Interview with the Interesting Catherine Cavendish on Writing Gothic Literature

Welcome Cat, my friend, to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Our readers are sure to be delighted today as GOTHIC seems to be a hot topic in reading and writing these days on my site. Since your newest creation just released, called Linden Manor and part of a Samhain Horror Gothic novella series, you are in fine position to talk on the subject!

LindenManor

We are very happy to have you here with us! What has it been like to publish this work with Samhain, reaching us over yonder in the U.S. while you sit in Wales enjoying all kinds of historical goodness?

Cat: Samhain was on my publishing radar for a long time. I was just waiting for the right opportunity and when Don D’Auria (Executive Editor) announced the Gothic Anthology competition, it was like manna from heaven for me. It’s one of my absolute favourite horror genres and both our countries have such strong Gothic traditions, so it’s perfect for me.

Erin: I love gothic literature too, as you know! I am thirsting for more to be written and was so happy to hear Samhain take on publishing some. It was freezing in Ohio for so long, now today it feels 80. I won’t complain, but I will be drinking iced tea, with ice cubes….or how is the weather in Wales? How about I take a quick trip and we can take a walk around some old ruins. Do you drink hot tea or what is your drinking pleasure?

Cat: We’ve had some gorgeous spring days. Where I am – in North East Wales – we’ve been sheltered from most of the really awful weather this winter. I know it’s been terrible in parts of the USA, and in parts of Britain, whole communities have been flooded out.

As for old ruins…well, around here, on the border with England, we have a lot of castles. They were built by King Edward I in response to the uppity Welsh who would insist on mounting uprisings and trying to gain freedom and independence from England. Today, the political party Plaid Cymru has much the same agenda – although they don’t tend to mount uprisings!

Around four miles from where I am now is Rhuddlan Castle built on Edward’s instructions in 1277, but not completed until 1282, at the same time Flint Castle nearby was also being built for the same purpose.

Flint Castle Aerial North Castles Historic Sites

Flint Castle Aerial North Castles Historic Sites

Before we set off, I think a cup of Earl Grey tea, with a slice of lemon, will get us in the right mood.

Erin: I can’t ever pass up Earl Grey, it’s one of my favorites! Where are we going to head on our walk? Let’s get started and I’ll chat away with you while we explore.

Cat: I’d like to take you somewhere with a really creepy atmosphere. It’s not far from here, in a small town called Ruthin and it is the former gaol. A number of ghosts regularly linger there including prisoner John Jones who escaped twice – once in 1879 and then in 1913 when he was shot and died soon afterwards. Now he doesn’t seem able to leave.

Ruthin Gaol - condemned prisoner

Ruthin Gaol – condemned prisoner

William Kerr, Ruthin’s cruel and infamous Gaoler from 1871-1892, used to beat and starve prisoners as well as infuriate them by jangling his keys outside their cells. One day he simply disappeared, having left the Gaol on a perfectly normal day. No one knows what happened to him but his jangling keys and incessant banging on cell doors can still be heard today.

Then there’s William Hughes who was the last man to be hanged in the Gaol. He murdered his wife and on the 17th February 1903, six people watched him die for it. But he has never left…

Ruthin Gaol

Ruthin Gaol

Erin: Sounds lovely, well maybe not lovely, maybe a little spooky…ahaha…but I am game. As long as he doesn’t try to take me prisoner, so watch my back!! Now on to the questions….

Q: You just published your novella, Linden Manor, with Samhain Horror Publishing. Can you explain that process some and about how four novellas will be later published into one print anthology?

A: Samhain held their first Gothic Horror Anthology Competition last year. The rules were simple – it had to be Gothic, full of atmosphere, shadows, darkness and scares. There was a maximum word length 25,000-30,000 words and any combination of demons, ghosts and spooks of any kind could be used. I immediately set to work and that same day the germ of an idea which developed into Linden Manor was born.

My good friend, fellow horror writer and writing coach, Julia Kavan, helped me hone the story and I sent it off in good time for the September 15th deadline. When the email arrived from Don, saying, ‘Welcome to the Samhain family,’ my squeals of delight echoed off the walls and probably half way down the road!

On May 6, 2014, the four winning novellas were published in ebook format as standalones. In October we will all amalgamate in the print anthology. With Russell James, Devin Govaere and J.G. Faherty, I am in some stunning company. The entire anthology is called What Waits In The Shadows and I think that sums our stories up perfectly!

