Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Southern Ghosts

Today best-selling and award-winning author Karen White visits the Lair for the first time. Karen's new novel, the sequel to her popular The House on Tradd Street, shares the beautiful South Carolina setting and just a bit of ghostly intrigue. Welcome, Karen! We love call stories in the Lair. Would you like to share yours?

Mine was pretty low key. I'd entered my first manuscript in a contest where the first round judges were published authors and the final round judges were top NY literary agents. I entered to get a critique from a published author and ended up winning both the contest and a contract with an agent! She used to be Nora Roberts' editor so I figured she knew what she was doing. :)

Yes, one would think! So a contest led to your success. We hear about that but seldom meet people who've experienced it. You moved into women's fiction after writing historical romance. What drew you onto this path?

To be honest, I've always written the same kind of book, my publishers have just packaged them differently. I write the kind of book I like to write--a little bit of romance, a little bit of mystery, and a strong protagonist at a crossroads in her life.

What would say are the parameters of women's fiction?

The Million Dollar Question! I think it's really a matter of focus. Romances focus on the the relationship between the hero and heroine; in women's fiction the main focus is on the woman's journey and the romance is only a subplot--if there's a romance at all.

Tell us about Melanie Middleton. What's her problem in The Girl on Legare Street?

In The House on Tradd Street, we learned that Melanie's mother abandoned her when she was six, leaving her to be raised by an alcoholic father. Melanie compensated by becoming overly-controlling and self-contained. In The Girl on Legare Street, Melanie's mother unexpectantly returns, reminding Melanie that they have nothing in common except for their ability to see ghosts.

Ooh, ghosts! We like ghosts around here. Can we have a look inside the book?

This is a scene from the beginning of the book when Melanie realizes that her grandmother, from beyond the grave, is trying to warn her of impending disaster.

I parked my car on Church Street about a block down from St. Phillip's cemetery where my grandmother was buried. Even though I didn't remember exactly where she'd been interred, and the yellow police tape notwithstanding, I would have known approximately where to find her as only those who were born in Charleston were allowed to be buried on the same side of the street as the church. Even famed statesman John C. Calhoun was buried across the street since he'd been born in Clemson, South Carolina. I remembered my mother gleefully mentioning that his wife, a true Charlestonian, was buried in a separate grave, across the street nearer the church as if even in death being a Charlestonian was more important than being Mr. Calhoun's wife.

I heard the babble of voices as I neared the cemetery gates, experienced enough by now to know not to look around to see who was talking. Taking a deep breath, I focused on the sidewalk in front of me, singing the words to ABBA's Dancing Queen under my breath to keep me from hearing my name called over and over. I knew that if I kept walking, and kept ignoring them, they would eventually stop. My mother once told me that we were beacons of light. It wasn't until after she left that I figured out to whom, but by then I'd only ever seen myself as a moving target, eager not to get hit.

My grandmother's grave was toward the back, near the fence. I remembered now standing here with my mother and father feeling the scratchy starchiness of my new black cotton dress, the high humidity of summer and the oppressive scent of too many flowers making me sigh in the heat. My father had taken me up in his arms and that's when I'd seen all of the people crowding around the empty grave, not all of them breathing. Most disconcerting of all was that they all were looking at me.

I stopped outside the yellow police tape that surrounded the gravesite, my breath blowing fat puffs of smoke into the chilly air, and noted the neatly trimmed grass and the white marble tombstone that looked like it had been gently pulled from the sucking earth and laid to rest on the cool grass. There was no disturbance of the nearby grass or nearby graves, and the hole where it had sat lay a foot in front of it as if to clarify that the stone hadn't just toppled over but had been deliberately placed.

After first glancing around to make sure nobody was watching, I stepped over the yellow tape and walked closer to the stone so I could get a better look. In carved lettering, I read my grandmother's birth and death dates as well as her complete name, Sarah Manigault Prioleau. Then my eyes widened as I read the inscription beneath:

When bricks crumble, the fireplace falls; When children cry, the mothers call. When lies are told, the sins are built, Within the waves, hide all our guilt.

I read the words two more times, trying to make sense of them. Then my gaze shifted back to the woman's name to make sure that I was at the right grave. Within the waves, hide all our guilt. I recalled the scent of salt water wafting through my house and drops of ice slipped down my back.

"I don't know what it means, either, if that's any consolation."

I jerked my head around to see my mother standing behind me wearing a black mink coat with matching hat, her gloved hands clutching the neck closed against the bitter cold. Always the gloves.

The House on Tradd Street drew a big following among book clubs. Why do think that is, and how was that experience?

