Anatomy of A World of Gothic: Haunting at Spook Light Inn (Oklahoma) by Alicia Dean

 

Introduction

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 Alicia Dean who not only penned a fantastic novella but also edited the series. Her book, Haunting at Spook Light Inn, is set in misty Oklahoma. Read on for an inspiring anatomy of the book by the author herself.

Haunting at Spook Light Inn

by Alicia Dean
Genres: Gothic, paranormal, romantic suspense
Publication date: April 24, 2016
Purchase links:

Amazon US – Amazon UK

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Description

A Gothic Mystery Romance…

Amidst a blizzard, paranormal debunker Camille Burditt arrives at Devil’s Promenade in Oklahoma to research a supernatural ‘spook light’ phenomenon for her latest book. There she encounters a ghostly being, which she dismisses as a figment of her imagination. But as the apparition becomes too persistent to deny, Camille realizes the woman’s ghost is quite real—and that her demise was not accidental.

Declan Rush—the inhospitable, reclusive owner of the inn where Camille is staying—is linked to the deceased woman, but he is less than forthcoming. Despite his unfriendliness, Camille is oddly drawn to him, even though she suspects his connection to the spirit might be that of killer to victim.

When another suspicious death occurs, Camille intensifies her investigation. She has precious little time to ferret out the truth. Not only is her book deadline looming—she’s desperate to discover if the man she’s falling for is a murderer.

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Q & A with Alicia Dean

Hello, Alicia, and welcome back to my blog!

Hello…I am so thrilled to be here. Thank you for featuring the series on your wonderful blog.

Haunting at Spook Light Inn is a great suspense read with a definite Gothic vibe. What does writing a Gothic story mean to you? What are the core elements such a story should incorporate?

Writing a Gothic story, to me, is almost like paying homage to the great classics from decades ago, stories by Victoria Holt, Daphne du Maurier, Phyllis A. Whitney, and other authors whose stories I devoured as a young girl. The elements needed in a gothic are; a young girl away from home and family, maybe who doesn’t even have a home or family, a brooding hero, a remote, spooky, potentially haunted dwelling, a mystery that intrigues and endangers the young heroine, gloomy, rainy or snow weather, and lastly, it’s always nice to toss a ghost into the mix.

Your main female character, Camille, is a paranormal debunker—a skeptic. 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?

Camille is intelligent and caring, but she’s a little damaged. Not only is she a skeptic about the supernatural, she’s a skeptic about love, and she doesn’t trust easily. Her strengths are that she’s tenacious and unafraid. Those might also be her weaknesses. She often gets involved in situations she should leave alone, and she takes risks she shouldn’t take. She is a good fit for the story because she is cut off from her only family, a sister who stole her fiancé, and she needed to get away from her home environment. And the ghost in the story needed someone who would take up her cause, and once Cami believed, her tenacity enabled her to do just that.

Declan Rush is a brooding recluse—a character often found in Gothic stories. What chemistry were you going for between the two main characters?

Their chemistry came out of not only a physical attraction, but their identifying one another as wounded souls. Camille saw how fiercely loyal Declan was to his deceased sister, and that he was an honorable man, unlike her former fiancé. Declan saw that Camille was caring and strong, and he was drawn to her in spite of his reluctance to become involved.

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 love this question, because I always choose ‘models’ for my characters and usually, they are celebrities, although a few times, I have simply come across a photo of a ‘regular’ person who was right for my characters. In this case, Stephen Amell was my inspiration for Declan and Allison Williams, for Camille. Aren’t they lovely? 🙂

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(Both images are licensed for re-use)

They’re lovely and quite fitting! The story is set in Spook Light B&B. Could you give us a brief description of the house as seen in the book?

I also love this question, because, in a gothic, the house itself is a character, and the description is important. Later, I describe the interior, but this is my character’s first glimpse:

I peered through the snow-dusted windshield at the large house looming in the evening dusk, and an unwarranted shiver of foreboding washed over my flesh.

From behind the wheel, my driver, Rita, made a sound that was somewhere between a squeak of trepidation and a sigh of admiration. “It’s huge. And gorgeous, but kind of creepy, don’t you think?” Her eyes were big and round behind the lenses of her black cat-eye frames.