Four gothic tales

Q: What was your inspiration for Linden Manor? Talk about how you formulated your ideas!

A: I sat back, closed my eyes and let my mind drift. An image of a large Gothic house, set in its own land and isolated from its neighbours floated into my mind, along with a spooky little rhyme, quoted at the beginning of the story. It begins, ‘Run and hide, far and wide. Run and hide from the Scottish bride’. Everything just stemmed from there. Almost immediately, I knew I had to set the story in a rural landscape that had been populated for thousands of years. That led me to one of my favourite locations, the leafy and richly historic county of Wiltshire (where Stonehenge and Avebury are located). The mysterious character of Isobel Warrender formed before my main character, Lesley. While Lesley’s name never changed, Isobel began ‘life’ as Cynthia. Then I decided it simply didn’t suit her!

Q: What makes Linden Manor fit the genre of gothic? So many people are asking and discussing the definition of gothic lately. What do you feel encompasses gothic? How does your novella fit that?

A: Gothic to me, most often, evokes an old, imposing spooky house with a history. The house may or may not be a character in itself because it has soaked up so much tragedy or horror over the centuries, not just from its own existence but from what has gone before. The atmosphere is dark and gloomy, heavy with anticipation of something terrible to come. Nothing good is ever going to happen in such a house. It waits, it lurks, it harbours evil and may help it to thrive. It traps the innocent and unwary and sucks the lifeblood out of its victims. Here spirits walk, trapped in a timewarp, in a different dimension. Some may be seen, others not. Some are tragic, others deadly. Here demons thrive. Linden Manor is a house just like that.

Q: Do you think gothic literature is a new trend brought back by lovers of classic gothic of the past? Why do you think people are so interested in it?

A: I’m not convinced it ever went away. It’s a form of escapism – and let’s face it, we all need a bit of that. Some people escape into a nice, cozy murder mystery, others into a ‘happy ever after’ romance, but those of us with a love of being scared, thrilled, held in suspense, yet knowing no actual harm will come to us, love to lose ourselves in that dark atmosphere that epitomises gothic literature. It generates a delicious feeling of anticipation. We wonder, what waits in that shadow over there? There are also no guarantees that anyone will get out of this alive – or in one piece, either mentally or physically. It keeps us guessing right up to the last page – and even, sometimes beyond.

Q: What are some of the classic gothic literature that you can think of as examples? What are your favorites?

A: Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Shirley Jackson’s the Haunting of Hill House and Susan Hill’s The Woman In Black spring to mind. Plus anything by M.R. James and Edgar Allan Poe. And let’s not forget Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and her sister, Emily’s Wuthering Heights.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Q: You also have a penchant for ghosts and the paranormal? Does this fit into your novella as well, even though gothic reads don’t always have to have ghosts?

A: Oh yes. I love a good, frightening ghost, don’t you? Beware of the Scottish Bride…

Q: This is your first published work with Samhain, but you’ve been a writer for much longer. What other works have you written? Are they all in a similar genre or do you write various types of works?

A: Miss Abigail’s Room is probably my most Gothic until Linden Manor. The Second Wife too has many Gothic elements, as has a short story of mine called In My Lady’s Chamber. Cold Revenge and The Demons of Cambian Street are paranormal horror and my new novel, coming out on July 1st – Saving Grace Devine – is a horror with a timeslip.

MsAbigailsRoom_ByCatherineCavenish_200x300

Q: Have any real stories in Wales ever intrigued you enough that you wrote any stories about them? Why or why not?

A: There is a rich literary tradition in Wales – although I have not lived here for very long, so am still on a learning curve. There are many haunted properties and stories, so I look forward to exploring those for the future.

Q: I hear you have a ghost lives near you or in your own home? What is that like??!

A: She’s benevolent. Fortunately. The building in which our apartment is located is at least 250 years old, so you would expect it to have seen a fair amount of activity over the years. It would appear that our ghost is probably a lady called Miss Edwards who owned a haberdashery shop on the premises in the early part of the 20th century. She switches on lights and there was a spooky incident involving the washing machine once, which seemed to be her trying to get our attention. My husband has heard footsteps upstairs, when no one but him was there, and he has also heard her voice. I get a little shiver up my spine when things happen, but as long as my cat doesn’t get scared, neither do I!

