Hi everyone! We’ve got lovely author Katharine Ashe visiting with us! She’s super nice and patient (I had a flub and she was incredibly gracious about it). <3 I’m also fascinated by this newest release she has out – and this post tells us more about it. I hope you enjoy!
(And please, ignore the HORRIBLE image sizing :\ I changed the pixel size, but it’s just not agreeing to show up as such.)
Some books take months to develop. Others percolate in my imagination for a bit longer. The ghost story in my new Regency novel, Captive Bride, got its start thirty-six years ago.
The journey to this book happened in four steps. Care to hear the short and spooky tale of it? Well, pull up a camp chair and cuddle together. And that howling you think you’re hearing in the trees beyond the fire’s glow? It’s just a chilly fall wind. Probably . . .
First stop: Mrs. Kierstead’s 4th-grade music class set me on the path to spooky. Music was my favorite class, and Mrs. K really did Halloween proud. That year she played for us Franz Schubert’s “Der Erlkönig,” translated as “The Alder King.” Composing in Austria during the same years as the Regency and early reign of George IV in England, Schubert based his hauntingly intense piece on a poem written in 1782 by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, whose poem itself drew on a much earlier Scandinavian legend.
It is a simple yet horrifying tale. A father rides home with his beloved young son in his arms, only to become prey to an otherworldly demon “with crown and with tail.” The boy tells his father that the Alder King is following them, but the father cannot see the king and tries to comfort his son with happy thoughts, as parents are wont to do when little ones are frightened of their rampant imaginings. But the Alder King is real, and he snatches the lad’s soul while his father still clutches him close.
Chilling, tragic, and it gripped my nine-year-old heart completely. The cold, cruel otherworldly creature stole that boy’s soul right out of his father’s loving embrace. There was nothing more frightening to me.
Second stop: Andy Warhol’s 1974 film “Blood for Dracula” put the sexy in my spook. When I saw it I was still quite young and powerfully affected. In the film, Dracula must drink the blood of virgins, but he’s already drunk them all up in Transylvania, so off he goes to Italy where virgins abound. Too many virgins for the young, earnest hero of the film to protect, it turns out; Dracula feasts. But not on all the girls. One pretty young thing has her virginity— er— um— shall we say?— nullified by our valiant hero. Urgently. In a stairwell. Standing up.
I haven’t seen the film since. My memory may be wholly inaccurate. But it made a strong impression on me. Alder King or hungry vampire, young lad or maiden lady, it was the same story: unearthly creature of evil seeks to steal the soul of an innocent while loved ones watch and suffer.
Third stop: Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey added romp and Regency to my ghostly imaginings. Austen’s critique of the Gothic novels that were popular during her time is wit extraordinaire. It is also a story of sincere friendship and true love making villains simply vanish. Poof!
Fourth stop: A misty emerald hillside in Wales, the ruins of a medieval castle, and a romance I’d been dying to write for years all came together. I had written a novel in which a minor character, a girl of fifteen, Bea Sinclaire, spoke to me quite clearly. Bea’s exact words: “Give me him. Please.” (She is unfailingly polite.) “Him” was a young gentleman whose acquaintance she had just made and who immediately stole her heart. I couldn’t blame her. At nineteen Peter Cheriot was a baron and deliciously handsome with dark hair and green eyes. He was also wonderfully kind and adorably attentive to her.
But she was far too young, and in any case I wasn’t quite clear yet on how exactly I was to give her him. I told her I had to ponder it.
Fast-forward six years to me and my sister in Wales for the express purpose of wandering through medieval castles. Otherworldly villains and the lost souls of innocents were still on my mind. Pure of heart and exceedingly virginal, Bea seemed the perfect candidate for such a tale. And dashing, noble Peter was the ideal hero to save her. I only needed the right setting . . .
Wales is a castle lover’s dream. We visited splendid and stately Caernafon, and solidly gorgeous Harlech. I adored them. But I still didn’t have a story for my young lovers.
In the rain on that chill winter morning, Criccieth simply screamed HAUNTED CASTLE! And in a wild rush, like the fog that rolled off the towering gateway walls of the 13th-century ruin, Bea and Peter’s story came to me: An ancient castle. A tortured ghost. A curse that preys upon innocence — virginal innocence. And a love so powerful, so deep and so true that even the wickedest villain cannot destroy it.
So there you have it. Four steps and nearly four decades later, I finally wrote my own spooky tale.
What’s your favorite spooky story this time of year? One randomly chosen commenter to answer the question will win a copy of Captive Bride.
Katharine Ashe is a professor of medieval history and the award-winning author of six Regency romances and one novella from Avon Books.
In fact – you know what? You need to know more about the book. You can read more on the inception of it here, but the blurb is fantastic too!
Sensible, practical Beatrice Sinclaire has two secret passions: gothic novels and Lord Peter Cheriot, the man her beautiful sister left heartbroken years ago. When Bea’s scapegrace twin brother begs her help to rescue a maiden from a haunted castle, Bea seizes the chance for real adventure. If only Lord Cheriot didn’t insist on protecting her! How can she maintain a clear head in the face of terrible danger when all she wants is to be in his arms?
Lord Cheriot may be the catch of the London season, but he has only ever loved one woman, Bea Sinclaire. And he’s determined to have her. He doesn’t count on a meddling ghost whose demand for a virgin bride threatens Bea in the direst manner. But the specter has a deadline, All Hallows Eve, and it’s fast approaching. In the race to capture the heart of one daring lady, it’s every man—and ghost—for himself.
See?! And one of you has the chance to win a copy today! You lucky ducks!