women in history or women making history! This was a scheduled post so by the time anyone is reading this, I’ll be on the road for a safe (distanced, masked) trip with my kiddos after a very long year of quaratine so my daughter can check out a few unversities she considering applying to! Take care and have a good spring break or Easter! I’ll be back with more posts in April.
Readers! I’m so thrilled to say that author Stephanie Dray’s (NYT Bestselling co-author of America’s First Daughter and My Dear Hamilton) newest historical fiction novel, The Women of Chateau Lafayette, is now on sale! Happy book release day to Stephanie – it’s so perfect this just squeaked its arrival in to coincide with women in history month too. I had my copy pre-ordered, and by time you’re reading this, I may have it lovingly in my possession (sorry, delivery driver for ripping it out of your hands!!). This is one of my most very anticipated reads of 2021, not only because I love all of Dray’s books (I do!), but also because I’m a big Lafayette fan like she is as well AND love WWII fiction and this combines both. And then she said castle in the heart of France and my eyes bulged out. I’m going to be interested to see how she interweaves several major decades in history together (1774, 1914, 1940). It seems like her most ambitious book to date!
I must say I learned it from my son though, who spent much time while going to his university in Washington DC studying at Lafayette Park (which houses his statue) in front of the White House (pre-virus and government blow up days circa 2019 by the way!) and showing me all the French architecture that Lafayette inspired in the city while also tetlling me of his good deeds. Beautiful – I fell in love with it everywhere I looked each time I visited DC, and his life story. Now, we get to learn about the women in his world as well, which is so very special! As it’s women in history month (at least for this one last day in March still), it’s the perfect time to release it, though it will be on everyone’s reading lists all year long I bet!
Please don’t miss The Women of Chateau Lafayette, an epic saga based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy. Featuring “America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman” and his wife, our French Founding Mother Adrienne Lafayette, this story combines history, romance, thriller, and mystery. Let me know if you grab a copy or what you thought about it if you’ve already read it in the comments below.
ABOUT The Women of Chateau Lafayette –
A founding mother…
1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband, the Marquis de Lafayette’s political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.
A daring visionary…
1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing—not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France firsthand, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what’s right.
A reluctant resistor…
1940. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan’s self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.
Intricately woven and powerfully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we take from those who came before us.
Thanks again for stopping by! I’ll have an interview with Stephanie in the near future about her new book! I’ll also have some more posts, in various genres as I work to make the blog more productive. This week my kids are on Spring Break and I’m taking the week off with them. We’re going to road trip (safely) and have a much needed break. See you back here soon…..
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I was excited when I saw best-selling and reader-loved author Gill Paul announce that she’d be publishing The Collector’s Daughter: A Novel of the Discovery of Tutankhamun Tomb this year! It’s historical fiction surrounding the opening of King Tut’s tomb featuring Lady Evelyn Herbert, who grew up in Highclere Castle (the real Downton Abbey). I think most people know by now how much of a fan I am of Egyptology, Egyptian history, and Egypt in general. Anything related to archeaology is going to be a must read or watch for me and the mysteries and stories surrounding King Tut are no exception.
If you’re anticipating this now as much as I am, here is the gorgeous cover to make you even more interested! For me, I love the aquas and oranges (two of my favorite color combos) and how she’s looking out the window on the Nile. Makes me wonder what she’s thinking about. Read on below to learn more about the book and how to pre-order for its September 2021 release.
About The Collector’s Daughter –
Bestselling author Gill Paul returns with a brilliant novel about Lady Evelyn Herbert, who grew up in Highclere Castle—the real Downton Abbey—and became the first person in modern times to enter the tomb of Ancient Egyptian king Tutankhamun.
She is the daughter of the Earl of Carnarvon, brought up to make her society debut and follow it with a prestigious marriage. But popular and pretty Lady Evelyn Herbert has other ideas. First she falls for a man her mother doesn’t approve of, then she accompanies her father to Egypt, leaving behind the world of etiquette and chaperones to work alongside archeologist Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings.
In November 1922 the extraordinary happens when they discover the burial place of Tutankhamun, packed full of gold and inconceivable riches. Eve is the first to crawl inside, the first person to see the treasures in three thousand years. She calls it the “greatest moment” of her life—but soon afterwards a string of tragedies leaves her world a darker, sadder place.
Newspapers claim it is “the curse of Tutankhamun.” Howard Carter says no rational person would entertain such nonsense. Fifty years later, an Egyptian academic comes asking questions about what really happened in the tomb in 1922. And that visit unleashes a new chain of events threatening Eve’s happy life, and making her wonder if there could be some truth behind the stories of an ancient curse.
Information and Pre-Order –
Publication date: September 7, 2021 in the US and Canada and September 30, 2021 in the UK.
