Tag Archives: gothic literature

Announcement: I’ll be Co-Editing a Gothic Anthology with Unnerving

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Special Announcement!

I let this ball start to drop the other night when Curtis from the wonderful Cedar Hollow Reviews interviewed me on his YouTube channel, but….

I will be the GUEST EDITOR for a really exciting publication: HAUNTED ARE THESE HOUSES, a Gothic anthology coming from the publisher Unnerving in the Fall of this year!!! I’m thrilled Eddie, the publisher, asked me to be his co-editor on this anthology.

Submissions will open end of February (Feb. 28) and run till the end of April and we are looking for short stories and poetry both that are…yes, Gothic in nature! That means you can write anything your creative mind comes up with as long as it is Gothic-related. You can set it back in time or you can set it in the present, as long as the tales give that overall atmospheric appeal. And note, we are advocates of diversity, so feel free to utilize characters from all walks of life and backgrounds. Also, be unique, creative, and think outside the box.

More information will be in the open call announcement about the requirements of what Eddie and I are looking to include. BUT, here is what’s a bit different and exciting for me, since I’m a lover of the classics. We’ll be incorporating reprints of classic Gothic stories and poems from some historic great writers of this corner of horror as well as new, modern voices. I have a fondness for Edith Wharton, Algernon Blackwood, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, to name a few. 

Think on what you’ll send in as your best dark and atmospheric writing! We will consider reprints and new work both from those who would like to submit. More information will be fed to you ongoing – I’m THRILLED to be doing this. Now, are you excited too?

Watch this space, my personal or Hook of a Book Twitter, my Facebook, Unnerving Twitter, or Unnerving website for more information ongoing.

And if you like dark fiction, please consider purchasing Unnerving Magazine, the books, or watch for upcoming package deals on books for 2018. I’m proud to say my dark fiction collection, BREATHE. BREATHE., is published via Unnerving.

-Erin

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Article: The Dark Lady of Devon by Catherine Cavendish

Catherine Cavendish is one of my most loved authors and a great writer friend. She’s one of the most talented women gothic and horror writers working today and she’s extremely supportive of other authors and her writing friends. She lives in the UK and always offers me the best essays for my site featuring haunts from there (though she has featured some in the states too), which I always love. Enjoy her article today on a very interesting ghost, and check out all her gothic titles, recently re-released. Linden Manor, and some of her other books, are some of my favorite reads.

The Dark Lady of Devon

by Catherine Cavendish, author of Linden Manor

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“My ladye hath a sable coach,

And horses two and four;

My ladye hath a black blood-hound

That runneth on before.

My ladye’s coach hath nodding plumes,

The driver hath no head;

My ladye is an ashen white,

As one that long is dead.”

My novella – Linden Manor – features the ghost of Lady Celia Fitzmichael, about whom a scary nursery rhyme was written, which haunted my main character, Lesley Carpenter. In it, Lady Celia is never mentioned by name. Instead, she is referred to as ‘The Scottish Bride.’ And woe betide you if you laid eyes on her ‘blackened face.’

This made me research other notable hauntings by tormented brides (and women generally) and, inevitably, my path led to Devon, home of so many wonderful hauntings and folklore. Here, I found a tale which has all the hallmarks of a Daphne du Maurier dark story (OK, I know she wrote in neighbouring Cornwall, but you get my drift.) The tale of Lady Mary Howard is a dark and tragic one. Every night, her ghostly carriage and massive black dog, regularly travel sixteen miles from Okehampton Castle to Fitzford House and back again. Each time, the purpose of their journey appears to be to transport a single blade of grass.

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So who was Lady Mary? And why does she perform this repetitive ritual?

She was born Mary Fitz in 1596, only legitimate child of Sir John Fitz, a man whose inherited wealth made him too rich, too young (at age 21). He spent his money, sinking into depravity and degeneracy to Dorian Gray proportions. His wickedness eventually alienated him from the whole of Tavistock – the town near his home of Fitzford House. Then, two men were killed on the steps of his house. They included his best friend. John Fitz slid into insanity and committed suicide at the age of 30, leaving nine year old Mary alone. She was sold by King James I to the Earl of Northumberland. He married her off to his brother, Sir Allan Percy, to ensure her fortune passed to their family when Mary was just twelve years old. Her new husband was 31.

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The enforced marriage was shortlived as Percy caught a chill while on a hunting trip and died in 1611. Soon after, Mary eloped with her true love, Thomas Darcy. Tragically though, he died just a few months later. Mary had yet to celebrate her sixteenth birthday, so she was technically still the Earl’s ward. He married her off to husband number three – Sir Charles Howard, fourth son of the Earl of Suffolk. They had two children who both appear to have died in infancy. Then he too succumbed and died – of unknown causes – leaving Mary a widow for the third time at the age of just 26.

By now, tongues were wagging. That’s a lot of husbands to lose in rapid succession. Had the father lived on in his daughter? After all, didn’t Sir John Fitz become mixed up in murder at one time?

By now, perhaps as a result of her experiences at the hands of unscrupulous men, Mary had learned a little about keeping her hands firmly on her own purse-strings. She was now a wealthy and desirable widow and married husband number four – Sir Richard Grenville – who no doubt thought he was onto a good thing. He soon found out his new wife wasn’t to be taken advantage of. He didn’t like it and vented his wrath cruelly on her. Mary refused to relent, and kept her money safe.

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In the end, Sir Richard’s cruelty became too much for Mary and she sued for divorce, between 1631-32. From then on, a series of extraordinary events saw Sir Richard imprisoned for debt, his subsequent disappearance for seven years and terrible injustice heaped on Mary when he returned and a court ordered that he could seize Fitzford House and her possessions. When Mary eventually turned up there (she had been living in London), she found the mansion wrecked.

Her marriage to Grenville was the only one to produce children – a son, Richard, who died young, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary – neither of whom Mary had anything to do with as they served as a constant reminder of their father. She did keep one child with her though. Her son, George, born around 1634 and whose father is unknown (possibly Theophilus, Earl of Suffolk).

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As she grew older and remained, with her son, at the restored Fitzford House, Lady Mary became noted around Tavistock for her strong will and imperious temper. When her son died unexpectedly in 1671, she never recovered and died soon after. Then the legendary hauntings began.

It is said that, at dead of night, the gates of Fitzford House creak open and a massive black hound, with flaming red eyes bounds forward. Behind it rattles a coach made of bones, driven by a headless coachman. Its single passenger is a ghostly lady. Sixteen miles up the road, the coach stops at Okehampton Castle where the dog picks a single blade of grass. Back at Fitzford House, the dog lays this carefully down on a stone. Legend has it that when all the grass has been thus transported from Okehampton Castle, Lady Mary will finally be at rest.

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Now, here’s a flavour of Linden Manor:

Have 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.

Linden Manor has just been reissued by Crossroad Press and is available from:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

 

Other books by Catherine Cavendish include:

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And are currently available – or soon will be – from:

Catherine Cavendish Amazon page

Catherine Cavendish Amazon page

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Catherine Cavendish lives with a long-suffering husband and ‘trainee’ black cat in North Wales. Her 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. Cat has written a number of published horror novellas, short stories, and novels, frequently reflecting her twin loves of history and horror and often containing more than a dash of the dark and Gothic. When not slaving over a hot computer, she enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

You can connect with her here:

Catherine Cavendish

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Interview with the Lovely and Talented Author Sandra Byrd: Mist of Midnight and Writing Victorian Gothic Literature

Linger on my site a little today and read through this interview if you are a fan of Victorian Gothic literature! I’ll be chatting right now with Sandra Byrd over tea and shortbread about her book, Mist of Midnight (AVAILABLE NOW-March 10, 2015) and her thoughts on constructing Gothic literature. If you missed my review last week, check it out HERE.

And after our chat below, you can ENTER TO WIN a lace bookmark featured here, keeping with the theme of her book detailing Rebecca, the main character’s, mother making Honiton Lace.

Hi Sandra, Thank you for coming by to chat with me today on Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Come in and have a seat. Tell me how 2015 has been for you so far while I make us drinks as we get ready to have a seat in the comfy chairs in my library.

