Friday, March 12, 2010

Why Gloom is Good

By Anna Sugden

I'm delighted to welcome back another Lair favourite and one of my 'must buy, must read' authors, my very dear friend Julie Cohen.

So, without further ado, here's Julie!

Hey there Banditas, thanks for having me back in the Lair to talk about my newest book, Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom.

The idea for this book came to me, I seem to remember, when I was out in my garden on a warm spring day, pruning the passion flower. I was thinking about the heroine of the book I’d just finished, Girl From Mars, and how she was a comic-book-loving geek tomboy. It would be nice to have something different for the next book, I thought. Somebody girly and chick-litty who loves shoes and stuff. But there are lots of girly, chick-litty heroines out there. How can I make mine a little bit different?

Then of course it came to me: stick her in a crumbling gothic mansion, full of gargoyles and spiders, with mysterious freakish neighbours who prowl the night!


So I worked up a bit of a pitch for it and developed the character, and then called up my editor to have a chat about the next book, and I mentioned this idea of mine. Sort of a Bridget Jones meets Northanger Abbey. “Sounds great!” said my editor. “Got a title?”

“ about Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom?”

I was joking. Nina’s last name was actually Chatham. I thought my editor would laugh.

“I love it!” she cried.

And thus Nina Jones was born.

The book was really fun to write, especially the gothic parts. I love horror movies and I love dark humour. I researched Gothic Revival architecture and had a wonderful time visiting Highgate, the part of London where the second half of the novel is set, with its famous Victorian cemetery and its vampire legends.

In the first part of the book, Nina is a typical chick-lit heroine, who loves shoes and shopping and, unfortunately, her married boss. And then, through a series of events, she loses everything—her job, her money and most of her designer shoes—and ends up living in her bat-loving dead uncle Arval’s flat amongst the gargoyles and the odd bits of machinery and the kitchen sink big enough to wash a corpse.

Here’s a short excerpt from her first few days in the Temple of Gloom, when she’s reeling from her own personal disasters, and discovers she’s sharing the flat with another inhabitant:

“What’s the attraction of a bath?” I ask the spider. My voice echoes off the black and white tiles on the floor and walls. “I mean I can understand a nice dark corner full of flies. But why a bath? What’s the good of it to you?”

The spider sits there, being hairy.

“I’d like to take a bath, actually,” I tell it. “Three days without bathing is verging on the ridiculous, not to mention disgusting. Especially with all the crawling around in cupboards I’ve been doing. I could grow vegetables in my hair.”

I swear the spider is thinking about all the cobwebs I’ve destroyed in the past few days. And planning revenge. It must be quite a complicated revenge, with lots of cunning plans to think through in detail, because the damn thing hasn’t moved more than three inches in forty-eight hours. Or maybe it goes zinging around the entire flat while I’m sleeping, but I don’t want to think about that.

I’ve been using the loo as quickly as I can, angling my body ready to bolt out the door if the spider moves. I’ve been brushing my teeth in the kitchen sink. But enough is enough. It’s not like I’m planning on going out or entertaining visitors or anything, but I can’t stand myself this dirty, and I am not going to climb into the corpse-washing sink for a sponge bath.

“I really don’t want to squish you. Or touch you. Or think about you lurking in the bathroom while I’m naked and vulnerable. How about I open the window for you, and you go outside?”

This seems reasonable to me, but who understands spider logic? I go to the long, narrow, multi-paned window and open it, a process which requires unscrewing this bit and pushing out this other bit. It only opens a couple of inches, and it’s begun to rain outside. The fresh air is cool and smells slightly greasy.

“There, doesn’t that look appealing?” I say to the spider. It is, I know, quite possibly the only creature in existence who has less desire to go outside than I do.

Got any spider horror stories? Got a corpse-washing sink or a favourite gargoyle? Just want to talk gloom? I’ll choose a commenter to win a signed copy of Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom.

Julie’s website:

To buy Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom with free worldwide shipping:

Don't forget you can buy Julie's other awesome books [Spirit Willing, Flesh Weak, One Night Stand, The Honey Trap and Girl From Mars] at The Book Depository too - all with free worldwide shipping!


limecello said...


limecello said...

Hi Julie! Thanks for visiting with us today! I totally love your harlequin books! (Haven't gotten a chance to read your other ones yet :X)

As for gloom - that definitely worked out for you! Yay and congratulations! :D

Spiders... oh boy. Hate those. In fact I "confessed" on twitter today, that I still scream and run away from spiders if there's someone else around to kill it for me. And depending on the time of day, I'll scream if I'm alone too :P
Let's see, horror story? Well, I kinda feel like every encounter with a spider is the worst one yet...
But once there was a spider about the size of a quarter *inside my car.* And I didn't discover it until I was driving. On the high way. Anyway, I'm glad nobody died that day. Can't remember how I got rid of the spider, so I must've blocked that from memory :P

Anna Sugden said...

