I'm so happy to welcome another Amazon Encore author, the talented Susan Coryell who celebrated her book's release Tuesday. I'm so glad you're here, Susan. And congratulations on the re-release of A Red, Red Rose.
Hi, Barbara, and thanks for inviting me to your awesome blog!
A Red, Red Rose is a cozy mystery/Southern Gothic cross-genre, published by The Wild Rose Press in 2013 and picked up by Amazon Encore for re-release September 8, 2015.
The Encore Publishing Division of Amazon is an imprint devoted to taking successful small press books with decent sales and good reviews and improving their exposure—and thus their sales. A Red, Red Rose is re-released exclusively for Kindle, though the print version is still available at all on-line book stores and through The Wild Rose Press. I feel honored that my cozy mystery/Gothic was selected for this group.
A whole summer to absorb two hundred years of Overton ancestry. Their lives, loves and secrets. Especially their secrets. 20 year-old Ashby Overton visits the family’s historic estate in southern Virginia where she hopes to unearth her ancestral roots and the cause of a mysterious family rift. Perched high above Moore Mountain Lake, the mansion’s idyllic setting is perfect for Ashby, the aspiring romance writer. From the moment she enters her room in the oldest wing, Ashby feels an invisible enfolding presence. This is Rosabelle’s room, but no one is willing to talk about Rosabelle, until Luke, the stable boy takes a romantic interest in Ashby.
As summer unfolds, so does the shroud of silence surrounding Overhome. Ever present is a force Ashby never sees, only feels. Candles light themselves, notes from an old lullaby fall from the ceiling, the radio tunes itself daily. And roses meant for Ashby appear in unlikely places. Are the roses a symbol of love, or do they represent something dark, deep, evil?
Full of heartbreak and adventure, fear and passion, the summer leads Ashby on a suspenseful, sometimes terrifying journey as she navigates centuries of family strife alongside the puzzling parameters of her world. Ultimately, she discovers that some secrets, even the most fiercely guarded, are destined to be revealed.
A Red, Red Rose is the first book in a trilogy. The second book, also published by The Wild Rose Press, is Beneath the Stones. I am currently writing the third book, as yet un-named, in the series.
This sounds like a terrific series. What was your first published book?
My first published novel is the Young Adult anti-bully Englebait, currently updated with cyber-bullying and now available in both print and ebook via Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Eaglebait won both national and international awards.
What drew you to this particular genre after your YA novel?
I was drawn to the cozy mystery/Southern Gothic genre because, first of all, I am a born and raised southerner and I have always been interested in the conflict between long-held, hard-fought Southern beliefs and modern ideas. Secondly, mysteries are fun to write and the South is ripe for Gothic: ghosts, history and romance.
Where did the idea for this story come from?
My inspiration for A Red, Red Rose stemmed from a visit to an actual historical home rumored to house a ghost (or two). Beautiful, old and stately, the house and environs raised both goose bumps and my writer’s antennae. Retirement to southern Virginia and the lovely Smith Mountain Lake, encouraged me to use a similar lake setting for the novel.
Was any character particularly stubborn in cooperating with you during the writing process?
Oddly enough, though I have never personally “experienced” a ghost—my quirky spirit, Rosabelle, seemed to whisper in my ear throughout the entire writing process. Even without any personal extrasensory perception, I managed, according to one paranormal expert, to create the perfect portrait of a family spirit
If your book could be a color, what would it be? If it had a taste, what would that be?
This book, as a color? RED, RED, RED! As a taste—something bittersweet. Ashby Overton, the protagonist has a hard time figuring out whether Rosabelle is out to protect or persecute her. Rosabelle’s signature red rose can be interpreted both ways.
Where do you like to write?
I am lucky to have the best room in our cottage. My writing loft overlooks wide water rimmed by mountains and wreathed by trees. While I am writing, I merely look over my left shoulder and gaze out the floor-to-ceiling living room windows to refresh my soul with the view.
Do you face challenges finding writing time?
The trouble with retirement is we must learn to say a firm, “NO,” when every other soul we meet offers up some fun, albeit time-consuming, activity. My August calendar looks as if a toddler scribbled over it with pencil, pen and crayon. It’s all fun—but I have to back off from so many distractions to find quality writing time.
What tip would you offer writers?
