Today’s the day! Trip the Light Phantasmic is now out and about, and I’m so excited about this new series. I hope you have as much fun reading the book as I had writing it. N. N. Light’s Book Heaven is spotlighting it here. In addition, author Anastasia Abboud interviewed me, not only about this new release but about writing in general. Check out her feature here.
Once again, here’s the blurb:
Gwyneth Camm has just inherited her great-aunt’s house in Salem, Massachusetts, along with an extensive collection of gothic romance novels. As a PhD student who prefers “serious” books, Gwyn has always avoided pulp fiction. Now, in honor of her beloved Aunt Ethel, she gives one of the gothics a try…and promptly falls asleep.
When she wakes, she finds herself inside the story, thrust by forces unknown into the heroine’s role. There’s magic afoot, and the only way back to her own life is to play her part and solve the mystery.
When fiction becomes fact, anything can happen…
I shared an excerpt a couple of days ago, but here’s another peek at the story:
The down comforter’s gentle weight soothed my tired frame. My thoughts drifted, and I hovered on the edge of sleep.
I lurched upright. The nightlight’s glow bathed the room in blue. I was alone, and all was still.
A door slam? Possibly. The noise came from downstairs, toward the back of the house. The library.
Frowning, I slipped out of bed. I tiptoed down the stairs, avoiding the spots that creaked the most. When I reached the bottom, I peered down the hall. A sliver of light spanned the width of the wooden floor. Its source was the library, whose door was ajar. I distinctly recalled turning off that light and leaving the door fully open before heading upstairs for the night.
My heart beat faster. Doors didn’t close themselves. Neither did lights switch themselves on. There must be an intruder.
With haste and not a little horror, I checked the front door, then the back. Both were still locked. Hmm. Okay.
I crept to the library and paused outside it. The silence within was absolute.
Only one choice led to an answer. Here goes nothing. I held my breath and peeked inside. The room appeared to be empty, apart from Aunt Ethel’s legion of books, her comfy chair, the large antique table she’d used as a desk, and…
A single paperback, lying in the center of the wide-plank floor.
“Where did you come from?” Obviously, from one of the built-in bookcases. But who placed it there?
I entered the room and approached the rogue book. Crouching, I picked it up. Then I stood and examined the cover. A scantily clad, windblown woman fled a dark, looming house. The title read Thornehaven.
A gothic, the genre Aunt Ethel preferred above all others. She had hundreds of them, from different periods, but the majority were published in the 1960s and ʼ70s.
My lips curled into a reminiscent smile. How many times had she sat snug in that chair, devouring one of these novels? Too many to count. I often kept her company, ensconcing myself at her desk to work on jigsaw puzzles.
Words I’d spoken as a teenager echoed in my mind. “But Aunt Ethel, you’re an English lit professor. Why are you reading gothic pulp fiction?”
She gave as good as she got. “You love gothic architecture and solving puzzles. Why aren’t you reading it?”
It was a fair question. I told her I preferred “serious” books and fitting together real-life clues: events which orchestrated key moments in history; the links between different languages, alive and dead; and the ultimate linguistic puzzle of how the human mind stored and computed all language. I joked with her about the tendency of gothic covers to feature a damsel in distress wearing a flowing gown of some sort. I was no doomed heroine, quivering with need for a man to come and rescue me. Not then and definitely not today.
I glanced down at my current attire. But I am running around in the middle of the night, wearing a nightgown. Grinning, I shook my head. She should see me now.
My right arm began to tingle. The sensation crept down to my fingers and up my neck to the right side of my face. Slowly, I turned my head in that direction. If I didn’t know better, I’d think…
I felt half-foolish, half-hopeful that she stood there beside me, vying with the material world for my attention. Had she slammed the door and moved the book?
I cleared my throat. “I don’t know if you’re actually here or I’m imagining things, but what’s the deal with this book?” A new thought hit me. “Don’t tell me you’re still trying to get me to read gothics, even in the afterlife.” Again, I shook my head. “Nah, that would be crazy.”
A delicate, floral scent filled my nostrils. Lavender! She’d always used lavender soap.
“Oh my God. Is it really you?” Hot tears pricked my eyes. “I miss you so much. I…” A lump formed in my throat, but I pushed through the emotion. “All right. Have it your way. If you’re so determined I read this, I’ll do it.”
I sniffled. The lavender scent was gone, as was the tingling sensation. She’d made her point, and I’d made a promise. Done and done. With book in hand, I settled onto the cushioned chair and heaved a weary sigh. “Only for you, Aunt Ethel.”
I inspected the back-cover copy. “Linda Brett had come to Thornehaven to do a job, but the old house harbored secrets…and murder.”
It had potential. More of the plot waited below, but I decided to ignore it and let said “secrets” unfold in their own time. A lion’s yawn escaped me as I flipped the book back over and opened it. According to the copyright page, Thornehaven was published in 1966. The musty smell and yellowed pages confirmed it.
Yawning again, I turned to the first page of the narrative. How much I read, I can’t recall, but no more than a few paragraphs. Fatigue set in fast, crossing my eyes and tempting me toward sleep.
The next thing I knew, I stood on a sloping lawn in front of a Gothic Revival mansion hewn from somber gray stone. The place was massive and imposing, with numerous turrets and classic Gothic tracery, and it perfectly matched the description I’d read moments before. According to the story, the expansive property sat on the Hudson River in upstate New York.
Is this a dream? If so, it was more vivid than any I’d ever experienced. The faint, smoky trace of a bonfire haunted the air. The trees flanking the property displayed the red, orange, and yellow leaves of fall. They flaunted their bright colors in seeming defiance of the leaden sky, rustling in the chill wind which grazed my cheeks and raised goose bumps on my legs.
My legs. Why are they colder than the rest of me? I looked down, and the answer was clear. Apart from two charcoal gray suitcases, one on either side, only pantyhose shielded my limbs, which were thinner than they should be.
Whose legs are those? And what the hell am I wearing? An open coat revealed a blue knit suit whose skirt fell just short of my knees, and I wore matching, low-heeled shoes. I was a walking—well, standing—tribute to the mid-1960s. Wait a minute. That’s what the protagonist wore in the book.
And what did she do next? She picked up her luggage and proceeded to the manor’s entrance. I might as well do the same.
The suitcases were heavy, more substantial than a dream should allow. What does she have in these things? Slabs of granite?
As I lumbered forward, the front door opened to reveal a tall, thin, thirty-something woman in a black dress. Her short, dark hair had petal-shaped layers, giving the overall “do” the semblance of an artichoke. She looked me up and down and attempted a smile, then abandoned the effort. “Miss Brett, I presume? Welcome to Thornehaven.”
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Thank you for your interest and support. Have a great weekend! 🙂