Good Grief, Lime - have you got a golden hen in your place as well as that pesky rooster?

I loved Julie's Harlewuins too! Oh you're missing out if you haven't had a chance to read Julie's single titles - trust me - they're fab! Don't forget you can get them from The Book Depository with free worldwide shipping!

LOL at the spider in the car - yup - been there and got that t-shirt!

Julie Cohen said...

Hi Limecello! You made me laugh at your story of the spider in the car. I'm very glad nobody died that day. (Except maybe the spider?)

And I'm glad you love my Harlequin books. It is so much fun to write category romance. These days my books seem to be getting longer and longer though (not to mention weirder and weirder).

Julie Cohen said...

Morning Anna! Thank you so much for having me here in the Lair. And thanks for your lovely praise of my books (*blushes and hands Anna a wad o' cash under the table*).

I'm trying my best to get some writing done today on my new book but I'll pop in as often as I can to chat.

Barbara Monajem said...

I confess to having a soft spot for spiders. I've even been known to throw hapless cockroaches at a web in the kitchen window so the spider can dash over and loop them with silk, while I watch, gloating.

Your book sounds like a hoot. Can't wait to meet the the night-prowling neighours. Yay for the Book Depository!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Julie, sounds like some fun books to me. I have a definite dislike for anything with more than 4 legs myself. My biggest fear is being trapped in a boat with a multi-legged creature (spiders being top of the list since they have 8) and no where to run to. I fish a lot in the summer and since me and sunshine don't do well you will usually find us under shade when we can find it, unfortunately spiders like shade too. They have invited themselves to our fishing party often. My biggest thrill was when my boyfriend rescued me from a humongous spider and used it for bait. I felt vindicated.

Anna Sugden said...

LOL Barbara - that's going above and beyond ... then again roaches - ick!

My hubby is one of those trap them and set them free people - using the old glass and paper trick. If they don't bother me, I leave them be, but if they come into my space - it's the vaccuum with all the extensions for them!

Anna Sugden said...

Hey Julie! You know me - totally unbiased. Just finished Nina this morning and totally loved it!!! You even made me want to go nack and visit Highgate Cemetery!

Anna Sugden said...

LOL - now that's the right kind of boyfriend - even recycling the spider, Dianna!

I should have know what my ex was like as after getting rid of a spider for me, he told me of the time there was a spider in the bathroom at his parents house. His sister was terrified of them too. I asked him whether he got rid of the spider and he smiled and said no - he left it to scare his sister!

Anna Sugden said...

BTW - one of the scariest spider books I've ever read was Lisa Gardner's Say Goodbye. Though, through the eyes of the villain, she even made a tarantula seem not so bad. Her daughter has a pet tarantula - ewwwww!!

Julie Cohen said...

Okay, I've totally just noticed that my Google photo is of me with a giant pair of b*llocks. I think I might go change that in a minute.

Julie Cohen said...

Barbara, I also have a soft spot for spiders. I like them more than Nina Jones does, anyway. I like watching them. But I draw the line at touching them. Or having a bath with them.

Throwing are a brave lady. ggg

Julie Cohen said...

Dianna, I understand your wariness of spiders in boats...though they love boats, don't they? Boats and docks attract the really BIG spiders.

I just keep on thinking about the hook going through the crunchy spider...I think I'd stick to worms.

Julie Cohen said...

Anna, so glad you liked Nina! Yay!!

I think men have an inherent understanding that they can use spiders as a power for good or evil as far as women are concerned.

Julie Cohen said...

There. B*llocks gone. I hope.


Anna Sugden said...

Nice pic, Julie - though, not as nice as you in the cemetery!

Anna Sugden said...

Excuse all the typos this morning - I think the battery in my keyboard is low ... or is it my battery?! That's what happens when someone makes you stay up late because you don't want to stop reading her book!!

Julie Cohen said...

I refuse to apologise. :-o

mariska said...

Hi Julie,

I hate spiders..i just hate those crawling things :)

always asked my DH to get rid of them every time they turn up!

And i'm so glad that we're 'meeting' again ...(yeah you know i'm still trying to win your book, coz i'm so curious about it !)

Gannon Carr said...

Hi, Julie! I love the title of your book! :-D I have added it--and the rest of your books--to my TBB list.

I don't have a real fear of spiders unless they are enormous and hairy! I actually love to watch them spin their webs--fascinating. But I have no desire to share the shower with one. My 17 year-old son LOATHES spiders. Here's this tall, strapping young man who would probably blow-torch a spider if he could. LOL

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Julie!! Welcome back to the lair!

