Anatomy of A World of Gothic: Raven of Blackthorn Manor (Ireland) by Gemma Juliana

 

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 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.

Raven of Blackthorn Manor

by Gemma Juliana

Genres: Gothic, paranormal, romantic suspense

Publication date: August 4, 2016

Purchase links:

Amazon US – Amazon UK

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Description

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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

Visit Gemma’s website http://www.gemmajuliana.com to email her, see her books and join her mailing list.

Follow @Gemma_Juliana on Twitter: https://twitter.com/gemma_juliana

Connect with Gemma

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Anatomy of A World of Gothic: The House in the Pines (East Texas) by Janis Susan May

 

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 pleased to welcome multi-published, multi-genre author, Janis Susan May, who will (figuratively speaking) break down The House in the Pines for us. The setting this time is a stormy East Texas and a mansion deep in the woods, hosting evil and deadly secrets. Chilling!

The House in the Pines

by Janis Susan May

Genres: Gothic, paranormal, romantic suspense

Publication date: August 4, 2016

Purchase links:

Amazon US – Amazon UK

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Description

Hired to write the biography of elderly tycoon Henry Wolfe, Dianne Grayson happily comes to Wolfe House, a Victorian mansion set deep in the piney woods of East Texas… a house she has always wanted to see. Henry Wolfe is just as autocratic and overbearing as she expected, but no matter how he acts she is determined to stay there until she gets the answers she wants. What she did not count on was his rugged grand-nephew and a startlingly handsome and attentive young cowboy, both of whom show great interest in her, nor how the mysteries of the past can affect and endanger the present day. Once she discovers the truth, is it too late for her to save her own life?

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Q & A with Janis Susan May

Hello, Janis, and welcome to my blog!

Hello, Maria! It’s such a pleasure to be here and get to chat with you.

You’re a prolific author, having delved into many different genres. What does writing Gothic mean to you? What are the core elements such a story should incorporate?

I think a Gothic is sort of a grown-up way of sitting around the fire telling ghost stories. Not that every Gothic has to have a ghost, of course, but it’s a way of giving ourselves a safe ‘sense of fear’ while feeding our romantic inclinations. Plus, Gothics are very empowering. They feature women, usually youngish, who persevere and triumph over seemingly (or sometimes actual, or sometimes both) supernatural opposition.

In a good Gothic there is a love interest, usually a man tortured by something in the past or some situation that makes him unable to declare his love, and a mystery, usually bound up with the man’s problem and in the house itself. There always has to be a big, mysterious old house or castle. To me it’s impossible to set a good gothic in a nice modern home in a good suburban neighborhood or a luxurious condo – but perhaps some superb writer could do it. Anyway, what I find empowering about a Gothic is that the girl doesn’t just sit around and whimper and wait to be rescued. She is the one who solves the mystery, puts the past to rest and saves the hero – sometimes literally, sometimes psychologically. Yes, there are examples of the hero saving the heroine, but even so she is the one who has solved the mystery and made the hero able to rescue her.

So – I feel the necessary ingredients of a Gothic are : a strong (mentally) woman, usually alone in the world or definitely alone in this situation, who relies on her own ability. A tortured hero who is strong and desirable, but somehow so tangled in circumstances from the past he is kept from loving or giving of himself – he does fall in deep and true love with the heroine, but tries to protect her from the problem and thus cannot let himself show love. A house/castle/whatever that is generally both old and creepy which so influences the story that it is almost a character in itself. A villain who exploits the hero’s problem for his/her own gain, be it money, power, revenge or some other kind of personal desire. A secondary cast who may or may not be on the side of right.

Core elements? A strong and plucky heroine who can rely only on herself, a strong hero is both tortured and misguided, an unfriendly and mysterious house/castle/whatever, a mystery, usually rooted in the past, and a villain who exploits it.

Your main female character, Diane Grayson, visits Wolfe House, a spine-tingling mansion, to write the biography of its master. 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?

Diane fits all the criteria given above. She’s plucky, strong-minded and alone in the world. She’s definitely alone and without allies at Wolfe House.