Another Million Dollar question! If I knew the answer, I'd spend my life writing books that books club would love! I don't know---maybe it's Melanie, who's so damaged but such a trooper when it comes to learning the lessons she needs to. Or maybe it's Jack Trenholm, who has his own baggage but is the perfect foil for Melanie. These books are what I call "Sixth Sense meets Moonlighting meets National Treasure" : spooky, funny, and chock full of historical mysteries--something to appeal to all readers.

You did a book tour for The House on Tradd Street. What was that like?

No laundry! It was fabulous! Seriously, spending my days with booksellers and readers, then returning to a hotel room where I have sole possession of the remote control is just this side of heaven.

What inspired you to set your books in South Carolina?

The sights and smells of the marshes and ocean really inspire me. I discovered that on our first trip to Hilton Head Island about twelve years ago and I keep going back.

What's next for you?

My next book, On Folly Beach, will be out in May 2010 and is set on an island near Charleston. Half of it is set in 1942 and the other half in 2009 which is making it much harder to write, but so much for fun since I love the research.

For more about Karen and her work, visit her website. She's giving a signed copy of The House on Tradd Street to one commenter today.

What regional settings call to you or make you think "spooky?" What family dynamics draw you into a story? Do you have a question for Karen?


limecello said...


Gannon Carr said...

Lime, you beat me to that rascally GR again. Next time.... :)

I'm off to Bedfordshire. Too much partying with Gerard Butler over at The Romance Dish today. I tell you the man has stamina! LOL

I'll be back to chat in the am.

limecello said...

Hi Karen! Thanks for visiting with us today :) Great interview.

Hm... "spooky?" I'd say New England - or east coast cities - some of the earliest settlements... Trail of Tears I'm sure - the Underground Railroad, old prisons, New Orleans...
[Ok now I'm starting to creep myself out >.<]

I'm... so not into horror. As for family dynamics though - yes please! I feel like I've known/seen more than my fair share of crazy families... love the ones that come together or support each other through adversity... or the reconciliation of siblings who grew up misunderstanding each other...

Nancy said...

Limecello, congrats on the rooster.

Gannon, better luck next time. When you said "Bedfordshire," I thought for a minute that you meant England. Clearly, my brain is having a lag.

Nancy said...

Limecello, I hadn't thought of early settlements being ghost-y. I'm not into horror, either, but I like ghostly elements in stories.

PinkPeony said...

Hi Nancy! Welcome Karen!

I have to agree with Lime...older east coast cities with lots of history would be a great backdrop for something spooky. I also like New Orleans. The Cajun and Creole culture and the voodoo!

Christine Wells said...

Karen, welcome to the Lair and Nancy thanks so much for bringing Karen to us!

Karen, it was lovely to meet you in D.C. this year at the Berkley/NAL party. I was chuckling at your mentioning the 'no laundry' during your book tour. Did your family have some waiting for you when you got home this time?

I love the sound of your books. I've felt in the mood for some women's fiction lately. Love that little quip about the statesman's wife in your excerpt. That's the sort of detail that really draws me into a setting--it shows the way the characters who live there feel about the place.

Gannon, bad luck! You were so close, my dear! Lime you really need to stop monopolizing that rooster!

Christine Wells said...

Jen, I love the spooky voodoo stuff too. Frightens the living daylights out of me. Really enjoyed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

There were also some great ghost stories by Elizabeth Peters writing under a pseudonym that now escapes me, set in Virginia that I loved. Places steeped in history seem to lend themselves to ghosts, don't they?

Michelle said...

Hi Karen! Hi Nancy! Congrats Lime!

I LOVE the covers of your two books, especially the Legare cover (I had to go to amazon and take a closer look at it). I agree with the others about the East Coast cities and the Southern part of the U.S. (and when I think creepy Southern places a dark bayou always comes to mind) with all their history. as for family dynamics, i love reading stories about family support, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Tawny said...

Karen, welcome to the Lair. I love your call story and that is just so cool that you can trace your sell back to a contest. We're definite fans of contests here LOL

New Orleans always says spooky to me. There is such a magical history there, it just calls out for ghostly fun. As for family dynamics, I'm a huge fan of family support and that tight, close connection that comes across in Nora Roberts books, for instance. It just makes me want to spend more time with my family LOL.

Tawny said...

There were also some great ghost stories by Elizabeth Peters writing under a pseudonym that now escapes me,

Was it Barbara Michaels, Christine? I'm trying to visualize my mother's guest room. She has a lot of these books in hardback displayed in there and I can't quite 'see' the author's names LOL

Helen said...