Your book sounds awesome. I can't wait to read it.

Personally, I'm not a spider fan. I don't mind the little ones that just hang around on the ceiling watching the world upside down. I had one on my kitchen ceiling for two weeks one time. We named him Fred. And Fred never came down from the ceiling. One day, he just disappeared.

It's the big hairy spiders that get me. When we lived in Delaware, we used to get wolf spiders. Big, brown and hairy. Yuck!

My cat cornered one and the darn thing actually looked like it was going to attack her. I found that my husband's wingtip shoes are great spider killers. Thankfully, we don't get those big nasty spiders in Maryland. (at least not my part of MD)

Hope to see you at Nationals this year!

Anna Sugden said...

Hey Mariska - you have some pretty big spiders in Indonesia - I'm not surprised you don't like them!

Anna Sugden said...

LOL Gannon at the big strapping lad wanting to blow-torch an itsy-bitsy spider!

I like watching spiders weave their webs and I love seeing the webs with dew on them ... but I don't like it when they insist on coming indoors!

My other spider strategy is to point it out to one of my cats. CC doesn't think they're as intersting as worms, but Jersey Girl is very efficient at despatching them.

Anna Sugden said...

Christie - One of the few things I don't like about Australia are their funnel web spiders. They sound nasty! Then again, black widows aren't too nice either. And wolf spiders uggh!!

Kirsten said...

Hi Julie!
Your book sounds like a lot of fun. I don't really like spiders myself. Not sure why they don't really do any harm but they are just so dark, hairy and yucky. When I was a kid I always called my father for help when spotting one and he would remove it for me. Now I got to do it myself. Not an easy thing when you get shivers down your spine and don't really wanna look at the creature. I use a large glass bowl, cover the bug and then slide a piece of paper underneath it. Carefully turn the whole thing upside down and empty it outside. I have the strangest feeling that it comes back inside though for I always see another just like it. Or perhaps they come in pairs and is it just his or her spouse....

Joan said...

Well, it's a pretty gloomy day here in KY added to by a budget day from work.

But I do have a spider horror story.

When I was about 11, we were visiting my 13 year old boy cousin's house. He and my brother went off to do "boy stuff" leaving me to fend for myself for entertainment.

I went into his room (Yes, I was brave) to scrounge for comic books to read.

I saw a large spider the size of a man's open hand stuck on his wall.

I went right up to it, nose to nose and thought "Wow, what a cool rubber spider".

Turned around and saw it CRAWLING up the wall!


Screamed bloody murder which got my parents and my uncle to come running. Uncle Tubby knocked it off and stomped on stomped back!

He struggled with that thing with what seemed an eternity finally sending it to spider heaven with a hammer!!!

Um, excuse me...I have to go check my RAID stash...

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Hey, Julie! When I saw the title of this book earlier this week, I instantly loved it. I will be making my first Book Depository purchase to get it. And I love how you described it as Bridget Jones meets Northhanger Abbey. :)

Kristen said...

I don't mind spiders themselves but I must admit I do object to walking through webs, especially since my face is apparently at perfect fly catching level.

No corpse washing sink here but my mom has a great story from when she was younger. She was dating a guy whose family owned a mortuary and when she went to visit, she had to use the sink in the embalming room to wash her very, very long hair. There were no bodies in there but she said she still jumped about a hundred feet when the guy tapped her on the shoulder. Needless to say she didn't end up marrying him (which was good news indeed for my dad and for me!).

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Joan, I just got chills reading your spider story.

I don't think I have any creepy spider stories. My scary creature is snakes. One of my earliest nightmares when I was a kid was about snakes, and I still have snake nightmares. I have no idea why. One time when I was a kid, I reached into a cabinet to get something and a black snake fell down on my hand. It had somehow gotten in the house and crawled into the cabinet. It was a harmless snake but I almost had a coronary right there in the kitchen.

p226 said...

I'm not particularly arachnophobic. As such, spiders don't really add much doom or gloom to my world. Most of them, I view as my friends, because they eat bugs that actually annoy me. This doesn't mean that I'm particularly happy to find one crawling across my face in the middle of the night or anything.

I could tell some tales about scorpions though. And maybe one or two about various snakes. But I'm not really freaked out by either of those. So, they don't really add doom and gloom.

Then there's the bunker-mouse.

See, in 1991 I lived for a while in a sandbag bunker. It was a fairly gloomy place, as light-discipline was generally required. So at night, all we had was a single glow-stick to illuminate the bunker. We'd just cover it up with a shirt when everyone wanted to sleep.

Well, one night, we'd covered up the light, and none of us had firewatch, so we were trying to get some sleep. Then a guy in my fireteam says in the darkness, "what was that?"

"Newman, what are you talking about?"

