Guest Post from Erica Monroe on the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor

Our peek behind the scenes at the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor continues today with a guest post from Erica Monroe—who is going to tell us a bit about Regency insane asylums. Please welcome Erica!

Don’t miss the other posts in this series:
Ava Stone
Claire Delacroix
Elizabeth Essex
Claudia Dain
Kate Pearce
Renee Bernard
and more to come!

The Haunting of Castle Keyvnor, a Regency romance collection

I have always been drawn to the darker, sadder side of history, the facts that aren’t told much because they aren’t pleasant to talk about. I believe survivors of tragedy deserve to have their stories told, and that the greatest hope can be found in facing the darkness with light. I’ve written about the London underworld of the rookeries, the devastation of grief when a family member is murdered, and now with The Mad Countess I’ve explored the dismal lives of patients in Regency lunatic asylums.

Regency Romance author Erica MonroeThey say that writers face their greatest fears when they put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as is oft the case now). For me, this has always been true—my historical romances are dark and gritty, where the stakes are often life or death. I tap into the scariest corners of my mind in crafting the suspense subplot that runs through every book I write to some extent. It’s only through writing that I feel like I have control over the terrifying elements of the world, because in romances the happily ever after is assured, and all the more sweeter for the many, many difficulties the main characters have to overcome to get to that happiness.

In The Mad Countess, I faced another fear—one far more internal than my usual suspenseful subplots, as Claire’s family is cursed with madness. Claire’s fears that she will become trapped in her own mind, separated completely from reality, is one that many people may experience. While today we have healthy, safe treatment options for patients with mental illness, during the Regency madness was highly misunderstood and often equated to a death sentence for people viewed as “abnormal” by society. If they weren’t left to wander on the street, they were imprisoned in a lunatic asylum, where they were treated more like criminals than patients. Many stories still circulate about the horrors of being trapped in the public Bethlem Hospital, which functioned as an asylum for those of the lower classes. (Indeed, “Bedlam,” as the hospital was often called, was so much a part of the culture of the time that the word came to mean the general state of madness as well as the hospital.)

In The Mad Countess, Claire’s mother, the Marchioness of Brauning, is imprisoned in the private lunatic asylum Ticehurst, a real-life nineteenth-century institution for aristocrats and other members of the upper echelons of society. (You can actually view the entire case records for Ticehurst Asylum online and it is a treasure trove of information about the historical treatment of madness.) Ticehurst, with its gothic summer house, aviary, pagoda, and many acres of gardens was considered the best treatment money could buy. Noble families could send their mad relative off to Ticehurst and hope the rest of society forgot this apparent stain on their reputation.

But as you can see in the online records of Ticehurst, the outlook for mental patients in the nineteenth century was still quite bleak. In The Mad Countess, Claire’s mother drowns from a forced submergence of water in “the chair,” which bound all of the patient’s extremities and kept them upright as cold water was dumped on their head and warm water on their feet. The belief was that the cold water would “kill the mad idea” and rid of the body of mental derangement. (Obviously, this is not true.) Water therapy was used as a method of sedation, as a method of restraint (foregoing physical shackles in favor of the chair, bath box, or shower room), and also to bring out behavior that society viewed as more acceptable. In asylums, patients were also often shackled to the wall, and kept in rooms with metal bars across the windows or doors. Instead of feeling like a hospital, the asylums became more like prisons.

The treatments which I have discussed were not practiced by all doctors, thankfully. During the nineteenth century, reform-minded individuals worked to better the conditions for the mentally ill. And as with any historical research, it is important to keep in mind that we view all things from our modern-day standpoint—these treatments sound absolutely appalling to us, but at the time they may have been the best care available and not meant to deal harm. We have made a great many medical strides throughout the centuries.

It is with compassion and understanding then that we as writers try and relay these disheartening parts of history, in hopes that by showcasing what happened we learn to not make the same mistakes or inflict the same kinds of wounds. Ultimately, with dark romance, the goal is to present those fears, and in doing so give the reader a feeling of empowerment over their own demons. Claire conquers her curse, and you too can conquer the darkness in your past. Your future need not be defined by the wounds of your history.

Erica Monroe is a USA Today Bestselling Author of dark, suspenseful historical romance. She was a finalist in the published historical category for the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Romantic Suspense, and her books have been recommended reads at Fresh Fiction, Smexy Books, SBTB, and All About Romance. When not writing, she is a chronic TV watcher, sci-fi junkie, and comic book fanatic. She lives in the suburbs of North Carolina with her husband, two dogs, and a cat. Visit Erica online at ericamonroe.com and sign up for her new release newsletter at bit.ly/mlem4.


Mystified, an anthology of Regency romance novellas by Renee Bernard, Jerrica Knight-Catania and Erica MonroeThe Mad Countess by Erica Monroe
Theodore Lockwood, Earl of Ashbrooke, has been in love with his best friend, Lady Claire Deering, for as long as he can remember. Claire too harbors a secret desire for him—but a witch cursed her family with madness, and she’s terrified she’ll only hurt him if they act on their feelings. When a will reading at a mysterious castle in Cornwall brings them both together, they’ll work to break her family’s curse…and find true love.

