By Lauren Smith
There is nothing better than visiting a place you believe is haunted. The chills that dance along your spine, the rising of the fine hairs on the back of your neck. The murmurs of voices, as though behind a thin, invisible veil and that pinprick sense of focus on the back of your head as though a thousand pairs of unseen eyes are fixed on you. I’ve experienced this on two different occasions. The first was in the dungeons of the ruins of Chateau Gaillard in France, which was one of King Richard I’s strongholds in France. The castle is little more than crumbling stones upon a hill overlooking a river, yet as I ventured down the worn steps into the dark dungeon, a breath of cold air seemed to exhale upon my neck.
After an experience like that I was hooked. I began to devour research materials on haunted homes, castles and mansions, especially in England. The stories included true accounts of hooded monks wondering graveyards, visitors touring homes seeing screaming skulls chase them down hallways and women in Elizabethan gowns drifting through libraries. These were only a few of the many fascinating tales I came across. But none was so powerful as the story of a woman in white. A woman in white is a type of ghost, often a woman betrayed by a lover, a woman who lost a child, or suffered from some other traumatic event and usually is either murdered herself or commits suicide. She usually haunts roads or lonely paths and can be spotted by travelers or visitors who have the luck, or perhaps bad luck of crossing her path. Women in white are mysterious, always wearing pale gowns, looking alluring, and tragic. It was the perfect choice of ghost to use when I sat down to write my modern paranormal gothic romance The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall.
I knew I wanted to write about that type of ghost. The heroine, Jane Seyton, arrives at Stormclyffe Hall and witnesses a woman in white ghost at the edge of the cliffs by the castle. It’s her first glimpse of one of the spirits that haunt the castle, named Isabelle, who happens to be one of the ancestors of the hero.
Getting to write the love story between Jane and the hero Bastian who is the current Earl of Weymouth and restoring Stormclyffe, his family’s castle, was a lot of fun. Jane as an American grad student writing a historical thesis on haunted castles, is the perfect foil to the more rigid, brooding figure of Bastian who would rather send Jane away to protect her than risk either of their hearts or their lives given the sometime malevolent nature of some of the spirits haunting the castle. With the backdrop of the ghostly encounters, Jane and Bastian butt heads as they attempt to solve the mystery of Isabelle’s death two hundred years ago and fight the growing passion that sparks between them.
Writing the story of Stormclyffe was one of the coolest things I’ve done because it was great excuse to research history and hauntings and work them into a passionate, steamy love story with a gothic backdrop.
THE SHADOWS OF STORMCLYFFE HALL
A thrilling gothic romance from Entangled’s Otherworld imprint…
To defeat a dark evil, they must face his family’s past…
Bastian Carlisle, the Earl of Weymouth, doesn’t believe in ghosts. Even though tragedy and mysterious hauntings have driven his family away from his ancestral home, Stormclyffe Hall, he is determined to restore the castle to its former glory. His plans are disrupted when a stubborn American shows up on his doorstep hoping to pry into his family’s tragic history.
Jane Seyton, an American graduate student, is convinced there’s more to the tragedy of Stormclyffe Hall than history claims. Ever the scholar, she is determined to discover the truth, even if it means putting up with the arrogant, yet sexy, Bastian.
Although Bastian wants nothing to do with the pushy American, it soon becomes clear that something evil is in the house—and that something is targeting both Jane and Bastian. The two must join forces to purge the ghosts of Stormclyffe Hall once and for all—even as they try to fight a physical attraction between them that grows more and more impossible to deny.