Sandra: Thank you for having me to your library, and for introducing me to your friends.  The friend of my friend is my friend, right? Especially friends who read! 2015 has been crazy and busy, so I’m glad for a chance to sit with you for a bit.

Erin: You’re welcome anytime! It’s still pretty cold with snow in Ohio, so I’ll put on the teapot, or I can make coffee? What is your pleasure? I’ll be having some Earl Grey tea, with sugar and cream.

Sandra: One favorite is a London Fog, Earl Grey tea, lightly sweetened, with warm cream.  Would that do?

Erin: It would be my pleasure, and I’ll bring out a few shortbread cookies too. Then we’ll get started with some questions!

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Sandra: Shortbread – yes, please.  It showed up in my book, so of course I had to bake a few batches to eat while writing!

Q: Mist of Midnight is your first Gothic romance mystery, which in my opinion was a huge success. What made you decide to write in this beloved, yet sometimes obscure sub-genre?

A:Thank you, Erin! That means so much. I simply loved reading them as a girl, teen, and awoman. Then they seemed to fall out of favor, and I had a hard time finding ones I loved, ones that echoed the traditional novels and their expected tropes but have been updated for our time.  I spend so many hours researching and writing that I always try to choose genres, eras, and people who deeply interest me.

Q: Were there authors or books of similar taste that you studied or enjoyed that gave you ideas for when you created your own novel?

A: I read quite a few Gothic authors “back in the day” but the one I loved best, and who stuck with me the most, was Victoria Holt.  She wrote Gothic Romances under that name, and English historicals as Jean Plaidy, and I loved all of her books. So she influenced quite a bit of my writing, the Tudors, too.

I did want to update the concept a little for modern readers.  I like more of the hero on the page than was present in quite a few of the gothic romance novel of years past, and I like my heroines to be a little bit less waifish and a little strongerminded than was popular then.   I wanted to include just a wee bit more hard history, and I like weaving in an element of faith.  But I tried my best to stick with the “ingredients” that people expect when the read a Gothic Romance:

  1. A large property, in need of attention and affection, already in disrepair. In some ways, the house represents the heroine.
  2. A Byronic hero.
  3. Characters around that are trustworthy… or not.
  4. Psychological underpinnings, perhaps including madness or a suspicion of it.
  5. A supernatural element, whether naturally explained or not.

There are many other “ingredients” one may choose from when writing a Gothic novel: a woman in a nightgown, medications that help or harm, secret passageways, etc.  The trick is to include many of the elements that are desirable and expected but craft a story that stands on its own.  I don’t read any other books in a genre just before I write in, or while I’m writing in it.

Q: Your sense of foreboding and suspense was crafted perfectly, what techniques or descriptions did you do in order to create a Gothic feel?

A:  I thought of what frightens me, of what frightens most people.  Sometimes those are things like darkness and being lost, and being alone with no help.  More often they are internal, thinking you’re losing your mind, or knowing that no one is there to help.  In Gothic Romances, the heroine very often has no parents present because she’s completely on her own, which is risky and isolating, and must puzzle her way out.  That isolation is anxiety producing, too.  Who to trust? Who not to trust? The decrepit or uneasy setting adds to this, too. 

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Q: Your descriptions that you had character Rebecca speaking of in regards to India were phenomenal and so authentic. Have you been to India? How did you delve into such precise feelings of 19th century India?

A: I have not been to India! I read many books written by the English, in India, in the 19th Century, and then by Indian people in the past hundred years who experienced the good and bad that had come from colonialism.  I watched movies and television set in India and interviewed Indian people.  I had an Indian author read my manuscript for authenticity.  How I would love to go myself, however!

Erin: I was certain you had been there!! You really articulated a true feeling of missionary work as well.

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Q: You had many interesting characters in your book, especially among the estate staff. Who was your favorite to create and why?

A: Rebecca and Luke, for sure.  But among the secondary characters, Michelene was the most fun to create because I find we women are so much more multifaceted in our emotional manipulation and complexities than are men.  French lady’s maids were highly sought after, and I enjoy French culture, too, so that was a delight.  Even though none of us wants to be like her, all of us can understand her envy, I think.

Mrs. Ross was a delight to create because she captured an element of Gothics for me that I wanted to do in a fresh manner.  And she likes shortbread. 🙂

Erin: Yes, Mrs. Ross was amazing. I enjoyed the intertwining of the French culture, and of course, I always like shortbread. Reading your book reminded me to make some again!

Q: Speaking of characters, how do you create them with such depth? How do you intertwine them in such a way when formulating a suspenseful mystery so that you are never sure which one to be suspicious of?

A:  I think the trick is to remember that none of us are completely good or bad and to plumb the motivations for why each person does what they do.  At the heart of it we all struggle with insecurities and desires and pure motives and tainted ones.  We each come to that Y in the road; one person turns left and another right.  At the end of the book, I hope it’s clear to my readers why each character did what he or she did.  I spend a lot of time thinking through the lives of all of my characters, primary and secondary before I write.  And I observe people in real life.  That kind of sounds gothically creepy!

Q: How do you feel about balancing Gothic fiction with Christian fiction? Do you feel that most Gothic readers can accept the Christian undertones? How do they complement each other in regards to underlying themes or allegory?

A:  Honestly, it would be anachronistic to write about 19th Century England and not have any mention of or interaction with faith; it was completely integrated into daily and weekly life.  I don’t seek to write “Christian fiction” so much as it interests me how a strong Christian woman approaches a situation in her era and setting.   I don’t set out, ever, in fiction, to teach, only to show and reveal and understand through the heroine’s eyes.  So hopefully that makes a good story whether a person is a Christian or not.  I certainly profit from and enjoy books that have no or other religious underpinning, or take place in situations and cultures other than my own.  I hope that both Christians and those who are not Christian can be transported by the story and let it entertain and speak to them individually.

Supernatural elements, whether naturally explained or not, are an integral part of Gothic Romance.  I find them completely complimentary in a book if organically done with an understanding of the genre.  We can’t understand everything, we cannot control everything, but when we are courageous and take action, things happen, and we are helped.  That’s the supernatural and the natural working hand in hand.

Erin comments: That’s wonderful. I felt the same and I was explaining that to Tim when talking about you and your book. He asked me about the religious element and how you presented in the novel. I, too, feel like anyone can read this wonderful book.

Q: Victorian England is the perfect setting not only for Gothic literature but for classic, clean romance. What do you like most about using this era when writing a novel?

A:  The Victorian Era is easier than the Tudor Era to write about because there is much more source material! I can go online and read the newspaper printed in Hampshire, in the year my books are set in, which is marvelous.  What is difficult is that there are many more expected elements in a Gothic Romance, so it’s a little more restrictive because you have to make sure they are all, or mostly, in there but a way unique to the story.

The clean part is truly enjoyable to me.  It allows the emotional and intellectual portion of the relationship to develop before the physical, which is then so much more satisfying when it occurs.  It doesn’t happen on the page, of course, but I let the reader know that it will and she can imagine the rest!

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Q: Many people come to my site when trying to answer this question: “What is gothic literature?” Therefore, tell us how you define it?

A:  I had researched this very thing before I set out to write, so I’ll share a bit of wisdom that I learned from the experts with a few of my own thoughts, too!

Ann B. Tracy, author of the romance chapter in the compilation, The Journal of The Gothic, tells us that, “The jocular description of modern Gothic Romances like Victoria Holt’s The Mistress of Mellyn as ‘Girl Gets House’ is not altogether off the mark. The home for which they long, their happy ending, is not to be bought with moral compromise.”  She continues, “The heroines of Gothic Romance are not the vaporous, swooning creatures of caricature, undone by over-sensitivity; their troubles are real… they lift the black veil, go to the attic, confront the possible spectres— attempt, in short, to shed some factual light on their mysterious surroundings and find their ways out of the Gothic dilemmas.”

Gothic romance heroes are called Byronic heroes, after Lord Byron, he dubbed “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”.  We women love to know whether or not we can tame a man who seems untamable and gothic romances are rich with just that sort of challenge.  Tracy says that our gothic heroines have the challenge of figuring out whether the “difficult or possibly villainous men around her will turn out to be the one she can trust and marry.” Victoria Holt named one of her best novels “The Devil on Horseback.” Was he?

