Originally, when I first caught sight of the Haunted blog tour being adverted as an upcoming event this Spring 2015, there was a strong draw for me to want to participate on it! After all, I have shared my first review on reading ghost stories (The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton), joined my first Horror October, expressed why I’m a Cosy Horror Girl, shared my top favourite Classic Horror Motion Pictures, and compiled a list of book series which are definitely bent towards the paranormal! As you will see from those previous blog posts I’ve written, there are aspects of the Horror genre I never quite realised I was enthralled with myself, as I always felt I was living outside the genre completely! Sometimes it takes an event like Horror October hosted by the girls @ Oh, the Books! to set your mind straight! Laughs.
Instinctively, I hopped on Twitter to see if Ms Carthage was online (not that instant, but in general!), as I have come to appreciate finding authors I am keen on reading are participating in reader to author connections via Twitter; as it allows the readers (such as I) to ask pertinent questions which might arise out of reading a book synopsis or an excerpt (if one is available). What followed was a happenstance conversation, where a reader enjoyed getting to know an author outside the scope of being able to read the novel! I asked a few direct questions, as I was a bit on the fence as whether or not I could read this novel as it might take me too far outside my comfort zones along the lines of what is seen or unseen in the novel itself.
I’m definitely *the Cosy Horror Girl* at heart, as I have to weigh what I want to read with what I can handle as I have a sensitive heart. Always feeling being honest about this upfront is best, I did share my concerns, and as we talked a bit more about Haunted and our personal likes in books, I decided I truly felt I would love to interview Ms Carthage in lieu of reading the book for her blog tour! The elements of the paranormal within the series is still keenly intriguing to me, and there was a heap about the setting and atmosphere she stitched into it which lit my imagination aflame with curiosity!
The book cover art alone has all the lovely bits I appreciate about what can be considered an epic Gothic suspense, as you have the house barely seen through the misty fog, the young protagonist’s field of vision not focused on what is in front of her but what is unseen to the side, and the colour dimensions give it a purely haunting feel, encouraging your will to want to read this in order to see where the layers enfold and retreat from what is visually representative in the art itself!
Therefore, I am quite happy to bring to you, dear hearts, the conversation I pulled together out of inspiration from our original twitterverse convo intermixed with bits and bobbles I discovered about her book series whilst composing my thoughts on this interview! I hope you enjoy the conversation!
Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Irving has traded life in San Francisco for her stepfather’s ancestral mansion in rural England. It’s supposed to be the new start her family needs. But from the moment she crosses the threshold into the ancient estate, Phoebe senses something ominous. Then again, she’s a little sensitive lately—not surprising when her parents are oblivious to her, her old life is six thousand miles away, and the only guy around is completely gorgeous but giving her mixed messages.
But at least Miles doesn’t laugh at Phoebe’s growing fears. And she can trust him…maybe. The locals whisper about the manor’s infamous original owner, Madame Arnaud, and tell grim stories of missing children and vengeful spirits. Phoebe is determined to protect her loved ones—especially her little sister, Tabby. But even amidst the manor’s dark shadows, the deepest mysteries may involve Phoebe herself…
What originally drew you into the world of *Haunted*, where reality and the unseen co-reside together!?
Carthage responds: I actually had a nightmare! The book began as my trying to craft a coherent storyline around a few scary details from the dream.
I give you a lot of respect for being able to pull together a series based off of a nightmare! I can foresee being able to shape a dream into a novel, but a nightmare!? Goodness! You remind me of M. Night Shyamalan who was able to take nightmares and fuse them into thought-provoking works of motion pictures!
As you were creating the Arnaud series, did you envision it would be a trilogy or did you simply write the stories as they organically came to you to write? I am oft curious how a series is first conceived by a writer, if they see the story progressing forward or if they see it technically in dimension of how it fits in it’s published form?
Carthage responds: Haunted was originally a standalone. My agent suggested roughing out a few more books so we could position it as a trilogy. I’m really glad she did because writing Book 2 was really fun, and I wouldn’t have written it otherwise!