Limecello you two obviously have something going on have fun

I love getting to know new authors and learning about new books that need to be added to my must have list.Karen congrats on the release.

I love books that are set in country towns that are close to the beach or lots of bush.

Thanks Nancy for inviting Karen today I loved the interview and the excerpt is great.

Have Fun

Christie Kelley said...

Welcome to the lair, Karen! Your books sound wonderful.

When I think of spooky settings, I think of old small towns, mostly on the coast of New England. But also, New Orleans and some other southern towns.

Caren Crane said...

Lime, I think people may be teaming up to get that rooster from you soon! *g*

Karen, welcome and welcome! We are thrilled to have you with us in the Lair today. I, for one, have eagerly awaited the release of The Girl on Legare Street. Charleston is one of my all-time favorite places and I think you do a wonderful job of capturing its essence.

I am very familiar with the st. Phillips' cemetary and could picture just where her grandmother's grave was meant to be. I think this will be another book club hit!

As for atmospheric settings, it is hard to think of any more full of history and character than Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans. If pressed, I would add Boston to the list and maybe Philadelphia. All among to oldest cities in the USA, so I'm sure that's it!

I would love to visit older, more lived-in cities, as well. Reading about them gives you a sense, but tromping around them yourself gives a totally different picture!

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Karen! Love the excerpt! Must add your books to my To-Be-Bought List *g*

I'm very intrigued by family dynamics - both in real life and in books :-) I'd say my favorite to read about is the relationship between siblings.

Thanks for being with us today! And thanks to Nancy for inviting another fabulous guest *g*

Christine Wells said...

Yes, Tawny!! Barbara Michaels is the one. Thank you!

Joan said...

Good morning Karen and welcome to the Lair....

I've been to Charleston, New Orleans and recently Savannah. Of the three I had the most INTENSE ghost tour in Charleston (had to go home while a demonic storm was coming in off the FELT demonic)

New Orleans, you could sense the "different" beneath the day to day.

But Savannah...Savannah beats them all for sense of other and spiritual/historical activity. Maybe because it's my most recent visit but...that is one different and cool city. (Pralines rule!)

I'd never seen Midnight in the GArden of Good and Evil till our first night in Savannah. Creeeeepy!

Susan Sey said...

Good morning, Karen! Your call story is impressive! Wow--first manuscript lands you Nora Roberts' old editor? You must be doing something very, very right. :-)

I loved your excerpt--very evocative! Can't wait to pick up my copy of The Girl on Legare Street.

Question for you--was it difficult to sell your editor on a book set partially in 1942? Conventional wisdom seems to say the farther your plotline moves into the 1900s, the tougher they are to sell. Did you find this true?

I remember Suzanne Brockmann tried to weave a WWII plotline into some of her books several years ago, & it was the only time I can remember seeing that particular time period in the romance genre. I'd love to hear more about how you arrived at that era.

Karen White said...

First off, thank you Nancy for inviting me to chat on Romance Bandits today!

Second--a clarification: I meant to say I write the books I like to READ. I think that makes more sense. :-)

Karen White said...

Hi, Limecello--

My books are definitely not horror--I can't read those either as I'm easily scared. :-)

My books (all of them--not just this mystery series) are about a woman's journey: the heroine is at a crossroads and must learn, grow, and trust herself to move forward. For these books,I happen to have thrown in a few ghosts to jostle things up. :-)

Margay said...

I have to agree with limecello about New England. In my home state of Massachusetts alone, we have The Wayside Inn with its reports of hauntings, the Lizzie Borden House and of course, Salem, the ultimate in spooky haunts. But all across the state, we have these big, rambling houses that would make great settings for spooky stories.

Karen, so good to have you here! Is there only going to be one sequel to The House on Tradd Street or do you plan more? I can't wait to read this book!


Karen White said...

Re: Spooky locations--

New Orleans (where I went to college) is chock full of hauntings. I've been on a lot of ghosts walks there (accompanied by friends and family, of course!) and there're tons of stories there--maybe for a future book??

Karen White said...

Hi, Christine--

Yep--laundry's always waiting for me. Like I have the 'secret combination' for the lock on the laundry room door or something...

For my next book tour, I'm stocking up on Febreeze and handing them out to the family members so they can 'take care' of their own laundry while I'm gone.

As for setting, I'm known for making the setting a character in the book, and readers do feel more involved with the story that way. It's also a great excuse to visit places to 'research.' :-)

Nancy said...