Gill Paul’shistorical novels have reached the top of the USA Today, Toronto Globe & Mail and UK kindle charts, and been translated into twenty languages. She specializes in relatively recent history, mostly 20th century, and enjoys re-evaluating real historical characters and trying to get inside their heads.
Gill also writes historical non-fiction, including A History of Medicine in 50 Objects and series of Love Stories. Published around the world, this series includes Royal Love Stories, World War I Love Stories and Titanic Love Stories.
Gill was born in Scotland and grew up there, apart from an eventful year at school in the US when she was ten. She studied Medicine at Glasgow University, then English Literature and History (she was a student for a long time), before moving to London to work in publishing. Her first novel was written at weekends, but she has now given up the ‘day job’ to write fiction full-time. She also writes short stories for magazines and speaks at libraries and literary festivals about subjects ranging from the British royal family to the Romanovs, and about writing itself.
Gill swims year-round in an open-air pond – “It’s good for you so long as it doesn’t kill you”– and loves travelling whenever and wherever she can.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope to have more posts for you coming soon! I should have one tomorrow but then I’m putting work aside and taking Spring Break with my kids. I might do a little post about our road trip when we return. 🙂
I have an interesting guest article for readers today about Omani Mau street cats and the story of a memoir that came out of recusing one!
Struggling to come to terms with an unexpected diagnosis, author Chitra Ramaswami had returned home to Oman seeking a sense of familiarity. What she discovered instead was a very special cat who changed her life. Rumi is an Omani Mau, and while there are many types of Mau cats, this type is a street cat in Oman. These cats are often discarded, mistreated, and abused on the streets (mostly in the captial of Muscat) and left to fend for themselves in horrible conditions. Chitra had never had a cat, and didn’t plan on one. Then, she had to learn to take in one who has problems of his own dealing with abuse from children that left him with an injury, along with harassment from stronger cats as he was forced to survive on the streets. Look at him here in this photos, he’s so cute!
Chitra and her sweet street cat learned to love each other, and eventually, she wrote a book about their story, which was recently published! I haven’t read the book, but the story seemed like one I wanted to help spread, since I not only love advocation for cats, but I also love to support women authors, authors from diverse backgrounds, and fellow rescue cat owners!
If you’d like to learn a little more about what an Omani Mau is like, please read on for Chitra’s article!
Ever heard of the Omani Mau? by Chitra Ramaswami, author of But First, Rumi
Oman is a Middle Eastern country lying on the east of the Arabian Sea. The land’s trademark is its rather untouched stretches of beaches and mountains, a rarity in today’s times. Known for its hospitality, don’t be surprised if you’re invited over to a local’s house for a cup of coffee and homegrown dates. However, the street cat of Oman, otherwise called the Omani Mau is a treasure relatively unknown to the rest of the world.
A DNA test conducted on Rumi, an Omani Mau of internet fame, by Basepaws – a pioneer in feline genetic testing has yielded fascinating results. Rumi’s genes reflect an interesting mix of qualities, likely due to the mating of the local street cat with cats who’ve accompanied their humans as they migrated to Oman over the years from all over the world. Anyone who has interacted with an Omani Mau will agree that the standout traits in Rumi’s DNA are indeed commonly seen in the local Mau (meaning street cat in Arabic)
So, what are these unique traits?
Making its debut, here is –
The Omani Mau checklist:
The Straight – A Immunity Scorer: Known to have robust immunity, it’s no surprise, Rumi’s DNA tested negative for 17 common feline genetic diseases.
The Smooth Talker: Most Maus are expert conversationalists like the Thai and Siamese cats. Chatting with the humans or even with each other from time to time, these felines don’t like to leave much unsaid.
The Dog-like Cat: Expect a Mau to follow their human from room to room and stay close. They are deeply loyal, much like the Royal Peterbald, and have no qualms expressing their affection for you. “Aloof” is not a word you associate with this lot.
The Gymnast: Maus are all muscle with athletic bodies like the African Savannah and are highly trainable. They are happiest when given sufficient playtime when they can leap to their heart’s content.
The Desert Cat Advantage: Additionally, the Omani street cats appear to be slender versions of the original desert cat – The Arabian Mau and have retained many of their characteristics. With slanted, almond-shaped eyes and wild cat spots, these felines are head turners for sure. They also have large ears, allowing them to release excess heat and tolerate higher temperatures better than the average cat.
Now, wouldn’t you like to get to know an Omani Mau? I’d say, start with Rumi.
If you’d like to read Rumi’s story, please click on the link below:
But First, Rumi is available worldwide on Amazon as e-book and paperback. Also available in select bookstores.
About But First, Rumi –
Print Length: 158 Pages
When Chitra discovered a stray cat in need of help, she never thought they’d wind up saving each other. Struggling to come to terms with an unexpected diagnosis, Chitra returned home to Oman seeking a sense of familiarity. What she discovered instead was a very special cat who changed her life. But First, Rumi is the story of how, day by day, Rumi and Chitra got to know one another, and as she learned to love the little stray, she began to see greater life lessons about herself, her family, her home country and her place in the world.