“It is indeed.” The sprawling structure was a combination of Southern plantation and Greek revival architecture; painted white and trimmed in a darker colored molding—perhaps forest green. The exact color was difficult to make out in the descending dusk. Narrow, darkened floor-to-ceiling windows peeked from between a portico of six Doric columns. Hanging by chains above the porch, a wooden board flapped in the icy wind. Spook Light Bed and Breakfast. The sign should have been welcoming, yet apprehension clawed at my heart.

Ooh, I felt it all over again. Last but not least, the greater setting—Oklahoma. What are the area’s elements that played into the story?

Well, the most critical element was the Spook Light itself, which is an actual supernatural phenomenon in that area of Oklahoma. There is an actual ‘Spook Light Road’ although the B&B in my story is fictional. Other elements are that the area is pretty remote, with dirt roads and lots of trees and a deep darkness. (My sister lives in the area, and my friends and I took a trip there as I was beginning to write the story, so we could see the area first hand) Also, while Oklahoma doesn’t get a ton of bad weather, a few times a year, we usually experience a pretty hefty blizzard, especially in that part of the state, and the weather played a big part in my story.

Thanks for talking about Haunting at Spook Light Inn, Alicia. What are you up to writing-wise these days?

You’re welcome.  I loved being here! Ha, that’s a loaded question…I’m actually involved in and behind on several projects. I’m finishing up a paranormal/romantic suspense set in Africa for an anthology, I’m writing a Martini Club 4 story for a series with three of my writing friends, and next, I’ll be working on a straight suspense that was requested by Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer line…if they haven’t given up on me by now. Thanks again for having me!

About the Author

Alicia Dean Tin Man BW

I write in a variety of genres, among them, paranormal and romantic suspense. I live in Edmond, Oklahoma and am the mother of three grown children. I love creating spine-chilling stories that keep readers on the edge of their seats. I am a huge Elvis Presley fan, and I love MLB and the NFL. If you look closely, you’ll see a reference to one or all three in pretty much everything I write.

If I could, I would divide all my time between writing, watching (or rewatching) my favorite television shows—such as Dexter, Walking Dead, Vampire Diaries, Justified, and True Blood, along with a lot of the older classics; I Love Lucy, Leave it to Beaver, both Bob Newhart shows, etc.—and reading my favorite authors…Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Lisa Gardner to name a few.

Connect with the Author

Site: http://aliciadean.com

Blog: http://aliciadean.com/alicias-blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008364070487

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/Alicia_Dean_

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/aliciamdean/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/468339.Alicia_Dean

For more on the A World of Gothic series, visit our Facebook page

 

 

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WIP Wednesday: Q&A with author and editor Alicia Dean

Alicia Dean Tin Man BWI haven’t posted a Q&A in a while, but I will compensate through introducing you to today’s guest, author, blogger and freelance editor, Alicia Dean. Alicia likes spinning spine-chilling stories, but she’s successfully delved into romance and paranormal as well. Scarred is her latest release, a Gothic short that appears in the Mysteries of the Macabre, a Halloween anthology, available just in time for the creepy holiday everybody loves.

Apart from her author’s work, we’ll talk about PoVs and newbie writer errors, so come join us!

Alicia, thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP process and your editing services, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?  

In addition to writing and editing, I work as a legal assistant for a family law firm. I am a huge Elvis fan. I love MLB and NFL. And, I love watching tv. You would think that takes away from my editing/writing time, but I get a lot of work done in front of the television…promise! J I have three grown kids who come over and hang out with me on a fairly regular basis, which I love. So far, none of them are married or have children, so I still get some of their time.

Halloween_cover_lowresYou’re an author and a professional editor. What came first?

 Being an author. I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. Although, now that I think about it, I was officially an editor for The Wild Rose Press before my first book was published. So…

Exercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.

As a teen, High School teacher Sabrina Spencer survived a serial killer attack at Christmas that took her entire family. Ten years later, a few weeks before Christmas, bizarre gifts begin arriving with a threat linked to the Twelve Days of Christmas. At the cabin she rents each year to escape the holidays, she meets Josh, a sexy handyman and a playboy who is the opposite of the kind of man she needs. The threats escalate and her students could be in danger as the Twelfth Day approaches. Sabrina must determine if she can trust Josh or if he is the one sending the twisted gifts.

