Morning everyone. Today I have Jane Toombs on the blog, talking about one of my favorites subjects: our attraction to the paranormal realm! Without further ado:
What attracts some authors and readers to paranormal while others don’t care for it at all? Maybe one needs an early introduction to walking the dark path. Because I was introduced to E.A. Poe’s poems and stories as a child and loved almost all of them–especially this line in one of the poems–“the ghoul haunted woodland of Weir.” That line reverberated in my mind for years and I never truly forgot it.
The proof is that many, many years later, I wrote a story about a ghoul in a cemetery named Weir, green in color, who lives in a crypt and is the hero. Not easy, because ghouls are reputed to be foul smelling among other unsavory things. So I had to think about the human heroine. Aha! As a nurse, I knew some babies who are born with cleft palates and hare lips, may experience a complete loss of smell even after the repair. So that’s what happened to my heroine as an infant. Though she now looks pretty normal, she has no sense of smell at all. The story was a lot of fun to write. It’s called “It Can’t Be Mine“ and can be found in my TEN PAST MIDNIGHT, Dark Tales by Jane Toombs.
As I got older I discovered H. P. Lovecraft, who wrote nothing but paranormal tales and A. Merritt, who wrote books with titles like Burn, Witch, Burn, and Creep, Shadow, Creep. Impossible for me to resist those. While Lovecraft wrote highly imaginative horror, Merritt wrote dark fantasy romance. Enjoyed them both.
My very first sale to a publisher (Avon) was a gothic romance called Tule Witch back in 1973. Since then I’ve written seventeen more published gothics because I can indulge my love of the dark side in that kind of story and still have a happy ending. Six of them were Silhouette Shadows. Many of the others are historical gothics by various publishers
While gothics usually are paranormal romance, all paranormal romance isn’t gothic in nature. Some of it is closer to horror. Horror, by its nature, rarely has a happy ending. Since I’m also fond of HEAS, I have only one published horror novel to my credit, Hugger Doll, plus two novellas. So, all in all, my favorite genre to read and write is paranormal romance. Given the nature of paranormal and the fear of it, adds the element of suspense to paranormal stories.
My most recent book, HALLOW HOUSE, is one of those long multigenerational gothic suspense romances loaded with paranormal happenings. My publisher, Books We love Publishing Partners, decided to publish it in two halves. I was surprised to find a natural place to divide the story, with each part complete in itself. And yet Part One at its end does hold the promise there’ll be a Part Two. Part One is out now, with Part Two to follow shortly. As one reviewer put it: “…Victoria Holt meets Stephen King…”
She isn’t far off. But Hallow House does have a happy ending for each generation, even if they have terrifying times getting there.
But paranormal can have its light side as well as a dark one. My. Up The Airy Mountain, while paranormal, is a light-hearted fairy tale.
I don’t just write dark tales, I also enjoy historical, contemporary and fantasy romance to read and write, preferably with a happy ending. The important ingredient in any story, paranormal or not, is for the writer to make it easy for the reader to enter into it and become so fascinated that he or she can believe what’s happening for the duration of the book or poem. Whatever fascinates a writer can also fascinate a reader if presented in an appealing way. Which is what every writer must learn to do the best of their ability.
All my recent books have a buy button at my website: www.JaneToombs.com
Hallow House Part One Blurb: A house built for love and cursed with death. Two children, one will live, one will die. Magic potions and secret rooms. Is there a curse or does evil reside with innocence? What is the real secret of Hallow House?
Excerpt: On the second day of April, the Tule fog lifted and the sun broke through, Tabitha clapped her hands like a child. “Now that the day is fair, Cousin Alicia, we must take the walk to the gate posts to see the wolves Boris mentioned..”
The day was not only sunny, but pleasantly warm, a beautiful spring day as the two women, suitably attired in bonnets and gloves, ventured along the drive.
“Do you ever miss the city?” Alicia asked. Though they’d led a quiet life in San Francisco, still they had taken in the sights and occasionally gone
shopping. Here there was nothing to do other than needlepoint.
“When Boris is at home, there is nothing to miss,” Tabitha said, smiling. She placed a hand over her lower abdomen. “And soon we’ll have a son to keep us company.”
Though she knew little about child bearing, Alicia had heard many women suffered unpleasant symptoms when carrying a child–nausea and
light-headedness among them. Tabitha was already showing a definite bulge, but had been remarkably healthy so far. She hadn’t had a single strange turn, either. If only it lasted.
They reached the end of the drive, stopped and examined the snarling wolves crouched atop the posts.
“How fierce they look,” Tabitha said. “Quite frightening. I do admire the pink marble, though.” As they walked back toward the house, she added, “I
believe I’d like a St. Francis statue done in that same lovely marble.”