Mystified goes on sale September 20. Pre-order your copy at these portals:

Buy at iBooks Buy at Amazon.com Buy at Barnes&Noble Buy at Kobo Buy at GooglePlay

Guest Author Renee Bernard on the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor

Today’s guest author is Renee Bernard, whose story—The Sweetest Curse—is the lead novella in Mystified, which is part of the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor collection. Renee’s heroine is a secret member of the local coven, and her peek behind the scenes is about that. Please welcome Renee Bernard!

Don’t miss the other posts in this series:
Ava Stone
Claire Delacroix
Elizabeth Essex
Claudia Dain
Kate Pearce
and more to come!

The Haunting of Castle Keyvnor, a Regency romance collection

Sometimes, I feel as if I am always in reverse when everyone else is driving forward. Such is the creative twists of a brain that can never sit still and also never takes the easy way out of a problem. My artist’s brain. I’ve tried to trade it out or up for a new one but apparently the Rules of the Universe mean you have to use the one you’re given.

Regency romance author Renee BernardSo, when the challenge of The Haunting of Castle Keyvnor came up, I was ready! And then my brain said, let’s do something different! (And I had to make myself a cocktail and accept my fate.) Because nothing about the usual things that go bump in the night seem to be working for me…

And then it came in a quiet and very politically incorrect moment when someone was spewing something about someone else’s faith and what they considered “a good religion” and I knew I was in for a writing rollercoaster. Because my brain said, “Let’s roll.”

Wicca and the Old Religion have been around since..well…since forever it seems. I modeled the witches in my coven not on pointy-hat wearing caricatures but on a group of women being true to a faith that centers on a care for the earth and others, on a belief in goddesses and gods and things unseen and who would easily be ostracized as the “other” in English society for their wisdom, independence and refusal to kneel at the feet of a religion that they would interpret as being overtly into human sacrifice. What can I say? Misunderstandings happen. Witches not only don’t worship the devil but they don’t acknowledge such a creature’s existence and see him as the invention of the church or as a construct used by wicked men to place blame and burn every hapless midwife they can get their hands on. So…as I said, I tend to write in a different direction sometimes.

Love conquers all and while I kept all the sharp, scary objects off the writing table, I do hope that readers will enjoy the twists of a coven that resembles a knitting circle more than anything else. “The Sweetest Curse” is a light read meant to warm your heart on a chilling Autumn evening—and to remind us all that not everything is what it seems.

Renee Bernard is an award winning and USA Today bestselling author of historical romance and recently, contemporary romantic comedy.  She won RT’s Reviewer’s Choice award for “Best Debut Historical” in 2006 and never slowed down (she missed the memo).  By the end of 2014, she will have fifteen books out there in the world.  She has published with Simon & Schuster and Berkley as well as branching out into independent publishing, audio books and comic books.  For over four years she has been the host of “The Romance Bookmark” (formerly “Canned Laughter and Coffee”), a weekly internet radio show with between 80-100K registered listeners via Readers Entertainment.  From wine wrangling—to stand-up comedy and public speaking, there’s nothing off the table.  (No really.  Nothing.  Except anything involving dancing and a pole.  She’s past that now.)

Renee lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains with her husband and daughters, and an adequate number of cats to qualify as a romance writer.

Visit Renee’s website, like her page on Facebook, and follow her on twitter.


The Sweetest Curse by Renee BernardMystified, an anthology of Regency romance novellas by Renee Bernard, Jerrica Knight-Catania and Erica Monroe

Blade Hambly believes in three things: logic, science and the notion that if a man just keeps his eyes forward, he is unlikely to be tripped up by the past. But how does a man keep his thoughts cool and focused when he meets a young woman like Miss Elethea Fairfax? A woman who heals with the touch of her hands, who talks to the air and radiates magic with every other-worldly fluttering of her eyelashes? What does a man of science do when the woman he is falling in love with is a witch?

Mystified—along with the other three books in the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor collection—goes on sale September 20.

Pre-order your copy at any of these portals:

Buy at iBooks Buy at Amazon.com Buy at Barnes&Noble Buy at Kobo Buy at GooglePlay

 

Guest Author Kate Pearce on the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor

Today, our behind the scenes at the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor series continues with a guest post from Kate Pearce.  Please welcome Kate!

Don’t miss the other posts in this series:
Ava Stone
Claire Delacroix
Elizabeth Essex
Claudia Dain
and more to come!

The Haunting of Castle Keyvnor, a Regency romance collection

When I was invited to participate in The Haunting of Castle Keyvnor collection I wondered what on earth I was going to write because for once the opportunities for fun were limitless. When you’re offered ghosts, and witches, and pixies it’s hard to choose.