Ha, just over 100!

Well done, and an enticing story you’ve got there! When you set word count goals, do you usually follow through? Do you have an effective writing method or time saving tips that you would like to share?

Honestly, I am usually behind on my goals, mainly because I have so many other projects that need my attention. The only time saving method I have is to use the speech to text function in Word. I am still trying to get used to it, but if I close my eyes and visualize the scene and just ‘speak’ it, I seem to write more quickly.

I’ve read that although this seems like a strange process, it gradually grows on you and you can indeed add words to your WIP. You run a very interesting blog. My favorite column is your Tuesday Two-Minute Writing Tip where you post excellent editing tips and sample edits of authors’ WIPs. You go for “deep PoV” edits”. Could you define “deep point of view writing”?

Thank you! I enjoy blogging and I enjoy sharing tips with others. Deep POV writing is when readers are brought closer to the experiences of the characters, rather than being distanced. It’s closely related to ‘showing’ vs ‘telling.’ Using filter words that distance the reader (such as ‘saw’ ‘heard’ ‘felt’ ‘wondered’ ‘thought’ etc) are signs that you might not be in deep POV. Also, using phrases that a character wouldn’t think about themselves, for example: (Let’s pretend we’re in my heroine, Sabrina’s, POV)

Sabrina wondered if Josh was the one sending the gifts. Surely not. If so, she was in more danger than she realized. The teacher’s blue-gray eyes filled with tears. She jumped in fear when she heard the phone ring.  (or, another common way sentences like the first one are stated: Josh could be sending  the gifts, she thought).

There is no need to tell us she wondered or thought. And, believe it or not, some writers DO say things like ‘the teacher or detective did this or the woman did that’ when they are in a character’s POV because they don’t want to keep using the names or pronouns, but that distances the reader, as do words like ‘heard’ and that last sentence is “telling” and distant POV. Also, a character won’t think of the color of their own eyes, or any of their physical qualities unless they are looking at them or it has something to do with their thoughts, such as: “She hated the way the humidity made her hair frizz.”

 This is better:

Was Josh the one sending the gifts? Surely not. If so, she was in more danger than she realized. Please, don’t let him be the one… Tears rose, and she wiped her eyes. The shrill ring of the phone made her jump. Her heart thumped loudly in her ears. (This could all be worded better, but my aim was just to make it deeper POV, less telling. No need to tell us she was ‘in fear’ and using ‘when the’ gives readers a head’s up and puts it in past tense, more or less)

Going deep in writing seems to be the name of the game. I attended a relevant course, and the teacher said that a writer stands no chance being picked up by an agent if she doesn’t go deep. Is that so? And does that apply to all genres?

I can’t speak for all agents, but I would say that it would be difficult to pick up an agent or get published without going deep. They may reject you without telling you that you didn’t use deep POV, but oftentimes if you hear phrases like I wasn’t engaged in the story’ or ‘I couldn’t connect with the characters,’ it’s probably because of distant writing.

Can you give us the most common writing mistakes in a new writer’s manuscript? The ones you’ve come to expect to correct?

Some of the most common are telling vs showing, filter words (both of these related to deep POV, or lack thereof), and backstory dumps.

For more info on Alicia Dean’s freelance editorial services, click here. http://aliciadean.com/editing-services/

Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

AliciaWorkspace

Actually, I don’t have a very inspiring workspace, it is a corner of my bedroom with no outside view. But, I do hang things above my computer that inspire me.

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

My best marketing tip is to choose a few social media platforms and be consistent on those, rather than trying to be on them all. Find a few that you enjoy. Facebook and Twitter are my main focus. As for a promotional site, I run an Authors Helping Authors loop where we promote for one another so we aren’t always ‘tooting our own horn’ and I have met a fabulous group of supportive authors. This is the link if anyone would like to check it out:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AuthorsHelpingAuthors/info

Your site is http://aliciadean.com. Where else can we connect with you?

Blog: http://aliciadean.com/alicias-blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008364070487

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Alicia_Dean_

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/aliciamdean/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/468339.Alicia_Dean

Alicia, thank you for the awesome interview. Best of luck with your future projects.

Thank you for having me! I enjoyed visiting with you.