To sum up, Inez Ashley Ross, in the April/May, 1995 edition of the Gothic Journal says there are, “The openings of classic gothics reveal three keys that unlock the reader’s fascination:

            *An imposing house that is linked to an ancient family       

            *An outsider of lesser status with whom the reader can identify and

            *Attention to sensory details that entice the reader into a mysterious past

Q: Have you researched Hampshire, England? What more can you tell us about it that might be of interest? I noticed the book was subtitled “Daughters of Hampshire.” Does that mean there will be more in this series?

A:  There will be two more books in this series: Bride of Poseidon, Book 2, which I am just finishing up, and Angels of Light, Book 3.  They’ll publish in 2016 and 2017 respectively, and will include many of the traditional Gothic elements, of course, but with new characters in each book.

I liked  Hampshire because Cornwall and Devon seemed a bit overdone for Gothics, and Hampshire is relatively easy to access from London and the sea.  It has forest, ruins, seaports, cliffs, cities and villages, and Winchester Cathedral.  Lots of good stuff with which to work! I did visit Hampshire while researching, including the County Records Office, and many lovely crumbling and restored houses.  I have friends who live there who read my rough drafts and make sure it’s sound as to the era and the place.

Erin: Wonderful news, I can’t wait to read them!

Q: What is your favorite Indian food? B: What is your favorite British food? If you don’t have favorites, maybe something you’d love to try.

A: I adore Indian food.  I love Butter Paneer; I love Onion bhaji, sliced onions dipped in chickpea flour and spices, kind of like onion rings.  I love papadums, and my favorite snack is Khatta Meetha, which you can buy online if you don’t have an Indian grocer nearby (I do).  Favorite English food is Sticky Toffee Pudding, which we enjoy each Christmas. 

Q: What else have you written and then, what else do you plan to write in the future?

A:  I’ve written quite a bit – mainly I stick with something till my interest is exhausted and then move on. I’m very happy writing English Gothic Romance for now, so I’ll be sticking there for a few years, and I hope readers will stick with me!

Erin: I’ll be here! (P.S. to readers, see all of Sandra’s work here:  www.sandrabyrd.com)

Q: I know you’ve been a mentor to other authors. What is a simple piece of advice you might give that would apply to many new writers?

A: Do not be dismayed.  The road is difficult from the start to finish and beyond, but there is nothing, perhaps short of birthing and raising a child, which is so satisfying as completing your book.  And the book obeys you all the time – unlike the child!

Erin: Thank you so much, Sandra, for taking time with me today! You are welcome back for tea anytime you wish, and I look forward to many more of your books in the future.

Sandra:Thank you, Erin.  I’m so happy to have come to chat with you.  Can I take the leftover shortbread home with me? 🙂

Erin: haha! A lady after my own heart!

GIVEAWAY!!!!

One (1) lace bookmark, open to US & Canada residents only. Aren’t they beautiful??

Lace Book Marks Book Tour

Rules

Enter by leaving a comment in the section below. Leave also your name and email in which to contact you, or email hookofabook@hotmail.com with subject line lace.

– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents 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.

Also, Sandra has this giveaway going and you can enter to win on her website below!

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01_Mist of MidnightMists of Midnight, Synopsis~

Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Howard Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 384

Series: Daughters of Hampshire
Genre: Historical/Christian/Romance

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22609434-mist-of-midnight

In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.

Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her…and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca’s name, but her home and incomes.

That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father’s investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?

A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger, Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless.

Praise for Mist of Midnight~

“Intriguing secondary characters and lush scenery contribute to the often sinister, even creepy, moments readers will come to anticipate. Infusing her story with mystery, tension, and emotion, Byrd (To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn) strikes a fine balance between the darkness of a Gothic mystery and the sweetness of a captivating love story. Byrd—and Brontë—fans will enjoy this first of the new Daughters of Hampshire series.” – Publishers Weekly

“A marvelous mingling of mystery and deeply moving family and romantic love, Mist of Midnight kept me guessing until the very end. A house on a cliff, a Victorian-Gothic atmosphere, a cast of suspicious characters including a dark, brooding hero and a strong heroine: shades (or mists) of Jane Eyre and Rebecca! I look forward to the next novel in this compelling new series.” (Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of Mistress of Mourning)

“Mist of Midnight is wonderfully atmospheric, with all the right elements for a true Gothic novel, from sounds that go bump in the night to characters who are not at all what they seem. The spiritual underpinning is solid, comforting, even as we’re trapped in the author’s finely spun web of mystery, romance, and a sense of foreboding that doesn’t lift until the final page. Charlotte Brontë? Victoria Holt? Meet Sandra Byrd, the modern mistress of Gothic romance!” (Liz Curtis Higgs, New York Times bestselling author of Mine Is the Night)

“Among the many things I love about reading a Sandra Byrd novel is knowing that her words will transport me to another place and time, that she will win me over with intriguing and complex characters, and that I’ll savor every word. Mist of Midnight is no exception. I loved this book! Sandra Byrd could belong to the writing group of the Bronte sisters if they’d had one. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre along with crumbling mansions, mysterious distant cousins, and one woman’s journey to prove who she really is are just few layers that ripple through the mists. Bravo, Sandra! Another winner.” (Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of A Light in the Wilderness)

“Richly written and multi-layered, Mist of Midnight blends traditional England and exotic India in a historical feat worthy of Victoria Holt. Breathless danger, romance, and intrigue made this series opener by the ultra-talented Sandra Byrd a compelling must-read!” (Laura Frantz, author of Love’s Reckoning)

“Once again, Sandra Byrd delivers a richly layered story that will leave you eagerly awaiting the next book in this brand-new series. Mist of Midnight has it all: intriguing and memorable characters—including a central female protagonist who is both complex and inspiring—a plot chock-full of mystery and suspense, and a Victorian gothic setting, impeccably researched and artfully and evocatively relayed. Prepare to be transported!” (Karen Halvorsen Schreck, author of Sing For Me)

“Mist of Midnight is a beautiful, haunting tale. Sandra Byrd masterfully weaves together both romance and suspense among a cast of mysterious characters. I was immediately swept into the wonder of this story, and I loved unraveling all the secrets and discovering exactly what happened at the old Headbourne House.” (Melanie Dobson, author of Chateau of Secrets and The Courier of Caswell Hall)

“Sandra Byrd’s trademark attention to historical accuracy combines with an eerily building intrigue to envelope readers in a sense of dark foreboding that hinges precariously between hope and desperation. Mist of Midnight is a subtly haunting, beautifully atmospheric, and decadently romantic Victorian tale that will find a comfortable home among the best Gothic romances of days gone by.” (Serena Chase, author of The Ryn and contributor to USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog)

“Not since Jane Eyre have I read a Gothic romance that has captured my heart so completely. From the exotic India to an English estate shrouded in mystery, Byrd’s eye for detail shines through on every page. Romance lovers are sure to devour the tale of Rebecca Ravenshaw and her search for the truth behind the mysteries of Headbourne House and the handsome young captain who lives on the estate.” (Renee Chaw, reviewer at Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot)

“From the first word to the last, Mist of Midnight is a completely absorbing romantic, and mysterious, novel. Ms. Byrd’s writing is splendid, and her characters are so complex and endearing that they leap off the pages. I couldn’t put it down. An absolutely irresistible read!” (Anne Girard, author of Madame Picasso)

Pre-Order/Buy the Book~

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Author Sandra Byrd, Biography~

03_Sandra Byrd AuthorAfter earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published in April, 2013.

Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens including the Secret Sisters Series, London Confidential Series and a devotional for tweens.

A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra has published many nonfiction articles and books. She is passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and their work toward traditional or self publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.

Please visit www.sandrabyrd.com to learn more, or to invite Sandra to your bookclub via Skype. You can also connect with Sandra onFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Goodreads.