Every writer enjoys a unique style. I just read Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a series of essays written mostly for magazines. When she reveals her own writing style, I find our habits to be quite similar. She does not use an outline, she researches thoroughly before sitting down to write, she must have inspiration for theme—just like me. The difference (other than the fact she’s gotten rich off her writing)? I have to talk out my plot and characters prior to actually writing about them. When my children were home, they were my sounding boards. Now my stalwart husband bears the brunt of my story-telling—and, I must say, he’s a champ. So, dear writers, my tip would simply be: Do whatever it takes to get your story out there!
What great advice, Susan! Now for a longer taste of A Red, Red Rose.
As suddenly as it began, the music stopped. Bewildered, I held out the candle as though it might illuminate the harmony I had heard so clearly only moments ago. Except for the dying sputter of the storm, all was quiet again. My ears strained, listening. Faintly this time, but distinctly, I heard the melody again, this time in the hall outside my closed bedroom door. Barefoot, holding the candlestick in front of me, I moved slowly to the door, drew the latch, and, without thinking, only feeling the music, I followed the mellow strains, like a child of Hamlin behind the Pied Piper. Descending the steep steps, on the first floor, now, I continued to follow the path of the music, through the dining room, to the old keeping room and out a door I had never used or even noticed before,
I halted, shook my head, trying to clear out the hypnotic tones that crowded out all thought and plugged my senses. Once again, the music abated. It was like a game of musical chairs. Where was I? No longer in the house, I felt the damp night air on my bare arms, and rough floorboards beneath my bare feet. Holding the candle at arm’s length, I crept forward, a step at a time, my other hand grasping at the air in front. I felt like a blind person without a guide dog.
My reaching fingers brushed across a grainy surface, and crumbling powder dusted my fingertips. Instantly, I recognized the metallic smell of old, rusting screens. I knew then I must be on the ancient screened porch tucked between the wings of the house, the crumbling porch with the antique rocking chairs. The old part of the house, reached only by the door in the keeping room. The music had led me here. Again the strains wafted over and around me, holding me captive as I stood, shivering, gazing at the dim light of my flickering candle.
The music stopped as abruptly as it had begun. Struggling to clear the cobwebs of sound spinning in my brain, I took a deep breath and looked around. I sensed, rather than saw a movement in my periphery. When I turned, I became aware of one of the old rocking chairs. Gently, so as to be barely perceptible, the chair rocked itself back and forth as though someone invisible sat in it, enjoying the languorous, rhythmic motion. Rocking, rocking, rocking, without any sound at all.
Not conscious of moving, I found myself standing beside the ancient rocker, now motionless, dusty, the seat sagging within inches of the floor, as though it had not moved in a hundred years. I had not dreamed it. The chair had rocked itself, and someone or something had led me here to witness it. Led me with the music. I had the evidence. On the decaying cane seat lay a single fresh rose just out of bud.
Susan’s website: www.susancoryellauthor,com
FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/susan.coryell.7
FaceBook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Susan-Coryell-Author/149075331807592
Buy Link: http://amzn.com/B0145P8K16
A career educator, Susan has taught students from 7th grade through college-level. She earned a BA degree in English from Carson-Newman College and a Masters from George Mason University. She is listed in several different volumes of Who’s Who in Education and Who’s Who in Teaching. Susan belongs to Author’s Guild, Virginia Writers, and Lake Writers. She loves to talk with budding writers at schools, writers’ conferences and workshops. Her young adult anti-bully novel EAGLEBAIT is in its third edition for print and e-book, updated with cyber-bullying. EAGLEBAIT won the NY Public Library's "Books for the Teen Age," and the International Reading Association's "Young Adult Choice."
A RED, RED ROSE, first in a cozy mystery/Southern Gothic series, was nominated for a literary award with the Library of Virginia. BENEATH THE STONES, the sequel,was released in April of 2015.
The author has long been interested in concerns about culture and society in the South, where hard felt, long-held feelings battle with modern ideas. The ghosts slipped in, to her surprise.
When not writing, Susan enjoys boating, kayaking, golf and yoga. She and her husband, Ned, love to travel, especially when any of their seven grandchildren are involved.
Thanks, again, Barbara. This has been a blast!
It has been fun, Susan. Thanks for being here. I hope you'll visit again.