Quite interesting how a larkspur suggestion turnt into such an intricate series! I was doing a bit of reading about the series as a whole via your website and blog, finding the scope of it’s layers is quite impressive! I love how you started to shift and build the story first in England and then moved into France (which I get into a bit later). Truly commendable how you jumped further into this story when originally it was meant to stand as it was written!
What do you love about the Gothic Literature genre as a whole? What do you feel enriches the creativity you can establish with the fabric of your world and the characters who live within it?
Carthage responds: I enjoy a ghost story almost more than any other kind of story; I don’t know why. I’m fascinated by the idea of souls wandering around bodiless. I don’t know if I believe in ghosts IRL, though I’ve experienced several things that would probably make a less cynical person a true believer. I keep an open mind. The “haunted mansion” is a trope I’ll never tire of, and I hope readers feel that Haunted adds a nice twist to it.
I touched on this a bit myself, how I am of a keen mind to explore psychological suspense and the paranormal, as I wanted to give a few extra tidbits for those who will be visiting me for the first time rather than who have followed me and know how varied my reading life can become! Ghost stories are curious creatures, each writer has their own spin on how the dimensional space therein can be purported as much as it can be explored and examined. I believe this is part of the joy for me as a reader — to see how each writer takes up the arms of the genre and re-defines it through their own creative pathos. I tend to keep an open mind in life inasmuch as I do in fiction; there are a lot of things which cannot be explained or understood, but that doesn’t eliminate the fact they exist.
As you’re a New Englander who’s spent time in Ireland, do you feel where you’ve lived has helped you have a healthy passion for story-telling as New England and the Irish love stories? What aspects of where you’ve lived and observed how stories are told, do you think strengthened your own love for the craft?
Carthage responds: Absolutely! And what a great question. I think a sense of place inspires my writing. Imagination has brought me to those drafty Irish castles, but then being there in person was a whole new experience. Similarly, there is an incredible silence to New England and its ancient forests that I don’t always feel in California where I live now–a kind of deliciously bleak foreboding that probably wound up in Haunted since the manor is surrounded by overgrown foliage.
I had an instinctive feeling ‘place would be in proportion of creativity’ in your case, because of where you said you’ve lived or been. Sometimes I find certain places are rooted in such an expanse of where inspiration can be culled out of it’s origins as much as the feeling you have whilst your there can spark your own creative mind to become compelled to create. Certain places help open up our own wells of creativity in ways we might not realise. Ah! The age of forests has fascinated me for most of my life, how the forests can endure and grow despite everything warring against them environmentally.
What do you think is intrinsically haunting about old manors and estates in England? It is a settling and locale that is oft explored, yet as readers we’re enticed to dig inside the stories as they alight in our hands, because there is ‘something’ quite addictive in drawing back inside a story set there.
Carthage responds: I agree, so addictive! I think I personally have a fascination with England and its manors because England is familiar and yet not familiar; I still notice sometimes “feel” the connotations of “New England.” It’s an ancient world I can access through my ancestors and yet isn’t so wildly different. I love a good stone wall (Robert Frost, another Vermonter, too!), and thinking about mullioned windows and the people who once looked through them makes me feel like I’m settling back into something comfortable and yet unsettling.
I’d also say I have a real fascination with once-grand things now in decay. Like the hulk of the Titanic, like abandoned castles, like former movie palaces where mushrooms are growing in the lobby.
I can relate to what your saying directly, because my ancestral roots are heavily connected to England, and part of me has started to notice how our ancestral heritage can start to ink inside our own living spheres; either by what we draw into our lives by interest or hobby, or how connective the past becomes a part of the present. When it comes to how structures can dissolve yet evolve into a new entity through decay, this is another part of how art can become alive through nature and the natural elements which deteriorate the original structure yet fuse it back into the natural world. Not just mushrooms, but other growth, like moss can transform the physicality of what once was quite altogether made from man and now has become ‘something else entirely’.
What did you enjoy the most in writing the Arnaud trilogy? What did you learn about yourself as you created Phoebe?