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

Hashtags: #MistofMidnightBlogTour #HistoricalRomance #HistFic #Victorian #ChristianHistorical

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @sandrabyrd @Howard_Books

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Interview with the Marvelous Queen of Historical Suspense, NY Bestselling Author M.J. Rose

Today, I have a very special author on my site, one of my favorite contemporary historical suspense authors–M.J. Rose. Her Gothic and fantastical undertones involved in many of her latest works is something that seeps into me when I read and creates lasting appeal. I especially enjoyed The Collector of Dying Breaths (click to see my review) last year!

I admire her very much not only for her writing, but for all else she has accomplished as a business woman. Please enjoy this fantastic and interesting interview and watch back on my site for my review of her newest novel, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, to come soon. The Witch of Painted Sorrows will be available for purchase March 17, 2015!

Erin: Hi, M.J.!

Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’ve been looking forward to your newest book, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, and the opportunity to chat with you! First, I”m going to show off this AH-MA-ZING cover, which I think is stunning!

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After spending a lot of years in the public relations and advertising business, writing a lot of copy and non-fiction material, I started back in reading fiction and found my heart and soul again. I started with Kate Mosse. After reading her style, I fell in love, and a few years ago had been searching for a similar feel with another fiction author. That’s where you come in with this question, as I feel that you compel readers with the same atmospheric and haunting moods set in historical times much as she does. I fell in love with your books too! How do you create these moods of gothic foreboding with your choice of words or sentences?

M.J: I love Kate’s work and was so flattered when she gave me a blurb a few books ago. So, that’s a huge compliment. As for how I do it … I seep myself in pictures from the period as well as primary source material – diaries, newspaper articles and letters written in the period. When I write I see the story unfolding like a movie in my mind and just write down the scenes as they play out… I guess I see them as gothic and atmospheric and they translate that way to the page.

Erin: You write with an exquisite amount of description and details, almost as if you are actually living the story. How do you get into the zone when you write (do you need a lot of quiet time, for instance)? How does your brain operate in order to structure your research and ideas into such an intricate depth within your novels?

M.J.: Again thank you.  So I write my first draft in the mornings before the world wakes up. I start working at 6 AM or 6:30 AM, with a mug of tea and Gregorian chants playing and write for three hours in a state of semi-unconsciousness or so it seems.  I can’t do first draft work any other time of day really – too many distractions and I’m too awake and in this world instead of my odd dream state.  I don’t know how the rest works but I can tell you that when I read through that first draft – when I’m done – I don’t recognize any of it. I have no memory of having written a word. Make of that what you will.

Erin: Sounds like you channel your books onto the page! Fascinating! Your newest novel, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, is set in Belle Époque Paris. Why did you choose this time and setting? What is it that draws you to it?

M.J.: Several reasons. One of the more interesting ones was my great-grandmother was born  in the 1870s in Paris and I feel a great affinity for the  time and place. Also it was a time of great contrasts and that appealed to me as well.

Erin: In the last few books I’ve read by you—Seduction, The Collector of Dying Breaths, The Book of Lost Fragrances—passion and the senses have permeated your work. Whether it’s passion for perfume or art or literature, many of your books have these undertones it seems. You can tell that heart and soul were poured onto the page and into characters. How do you formulate your characters? How do you channel various individual emotions into them to make them so vibrantly authentic?

M.J.: I spend about three months making a scrapbook for my main character. Collecting all sorts of mementos of memories the character would have. I find it very hard to create these people out of thin air and need all sorts of help. I spend a lot of time focusing on each person’s passions specifically – what makes him or her feel strongly, what does he or she want desperately. I think we learn about characters from their yearnings and their obsessions and fears.

Erin: That’s amazing!! Your characters are often dealing with strong regrets, emotions, fears, etc. within the novels. It reminds me of the many emotional themes immersed in novels by the gothic authors such as Daphne du Maurier and V.C. Andrews. Do you feel that many readers can relate on some levels to these impactful issues taken on by your characters or are they more drawn to the entertainment value of being spooked, or on some level, do they just like acting as voyeurs?

M.J.: I don’t know actually but all three sound great! 🙂

Erin: ha! Yes, I’m sure there are readers in each category. What was your favorite part of writing The Witch of Painted Sorrows?

M.J.: It’s always the second draft. I love editing and adding details and atmosphere.

Erin: I know many authors get this question a lot, but I like your writing style and so I really do want to know. Who are your favorite classic writers?

M.J.: You mentioned one Daphne Du Maurier – she might be my favorite.  Then so many and so varied from F.Scott Fitzgerald to Mary Stewart with a lot of Nancy Drew from when I was a kid and Jacqueline Susann when I was a teenager.

Erin: Some of my favorites too! How do you define gothic literature (a question that is “googled” often and winds people landing on my website!)?

M.J.: It’s a tough question and hard to answer. I think its character driven suspense, heavy with atmosphere, romantically written — meaning the language itself — and a paranormal or esoteric bent.

Erin: I think your books would make great movies, some into a mini-series, or television shows. I’d be thrilled to watch them! Is there any hope that your writing will make it the visual screen?

M.J.: My novel The Reincarnationist was turned into a TV series in 2010 – Past Life. Sadly it bombed but I have hopes for more to come – that hopefully won’t bomb! 🙂

Erin: What is your favorite current fashion trend?

M.J.:  I don’t like to follow fashion – I love classics  – and  I have crazy simple tastes. I wear all black —  with an occasional white or turquoise scarf. My closet looks like a nun lives in my apartment though I doubt she’d have my shoes. I’m a bit of a shoe slut – especially black suede.

Erin: Favorite Pantone Color of 2015?

M.J.: Scuba blue

Erin: What are you currently doing, in addition to publicizing The Witch of Painted Sorrows? Do you have another book you are working on?

M.J.: Yes, I think if I didn’t have another book to work on, I might go out of my mind. I’m a real worrier and only writing stops me from obsessively worrying.

Erin: Thank you so very much for taking the time to chat with me today. I look forward to your continued writing and wish you much success, as always!

02_The Witch of Painted Sorrows CoverThe Witch of Painted Sorrows, Info and Excerpt~

Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Atria Books
Formats: Hardcover, Ebook
Pages: 384

Genre: Historical Mystery

GoodReads Link

READ AN EXCERPT

Synopsis~

Possession. Power. Passion. International bestselling novelist M.J. Rose creates her most provocative and magical spellbinder yet in this erotic, gothic novel set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Époque Paris.

Sandrine Salome runs away to her grandmother’s Parisian mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insits it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires.

Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten – her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse.

This is Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul,” her odyssey in the magnificent city of Paris, of art, love and witchery.

Praise for the novels of M.J. Rose~

The Witch of Painted Sorrows

“Rose’s new series offers her specialty, a unique and captivating supernatural angle, set in an intriguing belle epoque Paris—a perfect match for the author’s lush descriptions, intricate plot and mesmerizing storytelling. A cliffhanger ending will leave readers hungry for the next volume. Sensual, evocative, mysterious and haunting.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“A haunting tale of possession.” (Publishers Weekly)

The Collector of Dying Breaths

“Breathtaking…combines fascinating history, torrid romance and a compelling mystery into a marvelous package that will entice fans of Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon.” (Associated Press)

“A page-turning, alluring concoction of fiction infused with fantastical yet actual history. Readers will be charmed by her well-drawn and memorable characters, and they will be mesmerized by her enchanting narrative, which takes them on a mystical and magical journey.” (Library Journal (starred))

“A terrific piece of entertainment.” (CT Post)

“Wondrously original… elegantly written. Rose manages to utterly suspend our disbelief in a book that leaves us, appropriately enough, breathless.” (Providence Journal)

“Mysterious, magical, and mythical…what a joy to read!” (Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants)

Seduction

“Atmospherically romantic and perfectly toned. Classy and elegant literary seduction of the highest measure. As wondrously crafted as it is original.” (Providence Journal)

“Readers will be enchanted by M.J. Rose’s supernaturally charged novel Seduction, inspired by Victor Hugo’s self-imposed exile on the British island of Jersey in the 1850s.” (USA Today)

“Has just about everything a thriller fan could wish for.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

“Full of well-researched history, the paranormal, and modern intrigue, this atmospheric tale of suspense is fully engrossing to those willing to suspend their disbelief.” (Library Journal (starred review))

The Book of Lost Fragrances

“A compelling page turner…Once you catch a whiff, you will be enchanted.” (Associated Press)

“M.J. Rose is a bold, unflinching writer and her resolute honesty puts her in a class by herself.” (Laura Lippman)

“The Book of Lost Fragrances resonates with spirit, blending myth with reality, tragedy with triumph, pain with joy. You’ll find yourself questioning everything you believe–and wanting more.” (Steve Berry)

“Provocative…a sweeping sense of romance [and] history.” (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

Buy the Book~

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
IndieBound

Author M.J. Rose, Biography~

03_M.J. Rose AuthorM.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park, and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed.