"There's something in here."

"Yeah, four Marines, four rifles, four stinky asses, and eight stinky feet, what's your point?"

"No, seriously, there's something in here. IT JUST RAN ACROSS MY CHEST OH MY GOD SOMETHING RAN ACROSS MY CHEST"

And then the truly scary part. I heard the slide rack on a Beretta. Four guys and one mouse in an eight-foot square pitch-black bunker, and one of us has a locked and loaded 9mm and is prepared to fire. This is when I performed what I call "the fastest bunker egress in the history of warfare."

Dark? - check.
Gloomy? - check.
Scary? - check.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Julie, welcome back to the Lair. Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom sounds absolutely delightful! It sounds hilarious in a LOL kind of way.

Spiders are a way of life in California, so we've learned to ease the creepy creatures out the door on a bit of paper and let them go their merry way!

MsHellion said...

I love-love-love the title. *LOL*

I don't have spider horror stories. I'm not frightened of spiders. Though they can startle me on occasion when I'm driving down the highway, and suddenly a small one drops down from the ceiling to eye height. I don't think the car next to me appreciated my swerving either.

I do have a snake story. Snakes--like the infamous Indy--scare the bejezus out of me. Last October, I was leaving my bedroom and I saw something swiggle on the carpet in the hallway ahead of me, in a distinctly snake slither. Small, I grant you, but to my mind, very scream worthy. It ran off into my bathroom, which was still warm from my shower.

I found my largest tupperware container and scooped it up, lidded it tight, then left a hysterical message on my manager's machine. (I was afraid if I didn't get it then, myself, it would disappear and remain in the house; I was also afraid there might be MORE of them.) My manager turned out be useless actually; he's also terrified of snakes. I haven't seen a snake since in the apartment *knocks on wood*. I released the snake far, far from my apartment.

Anna Sugden said...

LOL Kirsten - see this is the thing. I suspect they sit there and laugh at me. They probably work their way back in and then laugh at me!

The other night I spotted a spider on the wall and my hubby said to me that it was facing the other way! LOL

Anna Sugden said...

Oh man, Joanie - that is scary! Living near nature, fields and so on is lovely, but it does mean you get big, bigger and ginormous spiders. *shiver*

Anna Sugden said...

... and so starts Trish's addiction to The Book Depository. *g*.

Anna Sugden said...

Ewww Kristen. Your poor mum!

I was talking to the vicar at my in-law's chapel and she was telling me about her teenage daughter's week of work experience at the local undertakers! Apparently, her daughter didn't want to go to the school or the Uni or do work in the church, so as a last ditched effort her frustrated mother suggested the undertakers. Her daughter thought it was the coolest week ever!

I have to say, our local undertaker is one of the nicest guys and I can imagine him making the week interesting - and, yes she did do the whole dead body thing.

Anna Sugden said...

Hhm, not sure about snakes, Trish. Most of the time they get out of the way. Then again, we don't have many poisonous ones in England.

Haven't had to deal with one in years ... I think I'd probably be a little scared - especially if it had that tell-tlae V for Viper on its head.

Virginia said...

Hi Julie, I have never read your books before but they sound very great!

I am not much on spiders myself! I just try to stay away from them. There seems to be some very creepy ones these days! My son has a scar in the middle of his forhead now that I think was from a spider bite. To me the only good spider is a dead spider!

Anna Sugden said...

LOL - I love your story of the bunker mouse! Poor thing - you guys must have given it a heart attack!

Which reminds me of a story about my ex FIL. He was convinced there was a big rat in the house and after a week or so, he decided to wait up one night and catch it. So, he sat in the kitchen, in the dark with an air rifle ... and waited ... and waited ... eventually he heard a scrabbling sound near the cupboard and he blasted in the direction of the 'big rat'.

It turned out to be a mouse. And, he missed it, but the poor little thing keeled over from shock! His wife wasn't too happy with the big hole in her cupboard door!

Anna Sugden said...

Aren't you scared they'lll run back up your arm, Jo? *shiver*

Anna Sugden said...

You're very brave Ms Hellion! Bravo.

One of our cats once brought in a rat and our manager was useless too. I had to call a rat catcher. He was cooing over the baby rattus norvegicus ... and I'm thinking about where the baby's mum and dad lived! He didn't kill it, but trapped and took it far, far away. Thankfully, the cat didn't find the parents ... or if she did, she never brought them in.

Anna Sugden said...

Julie's books are awesome, Virginia *g*. They'll make you laugh and they'll make your throat tighten with emotion. And, her heroines are always so interesting, down to earth and fun.

Oh no, on your son's spider bite - that's scary!

Anna Sugden said...