Carthage responds: Well, I’ve only written two-thirds of it (Book 3 is a hazy vision), so maybe the most enjoyable part is yet to come! :) As for now, I most enjoyed mentally revisiting Versailles for Book 2. Research is such a fun part of my writing, and getting to Google things like the secret doorway next to Marie Antoinette’s bed (and have it be considered “work”) is the real bonus of being a writer. In answer to your second question, I learned that writing a teen character gave me a little bit of a chance to fantasize what I would’ve been like if I were only cooler. Phoebe’s an athlete; I wish I had been at the time. (I skied cross-country and was literally the slowest on the team–but I went on to run a marathon in my 30s and, while slow, was not the last one, thank goodness). When I look back at my teen years, I wish I had been more physically active, more relaxed around boys, and not so worried about stupid stuff. Phoebe let me have some vicarious pleasure in reconstructing what could have been.
Part of being a writer allows us a measure of cathartic release; a way to turn back the clock of time and re-envision what might have been possible if we hadn’t stopped ourselves from our own growth. It is quite the testament of how Phoebe has affected you if in turn you inspired Phoebe by what you learnt yourself from your own youth. Sometimes writing has a boomerang effect; where how we write our stories has a way of giving us back much more than the tangible world we’ve created.
What aspects of the narrative took you outside of where you previously have ventured?
Carthage responds: Well, trying to realistically write from the point of view of a boy–and one from England, no less–was quite a challenge. (That’s Book 2, which Miles gets to narrate.) I really wanted to throw in a bunch of “crikey” and “bloody well” and had to scale it back. A friend of mine, a British ex-pat now living in the U.S., helped me vet the Britishisms in Book 1 so hopefully people from that wonderful island will not roll their eyes too much.
I love having learnt British English a bit more each time I pick up a British novel writ by a modern British writer, and in so doing, I have noticed even a few of us who were bourne on American shores are gathering the knack for inserting how a Briton would talk or feel about certain things based on what we’ve gained the knowledge to know through research or reading. The world is not as far off as everyone thinks, and it is through reading we get to draw closer to our distant cousins a bit more intimately as we get to understand what we couldn’t from here. How wicked lovely you had a consultant who could help guide you along!
Phoebe comes across as being very hyper-sensitive and sensory-aware of her surroundings, especially clued into what might not be seen by others. Is her gift inherent and passed down through a legacy of her family or is she tapping into something since she arrived in England?
Carthage responds: You are way too perceptive! Yeah, there’s something going on. She’s special and she’s tapping into some very, very old stuff in England. More than that I cannot say. ;)
All I can say is that I am an intuitive reader, I tend to get into the heart of a story even without having read the book before parts of it’s heart is known to me. You’re response gave me more interest than I originally had, because oh! If not for spoilers, I would have loved to hear your longer response!
Did you draw an influence from the Classic Horror motion pictures of the late 20th Century or the Psychological Suspense classics where you can be on pins, but the heart of the horror lay more in what was felt or sense vs what was visual?
Carthage responds: I’m influenced by both. I adore The Shining (book and movie), which is “classic horror,” as much as I love The Turn of the Screw, which tends to be more psychological and impression-based. I’ve never liked slasher films. I prefer creepy images, like that rocking chair in The Woman in Black (book and movie), or the abject visual of a girl with hair covering her face (The Ring–and I think that image particularly resonates with me because my nana used to swim with us, coming up with her hair over her face, chasing me and my sisters around, cackling like a witch!)
Although our choices differ, I can say, I was going to give “The Woman in Black” a bit of a go last Horror October, until of course, all my plans flew out the window before I even had the chance to begin them! I still plan on reading the selections I had made this upcoming Horror October, as I feel blogs are as temporal as time; what you do not get round to accomplishing on your first or second attempt, the world of bookish blogging is very forgiving! I will have to remember to let you know after I’ve read it and seen the film what my thoughts were!
If a reader was cautious about where *Haunted *lies between what is considered psychological suspense and what might be a bit more graphically inclined, how would you describe what can be found in your novel for sensitive hearts?
Carthage responds: The book is a mixture. There are a few over-the-top descriptions that could be upsetting (but we never actually see those events happening). It’s meant to be eerie, impression-based, haunting (no pun intended). I’d actually be curious to hear how you would categorize it!
