My participation in the A World of Gothic series was my proudest moment as an author last year. Talented, award-wining authors penning suspenseful stories with a definite Gothic vibe, each set in a different location around the world, all taking place in a remote, awe-inspiring mansion. As a number of amazing titles have been available since the series launched last April, I felt I should bring them to your attention again, from a different angle this time. So, each week, I’ll invite one of the series’ authors here, spotlight her book and focus on the heroine, the hero, and the backbone of any good Gothic story, the house/castle/mansion that tends to hold the key to solving the mysteries piling up.
This week, I’m delighted to present Gemma Juliana who will break down one of the most spine-chilling offerings in the series, Raven of Blackthorn Manor. This time, the story is set in Ireland, a land laden with hair-raising legends and dark myths. Read on for an inspiring anatomy of the book by the author herself.
by Gemma Juliana
Genres: Gothic, paranormal, romantic suspense
Publication date: August 4, 2016
When Morgana Pierce accepts an invitation to Blackthorn Manor, known as Ireland’s most haunted property, she hopes to convince the gloomy owner, Sir Dermott Blackthorn, to allow her crew to film the property for her paranormal series.
Morgana has a secret of her own. She’s on a quest to find the father she never knew. Her only clue to his whereabouts led her to this bleak property on an isolated windswept Irish peninsula, where myths, legends and goddesses still seem to live and breathe.
Morgana’s ability to communicate with the dead soon puts her in danger as she learns there have been several suspicious deaths and disappearances in recent years. Threats against her own life force her to decide how to navigate an ever darker reality.
Dermott Blackthorn’s ancestral line has been cursed for nine generations, and he is the last one. His death is imminent if things unfold as they have for the previous eight Blackthorns.
Morgana is attracted to Blackthorn’s mysterious and moody house guest, Ronan McIver. He is both protective and dismissive of her, sending mixed signals. What is he doing at Blackthorn Manor?
As the danger surrounding Morgana intensifies, the setting is ripe for the perfect storm. She must rely on someone, but who can she trust?
Q & A with Gemma Juliana
Hello, Gemma, and welcome to my blog!
Hello, Maria. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for inviting me. It would have been lovely if this interview could have been done in person in Greece.
I’d have enjoyed that as well! Let’s start. What makes writing a Gothic story appealing to you? What are the core elements such a story should incorporate?
Perhaps there is a morbid streak in me, since writing this, my first Gothic, gave me immense pleasure. The dark and brooding essence that must be sprinkled throughout a Gothic story appeals to the part of me that loves reading a good Gothic. I love setting the tone… an isolated castle or mansion, a few tortured souls—living or dead, and the element of constant peril. One of my favorite tools is the weather. Bleak weather such as mists and storms reflects the mood of the characters and even the mood of the house in a Gothic story. It also creates so many plot twist opportunities while mirroring the emotions.
I grew up on a diet of Victoria Holt, Daphne du Maurier and Phyllis Whitney, amongst other magnificent Gothic authors, and devoured their books when I was a teenager. In the A World of Gothic series, the stories are contemporary and novella length. This is a fresh new twist, and great fun to write.
Your main female character, Morgana Pierce, is a paranormal investigator—a ghost hunter—with her own television series. Can you give us more clues about her personality? Which are her strengths and weaknesses and what made her a good fit for your story?
Morgana is independent and daring, and listens to her intuition. She takes seriously her ability to see and communicate with the dead. She is not a stereotypical damsel-in-distress. Her strong sense of self propels her to search for answers about the mysterious gaps in her family tree. The mystery surrounding her father’s whereabouts drives her to take risks she might not otherwise have taken. The desire to know more about her paternal roots drops her into a dangerous world way beyond her comfort zone. Not every young woman would be willing to stay at the most haunted property in Ireland for a week, surrounded by strangers. Morgana has always believed a guardian angel watches over her, and in this instance she really needs one because she’s pushed her luck to the last degree.
Dermott Blackthorn is a brooding recluse, doomed by a curse that haunts him—a character often found in Gothic stories. What chemistry were you going for between the two main characters?
