Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Resurrecting the Gothic Mystery Romance (#mystery #gothic #haunting @Alicia_Dean_)

Banner haunting

By Alicia Dean (Guest Blogger)

Do you remember the old classic Gothic Mystery romances such as The Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and Hunter’s Green by Phyllis A. Whitney? No? Maybe you’re too young. Believe me, I am not. These stories hold strong and special memories for me. I used to devour them. I would read them and become lost in the mysterious moors, captivated by the brooding hero, frightened by the ghostly occurrences, totally engrossed in the gothic realm.

I thought it would be fun to revive the genre, and even more fun to do so as a group project, involving authors from all over the world. About a year ago, I put some calls out and gathered interested authors for a series of gothic mystery novellas. Each would be an individual, stand-alone story, but they would share the same series name and all have a recurring thread. After a discussion with my fellow A World of Gothic Authors, we decided the recurring thread would be a Spinel stone. Each story must feature the stone in some way, and its role could be as insignificant or as important as the author wished it to be. If you haven’t heard of Spinels, they are unique and fascinating stones that come in a wide array of colors, some with their own special meaning, and varying in value from worthless to highly valuable. It was fun reading the stories and seeing how the different authors incorporated the stone.

Our gothic series includes authors from, and stories set in, Scotland, Greece, Ireland, Texas, Florida, France, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, which is where mine is set. My contribution to the series is titled Haunting at Spook Light Inn and is based on an actual spook light phenomenon that appears in Northeastern Oklahoma, only a few miles from where my sister and brother-in-law live. To help with researching the book, I took a road trip to the area with my friends, Kathy and Krysta. My sister Ruth drove us out to ‘spook light road.’ We didn’t see the light, (Well, Kathy and I thought we saw it, but we’re not sure. And the two naysayers with us claim we didn’t, so I guess I’ll say we didn’t…), but we had a good time, and it was helpful for getting a feel for my story.

Giveaway: In the comments, please tell me if you’ve had any supernatural encounters, or if you think it’s all hogwash. I’ll draw three names, and the winners will each receive a $5 Amazon gift card.

Thank you for visiting me today!

About Haunting at Spook Light Inn:

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.


I was about to turn back when I heard the murmur of a male voice carried on the wind. An irrational prickle of fear swept through me, but I dismissed it. There was nothing to fear out here. Why would there be? Well, maybe coyotes, but that had definitely been a human voice.

I stood still and cocked my ear, trying to figure out where the sound came from. It came again. I rounded the carriage house and ended up back where the trail had forked. I took the other path this time.

A glimpse through the trees made me halt. A man. I moved closer and recognized Declan, although his back was to me. Three headstones were spaced four feet apart. Declan stood in front of a white marble teardrop-shaped stone with roses carved into the side that looked newer than the others.

His sister’s grave?

He wore a charcoal gray wool trench coat with the collar pulled up around his neck. His breath came out like wisps of smoke in the cold air. Snow dampened his dark blonde hair, making it look almost black. He was unaware of my presence. His focus was on the grave.

Sympathy pierced my heart, and I blinked back tears. He looked so forlorn, so alone. I had to tighten my hands into fists inside my coat pockets to keep from reaching out to him. My efforts wouldn’t be welcome.

After several moments of silence, I began to wonder if I’d really heard his voice. Although I’d had to take the path to get here, a small grouping of trees were all that separated this area from the carriage house, so it was possible. But had he been speaking to his sister? He didn’t seem the type of man to give in to sentiments such as talking to a dead loved one.

I no sooner had the thought than he spoke again. “I’m sorry, Eleanor. I wish we’d gotten along better, but I did love you. I never wanted this to happen. I only wanted to protect you.”

Feeling like a spy and not wanting to continue intruding on his privacy, I stepped back. My foot landed on an icy tree branch lying on the ground, and the sound cracked like a firecracker in the still afternoon.

Declan whirled to look at me.

My heart leapt to my throat.

His expression tightened in anger. “Ms. Burditt? What in God’s name are you doing out here?”