“A charming idea. Perhaps you might have a grotto built among those pines.”
“Yes, with animals around the statue and a bird perched on his shoulder. I shall speak to Boris about it when he returns. We might–” she paused and
reached a hand to stop Alicia. “Do your hear that strange noise? Whatever can it be?”
Alicia did hear something odd. A rattle? She knew there were rattlesnakes in the area, but this seemed to be coming from a distance. Quite near the
house, she judged.
“I can’t tell what’s causing it,” she told Tabitha. “Since we don’t know, it’s best if I take you inside and send a man to investigate.”
“No. I must see for myself.”
Alicia bit her lip. Though Tabitha was usually tractable, when she slipped into one of her spells, she was sometimes impossible to reason with. Alicia
hoped this was merely a whim and nothing else.
“You must think of the child you carry,” she said firmly, taking her cousin’s arm. “Come, we’ll go round to the front of the house and–“
Tabitha pulled away. “The sound is not in that direction. I want to discover what it is.”
“Quite possibly it is one of the groundsmen working.”
“No, it’s not. I’m meant to go there.”
Alicia’s heart sank. In this state, Tabitha was unreasonable. Nothing short of brute force would prevent her from heading for the rattling sound. By
herself, Alicia wasn’t capable of picking up and carrying her cousin, all she could do now was to humor her and try to keep her safe. Likely enough
there was nothing to harm either of them anyway.
She gave one last try. “Boris wouldn’t want you to put yourself at any risk.”
Tabitha acted as though she hadn’t heard her, walking faster and faster in the direction of the sound. Hurrying after her, Alicia hoped her cousin
would be more tractable once they discovered the source.
Ahead, in the newly planted rose garden, an oddly dressed, bent-over figure appeared to be engaged in some kind of a dance. The rattling sound came from something he held. Alarmed–it couldn’t possibly be one of the grounds workers–Alicia caught up to Tabitha and tried to stop her.
With the extra strength Tabitha possessed in her spells, she thrust Alicia away, approaching the stranger, but stopping several feet away from him,
The man wore some kind of bizarre feathered cloak and head-dress and a loincloth. He had on what appeared to be shoes made of reeds. As she joined her cousin, Alicia realized he must be an Indian.
Seeing them, he raised a stick with snake rattles attached, shook it menacingly at them, all the time chanting alien words.
“No!” Tabitha screamed, clutching the bulge in her abdomen.
She swayed and it was all Alicia could do to support her weight.
“You can’t faint,” she said fiercely. “I have to get you to the house. Walk!”
To her relief, Tabitha obeyed, leaning heavily on her as they slowly made their way to the back door, the closest entrance.
Agnes stared as they came into the kitchen, then rushed over to help. Between them they managed to get Tabitha upstairs and onto her bed. The
master bedroom was actually a suite, with the two rooms sharing a connecting door so that Boris and Tabitha each had a room.
Tabitha was in the process of redecorating hers, so at the moment it looked rather bare.
“Please ask one of the grounds workers to chase away that Indian in the rose garden,” Alicia said to Agnes.
When the cook was gone, Alicia hurried to her room across the hall and brought back one of the pills from the bottle Mr. Woodward had given her.
Sometimes they helped and sometimes not, but the pill usually kept Tabitha fairly quiet. Now if she could just coax it down her.
By the time Agnes came back upstairs to report there was no Indian outside, no one at all who didn’t belong there, Tabitha was sitting up with the
tell-tale blank look she always got after one of her episodes.
To get rid of Agnes, Alicia thanked her and asked if she’d make some tea and send it up with one of the maids.
“I know what he said,” Tabitha announced, fortunately after Agnes had left the room.
“He wasn’t speaking English,” Alicia pointed out. In the aftermath of the spells, she always tried to behave as though Tabitha was acting normally, in
the hope it might help her to recover more quickly.
“I understood him,” Tabitha insisted. “He was cursing Hallow House and all who dwell within.” Her eyes rolled up and she began to chant in an eerie
“Between the gates the two wolves lie
Of children two, the one must die.
God hears not the prayers you send
Death and destruction mark the end.”
Horrified, Alicia stared at Tabitha, who’d fallen back on the pillow, her eyes still rolled up to show the whites.
“Rusalka,” a voice from behind her said.
Alicia whirled around and was startled to see old Metta standing at the foot of Tabitha’s bed. Boris’s great-aunt so seldom emerged from her room that Alicia tended to forget about her. She never appeared at mealtime–her food was carried up to her by one of the maids.
“I don’t understand Russian,” Alicia reminded her.
“Dead no want stay dead. Want live,” the old woman said, pointing at Tabitha. “Want what belong Boris. Want baby.”
For you paranormal fans, we’d love to know: what is it that attracts you to the genre?