I wanted to create a three way dynamic of attraction and suspicion. Morgana had to rely on both Dermott and Ronan in different ways, due to her secret agenda of why she was really at Blackthorn Manor. Could she trust them both, knowing someone on the property was probably a murderer? Since Dermott was married, he was unavailable for a romance with her, although such things can change by the end of a Gothic! I don’t want to give too much of the plot away… J
Yes, it’s too delicious to give it away! Which actors did you have in mind when writing those two characters or who would you like seeing portray your characters should the book ever became a film?
I know little about movies and actors, so my dear friend Marva came to my rescue, and she did a splendid job. She chose Megan Boone from The Blacklist to play Morgana, Keanu Reeves would be Dermott, and Scott Kyle from the Outlander series would play Ronan. Viewing these actors online, I see a potential chemistry that could bring Raven of Blackthorn Manor to life with sizzling tension on the silver screen.
I love Megan Boone! She’d make the perfect Gothic heroine. And if it were a toss-up between Keeanu and Scott, I’m pretty sure who’d get the girl. 😀 The story is set in Blackthorn Manor. Could you give us a brief description of the house as seen in the book?
Blackthorn Manor is one of those rambling old estates sprinkled throughout the isle that ruling families of old tended to inhabit. Here are two excerpts showing Morgana’s impressions of the manor as she approached it for the first time.
As she approached the estate by car…
I’ll never forget my first glimpse of Blackthorn Manor. It stood bold and gaunt amidst the early winter landscape, its presence as bleakly intimidating as that of any person I’ve ever feared.
I suspected it was taking stock of me, too, and somehow it managed to make me aware that, as surely as it embedded itself in the very essence of my being, my life would change forever as a result of our encounter.
And then a short while later…
We entered and drove up the curved drive. Silhouettes of twisted trees flanked us, their boughs thrust at wild angles like old hags dancing in the dark light of the moon.
Blackthorns, no doubt.
Glittering light in what seemed like a hundred lead pane windows greeted us farther up. The house was immense, Gothic spires and arches dominating the landscape. Welcoming, it was not. I shuddered.
Me too! Last but not least, the greater setting—Ireland. Irish myths play greatly into the story. Could you clue us in a bit more?
The ancient Irish gods and goddesses still live and breathe in the air, the rocks and the streams of Ireland. I’ve traveled to many places, but no other country has yet struck me as being so interactively alive, like a living book of legends. Stories are carried on the wind. One just needs to listen…
Weaving an Irish myth into Raven of Blackthorn Manor gave me great pleasure. I’ve loved these myths all my life, so adding The Morríghan to a Gothic is a match made in heaven.
Morrígu, also known as The Morríghan, was no loving goddess. She was power-hungry, blood thirsty, and vengeful. She represented dark magic and death by war or revenge. A very ominous deity of the ancient isle, she was the perfect mythic figure to blend into this story.
My hair stands on end! Thanks for talking about Blackthorn Manor, Gemma. What are you up to writing-wise these days?
It’s been my pleasure to visit you today, Maria. Thanks for inviting me to be your guest.
As a member of the World Romance Writers group, I wrote an enchanting fantasy romance novelette called To Kiss a Prince for the winter anthology, Holiday Magic.
I’ve just finished writing a romantic suspense novelette called Treasured Times that will be released in late April. It is set in Carthage, Tunisia and involves some time travel. It’s in an anthology called Escape to Africa by the World Romance Writers.
I enjoyed writing a Gothic novella with mythic elements so much that I have several more planned. The next one has no working title yet. It’s also set in Ireland, and will have another good dose of mythology. It’s still in the planning and outlining stage. I’ve got general plots for three more Gothics of a similar tone to Raven of Blackthorn Manor. Just waiting now for some of the main characters to introduce themselves to me…
Personal matters have kept me away from my laptop a lot these past few months, so I’m not writing as much as I’d like to be, but should be back on a normal schedule soon.
I’d like to say thank you to Alicia Dean for inviting me into the A World of Gothic series. It has been an absolute pleasure to be in the series with such a wonderful group of authors like you, Maria. And thanks to everyone who has purchased my novella. If you enjoyed it, try out the novellas of the other authors in our series. You’ll have a treat in store.
Hear, hear about Alicia, and best of luck overcoming the obstacles that keep you from writing.
About the Author
GEMMA JULIANA is a multi-published author who lives in an enchanted cottage in north Texas with her handsome hero, teen son and a comical dog. She loves hearing from readers. Exotic coffee and chocolate fuel her creativity. You can buy Gemma’s books on Amazon.
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