I—I was just…taking a walk.” I cast a guilty glance over my shoulder, then looked back at him.

He peered in the direction from which I’d come. “You were at the carriage house?” The words were barked like an accusation.

Y-yes. I just…” I took a deep breath, suddenly feeling the cold even though the wind was still calm. “I just came upon it. I didn’t go in. The doors were locked.” I realized my error as soon as I said the words. Too late to take them back.

You tried to get in?” He stalked over until he stood directly in front of me, looming like a dark angry cloud. “The carriage house is off limits. Stay away from it, do you understand me?”

I swallowed. “I wasn’t going to hurt anything, I was just curio—”

I said stay away.” His voice was deadly, his eyes molten steel. “Do I make myself clear?”

For one brief moment, the fury in his eyes made me think he might be capable of murder after all. Namely, mine. I couldn’t speak, so I only nodded. He held my gaze for a few more gut wrenching moments, then stormed away.

Amazon buy link:

News Flash! I've just dropped the price of the book to only 99 cents, for a limited time!

About the Author

Author Alicia Dean began writing stories as a child. At age 10, she wrote her first ever romance (featuring a hero who looked just like Elvis Presley, and who shared the name of Elvis’ character in the movie, Tickle Me), and she still has the tattered, pencil-written copy. Alicia is from Moore, Oklahoma and now lives in Edmond. She has three grown children and a huge network of supportive friends and family. She writes mostly contemporary suspense and paranormal, but has also written in other genres, including a few vintage historicals. She is a freelance editor in addition to being an editor for The Wild Rose Press.

Other than reading and writing, her passions are Elvis Presley, MLB, NFL (she usually works in a mention of one or all three into her stories) and watching (and rewatching) her favorite televisions shows like The Walking Dead, Dexter, Justified, Sons of Anarchy, Haven, Vampire Diaries, and The Originals. Some of her favorite authors are Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Lisa Gardner, Sharon Sala, Jordan Dane, Ridley Pearson, Joseph Finder, and Jonathan Kellerman…to name a few.

Find Alicia here:

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Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Alicia,

Rebecca is one of my all-time favorite books. It's great that you're resurrecting this genre. I have to say that your excerpt has exactly the right tone.

Debby said...

I have not had any encounters but I do not think it is hogwash. I love gothics as well and would love to read this.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Alicia Dean said...

Lisabet...thank you SO much for hosting me on your fabulous blog today. I also adore Rebecca. Thank you for the kind words. That's exactly what I'd hoped for, that I would capture the 'tone' of the gothic mystery romance. :)

Alicia Dean said...

Thank you, Ingrid!! I agree. I don't think we have all the answers to all the unexplained occurrences.

Alicia Dean said...

Hi's great you have an open mind even though you haven't had any experiences yourself. Thank you for stopping by. I hope you have an opportunity to read my book and that you enjoy it! :)

joye said...

I don't recall any encounters, however, being an identical twin I have had several strange situations.
We finish each others sentences and thoughts. We purchase the same gifts for each other even though we live in different states, and we feel pain when the other gets hurt.

Alicia Dean said...

Oh wow, Joye. That's fascinating. I have heard things like that about twins, but it does seem a bit 'otherworldly' to me. :) Thanks so much for stopping by!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

I DO remember those Gothic's! Used to read them a lot.
Haven't in a while though.
Looks like I may have to give it a try
Good luck and God's blessings

Maureen said...

Love how you got to do a 'field trip' for the story. Sounds so fun and would really get you into the mood. I do believe I've had 'encounters' and think our last house was haunted for a bit until the former owner decided to move on.

pansypetal said...

I adored Victoria Holt. Mistress of Mellyn is still on my all time favorite books list. And yes, I have read the others you mentioned. Phyllis A Whitney was also a favorite back in the day. Loved the Gothics. So often what is called Gothic today just doesn't measure up, so was very excited to have you share this series. I will be busy reading. Thank you.

