The Shadows is LIVE for pre-order on Amazon Kindle!
At 99 cents from October 12- November 2, 2014—how can you resist?
This novel of Gothic Paranormal Suspense is suitable for YA and Old A. It is fast-paced, thrilling and full of menacing shadows. In other words, it’s just right for Halloween!
This book grew out of a screenplay inspired by a friend I met in England who went to a boarding school way out in the countryside. Her stories about her time there, especially the bit about the Shadows: senior (British Sixth Form) girls assigned to freshman (Year 7) girls to mentor them through their first year of school, really got my imagination churning. She also felt the place was haunted and was always ill at ease there, and full of foreboding.
One night my friend, (then a film student living in San Francisco) and I got on the phone and started talking about a screenplay based on her boarding school experience and its rather odd traditions and eerie atmosphere. I needed a way into the story and found it by brainstroming character names with her. This was the first time I’d experienced the true power of names to give birth to things—it was almost Biblical in the power of naming something to bring it to life.
As an aside, I have found that once named, characters don’t change easily. In The Lady in Yellow, my editor kept wanting me to change Mrs. Twig to Mrs. Twigge and it just didn’t work. The spirit seems to be in the name to a very great degree.
The Innocence of Childhood, the Encounter with Darkness
Many of protagonists are young in my books. This isn’t an attempt to capture the YA market, it is to create a crisis of consciousness. We all begin innocent and full of trust. For better or worse, part of growing up, whether from child to adult, or from naivete to wisdom, it is the harsh, sometimes cruel confrontaion with the dark side that hauls us into maturity. This was the realization behind William Blake’s poems, Songs of Innocence and Experience. This is where the clash between good and evili is most intense.
At 14 years old, Poppy Farrell is a late-comer to Blight’s Academy. Most girls begin boarding school at 11, but I needed my characters to have their wits about them, to have enough life experience to be able to suss things out. Being a teenager determined to prove her independence, Poppy travel toward the future on her own. Once out of the city, she questions her headstrong nature, for she can’t handle the woods. yet even when a terrified girl comes out of the woods to the train platform warning Poppy: “Don’t go to Blight’s Academy!” Poppy’s pride and stubborness prevail, and she continues on her way.
Blight’s Academy, Founded by Lady Aurora Blight as a residential school for girls
Poppy and her roommate, the sensitive, psychic Clair Montague, are quickly aware that there is something untoward going on at Blight’s. They befriend Georgie Summerville, a girl whose roommate never arrived, and whose glorious operatic singing voice incites the jealousy of the vain, eccentric Mrs. Sibyl Wick, headmistress of Blight’s. Miss Grimshaw, Mrs. Wick’s assistant runs the school, keeping the girls in line with an iron hand.
Then there are The Shadows: the sexy serpent Vanessa Stevens, assigned to Clair, the plain, sneering Isabelle Lilly, assigned to Poppy who can’t stand having a Shadow in the first place, never mind a horrible girl like Isabelle. The quasi-somnabulistic Goth, Hermione Ashe, is assigned to Georgie. They stick close, especially after Poppy finds evidence of possible murder in the woods.
This is a fun, fast-paced novel with all of our favorite Gothic tropes. Though not romantic lke some of my others, it is atmospheric and intense. Think of Stephen King’s Carrie meeting Dario Argento’s Suspiria without the graphic violence. (I don’t like graphic violence and almost never find it necessary.)
It even has a creepy music box….