Diane is pretty much a self-made woman. She has survived the tragedy of losing both her parents in a fiery car crash; she has carved out a career as a writer, but there is no one in her family who has been in a similar business. She is empathetic, but also filled with anger for reasons that are made evident in the book. She is cunning – not in a bad way, but knowledgeable and courageous and able to think on her feet. She has withstood great grief and progressed beyond it, but it has also marked her forever. She is driven about some things. In other circumstances, I think she could be charming and amusing.

Her weakness is her arrogance – not that she parades herself as being above other people, but that she truly believes she can handle anything – and in the end she pretty much can, but not in the way she thought she could. Her strengths are courage, her strength of mind and her ability to accept change.

In this story romantic angle there are two potential love interests for Diane—Ryan, a true enigma, and Charley, the veritable cowboy charmer. What chemistry were you going for with these seemingly opposite personalities?

I don’t know that I was ‘going for’ any particular chemistry… my characters are their own individual people, and I have a hard if not impossible time changing them once they make up their mind to appear. Charley is the image of a romance novel type hero – incredibly handsome and attentive – while Ryan is less attractive and his own man, who may or may not have anyone’s best interests at heart other than his own. As always in my books, though, nothing is ever really as it seems… most of the time.

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 don’t do the actor thing. I think I’m an eccentric among my writer friends because I don’t create my characters, giving them this ability and that face, etc. My characters simply walk in, state their name and get on with it. It is only with the greatest of difficulty – if at all – that I can change anything about them. For example – in my Janis Patterson mystery A KILLING AT EL KAB there is a character who comes on stage in the middle of the book; his original function was to deliver some information and then vanish from the scene… except that he wouldn’t leave! He came and went several times, and actually contributed a great deal to the resolution of the story, which is strange, since in the original concept of the story he didn’t exist at all!

I doubt very seriously if THE HOUSE IN THE PINES will ever be contracted for film, but if it does I will fight for cast approval. I may not use actors to define who my character is, but I can definitely define those who are not my characters!

Well, if Hollywood knew what they were doing, you’d get a call. The story mostly takes place in Wolfe House. Could you give us a brief description of the manor as seen in the book? 

From the book : “Surrounded by a wide green lawn fringed with encroaching trees, it [Wolfe House] was at least three stories tall and much larger than I had expected. A great apron of a porch ran around it as far as I could see. There was a round turret with a round, witch’s hat roof at one corner. Gingerbread dripped from every horizontal surface, and everything was sparkly white, as if it had just been washed. On the porch was white wicker furniture and flowers in large pots. Somehow the house should have looked more sinister, more unfriendly, not as wholesome or welcoming, but perhaps that was colored by my emotions. The place looked impossibly perfect, like something right off a travel brochure or cloying greeting card.”

The funny thing is, Wolfe House actually exists – not by that name, of course, and in a town, not out in the woods. At least I think it still exists; I haven’t seen it for years. It belonged to a remote relative of a dear friend and we spent a weekend there once when we were very young. I loved that house and wanted to live there desperately; perhaps it was the stained glass ceiling in the stairwell that caught my imagination. I recreated the house as exactly as my admittedly imperfect memory would allow for THE HOUSE IN THE PINES.

That is very interesting! Last but not least, the greater setting—the woods of East Texas. What are the Texan elements that played in the story?

Texan elements. Hmmm. As a seventh-generation Texan, I’m really not aware of any particular ‘Texas elements’ – it’s all just normal for me. I deliberately chose East Texas because it is different. We have five or six distinct geographic areas in Texas, but mention Texas and most people will think of deserts filled with towering Saguaro cacti (which don’t grow anywhere in Texas), vast spaces of rock and sand, men in boots who wear hats the size of patio umbrellas (we do have plenty of those all over the state) and people loping off to work on saddle horses (which are banned under most HOA rules). East Texas is deep, dark and not always friendly pine forests, a thriving logging industry and lots of beautiful and often hidden lakes. Yes, we do have the deserts and the wide open spaces, but there are also the pine forests.

Concerning the people, I wanted to show the courage, the tenacity, the decisiveness (or as some might put it, bone-deep stubbornness) of the Texas people. We stand up for what we believe and will do what is necessary to protect what is right.