Have I experienced anything paranormal? Yes . . . ? Like you, I have my naysayers, but I also have those who agree. I lived with a ghost for a while. I called her Jasmine because that scent would be present when I felt she was. My mother would yell at me for wearing perfume because she is allergic. But I wasn't wearing any. It was Jasmine. Of course Mom didn't believe it, but I did ask Jasmine to stay away when Mom was there. I had another friend who came over and actually saw her. Said to me, "Do you know you have a ghost?" "Yes, I call her Jasmine." I never saw her but I was aware of her. She seems to have moved on now. I do miss her. She was quite benign, just peaceful company. Nothing Gothic about her.

So, I say, you saw the lights! Only the open minded can experience the unknown. ;-)

Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Alicia. I look forward to reading your book. And thank you Lisabet for having her today. Great blog!

the jo said...

What a wonderful thing....bringing back the "old gothic" mystery/romance....One of my faves was, of course, Rebecca...but I also love Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of The Seven Gables.

Thanks for the wonderful posting. And yes, I do believe, there are "things" beyond our ken...

Thanks again,

Alicia Dean said...

Pamela, thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, weren't they such great reads?

Alicia Dean said...

Fascinating, Maureen. I would love to live in a haunted house. I think... :) Yes, it was loads of fun! Thanks for stopping by.

Alicia Dean said...

Hi, I love your story about Jasmine. Gave me chills. I completely believe you. Of course, you're quite welcome. I'm thrilled you enjoyed the post and I hope you love the book. I don't think anyone could truly measure up to those wonderful authors of the old classics, but we did our best to stay true to the formula and capture the 'tone' and mood. Okay, I agree... I did see the spook light. :) Very nice 'meeting' you.

Alicia Dean said...

Hello Jo...thank you for the kind words. It's awesome seeing how many people remember the old gothics with fondness. I love that you're open to possibilities too. :)

Mary Preston said...

THE SHIVERING SANDS was one of my very first Gothic reads.

My mother has seen a ghost & this is not a woman given to flights of fancy.

Kara O'Neal said...

That must have been exciting to try to find the light. I love those kind of hunts! We have the Marfa lights in Texas, which I have seen. They are beautiful, but I don't think they count as "spook lights". I have had ghostly encounters -- pretty sure my grandpa hung around until my grandma passed away. My family thinks I'm crazy, but I know what happened and I can't ignore it. Your book sounds great! Good luck!

Author Ana Raine said...

I would love to see more of these stories!
And your covers are absolutely stunning.

Jen B. said...

Well, I don't think it's all hogwash but I have never personally had an encounter. My grandmother believed that my grandfather stayed with her after his death and some of her stories were pretty convincing. I have a friend who talked to a Civil War solider in Gettysburg only to find out later that he is one of the "known" spirits on the battlefields. Pretty creepy stuff!

bn100 said...

looks interesting

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Diane Burton said...

You mentioned my 3 fav gothic romance authors. I devoured their books in my 20s (wished I'd known about them in my teens). Love the new cover.

Alicia Dean said...

Mary, yes, one of mine too. :) Wow, that's something. I've never seen a ghost, but I've experienced or been near someone who's experienced odd happenings.

Alicia Dean said...

Hi Kara, yes, it was a blast. I've never heard of the Mafia lights. I'll have to check them out since we're neighbors. :) That's such a sweet story about your grandparents. Just because your family doesn't believe it, doesn't mean it's not true, right? Thank you!

Alicia Dean said...

Hi Ana, thank you! I am very excited about the series and bringing these stories back. I appreciate you stopping by!

Alicia Dean said...

Hi Jen...oh my gosh, both of those stories are so interesting and awesome. :) I am fascinated with the Civil War anyway. Fun stuff. Thank you for sharing.

Alicia Dean said...

Thank you, Diane. Ha, that's funny. Yes, they were three of the best!

Alicia Dean said...

I had an awesome time hanging out here, and I want to thank all of you for joining me, and Lisabet for hosting me. I drew there names from the commenters, and each of the following won a $5 Amazon Gift Card. I believe I have your email addresses. I'll be contacting you to confirm. Congrats to:
Mary Preston

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