Hi, PinkPeony--the old buildings in New Orleans do lend themselves to spooky thoughts, don't they? The Creole and Cajun have a romantic air, to me, that also would invite thoughts of things gone by.

Karen White said...

Hi, Helen--

You're not alone in your fondness for beach stories. :-) My publisher was very excited that I chose to set my next book on a beach near Charleston. The cover is gorgeous (a beach scene, of course!) and the title is ON FOLLY BEACH just in case readers weren't sure of the setting from the cover. It will be out in May and perfect for, you guessed it, beach reading!

Karen White said...

Hi, Caren--

Good to 'see' you here!

I love Savannah, too--which is why I set my last book, THE LOST HOURS, there.

I'm tempted to move up north with my settings, but I seem to have found a niche with 'writing what I know' and keeping to the south. Maybe when I've exhausted all the evocative Southern settings (there's still New Orleans!), I can move to New England...

Nancy said...

Christine, I've just started The House on Tradd Street, though I bought it when Karen's book tour brought her here earlier in the year (a combination of the TBR pile and too much life happening), and I love the characters. Karen evokes the setting beautifully, too.

I've visited Charleston only once, aside from going to the Citadel for debate tournaments in college--and that doesn't count because we saw the Citadel and the motel, nothing else. But you can feel the history around you there. And ghostly tales about Charleston are very popular.

I've been on Tradd Street, too, at the corner of Orange and Tradd, where one of my historical heroes, Francis ("The Swamp Fox") Marion supposedly hurt his ankle climbing out a window to escape drunken revelry (the doors were locked). The injury caused him to be taken out of the city, so he wasn't there when it fell to the British (apologies to you and the Annas), whom he harassed unmercifully for the next few years. But the house is gone now.

Karen White said...

Hi, Susan--

Thanks for your kind words. As a mother of 2 teenagers, those go very far with me right now. :-)

I have a saint for an editor. She has a real faith in my writing and is very hands-off. When I approached her about THE MEMORY OF WATER (written in first person--with 4 points-of-view character including a mute boy) she was just like, "if that's the way the story is coming to you, then that's the way you need to write it."

The WWII theme came from the setting of Folly Beach. Its heydey was during teh 40's and 50's--shag dancing was invented there and all the big bands (Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey etc.) performed on the pier and it was THE hot spot during the war with all the air and navy guys stationed in the Charleston area.

My editor, bless her, didn't even blink when I mentioned the WWII angle--so hopefull readers won't either!

Nancy said...

Michelle, I've never actually seen a bayou, but they do have a spooky reputation. Our family drove through the Okefenokee Swamp on our way to Florida one summer, and that was spooky-looking.

Karen White said...

Hi, Margay--

I'm glad you asked!

Following the success of THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET with readers, my publisher asked for two more books in the series--so there will be a total of 4.

So don't expect everything to be wrapped up at the end of The Girl on Legare Street! The mystery will be solved (there's a separate mystery in all of the 4 books), but the interpersonal stuff with the characters will still be out of whack. :-)

Nancy said...

Hi, Tawny--When RWA was in New Orleans, Dee Davis (who'll be here later in the month) and I took a ghost tour that didn't start until around 9 p.m. It was extremely spooky. I wouldn't ordinarily have opted for a ghost tour. I get creeped out. It was Dee's idea. But I have to admit I enjoyed it.

In a creeped-out sort of way. :-)

But I did feel relatively safe surrounded by a big group of romance writers. They helped keep my superstitions at bay.

Karen, do I remember correctly that you were on that tour, or am I mixing things up?

Nancy said...

Helen, glad you liked the interview. When you say "lots of bush" about stories you like, do you mean the Australian back country in particular (am I interpreting that correctly?) or do you mean just countryside in general?

Nancy said...

You know, Christie, I've never visited any of those small coastal towns in New England. I would love to do that sometime. We visited Plymouth once, but it's so touristy that I doubt it's the same.

Nancy said...

Caren, I totally agree that seeing a place and reading about it are very different. You can't feel the place, which maybe is something writers care about more than other people, when you read about. You can get _A_ feel for it from a skilled writer, but that's not the same as feeling the vibes for yourself.

At least, it isn't for me. I've loved Westminster Abbey from the day I first set foot in it, way back before they adopted the unfortunate crowd control measures that funnel everyone through the chapels together. I could stop, look at particular tombs, famous and not, and think about the people. Feel the place, if you will. That's impossible with hundreds of people moving through in shuffle step.

And I did sometimes wonder if ghosts walked there at night, when everyone was gone and the doors were shut.