And the weather. There’s a saying – ‘if you don’t like it, wait five minutes.’ I know that’s been said about almost every state, but it was first said about Texas. I personally have seen the temperature change almost 50F in a single hour. Or go from heavy sun to frost in less than two hours. Or go from a cloudless blue sky to a raging, destructive tornado in almost a heartbeat. In one twelve month period the temperature varied over 115F where I live.

You’ve certainly crumpled my stereotypic image of Texas. Now I really want to visit! Thanks for talking about The House in the Pines, Janis. What are you up to writing-wise these days?

As I bore easily, I never have fewer than three projects going at one time. Right now I’m working on a novella called LOVE IN THE WORLD OF MAKE BELIEVE for a boxed set called LUCK OF THE DRAW – each story is about someone who wins something and how it affects their lives. Mine is about a woman who wins a role on her very favorite TV show, which stars a handsome actor on whom she has a tremendous crush.

I’m also working on a book about a romance set in the majestic and vast Palo Duro canyon of the Texas panhandle – which just happens to be one of my favorite places on earth. The lovely and talented Carolyn Brown has allowed me to play in her Kindle World of the Palo Duro, and I am so very excited to be in such august company. It’s about half finished, but I don’t know the title yet. Both of these books are done under my Janis Susan May name.

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Under my Janis Patterson name I’m doing two mysteries. A KILLING AT TARA TWO is the first book in my series about Dr. Rachel Petrie, a contract archaeologist who works all over the world on archaeological digs, where she always finds murder and mayhem. In TARA TWO she’s working in Alabama, digging up the remains of an ante-bellum plantation house. Of course, there are a couple of murders both modern and historic, so she’s kept busy.

I’m also doing the third book featuring my elderly (and how she would hate for me to call her that!) sleuth Flora Melkiot. The wealthy, proper and highly opinionated widow of a jewelry magnate, Flora sincerely believes that she can do anything she wants to – and usually does. She is often referred to as ‘the dark side of Miss Marple,’ and is more than capable of removing crime scene tape, badgering witnesses and cornering murderers. This offering is called MURDER AT FIVE TO ONE, in which Flora goes to Las Vegas about an inheritance, where not only her past comes back to affect her present but she gets mixed up in multiple murders.

Sounds like you have both your hands and your mind full!  Good luck with all your future endeavors, Janis, and thank you for the insights!

It was my pleasure, Maria.

About the Author

 

51mcfcgl3l-_ux250_Janis Susan May is a seventh-generation Texan and a third-generation wordsmith who writes mysteries as Janis Patterson, romances and other things as Janis Susan May, children’s books as Janis Susan Patterson and scholarly works as J.S.M. Patterson.

Formerly an actress and singer, a talent agent and Supervisor of Accessioning for a bio-genetic DNA testing lab, Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups as well as many other things, including an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist.

Janis married for the first time when most of her contemporaries were becoming grandmothers. Her husband, also an Egyptophile, even proposed in a moonlit garden near the Pyramids of Giza. Janis and her husband live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.

Connect with the Author

My website is www.JanisSusanMayAuthor.com or www.JanisPattersonMysteries.com – both addresses lead to the same site. It’s a two sided site and rather different; go take a look.

Facebook: Janis Susan May

Twitter: Janis Susan May

 

Anatomy of A World of Gothic: House at the Edge (Greece) by MM Jaye

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, it’s my turn. I published House at the Edge last May, and although the setting is again Alonissos, my favorite Greek island, the ambiance is a complete one-eighty from my usual summery scenery. Read on for a complete breakdown of House at the Edge.

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House at the Edge

Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Genres: Gothic, paranormal, mystery romance
Purchase links: Amazon US / Amazon UK / iTunes / Kobo / B&N 

Description

He wants her out of his house. The house agrees…

After losing everything—her family, her home, her sense of self—former heiress, Daphne Alesi, has no choice but to start anew. Broke, unwanted, and suffering from a rare condition that makes defining her emotions mind-numbingly difficult, the only thing she has left is a strong will to survive.

Starting over on a remote Greek island, in the dead of winter, just because it was her grandmother’s birthplace might be a foolish plan, but staying in England is not an option.

The people of Alonissos are far from welcoming, not least the brooding recluse whose home she literally invades. The infamous House at the Edge is rumored to host a ghost—the soul of the enigmatic owner’s deceased wife. But it will take more than an angry spirit to send Daphne fleeing.