She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers, and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online at MJRose.com.

Connect with M.J. Rose on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Goodreads.

Sign up for M.J. Rose’s newsletter and get information about new releases, free book downloads, contests, excerpts and more.

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Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @MJRose @AtriaBooks

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Historical Witchfinding 101 featuring Matthew Hopkins: Article by Catherine Cavendish of The Pendle Curse

Catherine Cavendish, an author friend of mine who writes great gothic ghost tales from the UK, just released her latest novel with Samhain Horror, called The Pendle Curse, on Feb. 3, 2015. A mix of history, the paranormal, and subdued creepiness, her novels put a modern twist on the classic atmospheric telling of tales. This current novel delves into a past that includes a harrowing tale of witches.

Of course, as most readers know, I love to read anything to do with witches as well, so I’ve been highly anticipating this novel! My review will come soon, but in the meantime, take a moment to learn about the most infamous witch finder of all time, Matthew Hopkins.

Have  you heard of England’s Matthew Hopkins? The Infamous Witchfinder General

by Catherine Cavendish, author of The Pendle Curse

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A photo of Matthew Hopkins / Photo supplied by C. Cavendish

My new novel – The Pendle Curse – has some of its roots in a true story. In August 1612, ten men and women were convicted, in Lancaster, England, of crimes related to witchcraft and subsequently hanged on Gallows Hill. They became known to history as the Pendle Witches. Their trial created a template for others to follow, and one who was no doubt inspired by it was none other than the most infamous witch hunter of them all. The self-styled, ‘Witchfinder General’, Matthew Hopkins.

Hopkins was born in 1620 and little is known about his early life. His most famous career lasted just a couple of years – between 1644 until his retirement in 1647, but in fourteen months of that time, he managed to be responsible for the deaths of some 300 women, mainly in the eastern counties of England. All were convicted of witchcraft, on his authority. The total number of executions for witchcraft between the 15th and 18th centuries amounts to less than 500. Matthew Hopkins and his colleague, John Stearne, certainly contributed more than their fair share.

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Since the Lancashire witch trials of 1612 that convicted the Pendle witches, the law had been changed. It was now necessary to provide material proof that accused person had practiced witchcraft. It was the role of Hopkins and Stearne to provide evidence that the accused had entered into a pact with the devil. A confession was vital – from the human, as the devil would hardly confess.

Hopkins travelled freely throughout eastern England, although Essex was his centre of operations. His career as witchfinder began when he heard a group of women talking about meeting the devil in Manningtree in March 1644. Twenty three women were tried at Chelmsford in 1645. Four died in prison and nineteen were convicted and hanged. Hopkins was well paid for his work and this may well have spurred him on to be even more zealous. He and Stearne travelled with a team and wherever they turned up, the local community found themselves handing over significant amounts of money. In Ipswich, this was so great, that a special local tax had to be created to fund it!

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Hopkins’s methods were dubious to say the least. He would employ torture, including sleep deprivation. He would ‘cut’ the arm of a witch with a blunt knife and if, as was likely, she did not bleed, she was pronounced a witch. He was also a great fan of the ‘swimming’ test, or ducking. As witches were believed to have renounced their baptism, water would reject them. So, they were tied to a chair and thrown in the river. Those who floated were guilty. Those who drowned were innocent.

Hopkins also favoured the practice of ‘pricking’. Basically this involved searching the accused’s body for any unusual blemishes or moles. A knife or needle was used to test the mark. If it bled, on being pricked, the woman was innocent. If it failed to bleed, she was guilty. It has long been alleged that many of these ‘prickers’ had a retractable point, so that the hapless prisoner would be confirmed as a witch when the mark failed to bleed. What better way for a ‘witchfinder’ to enhance his reputation than by identifying so many ‘witches’?

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Hopkins and his merry band spread fear all over the countryside, but their reign was short-lived. John Gaule, vicar of Great Staughton in Cambridgeshire, preached a number of sermons denouncing him. His opposition began when he visited a woman who was being held in gaol on charges of witchcraft, until such time as Hopkins could attend to investigate her guilt or innocence. Gaule heard of a letter Hopkins had sent, where he had enquired as to whether he would be given a ‘good welcome’ in that area. A good, financially rewarding welcome no doubt. At around the same time, justices of the assizes in Norfolk questioned Hopkins and Stearne about their methods of torture (which was outlawed in England) and the extortionate fees.

The writing was clearly all over the wall. Their reign of terror was over. By the time the next court session sat, both Hopkins and Stearne had conveniently retired and the infamous Witchfinder General had put away his witch ‘pricker’ for the last time. But that was, sadly, not the end of his story.

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Hopkins published a book, called The Discovery of Witches, in 1647, where he outlined his witch-hunting methods. This ensured his legacy lived on – and expanded far beyond the shores of his native England. Witch-hunting in New England began, according to his methods, and, in 1692, some of Hopkins’s methods were once again employed at Salem, Massachusetts.

Now, here’s the cover and blurb for The Pendle Curse~

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Four hundred years ago, ten convicted witches were hanged on Gallows Hill. Now they are back…for vengeance.

Laura Phillips’s grief at her husband’s sudden death shows no sign of passing. Even sleep brings her no peace. She experiences vivid, disturbing dreams of a dark, brooding hill, and a man—somehow out of time—who seems to know her. She discovers that the place she has dreamed about exists. Pendle Hill. And she knows she must go there. But as soon as she arrives, the dream becomes a nightmare. She is caught up in a web of witchcraft and evil…and a curse that will not die.

Here’s a short extract from the beginning~

His spirit soared within him and flew up into the storm-clad sky as blackness descended and the rain became a tempest.

He flew. Lost in a maelstrom of swirling mists. Somewhere a baby cried until its sobs became distorted, tortured roars. Beyond, a black void loomed. He saw Alizon’s spirit just ahead and tried to call out to her, but his voice couldn’t reach her.

Beside him, another spirit cried out. His mother. He flinched at her screams before they were drowned in the mass—that terrible parody of some hideous child.

The blackness metamorphosed. An amorphous shape formed as his eyes struggled to see with their new vision—the gift of death. Small baby limbs flailed towards him. Eyes of fire flashed as a toothless mouth opened. Screeching, roaring and demanding to be fed. Demanding its mother.

His spirit reached out for his lover. Tried to pull her back. “Alizon!”

She turned anguished eyes to him. “It calls to me.”

He recognized it instantly. The blazing fire. The devil child. That cursed infant had come for them.

Again he reached out with arms that no longer felt connected to him, but he was powerless to stop Alizon being swept away, deep into the abomination’s maw.

“No!” His cry reverberated around him—a wail of anguish in a sea of torment.

Then…silence. Only he remained, drifting in swirling gray mists of time.

“I will find you, sweet Alizon. One day I will find you. And I will find the one who betrayed us.”

From somewhere, he heard an echo…

You can buy The Pendle Curse here~

Samhain Publishing

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Catherine Cavendish, Biography~

Catherine CavendishCatherine Cavendish – Cat to her friends – lives with her husband in a haunted 18th century building in North Wales. Fortunately for all concerned, the ghost is friendly and contents herself (she’s definitely female) with switching on lights, and attempting to discover how the TV and washing machine work (it’s a long story!).

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 ShadowsThe Pendle Curse is her latest novel for Samhain; her first  – Saving Grace Devine – was published in 2014.

Her daily walks have so far provided the inspiration for two short stories and a novella. As she says, “It’s amazing what you see down by the river, as it flows through a sleepy rural community.” Those with delicate constitutions are advised not to ask!