Q: Is it difficult to find a ghosts “voice” when writing a novel? How do you put yourself into their shoes, so to speak (even if they don’t wear shoes!!)?

A: I create a backstory for the ghost just as I would a living character. Very little of that will appear in the story, but it will have everything to do with their actions, appearance and motivation for haunting.

Q: What kinds of methods do you use or details to create ominous and foreboding scenes?

A: I vary the length of sentences. Short. Choppy. Phrases rather than whole sentences, when I want to raise the tension. I describe what I see, taking care to use descriptive verbs wherever possible without resorting to overuse of adjectives or adverbs. And I describe what I see in my head. It’s a dark place at times!

Q: What else do you have upcoming in the way of any released books? You mentioned you have a new book coming from Samhain Horror, a full novel, in July?

A: Saving Grace Devine on July 1st. Yes, I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll read you the blurb, which should give you a basic flavour of the story:

Can the living help the dead…and at what cost? 

When Alex Fletcher finds a painting of a drowned girl, she’s unnerved. When the girl in the painting opens her eyes, she is terrified. And when the girl appears to her as an apparition and begs her for help, Alex can’t refuse.

But as she digs further into Grace’s past, she is embroiled in supernatural forces she cannot control, and a timeslip back to 1912 brings her face to face with the man who killed Grace and the demonic spirit of his long-dead mother. With such nightmarish forces stacked against her, Alex’s options are few. Somehow she must save Grace, but to do so, she must pay an unimaginable price.

SavingGraceDevine72lg

Q: Do you feel that women in the horror genre have had a harder time getting published or noticed than men? Now or in the past? If so, are things gradually getting better? How hard do women need to fight to be noticed?

A: I think there are some excellent female horror authors – Susan Hill, I’ve already mentioned, although she is more accurately a multi-genre author, as was Daphne Du Maurier. Anne Rice is another major influence. There does seem to be an increasing number of excellent new voices in horror, who happen to be female. Julia Kavan, Lisa Morton, Sèphera Girón…the list grows.

Then, of course, the winning novellas in Samhain’s competition comprised two female authors and two male. I think that the success of authors such as Stephanie Meyer may possibly have led to some expectation that a woman will tend towards the ‘sparkly vampire’ type of paranormal, but there are plenty of us shouting our horror corner these days. The Horror Writers’ Association, and publishers such as Samhain really help. As they say, ‘It’s all about the story’. Write one that ticks all the boxes and it doesn’t matter which sex you are (at least, that’s my experience).

Q: What words of advice do you have for other writers? What have you found works best for you in terms of plotting your story or finding time to write?

A: First of all, it may be a cliché, but a writer writes. Only by practice do we get better. And read. Your genre, yes, but anything and everything – if it’s well written, or even if it isn’t. Analyze what works and what doesn’t, then apply the lessons learned to your own writing. Get a mentor/coach/fellow writer in your chosen genre who has the experience and can be trusted to give you honest, constructive feedback. Don’t be precious about those paragraphs/pages you slaved over. If they don’t work, out they come! I am not a great plotter and I use my regular walks down by the river as valuable thinking time. I also carry a notebook with me to jot down ideas, words, phrases that I might use, wherever I might be at the time. If you try and find time to write, you never will. You have to make time, and that usually means doing less of something else, be it housework or watching TV. It’s all about prioritizing. If you work full time, you’ll need to claw back time on your days off, write in your lunchtimes if you have them. Grab an hour at night before you go to bed. Whatever works for you. But do it!

Q: Do you have any more books in process at the moment? If so, tell us about them. What do you plan to write in the future?

A: I have one tentatively called Jane, Avenged. It’s about to undergo a second draft and, is taking shape. Then I also have an idea borne out of a nightmare (much as Saving Grace Devine was). No title yet for this one, but it involves a small, locked up house in a wood…

Q: What do you feel have been your biggest challenges as a writer and on the flip side, your biggest success?

A: My biggest challenge to date has undoubtedly been finding an active, well respected publisher of horror. My greatest success was finding one – and winning the competition!

Q: What are some places you’d enjoy traveling to? Any you’ve been to? And any you’d like to try to see one day?

