Young Irish mercenary Dermot Ward retreats to Paris at the close of World War I where he drinks to forget his experiences, especially the death of his comrade, Arthur Malenfer. But Arthur has not forgotten Dermot. Dead but not departed, Arthur has unfinished business and needs the help of the living.
Upon his arrival at Malenfer Manor, Dermot finds himself embroiled in a mystery of murder, succession, and ambition. Dermot falls in love with the youngest Malenfer, the beautiful fey Simonne, but in his way are Simonne’s mismatched fiancé, her own connections to the spirit world, Dermot’s guilt over the circumstances of Arthur’s death… and the curse.
Targeted Age Group: general adult
Book Price: .99 (price good October 18 – October 31)
How is Writing In Your Genre Different from Others?
I was ignorant. I had finished writing a novel, The Curse of Malenfer Manor. When first trying to find a publisher, I was asked straight away what genre the work belonged to.
“But I need a genre. You know – romance; sci-fi; crime; self-improvement. Which shelf do we sell it on?”
“Gothic isn’t a genre? Since when did that happen?”
“Amazon doesn’t have a gothic button. You better pick something else.”
But gothic is a genre. Do you recognize any of these elements? A castle setting, or a big family home, preferably somewhere remote. Foreign works too – the point of it is, it should be imaginable but feels set apart. The house, you see, is not a prop, it is a character itself. Ancient prophecies and supernatural events are implied or directly evidenced. You don’t have to be entirely human to live in a haunted house. It is not surprising, then, that half the characters are highly strung, or mad, or dangerous (or all three – collect a bonus!). Madness or disease may be present, and is often hereditary – the sufferings in such venues are rarely new. Servants know secrets and all present are bound by the troubled history they share together. Quite often it is the case that a heroine (or hero) is dropped, fresh, into this cauldron of gloom. Jealousies can quickly turn violent – the man of the house must have his way. However eloquently it is dressed up, we are witnessing a base mating ritual. With one’s sanity or very life being threatened, it is no surprise that emotions runs strong. Propriety is shaken. Dark brooding men and awakened women have only the moment to live for.
What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Writers?
Victor Hugo, you know, had his ‘man’ hide his clothes from him all morning so he could not go out. He had to stay in and write until lunch. The world got The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Misérables from a man writing in his underclothes. The American legend J.D. Salinger apparently shaved and dressed for the office every day and then went downstairs in his own house with his briefcase and ‘checked in’ for the day. He punched a clock, only the commute was better. I saw a program once about a famous French author who pounded out a book a year for forty years like clockwork. His secret? He shut himself in his room at seven every morning and did not emerge until noon. Wherever he was with the writing at noon, he left it. If he didn’t write a speck all day, so be it. The day was his own after lunch – no further work was allowed – and he took weekends off.
Which is to say, there are no rules, just ink on paper. Find your way, underclothes or not. Go ahead and create.
Born and raised in Scotland and a graduate of the University of Glasgow, Iain immigrated to Canada as an adult.
Losing men to the fighting in both World Wars left his family with generations of widows. For the characters in The Curse of Malenfer Manor, he drew on childhood memories and verbal family history—though he hastens to add that his family had barely a penny, far less a manor, and any ghosts were but memories.
He lives in Vancouver with his wife and two children.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I had always been taken with old mysteries and gothic literature. They were at once civilized and macabre. I read nearly all of Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe, and the weird short stories of H.P. Lovecraft. I loved how Bram Stoker could bring vampires to life by writing them into existence. These books did not all contain the supernatural, but they were smart, and there was an element of the bizarre in them all. That was the cauldron into which I dropped my World War I soldier and from which The Curse evolved.
Soldiers and war are sown in my family history. We’ve been dying for King and country for generations. There is a bit of that in the story, but just a bit. Mainly the book is an homage to stories I have enjoyed. I wanted an entertaining book first and foremost. I didn’t want dull. Ghosts, war, murder, and romance didn’t strike me as dull.