Tag Archives: spooky books

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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Filed under Book Reviews, Feature Articles, Guest Posts

Death Haunts Alister, Will it Haunt You? Check out Keith Rommel’s The Cursed Man.

Alister Kunkle has been in seclusion for 25 years in Sunnyside Capable Care Mental Institution. He won’t look or speak to anyone, for fear it will fatally harm them. You see, Death takes a personal interest in anyone he communicates with and he is tired of watching this curse play out. He hides away in a small cell with no outside contact until Dr. Anna Lee shows up determined that her psychiatric skills can help cure Alister. Is she really what she seems? Is the curse real or a figment of his imagination? When I first agreed to read and review author Keith Rommel’s book The Cursed Man, the first stand alone novel in his Thanatology series, I told him that “a book having a character with the name of Alister (in any spelling) is on my ‘Top Ten Things that Make Me Want to Review a Book.” It was all in jest, but truly, isn’t that a name that just makes you want to read a suspense novel?

I’m glad that “Alister” led me to read the book because Rommel’s novel has left me haunted for a week now. It engaged so many thoughts in me about life and the universe forces surrounding us, that I must highly recommend this book if you are looking for a thrill ride of drama that will keep you guessing until the very end. It was a quick read for me; I read it in one night so as not to put off the ending and it was reminiscent of my favorite short stories of Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King. King has penned several stories playing around with the notion of Death, and Rommel’s story was just as good as the master of suspense. It was almost leaning toward having a Ted Dekker quality in its novel form, yet had a harder evil tone than Dekker’s final chapter finales. This time Death certainly is the serial killer and good might not win out.

The Cursed Man’s spooky quality and lingering aura could send chills up your spine deep into the night and keep you pondering about your mortality and the state of humanity. The writing quality was excellent and Rommel is certainly an author to watch if you like the horror suspense genre as much as I do. I look forward to reading the second book in this series, called The Lurking Man, sometime in 2012.

And speaking of The Lurking Man, guess what?!? Keith is having a CONTEST to name the female main character in his next upcoming book, The Lurking Man (second in the Thanatology series). Answer three questions on his site about The Cursed Man, then starting with a sentence he has given you, write a short story (300 words) utilizing the name you choose. There will be a voting period in which people will vote on the name for the book. To view all the details, please go to: http://keithrommel.weebly.com/contest.html.

I also had the pleasure to sneak into the mind of Keith Rommel with an exclusive interview below (after the giveaway information) in which he answers all my deep, comical, and intense questions with ease. Take a more comfortable seat, and read on; you won’t be disappointed.

GIVEAWAY

Keith has graciously agreed to GIVEAWAY, no strings attached, TWO copies of The Cursed Man, to two lucky readers of this blog! All you have to do is read the interview and in the comments of my blog, tell me what inspired you or what you learned or even just something you liked about it. You can also go to my facebook page (www.facebook.com/almehairierin (friend request me if you need to)) and leave me a comment on my wall, or under the link posting for this particular blog, or you can go to Twitter and give me a mention at @ErinAlMehairi (www.twitter.com/ErinAlMehairi).

I appreciate my readers and so do the authors, so they love to giveaway books in hopes you’ll read them and spread the word. What have you got to lose? You’ve only got something to gain!!

INTERVIEW WITH KEITH ROMMEL

Hi Keith, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview to accompany my review of your novel The Cursed Man. Let’s dive right in to our Q and A on your well-written horror/suspense novel—the first stand-alone novel in your Thanatology series.

Q: First of all, I pride myself in being well read and educated, but I had to look up the meaning of Thanatology! I see it’s the study of death and dying and now see how it relates to your book. Your main character, Alister, has caught the interest of the entity called Death and dying surrounds him. I realize now that I don’t know much about this area since I completely avoid talking about Death because it scares me …well…to death! So the question is, how did you become interested in the storytelling of death and dying and why?

A: It is like a big blue elephant standing in the center of the room. You know it’s there, staring at you, but you don’t want to look at it or talk about it because if you do, you might get its attention. That is why I wrote about it.

(Erin comments: True, and it makes for a really good story too as being confronted or singled out by Death is certainly an eerie proposition!)

Q: How do you feel most people deal when confronted with the topic of death? Why are we so obsessed with birth and try to hide our feelings about death?

A: A little over two years ago, I found out my father was terminal with cancer ten days before my son was born. I was unclear how much time my father had left, but I knew his prognosis was not good. I clearly remember the confusion in my heart as I celebrated the birth of my son while I began to prepare myself for the worst. Dad passed about a month later and it brought me to a very dark place. For me it was a place of anger and sadness and it overshadowed the blessings I had in my life. The healing hand of time has worked wonders on me, but the void that was left behind is still there, raw and bothersome. But the joy of having my son and watching him grow is a Band-Aid given to me by God. Birth is a time for celebration, and death (in cases such as my own) is a private time to grieve and find understanding.

Q: What role do you feel that religion and God play in Thanatology? How do they play into your book?

A:  I purposely tried to keep the theme of religion obscure in The Cursed Man as I tried to challenge myself as a writer. I had a tendency to lean towards religion earlier in my writing career, but this time around I wanted to create something that did not have a clear villain like Satan or a powerful entity such as God. When you peel back all the complex layers of the plot, The Cursed Man is a story about a man and a firm belief that death shows him favor by allowing him to live. But yet, his price for such a gift is that everyone around him dies. Therefore, the theme of death was the presence that needed to remain on center stage.