The "oldness" thing again.

Nancy said...

Beth, I like family dynamics, too. I think they draw us into stories, maybe, because there's an automatic emotional investment, for good or ill, in family.

Margay said...

Karen, that's great news! I rally can't wait to sink my teeth into this series!

Nancy said...

Joanie, PJ's turtles are going to be jealous if they find out you've been raving about pralines.

The dh and I went to Savannah a couple of times before parenthood. Taking a toddler through historic homes didn't really feel like a great idea, and there wasn't much else to do with a kidlet in Savannah aside from taking the tour boat on the river. (We probably took the fastest ever tour of Biltmore House--"oh, look, a little bed" [fainting couch]--let's see if there's one in here," said the boy at three. And off he motored. "There is. Let's see if there's one in here." And so on. There were none outside the bedrooms, but our quest continued into the gardens at breakneck speed. We tease him about that now, our tall teenager.

Anyway, there's so much history in Savannah, complete with General Sherman and the Marquis de Lafayette. There have to be lots of ghosts.

But I've never read or seen Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Too creepy for me!

Nancy said...

Susan, I love WWII storylines, too. I think Pat Rice incorporated one into her Carolina series, but I don't remember whether she had actual scenes from the period in that book.

Nancy said...

Margay, where's The Wayside Inn?

We visited The Wayside, former home of both Nathaniel Hawthorne and Margaret Sidney (5 Little Peppers author), but it's a historic house run by the National Park Service, not an inn. The name similarity caught my attention, and I think the dh would be intrigued. Do you know if the inn has any connection to the house?

Nancy said...

Karen, I've never been to Folly Beach. A friend of mine lived in Charleston for several years and went there often. She said it was gorgeous.

You know, it just occurs to me that you've really had to put yourself through the wringer, researching these places. *g*

Nancy said...

Karen, I like character relationships that aren't wrapped up in one book. Paranormal romances are starting to feature relationships that aren't HEA. But the books are still shelved in romance. I've seen more of that in mystery than anywhere else, but that appeals to me about this story line of yours.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Hey, Karen. Good to have you here in the Lair today. Reading this post made me want to head further south where it's still warm, find a nice Adirondack chair and kick back to read stories steeped in the South.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Hmm, spooky. I think the big, old houses that have about a million rooms, little nooks and crannies, and that creak all the time. I guess I think there are too many places for scary things to hide.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Karen, I love the idea of the dual timeline, and that part of it is WWII. I'm happy to see more of that time period showing up on bookstore shelves now. I think there is so much potential for great stories set then.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Karen, a great big welcome to the Lair and thanks to Nancy for hosting you.

Your books sound wonderful. I love the ghosts or spirits lingering around a person to help her on her earthly journey.

Maureen said...

I don't think it has to be a particular place that says spooky to me but I notice that older houses, especially ones that haven't been renovated seem spookier to me. I like stories about families where issues are addressed and the people in the family can get rid of baggage they have been carrying around.

Nancy said...

Trish, I love WWII. I'm also glad to see more of it starting to appear.

Nancy said...

Jo, I miss ghost romances. I liked that subgenre and am sorry it has, so to speak, passed from scene.

Nancy said...

Maureen, I do think old houses are spooky, as you and Trish mentioned. All those creaks at weird times and past inhabitants.

Margay said...

Nancy, technically, it's called Longfellow's Wayside Inn (as stated on their website), but we just call it The Wayside Inn. It's in Sudbury, MA, and there's a story that it's haunted by a woman who died waiting for her lover to return from England to marry her. There is even a thing called the Secret Drawer Society related to the Inn. Go to the website and read about it under the Fun Facts tab. It's really quite interesting. Here's the link for anyone who wants to check it out:

Here's another fun fact: My father-in-law used to be a chef there and when I told him one time recently about a story I saw on a ghost show about the place being haunted, he wasn't the least bit surprised! He knew all about it.


Nancy said...

Margay, that inn sounds cool. I'm sending the URL to the dh. Thanks.

Margay said...

Nancy, you're welcome! If you decide to check it out, be sure to check out the Grist Mill (where lots of wedding photos are taken) and the Martha Mary Chapel (one of the most famous chapels in MA) just down the street. Both are wonderful attractions.

Karen White said...

Hi, Nancy--

I was actually the one who coordinated the whole tour. :-) I just can't resist things that go bump in the night... :-)

Nancy said...

Karen wrote: I was actually the one who coordinated the whole tour. :-) I just can't resist things that go bump in the night... :-)

So I wasn't totally confused. I was Dee's "plus one" on that outing, and I didn't realize (or since forgot) you had organized it. So thanks, belatedly. It was fun.