What unfolds when girl and cat meet? What happens when you follow your heart? What if the world is not as it seems? Is it worth taking a chance?
Chitra Ramaswami, Biography –
Chitra Ramaswami was born and raised in the Middle East by Indian parents, and her childhood was spent reading every book she could lay her hands on or writing stories and lines of poetry. As a result of traveling the world extensively and being a natural linguist, she is an amalgamation of many cultures and tastes and is constantly looking for the next experience she can immerse herself in.
When she isn’t writing, Chitra rides horses, climbs mountains and is a passionate advocate for the Omani Mau/ street cat. She currently lives in New York with her husband and a very spoiled cat and hamster duo.
On March 15, the Women on Writing blog, The Muffin, celebrated the launch of Chitra Ramaswami’s book But First, Rumi. Go HERE to read an interview with the author, find out more information about this touching memoir, and win a copy for yourself, as well as see the upcoming tour dates!
Thank you to Women on Writing for asking me to participate! Now I’m going to go learn more about Omani street cats and how I can help them, how about you?
Author and gothic expert Tracy Fahey is a woman in horror who always interests me. I suppose it’s because my first love in horror myself is the gothic sub-genre, but also Tracy always has intelligent and thought-provoking things to say. It’s why, besides wanting to support her, I invited her to write another article for this site during the time frame of her latest release, a collection of female body horror. I knew she’d discuss something that would be make me want to think a bit harder, challenge me. She didn’t disappoint, but extended my thoughts of the pre-conceived boundaries of body horror I had in my mind. And she’s cited one of my favorite stories, and biggest influences, in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Gilman Perkins!
I hope you enjoy it and check out Tracy’s collection too!
I Spit Myself Out: Contemporary Female Body Horror by Tracy Fahey, Author of I Spit Myself Out
My new collection, I Spit Myself Out, is yet another addition to the rich tradition of writing the female body in horror. Earlier seminal work includes Charlotte Gilman Perkins’ masterful short story of 1892, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” perhaps the finest portrait of patriarchal repression of post-partum depression ever written. Similarly, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) telegraphed anxieties about female autonomy, while Madge Piercy’s 1976 speculative feminist classic, Woman on the Edge of Time, contrasted the wretched life of protagonist Connie Ramos inside and outside the asylum she is confined to with the utopia of Mattapoisett.
In recent years, there has been a renaissance of work on the theme of female body horror. This can be viewed as a direct response to the increasing anxiety surrounding women’s rights. Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was recently adapted for TV. This powerful series, with its contemporary setting, speaks to real, current fears about female reproductive rights, bodily autonomy, and control. Since 2018, female protestors against the erosion of body rights under the Trump regime have worn the iconic Handmaids’ garb of white bonnets and red robes to signal their visceral fear of a new Gilead made reality. Atwood was spurred on by the march of current events to write a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale thiety years later, The Testaments (2019). In an interview with Laura Lynch, Atwood said of writing this sequel:
I was no, no, no, no, no for a while, but then No. 1: history changed. Instead of going away from Gilead, we turned around and started coming back towards Gilead.
This vision is echoed in Christina Dalcher’s Vox (2016) where women are literally silenced, forbidden to read, and their conversation limited to under a hundred words a day. In Gwendolyn Kiste’s The Rust Maidens (2018) girls begin to transform and to disintegrate, in tandem with the decline of their hometown. Similarly, Georgina Bruce’s magnificent collection, This House Of Wounds (2019), presents a series of visions of the female psyche as riddled with pain, both physical and mental.
In writing I Spit Myself Out, I was conscious of this tradition. There are definite influences that permeate it (there are shades of “The Yellow Wallpaper” in the titular story, and an Atwoodeque fear of the subjugation of the female body in the perimenopausal story ‘Becoming’). However, in this collection, I wanted to find new ways to articulate these concerns. My first influence was Julia Kristeva’s essay ‘The Powers of Horror,’ and in particular by the way she explores the notion of the abject; that which is of us, but which the body casts off.
“I” do not want to listen, “I” do not assimilate it. “I” expel it. But since the food is not an “other” for “me,” who am only in their desire, I expel myself, I spit myself out, I abject myself with the same motion through which “I” claim to establish myself. That detail, perhaps an insignificant one, but one that they ferret out, emphasize, evaluate, that trifle turns me inside out, guts sprawling; it is thus that they see the “I” am in the process of becoming an other at the expense of my own death.
Justin Park’s wonderful cover design of I Spit Myself Out perfectly captures Kristeva’s idea of the difficulties that arise when we separate ourselves from what we abject. In this collection I wanted to look at these liminal areas of the female body – the skin as membrane, abraded and permeated, eating disorders that purge the body, and, of course, blood rituals that mark the passage of the body from puberty to menopause.