Oh, that reminds me of a funny story. My hubby's daughter is a primary school teacher. She found an article about a spider found in a bunch of bananas and decided to share it with her class. So, she asked them what they thought the man in the supermarket and found in the bananas. One little girl was bursting to tell the answer, so she called on the little girl. Who said, Beyonce! LOL

After that, I think the spider was a bit of a let down!

Cassondra said...

Hi Julie, Hi Anna!

Julie, I don't like spiders. I dunno what it is about them. I know most of them are not out to hurt me, and just wish I'd leave them alone. I generally form a strange sort of truce with ones that are in the house until my husband gets home to take them outside because I don't want to kill something harmless (oh, and something that eats flies and other bugs) but it's a wary truce.

One time I was at my mom and dad's when a salesman showed up for an appointment with them to discuss--of all things--burial arrangements (they were planning these things in advance). There we were, in the living room, all civil-like, when a big wolf spider ran out from under something into the middle of the floor (dang they move fast.) I climbed onto the sofa, and was bouncing from sofa to chair to ottoman--whichever direction the spider WASN'T going, while my husband chased it around the room with a glass and a sheet of paper, trying to catch it to put it out.

All the while he was yelling, "Cassondra, stop! You're scaring the spider!"

I suppose that salesman still tells that story about the insane family and the spider. :0/

Love the sound of your book. Love the voice in this story. These are going on my list for certain.

Cassondra said...

Barbara Monajem said:

I confess to having a soft spot for spiders. I've even been known to throw hapless cockroaches at a web in the kitchen window so the spider can dash over and loop them with silk, while I watch, gloating.

Barbara, my brother did this when I was a kid. He was much older (I was kind of an unexpected second family) He'd take me outside and catch something--a grasshopper, a cricket, a fly--anything--and toss it into the web of one of the orb web spiders who spun each evening on mom and dad's front porch. I got to watch the spider pounce on the prey, bite it to poison it, wrap it up, then wait for the poison to work, then watched the spider take its meal.

I think maybe that's why I don't much like spiders. Just about any form of death would be better than that. *shudder*

Joan said...

MsHellion!!! Snakes in an APARTMENT???

OMG!!!! Where the blank do you live?

Strange as it may sound though, I'd occasionally have the thought when I lived in my 2nd floor apt that "what if a snake crawled under the door"? (There was quite a space beneath the door)

The only solace I took from that was that snakes couldn't climb stairs...until I saw that Cosby episode!!!

Joan said...

All the while he was yelling, "Cassondra, stop! You're scaring the spider!"


Anna Sugden said...

ROFL Cassondra - see, that's male logic for you. I bet it was facing the other way too!

catslady said...

I had a huge brown furry spider land on my head - not once but twice (different spider lol) and I couldn't stop brushing my hair and body all night - hate those things.

I lived in Mississippi when my husband was in the service and I never saw bugs like I did down there - especially the palmettoes (look like cockroaches). My husband was away at camp and I was alone and one of those things crawled up my bedroom wall - I HAD NO IDEA THOSE THINGS COULD FLY! Hitting it with a steel toed combat boot didn't even phase it. I emptied a can of bug spray on him until I thought I was going to die from asphyxiation.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Lime, I thought you were retiring from the fray - you know, into the rooster hall of fame? Snort!

Julie, what a great post and I love the photos of you going all gothic. The book sounds fantastic, really clever and funny!

Hey, I'm an Aussie. Of course I've got spider stories. We have 'em as big as dinnerplates down under, don't you know? Actually a seriously creepy one is I got bitten by a huntsman once. He was in my bathtowel one very wet summer - clearly looking for somewhere dry to hide. Think I frightened him as much as he frightened me but I tell you, my heart stopped. And the bit hurt like h*ll!

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, man, what funny stories. Love the bunker mouse. Love Beyonce in the bananas. Hellion, brrr to snakes inside. By the way, huntsmen are BIG and HAIRY!!!!

Katharine Ashe said...

Hilarious excerpt, Julie! My brother says that if you just ask creatures in your house respectfully to go away, they will. I tried this with snakes last year. Didn't work. But maybe Nina's on the right track. Anybody ever heard of a spider whisperer? :)

But, um, well you guys ... (voice drops to a whisper) I like spiders. I CAN EXPLAIN. I'm a mosquito magnet. There can be a hundred people at a picnic and all the mosquitos will come bite me. Seriously. Which is why I have a special fondness for spiders and bats, because they find mosquitos very tasty. Probably one of the reasons I love Gothic novels, too. Can't wait to read yours, Julie!

Katharine Ashe said...

And who doesn't love Peter Brady waking up with a tarantula strolling across his chest? "Get it off me! Please get it off me!" in his cracking tenor. Then Carol: "Ew, it's not the coral broach." One of the Brady's shining moments, to be sure. :)

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Julie! Thanks to Anna for bringing you here today.