I definitely added this question to pull-in our previous convo, on the off-chance one of my readers might feel the same way I do and might feel hesitative to know if they could handle the story. Hmm, if most of it is seen ‘off camera’ per se, and not visually ‘there’ for the reader, I’d consider it Cosy Horror! A term I came up with myself during Horror October as way to understand what I enjoy reading and which stories I could continue to discover which are not ‘straight-up’ Horror but rather grounded in psychological suspense.
As a bit of a preview of knowledge into the second book *Betrayed* as you’ve anchoured the story to Versailles, does the locale have a bit of a double meaning for how the title eludes to the context? As this was the city where Marie Antoinette herself was betrayed as France has a very difficult past and history.
Carthage responds: Another great question! You should get a talk show and I’ll be your first guest! :) There are at least three examples of betrayal in Betrayed, so I love how the book’s title has ripples of meaning that way.
Talk show, eh?! Maybe a podcast hostess position is in my future! I shall keep you informed if anything develops, but I have been a guest on a podcast in 2013 and 2014 respectively! There are links to my guest spots embedded to ‘My Bookish Life‘. Ah, ha! I sorted out another piece of the evolving puzzle! Champion!
Did the duology of setting between England and France come as a surprise to you when you initially set the outline of your thoughts? Was there a personal inclination to explore the countries that perhaps came out of your own desire to explore their histories yet set a contemporary story at certain historic sites?
Carthage responds: I think France was a natural for the second book since Madame Arnaud was a French emigre. I had to explore where she came from. A friend suggested that Book 3 should have yet a third locale, since it will have a different narrator (Book 3 will be Eleanor’s book), but I’m almost certain we’ll have to end the trilogy where it began, in Grenshire, England.
Ooh! No, your right! It should go back to England in the third book — if not for continuity’s sake, if what I’m picking up on is bang-on to where the story is centered itself, England *must be!* where it all knits together! I definitely believe you should trust your instincts and not use a third locale!
What was the impetus which gravitated you into writing? And, when did this occur? Who was your best cheerleader?
Carthage responds: I’ve always written. And it’s nice to be finally publishing! :) I was put in a special creative writing class when I was in fourth grade, which immediately caused me to formulate my self-image around the idea of “writer.” Would I still be a writer if I hadn’t had the fourth grade experience? Does this prove enrichment programs and specialty classes are important for growing, burgeoning minds? My parents and sisters were always reading, so they provided role models for me in how important reading is. My mom was a librarian, too, so I spent many happy hours in that mansion-turned-library (hey! I just realized maybe the stone library-Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, Vermont-might play a role in my envisioning the Arnaud Manor! Holy breakthrough!)
What tickled me to peaches is how I unexpectedly helped you realise how Vermont inspired you during the writings of the series! I am a library addict, and once I get my links working properly again you’ll notice I gather links to different libraries; libraries which inspire me as much as they implore me to visit them. I have visited so many virtually it is not even funny! Laughs. And, the Kellogg-Hubbard Library is known to me, because if I ever get up to Vermont, the capital city was one spot I wanted to visit! I love this hidden back-story not only about the library itself but about how you were encouraged to write, almost as if it were written you were always meant to have a creative voice in publishing.
What were your early influences and wanderings in literature!? Which authors spoke to you as far as a style of story-telling endeared itself to you ahead of creating your own stories? Are there any titles you could share which are still brought forward to mind in fond affection?
Carthage responds: Many, many titles bring fond affection! The Diamond in the Window, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Tom’s Midnight Garden, Magic Elizabeth, Little House on the Prairie…these are all books I read and re-read with incredible happiness. There are many more I could mention, but these are the titles that come to mind quickly.
I do fear, if I am ever asked this question in the future, I might have to forestall my own anguish to answer it by creating a Riffle List post haste and using it as a way to say, “all the lovelies on this list and a heap more which are not yet listed” provided me with my joy of reading whilst learning to love literature as a whole. I definitely spy a few in common, from Green Gables to Little House!
What led you to write a compelling drama set within an audience of young adults? How did you temper the language choices and the level of violence for readers who are not yet ready for adult lit?