(Erin comments: Yet, Death certainly is a powerful entity, isn’t it? We certainly feel its power, and to some degree the power of evil, in your book. I know I certainly felt it. I would explain more why, but I don’t want to spoil it for new readers.)

Q: What lessons of good and evil can we take away from The Cursed Man?

A: For me, the strongest lesson is given at the very end of the novel. Though I cannot go into what the details are because it would be a spoiler to the story, it is an event that is based off of a true story. I was standing in the kitchen at my grandmother’s house and I was in my late teens. My uncle was telling me a tragic story about a family friend and that story made such an impression on me I based The Cursed Man on it.

Q: What were your hopes when you set out to write a novel in the horror/suspense genre?

A: My hopes for writing The Cursed Man were very simple: if I gave someone an experience that they didn’t feel cheated after they plunked down some of their hard-earned money after they read my novel, then I had reached a certain level of satisfaction. For a long time, I believed in the story and worked very hard to get it to a professional level. I had agents show the story great interest, but never to a level of acceptance. I remember feeling confused and determined all at the same time. How could they not see what I saw? I’ll show them! And just when I was ready to give up and try my hand at self-publishing, the novel was picked up by Sunbury Press. They are a small press company, and when they offered to publish The Cursed Man, I remember the overwhelming joy. For days I walked around with a great big smile. Finally, someone saw the hard work I’d put into the book. Oh, and I recently received some emails from readers that have been nothing short of gratifying and inspiring. It has truly been a humbling experience.

Q: I know you like to read comic books, and so do we at our house. I’m curious, what part do you feel comic books play in both society and storytelling?

A: Comic books were introduced to me when a teacher suggested that I read them to help with a reading comprehension problem. I have read and collected comic books since I was in junior high and continue to do so today. Comic books are an important art form that suffers from a persona of being nerdy and uncool. Of course, I feel much differently about it and believe they can influence young people into the love and rewards of reading. Most movies that people are flocking to see are based off of comic book titles and they probably don’t even realize it. Without pointing out the obvious titles such as Superman and Batman, to name a few movies that come from the comic platform would be : The Crow, Men in Black, Cowboys & Aliens and Kick Ass.

The flow of storytelling is unique in the sense that it is done through both words and pictures. It makes for a quick and easy read, and the story usually comes out once a month and is a continuation from issue to issue. For parents that have children that don’t like to read, I suggest going to your local comic shop and picking them up a copy. There are plenty of titles to choose from, and it can actually be used as family time to open up discussions. Something that becomes quite addicting is going to the comic store every Wednesday to see what new books have hit the racks. You’ll be amazed by what you might find and how fun they really are.

Q: Now on to a little about you as an author: How do you work over 50 hours a week, commute, make time for your wife and 2 small children and EVER find time to write? What advice do you give others in the same situation?

A:  I believe if it is your passion and you are doing it for the right reasons, you will make and find the time. My formula is simple and I’m sure that countless other writers abide by it: get an hour less sleep tonight, or wake up a little earlier in the morning. Set a reasonable goal for yourself (maybe a word count per week) and try and write at least one paragraph a day.

Q:  Tell us about your writing process and what you’ve learned about yourself as a writer and also about the industry over the years.

A:  I have learned quite a bit over the years. The first and foremost thing is that I had to find my voice on paper and that has taken me a long time to accomplish. I often compare it to how a kid grows into a young adult, and years later, into a wiser, more mature adult. Some days my writing voice comes out easier than others, but I found it important that I no longer pressure myself to “get it done.” I write when I can and try to make time to do so. Small press and self-publishing is the new “in.” With social media sites and a well-written book, you will find a fan base. Set real expectations as to how many copies you think you are going to sell and study your craft. Join writing groups (I suggest Critique Circle, my handle is Krommel). There you won’t have your best friend telling you how great your stuff is. You’ll have writers (some of them very experienced) critiqing your work and giving you good, constructive feedback to help you learn and grow.

Q: Tell us a little about the man behind the scary story The Cursed Man.

A:  First, I am a husband and father of two. I have a passionate belief that hard work does pay off and that everyone should follow his or her dreams no matter how big or small. I did and will continue to do so whether I sell one book or a million. It is my passion and has been for years.

Q: What is next on the horizon for you?

A:  The response to The Cursed Man has been so positive that I want to stay focused on the Thanatology series. I am looking to release The Lurking Man sometime in spring of 2012, which is book 2 in the Thanatology series. I am then going to quickly follow it up with two more novels that explore different genres (Thriller, and religious fiction).

Q: Where can readers or other authors find Keith Rommel online, and how do they connect?

A:  I encourage readers and writers alike to contact me, whether they look me up through my website: http://keithrommel.weebly.com or through Goodreads.com, Librarything.com and of course Twitter (@keithrommel). If you follow me on Twitter, I always follow back (it’s just good karma).

Thank you, Keith, for the exciting new book and for answering my interview questions. It has been a pleasure to connect with you. Best wishes in all your continued work.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Q and A with Authors