Karen White said...

Re: Folly Beach--

Yes, it's torture to have to 'research' coastal areas. I rented a house for a week there this past summer for some in-depth 'research'. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it!

Maybe my next book should be set in Tahiti... :-)

Nancy said...

Margay, thanks. I'll pass that along to him. We keep saying we're going back to New England, but we never get there.

We hope someday to spend a day at Gettysburg (speaking of ghosts).

Karen White said...

RE: Happily Ever After--

I don't care what genre I'm reading, it doesn't have to be HEA but there has to be a _satisfying_ conclusion. Why I don't read Oprah books anymore: because somebody you like is going to die. Period.

In a series, it's a little different. You don't want to wrap up the relationship because then all that wonderful tension will be gone for the ensuing books. It's a very tricky rope to try and balance upon!

Nancy said...

Karen, if you go to Tahiti, I'd be glad to be your assistant. :-) I'll suffer for the cause.

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Karen,

We have a family member who over the years has visited with us. My sister
announces herself with a cloud of her
favorite fragrance.

Have you ever experienced an actual
spectral visitation?

Pat Cochran

Donna MacMeans said...

Karen - What a treat to have you in the lair. Hope you come back!

The excerpt sounded yummy. I'm definitely tracking down this book. As to spooky settings - I think every location has its dark shivery side. Evil knows no boundaries, so to speak. I wouldn't normally think of Charleston as spooky, but your passage brought out the chills. Loved it.

Nancy said...

Pat, that's fascinating about your sister. When did you first notice this?

Nancy said...

Hi, Donna--I would agree that evil has no bounds. It's interesting that you hadn't thought of Charleston as spooky. Its ghost stories are big around here, but maybe that's a regional difference.

Pissenlit said...

Ha! Congrats again, limecello!

Hiya Karen, great excerpt!

Moorland in the UK screams spooky to me. I blame The Hound of the Baskervilles.

As for family dynamics, I'm drawn to stories with dysfunctional families, single parent families and heck, a lack of families.

Janga said...

Karen, I hope you won't abandon Southern settings. I love the Southernness of your books with their rich sense of place and their Faulknerian intersections of past and present. You've been on my autobuy list since you visited the EJ/JQ board. I recently reread both Pieces of the Heart and The Memory of Water--both comfort reads for me.

My favorite vacation ever was one during which a friend and I visited Old Salem (NC), Williamsburg, Charleston, and Savannah--the closest thing to time travel I'm likely to do. :)

Nicki Salcedo said...

My mom has been waiting (not patiently) for this book. I'm so excited to see Karen here today and look forward to another great read!

Helen said...


I do love the Australian bush but I love the country side any where there is something that justs draws me in even when I am reading a historcal I do like it when the characters are at their counrty estates even though I love all the hussle and bussel of London I do really have a thing for the counrty and of course the sea.

The next book sounds great as well

Have Fun

Gannon Carr said...

Hi, Karen! I love a story with a spooky element. Not to confused with a scary book, of course. ;)

The South has so many cities that have an otherworldly, creepy element. Love that! We have an old house next door that was built in the late 1800's. No one lives there now, but I swear I've see lights in the window occasionally. My sister and niece saw them, too--all of us at different times. Of course, my dh thinks we're nuts. ;)

Europe has some fab ghostly experiences too. I went to Scotland several years ago, and my sister and I went on a ghost tour in Edinburgh. Fascinating. We'd love to go back on midnight. :-D

Pat Cochran said...


My #1 son, when he was in jr. high
school, first told me of hearing my sister speak to him. At that point, it seemed I needed to pay more attention to what was going
on in our house! Babies that came into the house seemed to laugh, play, and to look attentively at the northwest corner of our living room. Audry loved babies and I feel
she was their focus. The cloud of
Nina Ricci perfume didn't begin
to evidence itself until the '90s.
I think she just wanted to let us
know she was still around. I feel
she wanted to check up on her
daughter who grew up in our house
as our 4th child. The visits are fewer now that Shan is an adult
with sons of her own.

Pat Cochran

Lady_Graeye said...

Hi Karen! Thanks for visiting! I like story settings in the 1800's, ols estates or mansions and in cities with history. New Orleans or Salem always makes good settings for stories. Families with some kind of history like witchcraft or voo doo make great storylines. Strong womaan for witchcraft stories or strong men make great vampires or werewolfs. I want a book that no matter where it is it pulls me in from the very first paragraph and won't allow me to put it down. :-)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Karen! Popping my head out of the deadline cave (seems like I've been there forevah!) to say hi and WELCOME!!! The Lair's a fun place to hang out, isn't it?