You can connect with Cat here~

Catherine Cavendish (website)

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Pinterest

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Spooky Guest Article by Catherine Cavendish + Review of Saving Grace Devine

Today I have a SPOOKY guest article by the amazing author Catherine Cavendish (yes, SPOOKY, I got scared as I read it and now I don’t want to go to bed tonight). From across the pond in the UK, she’s just released her Saving Grace Devine novel with Samhain Horror Publishing. I had the terrifying opportunity of reading her book and it is excellent for all the many Gothic and haunting paranormal lovers, with an eerie mystery and a time slip to 1912.

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Her premise, “can the living help the dead?,” had me curious. I am not usually just a straight haunt story reader, because those stories scare me more than anything and I can’t sleep, but with her Gothic style (for those familiar with Victoria Holt and Daphne Du Maurier style of European or Victorian Gothic) I knew I’d love it.

Her protagonist, Alex is a modern woman, set on a vacation to an isolated island with her husband, Greg. She does feel as if she has a specter near here, but she’s never been sure what it all means. She likes to explore and sight see and visit museums and when she sets foot in to a small, local museum near where they are staying she discovers a family history and a painting that she is familiar with. It seems her specter has followed her….or maybe led her….and need her help. Slowly, she beings to unravel the mystery to the sordid and evil family history, being propelled back in time to 1912 by a family member with demonic powers.

It seems that the case is true, to break a curse sometimes deals are made with the devil with after effects you’d never think will come. At the moment you may think you have no choice, and in the end you pay the price.

I loved the mystery she incorporated into her novel. I loved her character development of Alex. I thought differently about one section of it, like who needed to do the forgiving, but I can’t say much or I’ll spoil. It was only because I cared so much about the characters though that I even  had that emotion. I think her book was contemporary and yet she switched easily to the past creating an eerie environment just right in Gothic literature. I could picture both the modern and the past as separately. She offered just the right details at the right time.

I loved the time slip part the best and the ending, yet I was so saddened by the ending. It really did shock me quite more than I expected it too. She wrapped it up nice and neat, then she tore my heart out. Ah, I still can’t believe it. Quite unnerving and terrifying. Then the book came full circle back to the beginning.

On the front half of the book, it was a delightful summer spooky read, but on the back end it left me unsettled and quite sad, which is what it was supposed to do. She messed with  my emotions and now she owes me wine and scones!!  I can’t wait to read more of Cat’s work. If you love Gothic literature, Cat’s the new author on the prowl you should be reading.

Enjoy her guest article!

The Ghosts of Brookdale Lodge
by Catherine Cavendish, Author

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In my new novel, Saving Grace Devine, a young girl is drowned, but her spirit returns to haunt the lakeside where she met her untimely end. She seeks help from the living, to help her cross over to the afterlife.

From my research, it would appear that my fictional Grace is not alone. Many people have reported seeing ghosts of drowned girls who are all apparently earthbound – searching for something, or someone. In need of help from the living to help them join the world of spirit.

In this account, the ghost of a drowned little girl is not the only spirit haunting the site.

In Brookdale, California, in the shade of giant redwood trees, Judge J.H. Logan built a lodge in 1890, on the site of the old Grover lumber mill. In the 1920s, Dr F. K. Camp built the now famous dining room, with a natural brook running through it, so that diners could enjoy their meal beside the flowing water.

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Today, this lodge is the residential Brookdale Inn and Spa, but back then, it was called Brookdale Lodge, and witnessed plenty of drama and more than one drowning. As a result, it is estimated some 49 spirits now reside there, and many guests have been all too aware of at least one of them.

The beautiful dining room created by Dr Camp is known as the Brook Room and exists to this day. It has certainly seen some interesting events and some colourful characters over the years. The Lodge itself had its heyday between 1922 and 1945 when famous stars such as Hedy Lamarr, President Hoover, Joan Crawford and Rita Hayworth stayed there. Songs were written about it, such as My Brookdale Hideaway. It was also a place where secrets were kept and questions went unasked.

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1955 Photo of Joan Crawford

Dr Camp sold the Lodge in 1945, and from then on through the 1950s, it changed hands a couple of times. Its fortunes changed and it became a hideout for gangsters and others of dubious reputation. Secret passageways and hidden rooms were installed and rumours circulated of bodies buried under the floorboards.

It was during this era that six year old Sarah Logan, niece of the then owner, drowned in the dining room brook. It is her ghost that is most frequently reported. She is often seen, wearing a 1940s style white and blue dress – probably her Sunday best – as she walks through the lobby or near the fireplace between the living room and the Brook Room. She is clearly at home in the building as she has also been reported sitting in the Fireside Room and playing on the balcony of the Brook Room. Owners and visitors alike have reported their sightings and it seems she appears in solid form, rather than as a translucent wraith.

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In the Brook Room, after the guests have gone, the glasses and plates still tinkle, and people carry on their chatter. A ghost of a woman has been seen, apparently crossing the brook, using a bridge that has long since been demolished. Could this be Sarah’s mother, looking for her? When the woman is sighted, she is often accompanied by the smell of gardenias – although none exist in the building. Her perfume maybe?

Are Sarah and her mother trying to be reunited? If someone could help them do so, would their hauntings cease? Even if they did, Brookdale could still lay claim to a ‘Most Haunted’ title. In addition to the sounds of ghostly diners, phantom dancers whirl and twirl around the Ballroom and, in the Fireside room and the Pool Room, if you listen carefully, you can still hear the big band play…

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Here’s a flavour of Saving Grace Devine:

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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.

You can find Saving Grace Devine in multiple e-formats at:

Samhain Publishing

Amazon.com 

Amazon.co.uk 

Amazon.ca 

Amazon.com.au 

B&N 

Kobo

and in paperback here:

Samhain Publishing

Save 30% off at Samhain for the month of July and save 50% off paperback with code Paperback50 at checkout!

Catherine Cavendish, Biography~

Catherine CavendishCatherine Cavendish is joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology competition 2013. Her winning novella – Linden Manor – is now available in all digital formats and the print anthology will be published in October. She is the author of a number of paranormal horror and Gothic horror novellas and short stories. . Her novel, Saving Grace Devine, has just been published by Samhain Publishing.

She lives with a longsuffering husband in North Wales. Her 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, Cat enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

You can connect with Cat here:

Website

Facebook

GoodReads

Twitter

 

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Exclusive Interview with Lynn Cullen, author of Mrs. Poe, on 19th Century Writers, Poe’s Reputation, and Cookies!

So excited today to have this exclusive interview with Lynn Cullen, author of nationally bestselling Mrs. Poe, which just released in paperback!  You can view my positive review HERE and enter to WIN your own copy HERE! Then enjoy the discussion I with Lynn about Edgar Allan Poe, women writers of the 19th Century, and cookies!

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Hi, Lynn! Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I am so pleased to have you here today as I am a huge fan of your book. I love history, but also have an obsession with the dark tales of Poe, so your book sold itself to me from the start. Thanks for taking a chance on writing it!

I received a paper from your publisher about a publicity tour you’ve been on, and was bummed I got it a few days before you were in Columbus, Ohio, which is very close to me. I was sorry to have missed you. What a great way to kick-off your summer! How has your paperback tour been going for you so far?

Lynn: Hi Erin! Thank you for inviting me to Oh, for the Hook of Book and for your beautiful and oh-so kind review of Mrs. Poe on an earlier post. It left me breathless!   I’m sorry to have missed you in Columbus—it would have been fun to meet you. And what a great city for the arts! My event through the Thurber House at the Museum of Art was one of the highlights of my paperback road tour–it was a packed house. I felt so loved!   Made me want to hurry home and write some more.

Erin: I will have to try to catching you another time and place! I am so happy Ohio welcomed you so well! Please do come in and have seat in my comfy chairs in my library. I have some new chocolate mint tea brewing I found via fair trade, would you care for hot tea or is sparkling white wine more your style? Just say the word.

Lynn: Well, since it’s evening, how about a spot of wine, please? Not that the chocolate mint tea doesn’t sound divine. But I just got home from an event at the Library of Virginia in Richmond and a drink is in order.   I was given a tour of the city and the Poe Museum that left my head in the clouds. I saw Poe’s boyhood bed, a letter from Frances Osgood (nice penmanship!), and an original portrait of Anne Charlotte Lynch from around the year of her conversaziones (boy, is she pretty!) Even better, I saw Mrs. Clemm’s stockings—which had a spider-web pattern knitted into them. How perfect is that?