A: We’re going to Pompeii, Herculaneum and Paestum very soon. I’ve always wanted to go there as I love history – the older the better! Visiting the ancient palaces of Egypt was an amazing experience. I also love taking holidays to interesting prehistoric sites in Orkney and Wiltshire. Still on my ‘bucket’ list is St. Petersburg as I have a fascination for the last Tsar and his family.

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg

Q: How can readers connect to you, Cat?

A: I can be found on my website: www.catherinecavendish.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CatherineCavendishWriter?ref=hl

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4961171.Catherine_Cavendish

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/cat_cavendish

Erin: Thank you SO MUCH for having me over to chat. You’ve worn me out with the tour. We’ll have to do this again and next time, we’ll bring a thermos of tea! Best wishes with your novella and upcoming works and please stop by again soon. Thanks so much for being such an amazing supporter of Hook of a Book!

Cat: Thank you so much for letting me haunt your blog today, Erin. I’ve really enjoyed it. Ooh, and Miss Edwards just said, “Bore da” (Welsh for “Good morning”).

Linden Manor, Synopsis~

LindenManorHave you ever been so scared your soul left your body? 

All her life, Lesley Carpenter has been haunted by a gruesome nursery rhyme—“The Scottish Bride”—sung to her by her great grandmother. To find out more about its origins, Lesley visits the mysterious Isobel Warrender, the current hereditary owner of Linden Manor, a grand house with centuries of murky history surrounding it.

But her visit transforms into a nightmare when Lesley sees the ghost of the Scottish bride herself, a sight that, according to the rhyme, means certain death. The secrets of the house slowly reveal themselves to Lesley, terrible secrets of murder, evil and a curse that soaks the very earth on which Linden Manor now stands. But Linden Manor has saved its most chilling secret for last.

AMAZON

SAMHAIN PUBLISHING (get for $2.45 for limited time!)

Saving Grace Devine, Synopsis~
Available July 1, 2014

SavingGraceDevine72lgCan the living help the dead…and at what cost?

When Alex Fletcher finds a painting of a drowned girl, she’s unnerved. When the girl in the painting opens her eyes, she is terrified. And when the girl appears to her as an apparition and begs her for help, Alex can’t refuse.

But as she digs further into Grace’s past, she is embroiled in supernatural forces she cannot control, and a timeslip back to 1912 brings her face to face with the man who killed Grace and the demonic spirit of his long-dead mother. With such nightmarish forces stacked against her, Alex’s options are few. Somehow she must save Grace, but to do so, she must pay an unimaginable price.

Saving Grace Devine will be published on July 1st and is available for pre-order now at:

Samhain Publishing

Amazon.com 

Amazon.co.uk 

Amazon.ca 

Amazon.com.au 

B&N 

Kobo

Catherine Cavendish, Biography~

Catherine CavendishHello, my name’s Catherine Cavendish and I write (mainly) paranormal horror fiction.

I am delighted to announce that I am joint winner of the first annual Samhain Horror Anthology Competition with my new Gothic horror novella, LINDEN MANOR.This will be followed by my novel SAVING GRACE DEVINE in the summer, also to be published by Samhain Horror.

My current titles include: THE SECOND WIFE, MISS ABIGAIL’S ROOM, THE DEVIL INSIDE HER, THE DEMONS OF CAMBIAN STREET, COLD REVENGE, THE DUST STORM, SAY A LITTLE PRAYER, and IN MY LADY’S CHAMBER.  All are available from most online booksellers.

I live with a longsuffering husband and mildly eccentric tortoiseshell cat in North Wales. Our home is in a building dating back to the mid 18th century which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV.

When not slaving over a hot computer, I enjoy wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

Check out my website at: www.catherinecavendish.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CatherineCavendishWriter?ref=hl

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4961171.Catherine_Cavendish

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/cat_cavendish

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Q and A with Authors

4 responses to “Interview with the Interesting Catherine Cavendish on Writing Gothic Literature

  1. Great interview – and thanks for the mention, Cat 🙂 x

    I’m quite familiar with Flint Castle – but have yet to investigate Ruthin Gaol, maybe next time I’m in North Wales I’ll get there!

    Like

  2. Thank you so much for being my host today, Erin. I’ve loved being here!

    Like

  3. A wonderful post in all regards, especially the interview ladies.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s