Ancillary to this was my own cultural background of Irish Catholicism and its problematic attitudes to the female body. So this collection is also rife with images of miraculous cures, stigmata, statues, stained glass, and shrines. It also betrays my interest in both forensics (explored in the story ‘The Wrong Ones’) and morbid anatomy (as featured in ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’). The final font of inspiration for this collection was the troubled relationship between the body and the mind. Characters in I Spit Myself Out inhabit an uneasy world where their bodies become theatres of pain, places that play out the tension between the expectations of society, the desire to conform, and the rebellious refusal to do so.
Like Connie Ramos, like Offred, like the unnamed narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the women of I Spit Myself Out face their anxieties about what it is to be female, they find their voices, and, ultimately, they spit their stories out.
I Spit Myself Out, About –
Eighteen unsettling narratives map the female experience from puberty to menopause.
I Spit Myself Out is a collection of female-voiced stories exploring the terror that lurks beneath the surface of the skin. In this collection, an Anatomical Venus opens to display her organs, clients of a mysterious clinic disappear one by one, a police investigation reveals family secrets, revenge is inked in the skin, and bodies pulsate in the throes of illness, childbirth and religious ritual.
Disturbing and provoking in equal turns, I Spit Myself Out reinvents the body as a breeding ground of terrors that resurface inexorably in the present.
Her new collection, I Spit Myself Outis published by the Sinister Horror Company in February 2021.
You can read another article by Tracy, about Doppelgangers, which she wrote for this site last year, HERE.
I’ll be celebrating #WomeninHorror and #BlackHistoryMonth in both February and March specifically here, but also still promoting #WomeninHistory month which is March as well. But you know me, I promote women and diversity all year long anyway. But feel free to follow along on my page for Women in Horror for this special honorary time.
I am a professional journalist, writer, editor, publicist and marketing and public relations professional, with bachelor's degrees in Journalism, English, and History. I have over twenty-seven years of experience in a wide variety of areas in my fields and I own/operate Addison's Compass Public Relations (12 years) and Hook of a Book Media (11 years).
I'm the author of Breathe. Breathe., a dark poetry and fiction collection, published by Unnerving 2017, which debuted at #2 on the Amazon best-selling paid charts right behind NYT best-selling author Rupi Kaur's newest release and in the Amazon paid top five of horror short stories. This was the extended edition, following a sold-out print chapbook special edition. My poems and stories have been in multiple anthologies and print and e-zines.
In addition to publishing Breathe. Breathe., I also have a story in the anthology Hardened Hearts, called "The Heart of the Orchard." My story from Breathe. Breathe., "Dandelion Yellow," has also been re-printed in Project Entertainment Network's anthology My Favorite Story. My poem "Chained by Love," was featured in the February 2018 issue of Enchanted Conversation: a fairy tale magazine. In the anthology Dark Voices, an all-female TOC published in 2018 with proceeds going to breast cancer awareness, I have a poem called "Wrapped in Battle." In 2018, I also spent time as a co-editor on a Gothic anthology Haunted Are These Houses. 2019 saw several poems published in The Siren's Call Magazine, a short story called "Mia" in the print magazine Outpost 28 which came out on Halloween 2019, and a long fiction story with six other authors in the anthology 7 Deadly Sins of the Apocalypse which debuted at #1 paid on Amazon best-seller list for horror anthologies when it published at the end of Sept. 2019. In late 2020, I had a story in the charity anthology We Are Wolves published by Burial Day, which is an anthology raising funds for women of sexual assault. In 2022, I will have a story in anthology Musings of the Muses from Brigid's Gate Press
I have several books, collections, and poems in various genres in process and hope to get a lot more of my own writing completed within the next year.
I run Hook of a Book Media in which I specialize in public relations (PR) and marketing for authors in many forms, as well as work as a writing coach and editor. For three years I was an editor at Sinister Grin Press and also performed marketing and publishing duties. Currently, I assist Raw Dog Screaming Press with PR/publicity (4 years running) in addition to my Hook of a Book clients and I am a freelance editor for many authors in various genres.
I also have always volunteered in my community (spending 15 continuous years on various board of directors and trustees) and most recently spent two years as President of the Board of Directors for a growing mental health center and rape crisis domestic violence haven. I've won a Woman of Achievement Award from my community, been featured in Success Magazine, and was the Young Careerist of the Year Representative for the State of Ohio to the Business and Professional Women National Conference.
I have way too much going on and my head is often in the clouds. I have three children - in college, high school, and middle school - and a cat that thinks it's all about him. I love books, reading, writing, art, photography, and hiking. I really enjoy the outdoors, mostly because I can escape for bit. I live in rural Ohio nestled in the forest.