Erin: Wonderful, that sounds so delightful! I’ll pour. Let’s get started on the questions and we’ll break mid-way through for some crackers and brie or maybe some biscotti.

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Q: Mrs. Poe’s title of course isn’t meant to mislead, but why did you or your publisher choose it when your protagonist isn’t Edgar Allan Poe’s wife, but the female poet Frances Osgood?

A:   I chose that title from the very start. I was thinking of the book, Rebecca, in which the main character is obsessed with Rebecca, the former wife of the narrator’s new husband. Rebecca isn’t told from Rebecca’s point of view, but through the eyes of the new wife. I thoughtI would write Mrs. Poe in the same vein—written from Frances’s point of view about her obsession with Mrs. Poe.   Frances wanted to be the real Mrs. Poe, and actually was more suited for that role and so should have been, hence her obsession.

Q: Why did you choose Frances as the narrator or protagonist? What do you hope readers remember about Frances? Why is she not more well-known as in my mind she is one of the greatest female poets of the 19th century?

A: I identified with Frances since she was a woman trying to make a living writing, never an easy thing to do, and especially difficult in 1845. I wanted to explore what it’s like to be a woman and a writer through her eyes.   I wonder if Frances didn’t remain well-known long after her death because she wrote about being a mother and about love, subjects that “serious,” i.e. male, authorities on poetry discounted.   I also wonder if her relationship with Poe took away from the importance of her work.   Even in her lifetime, she became known for their affair and not for her poems.

Q: How did you start your research, what did you do in order to research, how did you research, and basically, please explain the time and effort you put into the material of your book?

A: I always start with biographies and then comb through their bibliographies for other sources. I must have collected over a hundred books on Poe, the other characters, New York, and Poe’s works this manner. Then I went to archives—the New York Historical Society Library in particular was a treasure trove of maps, directories, and city guides. Meanwhile, I made a point to visiting the site of every scene in the book. I logged in so many miles traipsing up and down Manhattan in the places Frances and Poe went that I tore the meniscus in my knee!

Erin comments: Astounding, Lynn!! You certainly giving meaning to putting full force into your work!!

Q: What tidbit did you come across in your research that surprised you the most? What did you find shocking that you included or didn’t include?

A: I was stunned by how insane Rufus Griswold was and yet how this obvious nut was able to shape Poe’s image for all times.   Thanks to Rufus G., Poe is thought of as a drug-addicted lunatic, when it was Griswold who had issues. For example, Griswold had his wife dug up 30 days after she was buried so that he could clip samples of her hair and give her one last hug—from which he had to be pried by concerned relatives. Yet while his wife was alive, he wouldn’t even live in the same city with her. I mentioned this in Mrs. Poe.   What I didn’t mention was that when Griswold married again—briefly alluded to in Mrs. Poe—the marriage didn’t last because on his wedding night, he took one look at his new bride unclothed in their marriage bed and said, Nope, she’s misshapen, and left her on the spot.   Not a nice man.

Erin comments: Sounds like a horrid man! Ew! I know who the crazy one was now!

Q: Do you feel that history is correct in remember E.A. Poe as a moody, brooding, and mad man? What do you feel that people are missing about him as a person?

A: It’s our friend Griswold who portrayed Poe as these things, and because he had Poe’s papers after Poe died—which he doctored to his twisted heart’s content—and wrote the first biography on Poe, his slander stood for more than 150 years. But Poe was handsome and witty and quite the ladies’ man.

Edgar

This is said to be an accurate likeness of Poe painted from life in the year he wrote “The Raven,” the year of Mrs. Poe.  Griswold’s nasty work was made easier by Poe’s own dark stories, which so often featured murderers and madmen. But Poe wrote these stories for the money, not because he identified with the murderers. He was always desperately poor and had to write what sold. His new-fangled scary stories brought in much-needed cash.

Erin comments: That’s so very interesting.

Q: Can you explain the publishing industry for writers in the mid-19th Century of New York City?

A: Poe was the first American to try to support himself solely on his writing, believe it or not. Before then, writers had family money or their spouses’ money or worked other jobs.   His writing career didn’t work out that well for him—as I said, he was dirt poor. In a good year, he only made a few hundred dollars. He made a total of about $20 on “The Raven.”

Q: Was E.A. Poe one of the first macabre, Gothic, dark fiction writers to make a name for the genre you think? Why were people drawn to The Raven, and his tales, at time in history? Why are they drawn to them today?

A: Poe was one of the first Americans to write Gothic tales (in the era of Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein—English women pioneered that genre) but was the first anywhere to write the detective tale, (the Dupin mysteries) and tales of psychological horror, like “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat.”   My theory is that people in that era were obsessed with death—death surrounded them, constantly robbing them of their loved ones—so these tales that dealt with death and the afterlife were cathartic. Even today, we still need to face our fears of death and mayhem and dark stories sometimes help with that.

Q: Do feel that everyone has a love story no matter how aloof or dark they seem on the pages in our history books? Everyone has a soul, don’t they? Do they all have capacity to love? Can love and grief both make you mad, together or separately?

A:   Well, everyone who is interesting has a love story! And romantic love aside, every person, every creature needs compassion, attention, and love to survive. I think love the force that animates us.   And yes, being kept from love, even just compassionate love, not romantic love, can destroy a person.   Romantic love and desire are another story—and being thwarted from them aren’t good for a person’s health, either, wouldn’t you say?    

Erin comments: Agreed!

Q: What feelings do you hope to generate in people when they read Mrs. Poe? Why do you feel it has been so popular?

A:   We all want what we cannot have—it’s the human condition. I hope that readers can identify with that constant craving as experienced by Frances and Poe, and can enjoy the story of when a pair of soulmates found each other for a brief while. It’s a bittersweet story of longing, as is life itself.   Maybe readers identify with that. I hope so.

Q: Are you interested in the women’s movement that was starting in New York even in the mid-1800s? More women wanted appreciated for creative jobs such as art, writing, music, etc. and felt it wasn’t just men’s work. Who were some of the independent and ambitious women of the time that Frances might have known?

A: Frances knew, quite well, the “Mother of Feminism”: Margaret Fuller. Margaret Fuller wrote the first collection of biographies about famous American women and was herself known as the most well-read woman of her times. She was a critic and columnist for the New York Tribune, actually making a living at it, and was an authority on the Great Lakes Indians. She was also a good friend of Frances Osgood and Anne Charlotte Lynch, and in real life when with Lynch to demand Frances’s love letters from Poe.

Q: You are already quite an established author, what have been your biggest challenges and what are your biggest successes?

A: I’ve been published for 28 years yet all this time I have been trying to figure out how to reach readers. I’ve found that as much as I love obscure corners in history and enjoy using the characters that I find in them as vehicles to explore aspects of the human condition, it’s so much harder to get people interested in your work if they are unfamiliar with your subject. I’ve finally learned that it’s more fun to even just talk to people about my work—let alone to get them to read my book– when I start out on familiar ground. With some of my other characters, I had to spend a lot of time just bringing people up to speed on the history before I could discuss what was happening in the story. With Poe, people leap right in. I’m having so much fun with this book!

Q: What are some of the other books you’ve written? How do they differ from Mrs. Poe?

A: Reign of Madness , The Creation of Eve, and I am Rembrandt’s Daughter all are about women who have had to forge their own paths through difficult circumstances. But don’t we all? I’m fascinated by resilient people and I’m also intrigued by how humans are always craving something. Desirous yet resilient people feature in all my books!

Q: What are you looking forward to writing next? Will we see more adult novels of famous creative types or independent women?

A: I’m writing about the women in Mark Twain’s life. His secretary, his wife, his daughters—they all had to figure out how to survive being around this complicated man.

Q: What do you do when you aren’t writing?

A: When I’m at home, I love to do nothing more glamorous than helping my daughters with their children and walking my dog. I travel a lot for research and to promote my books, which can be so much fun. I love meeting people, learning new things, and going back in time on historical fact-finding missions.