Like your editor, I love the title! What fun - and a talking spider? Well - that would seriously creep me out. (grin) Even though I'm the one that's called upon to eliminate the ones that consider our house a B&B.
I've often wondered if those creepy-crawlies plan revenge for the many of their cousins that I've hastened to their doom.

denise said...

I hate spiders and after reading Lisa Gardner, I am terrified.

I would love this book. Enter me.

MsHellion said...

Yeah, I was taking solace about snakes unable to climb up in beds, but then some coworker (who's not terrified of snakes) kept going on and on about how they could climb. Finally I hung up on her. We have not discussed snakes since.

Rats freak me out. *LOL* I'd probably get a rat trap and kill it. I'm not nice about rats.

I grew up in a farm house so we always had mice hanging around. I remember one early fall, I was staying up late, reading a romance novel, blankets piled on me, and it was like 3 am, and I looked down from my book and realized a tiny mouse had crawled up my leg and was sitting there, right in the middle of my thigh, reading my Julie Garwood novel with me.

It was so little it even let me pet it a second before it ran off. I didn't see it again.

Cassondra said...

P226 said:

And then the truly scary part. I heard the slide rack on a Beretta. Four guys and one mouse in an eight-foot square pitch-black bunker, and one of us has a locked and loaded 9mm and is prepared to fire. This is when I performed what I call "the fastest bunker egress in the history of warfare."

OMG! I spewed coffee ALL OVER my laptop. You owe me for that! OMG ROFL!!!! And let me night vision anywhere to be had.

Nancy said...

Julie, welcome back! I loved Girl from Mars. After many years in comic book fandom, I've met pretty much every type of fan around, and your characters were so true to life that I almost felt as if I actually knew them.

Nina Jones sounds fabulous, too, and I look forward to reading it.

I have no spider stories. I prefer to avoid spiders. I do have a gargoyle story, though.

We went to Biltmore House in Asheville (built with Vanderbilt robber baron money and now owned and run by the Cecils, descendants of Elizabeth I's Lord Burghley) one summer weekend when the boy was little, and he was fascinated by the gargoyles on the downspouts of the gutters. That year, there was a cartoon show about gargoyles coming to life at night and functioning as super-heroes. So he was into gargoyles.

We found ourselves waiting in an arbor with two couples. One of the women noticed the boy's boon companion, a frog puppet, which was green, and made the not unusual leap to "Oh, can I see your Kermit?"

The boy informed her that this was Goggy, not Kermit, and that Kermit "wears a sun around his neck, and see, Goggy doesn't have sun."

Taken somewhat aback, she murmured something about that being "so interesting," whereupon he delivered himself of a speech about the gargoyles on the downspouts and gargoyles coming to life at night, and how he really liked it when the gargoyles stopped the "bad 'uns."

The foursome looked somewhat dazed when he finished--not being familiar with the TV show, they were probably massively confused--and one of the men said, "You should take his picture. He's precocious."

I'm not really sure what that meant, but I always remember that when I think of gargoyles.

Cassondra said...

Katharine said:
I'm a mosquito magnet. There can be a hundred people at a picnic and all the mosquitos will come bite me. Seriously. Which is why I have a special fondness for spiders and bats, because they find mosquitos very tasty.

My husband is the SAME WAY!!!

Okay I do like bats. They're interesting to watch, and knowing that they do all that maneuvering blind, with sonar, is fascinating to me. We have plans to build bat houses here so more bats wil move in.

Spiders, however--too many legs for me.

Julie Cohen said...

OMG, how many spider stories!?!? And bunker mice? And snakes? And (thank God!) an actual corpse-washing sink?!?!

You Bandits are so damn cool. I will try to catch up with everyone, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to tonight.

But I will try!

Cassondra said...

Hellion said:

I grew up in a farm house so we always had mice hanging around. I remember one early fall, I was staying up late, reading a romance novel, blankets piled on me, and it was like 3 am, and I looked down from my book and realized a tiny mouse had crawled up my leg and was sitting there, right in the middle of my thigh, reading my Julie Garwood novel with me.

It was so little it even let me pet it a second before it ran off. I didn't see it again.

OHHHH, see...stories like this make me feel so guilty when I set traps for them. But they chew and destroy things and make such a mess!

Joan said...

It was so little it even let me pet it a second before it ran off. I didn't see it again.

One morning I was backing out of my attached garage and saw a dark "thing" streak across my garage floor...headed for the door into my house!

I stopped, kept the headlights on and found it to be a mouse. I chased the, mouse..around and around with a broom till I got it outside.

Bought myself some traps but never had the heart to set them...

