Love Bytes says helo and welcome to author Rowan McAllister joining us today to talk about new release “We Met In Dreams”.
Spooks and specters, heavy footfalls and mournful sounds.
When the inspiration hit me to do a gothic romance, I knew I wanted to touch on all the marvelous elements that made the genre so spooktakularly moody and awesome. But while I loved the idea of the traditional remote crumbling castle, I also had it in my head that I wanted one of my main characters to be a cat burglar and gentleman thief. For that I not only needed to move to a more densely populated area, London, but I also needed to flash forward a bit from the Regency era settings of my other historicals, because cat burglers and gentleman thieves didn’t reach their hay day until late in the nineteenth century. The infamous trial of the thief and murderer Charles Peace and loveable literary scoundrels like A.J. Raffles, by E.W. Hornung, and Arsène Lupin, by Maurice Leblanc hadn’t made their appearances yet in the earlier part of the century.
Thus I entered the wonderful world of the Victorian gothic and the penny dreadful— urban and gritty, with just a hint of Dickensian London around the edges. But just because I moved to the city and to that age of industry and rapid innovation, didn’t meant I had to leave any of the spooky behind. Science hadn’t taken over so much that ghosts and hauntings were forgotten completely. On the contrary, a surge in spiritualism hit the populace. Séances, mediums, and yogis had their hay day right along with the cat burglars in London. London society’s parlors were just chock full of ghosts waiting to be heard apparently, and a house in Kensington could seem just as haunted and lonely as a crumbling ruin on an isolated moor.
In the little excerpt I’ve brought to share with you Arthur takes his first solitary tour of his house in over ten years, a journey fraught with emotions and memories, a kind of haunting of their own.
Title: We Met In Dreams
Author: Rowan McAllister
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: February 27, 2017
Genre: Victorian Gothic/Historical European
Page Count: 268
Cover artist: Anna Sikorska
In Victorian London, during a prolonged and pernicious fog, fantasy and reality are about to collide—at least in one man’s troubled mind.
A childhood fever left Arthur Middleton, Viscount Campden, seeing and hearing things no one else does, afraid of the world outside, and unable to function as a true peer of the realm. To protect him from himself—and to protect others from him—he spends his days heavily medicated and locked in his rooms, and his nights in darkness and solitude, tormented by visions, until a stranger appears.
This apparition is different. Fox says he’s a thief and not an entirely good sort of man, yet he returns night after night to ease Arthur’s loneliness without asking for anything in return. Fox might be the key that sets Arthur free, or he might deliver the final blow to Arthur’s tenuous grasp on sanity. Either way, real or imaginary, Arthur needs him too much to care.
Fox is only one of the many secrets and specters haunting Campden House, and Arthur will have to face them all in order to live the life of his dreams.
I crouched by the lock, fished the bent wire out of my pocket, and twisted it in the opening until I felt the bar release. The hall beyond was dark and empty, not a sound apart from the odd creaks and pops of the old house and not a single one of my visions to bar my way. I took that as a good omen.
I had no aim as I left my rooms. My lanterns were too heavy to carry with me, but I managed to find a taper in a sconce at the top of the main stairs, and after carrying it back to my rooms to light it, I began my journey again.
I quietly opened doors and peered down dark corridors, creeping on tiptoe through my house in no particular direction. It had been a long time since I’d walked many of these halls, and they were at once familiar and strange to me. I ran my hands over fine wood tables, picture frames, and vases, thinking of all Fox’s family had been forced to give up and hardly able to grasp that all of this was mine now. As a child, I knew it all belonged to my parents. They were so grand in my memories—my father tall and imposing, but still kind, my mother elegant and slight but still obviously the ruler of her domain. Seeing it all as a grown man, and knowing the responsibility for it rested on my shoulders was a bit daunting. I didn’t have to think of such things if I were ill. I could stay in my rooms all day and read and drink my tea, and none of that weight would fall on me, but only because they all thought me too weak to bear it. This was the legacy my father had bestowed on me. If I wanted to call myself Campden, with all the pride that entailed, I couldn’t shirk my responsibilities unless I had no other choice—not and be able to look at my reflection in the glass every day.
As always, thoughts of my parents gave me both pain and pleasure. I missed them terribly, even after all these years, but the memories from my childhood still brought me comfort. On impulse, I stopped my idle wanderings and moved with purpose across the gallery to the east wing of the house—to their rooms.
Unlike the west wing where I spent my time and the servants visited daily, a hush lay over this part of the house, as if even the air itself was draped in white cotton. Nothing stirred in the corners of my vision. Nothing broke the heavy silence or disturbed the cobwebs except my slightly labored breaths.
I paused outside the door to the master’s suite, reluctant to disturb that silence. But as the eerie quiet began to weigh on me, I forced myself to turn the handle. I’d come all this way. It seemed silly to back out now.
Rowan McAllister is a woman who doesn’t so much create as recreate, taking things ignored and overlooked and hopefully making them into something magical and mortal. She believes it’s all in how you look at it. In addition to a continuing love affair with words, she creates art out of fabric, metal, wood, stone, and any other interesting scraps of life she can get her hands on. Everything is simply one perspective change and a little bit of effort away from becoming a work of art that is both beautiful and functional. She lives in the woods, on the very edge of suburbia—where civilization drops off and nature takes over—sharing her home with her patient, loving, and grounded husband, her super sweet hairball of a cat, and a mythological beast masquerading as a dog. Her chosen family is made up of a madcap collection of people from many different walks of life, all of whom act as her muses in so many ways, and she would be lost without them.