Carthage responds: I knew the protagonist was a teen, so it made for an easy choice to frame the novel as Y.A. I think, though, that the book can resonate for older people–in some ways, maybe more than for teens. I did take out some “frank language” at the request of my publisher, but didn’t have to dial back any of the action. I don’t think it’s a particularly violent book…is it? Well, actually, now that I’m thinking about the servants’ revenge, maybe.
I am of the school of thought YA doesn’t need to be inclusive of ‘frank language’ as you say, but I do know there are volumes of YA out there where there isn’t a line in the sand on language at all. Part of my key issue with reading modern YA is dependent upon finding the writers who keep YA clean and finding the stories which are for younger minds rather than straight-up adult. Not to say, a YA novel cannot cross-relate between YA readers *and* adults, only I hope more of YA can stay clean, and give a stepping block to those readers who are emerging out of Middle Grade a last door to explore before they are ready to seek adult lit.
As you have a healthy affection for France, what do you appreciate the most about French life and French culture?
Carthage responds: I love the idea of just sitting at a little round table, having an espresso and a cigarette (I don’t smoke but when in Paris, do as the Romans do or some mixed metaphor…) talking to your best friend/lover and watching the world go by. That is/was heaven to me. Also, the emphasis on walking everywhere. The language itself is gorgeous. I love the countryside, and driving along seeing castles pop up out of nowhere every few miles. The bakeries. The bread. The wine. I better stop here.
Hmm,… I normally agree with your sentiment here, except to say, I’m deathly allergic to smoke and thereby wouldn’t be caught dead smoking, even if it were a popular social engagement. Mind you, this is most likely why I cannot visit France; they smoke so much, I think my allergies would kill any joy I’d have being there. I appreciate instead the allure of France in motion pictures and in the Franophile literature I seek out now that I am a book blogger. I was always a passionate Anglophile but since blogging, I’ve found a renewed interest in France; a segue into the other side of my ancestral roots, and I couldn’t be happier! Everything else you mentioned excites me as well — the French have such a passionate language, they are deeply moved by their emotions and their sensory experiences, especially with food!
What centers your joy when you’re not creating or working professionally?
Carthage responds: My family. Downton Abbey and Project Runway. Zumba. Nature.
We share three in common: family, Downton, and nature! Magnifique!
This interview is courtesy of: Book Junkie Promotions
Blog Tour Review: Haunted by Lynn Carthage (Bibliophilia, Please – bibliophiliaplease.com)
Author Interview : Haunted by Lynn Carthage (Reading Lark – readinglark.blogspot.com)
Haunted (100 Pages a Day – stephaniesbookreviews.weebly.com)
Book Review: Haunted (The Arnaud Legacy #1) by Lynn Carthage (I Heart Reading – iheartreading.net)
Haunted Tour: Review (A Dream within a Dream – adreamwithindream.blogspot.com)
This marks my third blog tour hosting for:
See what I am hosting next on my Bookish Events page!
My apologies for the delay in posting this interview. I originally felt last night when my blog’s server would not allow me to login it was a new wrinkle of a tech issue associated with my ISP. As this had been the main cause of my tech woes throughout February (and the hardest to localise!). After contacting my blog’s hosting service, I learnt it is actually a world-wide issue where a LOT of blogs went offline and were darkened by a service error on behalf of where our domains are routed/hosted. To be in company of ‘millions’ (speculating) is solace in of itself but the whole matter was pushing my stress a bit off the charts, as I simply wanted to have a ‘better Spring than I ended Winter’. My blog re-materialised out of the ethers, yet I had a lot of polishing left to do, whilst I was quite under the weather to boot; thus, the extended delay occurred.
Reader Interactive Question:
What is your favourite reason to snuggle inside a cosy paranormal story where you already know the Gothic Lit undertones are encouraging you to read the book? What draws your eye into the genre itself?
Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.
Comments via Twitter:
— SpooktasticallyJorie (@joriestory) October 31, 2016
This is hands-down my favorite interview. Perceptive questions, and I love the secondary response to each from the asker! Thank you, Jorie! https://t.co/RYXNuuHWkg
— Lynn Carthage-Author (@LynnCarthage) October 31, 2016
— Lynn Carthage-Author (@LynnCarthage) October 31, 2016
— Lynn Carthage-Author (@LynnCarthage) October 31, 2016