Being emotionally detached has some benefits, after all.

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I’ve done a Q&A with the other authors in the series, but it would be weird to answer my own questions, so I’ll just segmentize the anatomy.

What writing a Gothic means to me.

This was a challenge. But although I live a consciously drama-free life, since it threw my way enough challenges to make me not seek out more, writing-wise I’m a thrill-seeker. When Alicia Dean called for submissions for the A World of Gothic series, I jumped in without even thinking it through. I had no clue about the story I’d write. And the mystery suspenses I’d read were books published in the mid-twentieth century, not exactly fresh stuff. All I knew was that my heroine had to be stranded in a remote place, the setting should be the exact opposite of warm and fuzzy, and the hero had to be mysterious and aloof, casting a shadow of danger. Oh, and a ghost should be lurking somewhere. Cakewalk. Not. But a delicious challenge it was.

My female lead: Daphne Alesi

I love writing complex characters, and I don’t limit this only to my male heroes. I needed a plausible reason for Daphne to go to a remote Greek island in the dead of winter and stay there despite everyone’s negativity. Also, the biggest driver for me to write romance is the healing power of love to damaged characters, and their denial both that they are damaged and that they need healing. So Daphne had to be immune to everyone’s logic. The islanders efforts to chase her off shouldn’t scare her. But that would only be true if she wouldn’t emote. As in suffering from an emotional disorder. Once I reached that conclusion, it was easy to research and decide she’d suffer from alexithymia–inability to decipher emotions and react accordingly. On the other hand, since she’d lost everything back in England and was desperate to find her roots in the island her great-grandmother gave birth to her grandmother, deciding to move to that island and then stick mulishly to her decision despite looming dangers made more sense.

My male lead: Manos Varnezis

Owner of a remote mansion? Check. Ruggedly handsome and aloof? Check. A reclusive widower with a traumatic past? Check. Okay, good stuff for the Gothic vibe this story needed, but he sounded kind of cliche. I dislike standard romantic heroes whose wealth is a static thing, and they do nothing but sulk. Manos had to do something constructive with his life. So I made him a certified speech therapist, working with kids with learning or speech difficulties online. The power of the internet gave that recluse the ability to do something useful with his life and made him a more developed character for my book.

The chemistry between the two? It was a slow build, but a fire that erupted out of nowhere (hello, ghost!) made it burn hotter than the flames. Daphne imposed herself in Manos’ residence as the cook he didn’t know he needed, and she gradually reminded him that he actually needed human interaction as well. Love bloomed, but the house wasn’t down with that. Then things turned ugly.

Wearing the casting director hat

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Oh, Jamie. Disclaimer: I’m not a 50 Shades fan. At all. But Jamie would make the perfect Manos. The scruff, the piercing gaze, the baritone voice. It’s all there. In spades. And Zooey Deschanel would be the ideal Daphne. Quirky yet strong and determined with a skewed self-image, thanks to her ex-model, gorgeous mom who she hasn’t taken after, Daphne finds herself with nothing but fights to earn her right to happiness. They’d make a beautiful couple. I actually had Zooey in mind when looking for stock photo models for the book cover, and I think I nailed it 🙂

 

The antagonist: the House at the Edge (from the book)

The rain was falling in sheets, forcing me to squint, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the house. The ground floor was dressed in dark natural stone, while the upper level’s façade bore the signs of neglect with streaks of brown, angry scars on a once pristine white surface. Shafts of gray granite lined the domed windows, and if the metal arched mullions weren’t a Gothic nod, the thick turrets pointing to the pewter sky made me think I had entered a portal to a different world—one miles away from a Greek island.

A dazzling white streak of lightning slashed between the beckoning lightning rods perched on the tips of the turrets, pulling me from my trance. I let the bike drop onto the brown slush and ran up the wide marble steps. Somewhat protected under the portico, I stood and stared at the dragon-shaped metal door knocker.

The thought that I was in over my head evaporated with the rumbling thunder, crashing behind me. No, there was no going back.