Romance author Kate PearceI settled on the Tudor ghost who roams the castle seeking star-crossed lovers who need his help, and the rest followed on from there. Shorter works offer a great opportunity to try out something new. I wanted to write something light and funny rather like a nineteen forties movie/play with a lot of double takes and silly characters.

That’s how I ended up with A Ghost Of A Chance where two beautiful ditherers almost wreck the romantic plans of our hero, Edwin who is determined to make Violet DeLisle notice him—while she is busy dreaming of his terribly sweet, but terribly dim brother, Charlie.

They say it takes a village, but in this story it takes a ghost to sort things out, and show Violet what she’s been missing. I hope you enjoy reading this novella as much as I enjoyed writing it.

NYT and USA Today bestselling author Kate Pearce was born in England in the middle of a large family of girls and quickly found that her imagination was far more interesting than real life. After acquiring a degree in history and barely escaping from the British Civil Service alive, she moved to California and then to Hawaii with her kids and her husband and set about reinventing herself as a romance writer.

She is known for both her unconventional heroes and her joy at subverting romance clichés. In her spare time she self publishes science fiction erotic romance, historical romance, and whatever else she can imagine. You can find Kate at her website at www.katepearce.com, on Facebook as Kate Pearce, and on Twitter as Kate4queen.


Bedeviled, an anthology of Regency romance novellas by Kate Pearce, Deb Marlowe andA Ghost of a Chance by Kate Pearce
Violet DeLisle is secretly delighted to have the opportunity to meet up with some of the more obscure branches of her family tree. She’s been in love with her stepmother’s second cousin, Charlie, since she was a child. But her beautiful half-sister has clearly set her sights on Charlie and he is obviously dazzled. Forced to hide from the lovebirds, she huddles under the stairs and meets a kindred spirit who not only turns out to be a rather feisty ghost, but a master of courtship.

Bedeviled goes on sale September 20. Pre-order your copy at these portals:

Buy at iBooks Buy at Amazon.com Buy at Barnes&Noble Buy at Kobo Buy at GooglePlay

Guest Post from Claudia Dain on the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor

Today, Claudia Dain joins us for more “behind the scenes” in the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor series. Please welcome Claudia!

Remember to check the previous posts in our “behind the scenes” series:
Ava Stone
Claire Delacroix
Elizabeth Essex

The Haunting of Castle Keyvnor, a Regency romance collection

Do I love writing about the Regency period? I do.

Do I love writing about paranormal events? I don’t.

Regency romance author Claudia DainDid I want to participate in this series with all these fabulous authors? I did.

Did I have any ideas about writing a paranormal story? I didn’t.

What did I do? I wrote myself into a solution. I did a “Shakespeare” on it.

Have you read ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’? Yeah, me neither. But I do know that the basic idea is that there are all these fairies in the woods with Issues and there are all these humans in the woods, and they’ve got Issues, and it’s Midsummer Night, and that’s very supernaturally special night, so . . . if Shakespeare can make it work, so can I! (A girl can dream, right?)

My story takes place during Halloween, on the Cornwall coast (there are some woods involved, I’ll admit), and instead of fairies, I used ghosts. Two ghosts: a pair of lovers who died in 1484. Two humans: a pair that in 1811 might fall in love on their own, but why wait when you have ghosts around to give things a push? If Shakespeare can use fairies to push things along, I can use ghosts.

As you might have guessed from the tone of this post, my novella, Lady Ghost and Lord Death: A Love Story, has a comical edge to it. Since it worked for Shakespeare way back in the late 1500s, I thought it might work again, now. The way I look at it, even ghosts deserve a chance to have some fun and to share a few mostly innocent laughs, and so do you.

Claudia Welch/Claudia Dain graduated from the University of Southern California with a BA in English. While there she became a member of Alpha Phi, one of the oldest sororities in America. A two- time Rita finalist, she has won numerous writing awards and honors since her first novel was published in 2000. She has lived for most of her life in Los Angeles, called Connecticut home for a decade, and currently lives in North Carolina with her husband.

Visit Claudia’s website, like her Facebook page, and follow her on Twitter.


Spellbound, a Regency romance anthology by Claire Delacroix, Jane Charles and Claudia DainLord Death and Lady Ghost by Claudia Dain
Hal Mort, Viscount Blackwater, visits Keyvnor Castle in the company of friends and atop his new stallion. How was he to know that ghosts awaited him? Hal does not believe in ghosts. Unfortunately for Hal, the ghosts take an interest in him. One ghost wants to see him married to the lovely Lady Morgan. Another ghost is just as determined to see him slip the noose. As the ghosts work their supernatural magic, Hal can’t determine if the intense attraction he feels for Morgan is coming from him or from them. And after a few magical kisses, he’s not sure he cares.

Spellbound goes on sale September 20. Pre-order your copy at these portals:

Buy at iBooks Buy at Amazon.com Buy at Barnes&Noble Buy at Kobo Buy at GooglePlay