Love the sound of your books, and being a Southerner, that appeals too. Grins.

Hey Lime, seriously. People are gonna TALK!! Hahaha! Congrats!

Spookiest city I've ever been in by far is N'Orleans.

Okay before I'm waaaay tempted to read and comment on everything, I'm back to the word mill...

Again, Welcome!

catslady said...

Spooky - anything old - castles come to mind first :) but any house say a hundred years old and especially if something horrible was suppose to have happened there. I love reading about the unknown.

Nancy said...

Pissenlit, Hound of the Baskervilles is one of my favorite Holmes tales! Very evocative of the spooky.

Nancy said...

Janga, I love Old Salem. There are ghost stories about a couple of the buildings there, too.

Nancy said...

Hi, Nicki--nice to see you here today!

Nancy said...

Helen, I love the sea, too. Urban settings have a lot to offer, but the seclusion of the countryside works better for some stories.

Nancy said...

Gannon, I'd bet Edinburgh Castle is pretty spooky at night! That sounds like fun.

Nancy said...

Pat, that's really interesting about your sister. Thanks.

Nancy said...

Lady Graeye, I sometimes visit old houses and think of the many generations that lived there and used the same furniture. Sometimes, I think living in such a house would be cool; other times, I think it might be a little eerie.

Nancy said...

Hi, Jeanne--Glad you could pop your head out for a couple of minutes! Good luck with the book.

Nancy said...

Catslady, "what if this were real" makes a great story question, doesn't it. I love visiting castles, but I'm not sure I'd like to be alone in one at night.

Karen White said...


What a beautiful story about your sister. I've never seen a ghost or experienced one myself, but I know enough people who have which tells me there's much more out there than we can ever explain.

Karen White said...

Hi, Nicky!

Tell your mom her wish is my command. :-) And don't forget to tell her that there are two more books in the series to come!

Karen White said...

Hi, Janga--

Thanks so much for making me an auto-buy--what a compliment!

Since you've been reading my books I wanted to let you know that one of my currently out-of-print books, Falling Home, will be re-released next Fall. So please don't pay ridiculous money for it now to get a used copy!

PJ said...

Hi Karen! Great to see you here in the lair. I'm still sulking that I won't be able to attend your signing next week. :(

When someone says "spooky", my mind goes straight to Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC. Love those cities and all their assorted ghosts.

I'm looking forward to getting The Girl on Legare Street (Gorgeous cover!) and happy that Folly Beach is just a few months away. Charleston, and the surrounding area, is such a fabulous setting for these stories.

Nancy, please don't include me in the giveaway. I already have the wonderful The House on Tradd Street.

Nancy said...

Karen wrote: I know enough people who have which tells me there's much more out there than we can ever explain.

It's like the line from Hamlet: "There are stranger things in Heaven and Hell, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Nancy said...

Hi, PJ. Looks like you're a fan of southern coastal ghosts!

I note that you have the book already. :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Karen, wow, what an interesting post. Nancy, you're bringing us some terrifically interesting guests this month! Yay, you!

I was really interested at the way your book appealed to the book clubs. And wow, that book tour sounds fantastic! One of the things I love about staying in hotels is that you have this lovely clean bathroom every day. It's like magic! ;-)

Nancy said...

Anna, thanks! I wish I'd had my camera when I walked into our local independent bookstore and saw Karen's book lined up across the a few feet of the back counter for bookclub pickup.

That's one of the things I like about hotels, too, clean bathrooms. I don't mind "sleeping after" myself, but I want a clean towel every day.

ddurance said...

The victorian period of London is naturally creepy, perhaps due to the reign of Jack the Ripper. Think lots of fog and gothic streetlamps.


Nancy said...

Deidre, fog and gothic streetlamps are certainly spooky. I have a friend who's fascinated by the Ripper case.

Louisa Cornell said...

Hello, Karen! I have been reading your books for a while now and I really love them - the twists and turns and the great dynamics between the characters. Keep 'em comimg!

Lime, you and Gannon are going to end up in a smackdown over the GR before it is over!


Savannah is a great setting for a good gothic ghost story as is New Orleans. They are both cities steeped in mystery and deep spiritual belief whether it be in mainstream religion or in voodoo. I've spent years studying voodoo and there are so many facets of that belief system that play into spirits that refuse to leave or don't even know they are gone.