The greater setting: the island of Alonissos

The stereotypic image of a Greek island makes an unlikely setting for a Gothic mystery romance. But the Greek isles, removed from the throngs of tourists and frequent ship routes, can be quite inhospitable in the winter. Alonissos is no exception. It’s small with a population of just over two thousand, fighting recession like every other part of Greece. So an ignorant English-speaking girl who suddenly lands there, demanding to find employment when the island can’t feed its own would certainly not be welcome. And if she catches the attention of the island’s most eligible bachelor, hostility can turn to danger.

That’s it from me, today. Tune in next week for another awesome Q&A!

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

 

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

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House at the Edge – A World of Gothic: Greece

I’ve done it, and I deserve a pat on my back. I’ve written my first Gothic mystery romance, formatted on my own and uploaded not only on Amazon but on iTunes, Kobo and B&N as well. (Still waiting for that B&N link, though.) This is a 38K-word novella, and it’s priced at only $0.99.

House at the Edge is the second novella in the “A World of Gothic” series of mystery romances written by authors from around the world. Last month, Marie Treanor presented her Ghost in the Rain, a gripping story set in the Scottish Highlands. This month, the Gothic tour stops on a remote Greek island, but unlike my contemporary summery romances, this time, the setting is in the dead of winter, and my heroine is almost dead inside. Who’s better to deal with a rumored haunted mansion? Read on for the blurb, an excerpt and how you can read the story for free.

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House at the Edge

Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Genres: Gothic, paranormal, mystery romance
Purchase links: Amazon US / Amazon UK / iTunes / Kobo / B&N (coming soon)

Synopsis

He wants her out of his house. The house agrees…

After losing everything—her family, her home, her sense of self—former heiress, Daphne Alesi, has no choice but to start anew. Broke, unwanted, and suffering from a rare condition that makes defining her emotions mind-numbingly difficult, the only thing she has left is a strong will to survive.

Starting over on a remote Greek island, in the dead of winter, just because it was her grandmother’s birthplace might be a foolish plan, but staying in England is not an option.

The people of Alonissos are far from welcoming, not least the brooding recluse whose home she literally invades. The infamous House at the Edge is rumored to host a ghost—the soul of the enigmatic owner’s deceased wife. But it will take more than an angry spirit to send Daphne fleeing.

Being emotionally detached has some benefits, after all.

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House at the Edge – Excerpt

Darkness fell swiftly yet anything but silently. The vicious wind whipped my hair, its low keening whistle torturing my ears. Rain lashed my skin, my clothes quickly becoming a drenched straitjacket. I’d been pounding at the door for what seemed like hours, but the continuous rumble of the thunder that echoed long after it had clapped drowned any noise my fist managed to produce.

The question was burning me up. Who had pushed me out? Because I’d been pushed, there was no doubt about it. It had been neither my imagination nor a strong gust of wind. Hands. Human hands had shoved me out. I could still feel their imprint on my shoulder blades.

Clutching my sides, I trotted down the steps and peered at the top floor windows, dragging my sopping hair out of the way with one hand. Lightning slashed the sky, and that’s when I saw it. A fuzzy outline against a dimly lit backdrop, its head hidden behind a black cloak.

“Open the door,” I yelled at the top of my lungs, but the violence of the storm swallowed my voice. I scanned the ground for a stone. There was one near the barrel. I hurtled it toward the window. I missed. I couldn’t spot more loose stones around me, only half-buried rocks. Grasping a jagged edge, I pulled and pulled, but even though the ground was slushy, it wouldn’t give. Using my nails, I dug around the rock and freed it. Tears of frustration mingled with the rain in my eyes. It was too heavy. I could barely lift it, let alone throw it far.

Exhausted, I lifted my eyes to the window, high above me. Rain pelted down on me, but I knew what I saw.

The cloaked figure shook its head.

Then the light went out, and the window turned into a black hole.

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The next book in the “A World of Gothic” series will come out soon. This time, it’s Alicia Dean’s turn. Alicia conceived the idea of assembling authors from around the world to write Gothic mystery romances, and she also edits our books. In other words, everything that comes out of this endeavor we owe to her.

Keep an eye out for Alicia’s “Devil’s Promenade” – A World of Gothic: USA, out on June 30.

For updates on new releases, offers and giveaways, follow us on our Facebook page.

We need reviews, so if you’re interested in receiving a free copy in exchange for an honest review, please contact me at mmjayeauthor@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!