But I DID hide my cheese!

limecello said...

lol Anna S - is that why he keeps coming back? ;)
Julie :P thanks - and I hope to get my hands on your single titles soon! *adds to list* :D

Anna C - well, I was. But that was before, and it ended. Because I had some other stuff to do. But now I'm back online :D Yayz! Didn't you miss it/me? Y_Y

Anna Sugden said...

Cassondra - if you like bats, you'll love Nina! There are bats in Nina! And a yummy bat watcher.

Anna Sugden said...

Catslady - oh yes, like flying cokroaches. I remember living in the Middle East and the bloody things flying around the room, landing on the mosquito nets. Ick!

Anna Sugden said...

Huntsmen and funnel webs - ewww, Anna. Maybe we won't be visiting after all! Just kidding.

And brave you surviving the bite of a big and hairy huntsman. *shiver*

Anna Sugden said...

Yeah, Katherine - another typically male thing to say. Like spiders understand human language!

I hear you on being a mosquito magnet - that's me too. That's why I'm okay with spiders being around ... just not in the same space I want to be in.

Anna Sugden said...

Wow, Donna - you're my hero - you can handle spiders! And, yes they are planning revenge.

Anna Sugden said...

Don't you just love it that Lisa is so pretty and nice and yet writes such creepy stories, Denise?!

Anna Sugden said...

Now, see I don't mind mice of voles or any of the other rodents the cats bring in, Ms Hellion - though I objected to the vole who bit my finger as I was trying to rescue him! Rats - not so much.

And why is that money spiders are okay - but anything bigger than that is shiver-worthy?!

Keira of LoveRomancePassion said...

Wow that sounds awesome! It's a gorgeous cover too. Thanks for sharing about how the idea came to you I always find that sort of thing fascinating.

My spider horror story? Probably the time I was in a hotel room and I moved the pillow to lie down and a HUGE (of course every spider to me is HUGE but this one was like a quarter at least) spider ran out from underneath and down into the headboard. So gross. So gross.

Anna Sugden said...

What a great story, Nancy. Gargoyles entertain me. I always think of Roman Holiday and that Mouth of Truth, so I won't put my hand near a gargoyles mouth!

Anna Sugden said...

Now that would freak me out totally, Keira. My hubby tells the story of when he was on a business trip in Africa, on safari, and there was a HUGE spider on the thatched roof of his cabin. He didn't like that too much (but probably assured himself it was facing the other direction!) and swears he packed and repacked his suitaces a dozen times in case it decided to hitch a ride home with him!

Katharine Ashe said...

Anna, I think my brother meant sort-of meditative "talking" -- you know, like human spirit to spider spirit, without speech. He's a special kind of guy. ;) LOL.

Julie Cohen said...

Right, I have just wept my eyes out at Sense and Sensibility (Alan Rickman! Dear lord!) and am ready to reconnect with the Bandits.

Mariska, hello again! :-) I'm very glad you're curious about my book!

Julie Cohen said...

Gannon, I'm so glad you love the title Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom. It really did start out as a joke, but I like it a lot now. I was very pleased to get bats on the cover, too. LOL at your teenage son blow-torching spiders!

Julie Cohen said...

Yo Christie! Good to see you, babe. And to hear about Fred the spider. Did you ever think of WHERE little Fred disappeared to? Like, maybe he went off to grow into one of those big, brown hairy ones!? In your pillowcase!?!? ;-)

I don't think I'll make it to Nationals this year, which is too bad, because I do fancy Nashville.

Julie Cohen said...

Kirsten, spiders do have an uncanny way of coming right back inside, don't they? I think I saw a cartoon about that one time, about a spider coming in via the bath drain, being washed out, shaking off the water, and popping up again.

I'm with my heroine Nina on that one—Why the bath!??!

Julie Cohen said...

Joan—ohhhhh no, what an awful story about the rubber spider becoming real! Agh!! And splatting it with a hammer...? Ugh. No. Just—no.

Julie Cohen said...

Hey Trish! Thanks for looking for my book. I hope you like it. And the Book Depository is generally very can't beat the free shipping, anyway. And really, when you think about it, Bridget Jones and Northanger Abbey aren't that dissimilar. They both have rather foolish heroines who learn a lesson about life and themselves, and they both Well, that's it, really. But it's close enough!

I would also have a coronary if a snake fell on me in my kitchen.

Julie Cohen said...

Kristen, I am DELIGHTED at your corpse-washing sink story. That is so good. My mother also used to date an undertaker, you know. Before he actually became an undertaker, though his father was the undertaker at the time. Fortunately, she married my dad, who's a dentist. Some might say that's worse, but... ;-)

Julie Cohen said...

p226, that story is crazy scary. Holy cow.

Julie Cohen said...

Hi Jo, and thank you for the welcome! They grow those spiders kinda big in California, don't they?