Q: How do you schedule writing time in? Do you have any tips for other authors who are also mothers?

A: When I was a mom with young kids, I wrote children’s books because they didn’t require as much as a commitment of my time. I still spent several hours a day at writing but not like for the 6-8 hour stretches that historical novels demand.   But I’m a slow writer. Many days an eight hour session will only produce a page. My tip: Keep slogging. It will get done. You just have to have a ton of patience… and some chocolate chip cookies on hand.

Erin comments: Ah, yes, baked goods always help. 🙂

Q: Best loved dessert, the one you want after a really long writing or editing session?

A: As you might guess from the last question, I am motivated by homemade cookies, chocolate chip or peanut butter but any other kind will do. Now I’m drooling at the thought of them!

Q: Where can readers and writers connect with you?

A: Thank you for asking: lynncullen.com or authorlynncullen on Facebook

Erin: I really appreciate you coming by today, Lynn. It was great to talk to you about your book and I wish you much success in the future. Have a great rest of your tour!

Lynn: Thanks so much, Erin! Thank you for your time, your insightful questions, and that glass of wine! Cheers!

Erin: Anytime, Lynn!

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02_Mrs. PoeMrs. Poe, Synopsis~
Paperback Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Gallery Books/Simon and Schuster

READ AN EXCERPT.

Great Reads of 2013 –NPR
Books That Make Time Stand Still –Oprah.com
Editor’s Pick—The Historical Novels Review
Best Books of 2013—Atlanta Magazine
Indie Next List Pick

A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.

It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.

She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.

As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late…

Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.

Praise for Mrs. Poe~

“Is it true that Edgar Allen Poe cheated on his tubercular, insipid young wife with a lady poet he’d met at a literary salon? Cullen makes you hope so.” –New York Times

“This fictional reenactment of the mistress of Edgar Allan Poe escorts you into the glittering world of New York in the 1840s…A bewitching, vivid trip into the heyday of American literary society.” –Oprah.com, Book of the Week

“Vivid…Atmospheric…Don’t miss it.” –People

“Nevermore shall you wonder what it might have been like to fall deeply in love with Edgar Allen Poe… Mrs. Poe nails the period.” –NPR

“A page-turning tale…Readers who loved Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife will relish another novel based on historical scandal and romance.” –Library Journal, starred review

“Immensely engaging…Set upon the backdrop of a fascinating era…this is not only a captivating story of forbidden lovers but an elaborately spun tale of NYC society.” –The Historical Novels Review

“A must-read for those intrigued by Poe, poetry and the latter half of nineteenth-century America.” –RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

Buy the Book

Amazon (Kindle)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million
IndieBound
iTunes
Simon & Schuster

Author Lynn Cullen, Biography~

03_Lynn CullenLynn Cullen grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the fifth girl in a family of seven children. She learned to love history combined with traveling while visiting historic sites across the U.S. on annual family camping trips.

She attended Indiana University in Bloomington and Fort Wayne, and took writing classes with Tom McHaney at Georgia State. She wrote children’s books as her three daughters were growing up, while working in a pediatric office and later, at Emory University on the editorial staff of a psychoanalytic journal.

While her camping expeditions across the States have become fact-finding missions across Europe, she still loves digging into the past. She does not miss, however, sleeping in musty sleeping bags. Or eating canned fruit cocktail. She now lives in Atlanta with her husband, their dog, and two unscrupulous cats.

Lynn Cullen is the author of The Creation of Eve, named among the best fiction books of 2010 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and as an April 2010 Indie Next selection. She is also the author of numerous award-winning books for children, including the young adult novel I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, which was a 2007 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and an ALA Best Book of 2008. Her novel, Reign of Madness, about Juana the Mad, daughter of the Spanish Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, was chosen as a 2011 Best of the South selection by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and was a 2012 Townsend Prize finalist. Her newest novel, MRS. POE, examines the fall of Edgar Allan Poe through the eyes of poet Francis Osgood.

For more information please visit Lynn Cullen’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

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

Tour Hashtag: #MrsPoeBlogTour

Mrs. Poe_Tour Banne_FINAL

 

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Author Cat Cavendish on the Making and Inspiration of the Gothic Linden Manor

Today, Catherine Cavendish is here again to talk about the inspiration for the setting of her novella, Linden Manor.  Based on Wiltshire, in the English countryside, she also talks about the type of mansion she used and why, as well as other writing tidbit that went into the creation of her Gothic story. You can check out the interview we had earlier in week, HERE.  And be sure to read about her book following her guest article!

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Inspirational Wiltshire – The Perfect Setting
by Catherin Cavendish, Author

 pic 1

I knew my story – Linden Manor – needed a rural setting. I knew a Gothic mansion had to be at the heart of it and that the land on which it stood must have history dating back thousands of years. Immediately, I knew there was only one place for me – the rolling hills of the green and pleasant land that is the English county of Wiltshire.

For a county that is nowhere near the largest (I believe it’s ranked around 14th out of 48 in terms of area), Wiltshire knows how to punch above its weight. The whole timeline of English history is encapsulated within its boundaries. Stonehenge and the even older Avebury, the manmade fortress of Silbury Hill, long chambered tomb of West Kennet and other prehistoric sites with names such as Sanctuary and Windmill Hill, never cease to entice and enthrall archaeologists, historians and even casual tourists from around the globe. It has been this way for centuries.

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In the eighteenth century, gentleman antiquarian, William Stukeley, studied the ancient stones circles at Stonehenge and concluded that Druids were responsible. He dated the creation of the monument to 460BC – a few thousand years too late. He furthermore decided that the Druids were also responsible for Avebury and while we have known for many years that this was also chronologically impossible, old ideas persist. Recent excavations at Stonehenge are beginning to radically revise the timelines there, suggesting a much earlier date than had previously been thought. Soon, the same may be said for Avebury.

pic 3

Stonehenge stands proud on Salisbury Plain, where sightings of UFOs have regularly been reported over the years. Some people vehemently maintain that magnetic forces are strong in that area and attracting alien visitors. Others maintain the ancients were acutely aware of these forces and this is what led them to choose the locations for the many stone circles dotted across the British landscape. Salisbury Plain is largely owned by the Ministry of Defence and used for army activities of many kinds, including tanks, artillery, aircraft etc. It is thought by many that experimental testing of new forms of armaments may well be responsible for some, if not all, sightings.

 pic 4

Wiltshire is also the home of the famous White Horses – stylized depictions of horses, carved into the chalk hills. Of these, only the one shown here is ancient (probably Bronze Age), whereas the other seven surviving examples were carved within the last 300 years or so.

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Then we have the Moonrakers. These days, this is the collective name given to natives of Wiltshire, but, in past centuries the term related to a group of smugglers, probably from Devizes, who tried to avoid the excise men by hiding their ill-gotten hooch in a village pond. Under the full moon, they ‘raked’ the surface of the pond, causing ripples, meant to conceal the kegs beneath the surface. When the excise men challenged them, they claimed to be raking in a big cheese. The officers believed them to be simple country bumpkins and left them alone!

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And then there are the historic houses – stately homes and houses of architectural interest. Wiltshire has dozens of them. From magnificence of Wilton House, through to the homeliness of Great Chalfield Manor (pictured below) and across all styles in between, some are veritable palaces, while others provide a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. Not all though…

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My Linden Manor had to fall into the latter category. Gothic, imposing. A house of secrets. Wiltshire has many such houses. Here is one…

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 Now, here’s a flavour of Linden Manor:

Have 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.

 LindenManor

Linden Manor is available from:

Samhain Publishing
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com.au
Kobo

Omnilit
B&N

Author Catherine Cavendish, Biography~

Catherine CavendishCatherine Cavendish is joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology competition 2013. Her winning novella – Linden Manor – is now available in all digital formats and the print anthology will be published in October. She is the author of a number of paranormal horror and Gothic horror novellas and short stories. Her full length novel, Saving Grace Devine, will be published by Samhain Publishing in the summer.

She lives with a longsuffering husband and mildly eccentric tortoiseshell cat in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid-8th 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, Cat enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

www.catherinecavendish.com

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

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

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

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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

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