We in the South tend to believe in ghosts and view insanity as just another quirk like eye color and height. In the South you don't ask if there is insanity in the family. You just ask which side its on!

Of course I have mentioned before the city of Dunwich in Suffolk - the city that literally fell into the sea. The only thing visible now is the steeple of the church and they say on stormy nights you can hear it ringing.

One of the eeriest things I have ever seen was in Konigsee in Austria. There is a beautiful mountain lake on which you can take an electric boat tour. The lake is surrounded by mountains, sheltered and silent. Two hundred or so years ago there was a village on the shore of the lake. A dam in the mountains broke and the village was submerged in moments. The lake is so clear you can look down and see the entire village preserved in the mountain lake like a panorama in a child's snow globe. Again the landmark sight is the lonely church spire keeping watch over the village snared in time. If you ever get the chance to see it go, there has to be a story in there somewhere.

Can't wait to read this next one, Karen!

Nancy said...

Louisa wrote: We in the South tend to believe in ghosts and view insanity as just another quirk like eye color and height. In the South you don't ask if there is insanity in the family. You just ask which side its on!

Oh, too, too true! LOL! Louisa, have you read T.R. Pearson's A Short History of A Small Place? It heavily exploits southern eccentricity, which he knows well, having come from Fuquay-Varina, NC. And it's very funny.

Karen White said...

Hi, PJ--

Glad you have your copy already--thanks!!

And Nicki--PLEASE forgive me for misspelling your name. Sigh. I'm in deadline dementia (Dec. 1st) and have no idea what my fingers are typing anymore...

Karen White said...

Hi, Anna--

Yep--the made bed and clean bathroom and towels is always a lovely treat, isn't it?

I'm also partial to room service, which is another perk about book tour because I don't have to do anything!

Karen White said...

Nancy!!! Are you talking about the new book or an old one at Park Road??

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Karen, I love room service. Clearly, we're both hotel chicks from way back. I always envied people like Noel Coward and Somerset Maugham who used to hole up in places like Raffles in Singapore to write their next masterpiece. The idea of writing all day and just lifting a phone for delicious food is SOOO appealing.

Nancy said...

The old one, Karen! I haven't been to Park Road since last week. I should've been more specific--sorry!

donnas said...

Thanks for sharing! I havent read about your book before but both of these sound like something I would love so I will be checking them out as soon as I get the chance. I look forward to them and more. Thanks!!

Cassondra said...

Oh, dear, I'm late to the party again. (bows head in shame)

Karen, welcome to the lair, and thank you so much for being our guest.

Your books sound fantastic. Exactly the kind of thing I love to read. It's really interesting to me that you say you've always written the same kind of book, but your publisher is packaging them differently now. Was that a decision you made together, or was it their marketing department, or how did that come about? Did it take a shift on your part as far as how you marketed yourself?

Apologies if this has already been covered...I haven't gone through all of the comments yet as I'm late already, but if it hasn't been asked, I'd love to know about this transition and how it happened for you.

Nancy, thank you for bringing Karen to us! You're batting a thousand with excellent guests this month!

Cassondra said...

Oh, the questions...dang...forgot about those.

As to settings. I guess I think New England is a fantastic setting for ghostly stories, and the south as well. Any OLD city or town, I think, is what it takes for me to have instant buy-in. And I don't like the horror elements in ghost stories. I like the mystery element, which is why these particular books sound so intriguing. I'm surprised I haven't run upon them before! So this is an obvious addition to the teetering TBR pile. *sigh* I will never catch up. :0/

Nancy said...

Cassondra, glad you're enjoying Karen's visit. I think you'll like the books. And you've hit an important distinction--horror vs. mystery elements in ghost stories. I also much prefer the latter. Horror just doesn't do it for me.

And why should you get to catch up on your reading? No one else here does. *g*

mariska said...

Hi Karen! I love ghost stories! And i'm curious about your books. Sound great!
There so many places in Indonesia that are creepy. Even an Old house in my mom's village, i mean very old, that i'd experienced the paranormal activites by myself:)
Lime, you beat us again for the GR :D

Nancy said...

Hi, Mariska--that sounds intriguing.

Karen White said...

Hi, Cassandra--

Better late than never!

As for genre decision---it was just something that happened as I jumped from publisher to publisher. Now I'm with Penguin and they do a fabulous job of 'packaging' my products (books) so that it appeals to my target market (my readers). Can you tell I was a marketing major?? :-)

Karen White said...

Thanks everyone, for being such kind hosts!

I've really enjoyed myself chatting with all of you. And thank you, Nancy, for inviting me!

Happy Fall!