Julie Cohen said...

MsHellion, I'm glad you love my title! :-) You know, I never had a snake-keeping-me-from-work story. I'm from Maine, though, and I do have a moose-keeping-me-from-work story. I guess it's sort of similar. Though I couldn't fit the moose into Tupperware.

Julie Cohen said...

Virginia, your poor son and his spider scar. Then again, I bet all the chicks really dig that. Or maybe it was a radioactive spider....and he's really SPIDER MAN!! Wow!

Thanks for saying my books sound great. :-)

Julie Cohen said...

Cassondra, those spiders really are more scared of us than we are of them. Really. I mean it. :-)

Thanks for the kind things you say about the voice in my story! I'd never written first person present tense before, and it was really fun to be that "present" in my heroine's head.

Julie Cohen said...

*falls down shuddering at the thought of catslady's brown furry spider landing on head*

Julie Cohen said...

Anna C, I'm glad you like the gothic pics! My friend took those of me in our local cemetery. We had such a brilliant time. I didn't see any spiders, snakes, rats, bats or dead people but I managed to contain my disappointment. :-)

Julie Cohen said...

Katharine, thanks for the Brady moment! Asking the spider respectfully to go away doesn't work for my heroine Nina—in the following chapter she goes after it with rubber gloves, a spatula and a pint glass.

I hope you enjoy my Gothic(ish) novel, if you read it!

Julie Cohen said...

Donna, I think the creepy-crawlies are definitely planning revenge. :-) No talking spiders in my book I'm afraid, though there are quite a few bats, gargoyles, and also a dastardly Spaniard.

Julie Cohen said...

Thank you Denise! :-)

MsHellion, I hope that mouse enjoyed Julie Garwood as much as you did. It probably let you pat it because it couldn't wait to find out what happened next in the book!

Julie Cohen said...

Nancy, thank you! I'm so, so glad you enjoyed Girl from Mars and that you thought the characters were realistic. That really means a lot to me, because the characters in that book are dear to me. Thanks for saying so.

I love the story about your son explaining the gargoyles! It is all true, you know.

Julie Cohen said...

Cassondra, bats are EXCELLENT. I think they are wonderful in every way. I absolutely loved researching bats for Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom.

Unfortunately I couldn't include an excerpt about bats without including some major spoilers, but rest assured there are bats aplenty in my book. Some of them dwelling in crypts. Awesome.

Julie Cohen said...

And bat detectors.

Julie Cohen said...

Keira, I'm so glad you like the cover. I really like it a lot; hopefully it's a little different than your typical chick-lit cover. It is very fetching shades of purple and turquoise in real life. I am choosing my clothes to match it. LOL

Julie Cohen said...

Anna, all I really want to know is: when and how did your DH become such an expert on spider bums?

Right ladies, I'm going to bed. Thank you so much for having me and entertaining me in such a wonderfully creepy fashion. I'll check in the morning for anybody who happens to be in a different time zone than we Greenwich Mean Time set.

Joan said...

Cassondra, those spiders really are more scared of us than we are of them. Really. I mean it. :-)

Um....I've never had one run screaming in terror from me...not even if I've just rolled out of bed and haven't combed my hair!

Pat Cochran said...

When my Dad built our house "in the country," he also cut in the street and built bridges for the driveway. After a few years, the bridge began to settle and when I ran across it one day a railroad tie slipped and my foot was caught in the bridge. The tie(a huge plank) had to be dug out and lifted to free me. We all just stared at what was revealed! My foot was surrounded by what
seemed like a jillion black widow spiders! I never moved so fast in
my young life!! Luckily I had not been bitten and was even more lucky in that I didn't know the spiders were there. I know I would have had a heart attack!! To this
day, I do not like spiders!

Pat Cochran

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Julie! I'm popping in impossibly late in the evening to say hi and WELCOME! to the Lair!

I love, love love this concept and have put it righ on the must buy. Anythign that involves a corpse-washing sink...yep. That I have to read.

Bwah-ha-ha! Grins.

Laurie said...

*LOL* Loved the excerpt and am looking forward to reading Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom. It's fun to just to say the title!

Spiders don't usually bother me overmuch unless they are invading my space. But, I had to laugh at the excerpt because I know how your heroine felt seeing that big hairy spider in the bathtub. I've been there.

The worst time though, was when I got in bleary eyed with sleep, and not wearing my contact lenses, and discovered a huge hairy one right next to my foot. I ended up pulling down the shower curtain trying to escape and was lucky I only ended up with a wet floor and not a broken neck!

Fun post! I find more fabulous books from the recommendations here. Thanks!

Anna Sugden said...

Oh, I get it, Katharine - hmmm. I'll try it and let you know! LOL