There is nothing more pleasurable than to curl up in front of the fire on a blustery, cold winter’s eve and tell stories. And what could be better than a ghost story when the nights are long and darkness presses against the windows at your back? The tradition of telling spooky stories in front of the fire is probably as old as man, but for many of us, the combination of ghost stories and the holiday season really found its feet in the mid-19th century.
The Victorian era in England ushered in a fascination for their traditions. Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree in 1841, and a revival in customs such as carol singing were renewed. Along with those, came the interest in the creepy thrill of tales of terror, spurred on by a publication most of us know and love: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, published in 1843.
The classic ghost story we know and love today arose during this time and authors such as M.R. James, Henry James, Sheridan Le Fanu and others brought to “life” tales of horror and subdued terror. These were the genesis of later horror stories including those by the masters, Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House) and Stephen King (The Shining).
While our current paranormal romances focus on the romance, they also include elements from this long tradition of stories meant to give the reader a tingle and cause her to cast a wary glance over her shoulder into the shadows behind her chair.
In my recently released paranormal, Vampire Protector, I borrow heavily from this rich tradition to add a few twists and unexpected chills to the underlying romance. Gwen has good reason to fear the dark as she sets out on a quest to understand her past and unearth the secrets hidden by her family for centuries.
Playing into the theme of ghosts and winter terrors, here is a brief excerpt from Vampire Protector.
Author: Amy Corwin
Author’s website: http://www.amycorwin.com
Publisher Line: Black Rose
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Memories may help her survive, but will they help her resist her vampire protector?
Exploring Gwen's long abandoned childhood home in the company of her attractive neighbor, John, sounds like a pleasant evening, but Gwen soon realizes her mistake. John is a vampire and her house is not exactly empty. Secrets—and the dead—don’t always stay buried, and John’s extraordinary strength may be all that can withstand what awaits them in the darkness.
Note: In the following excerpt, Gwen has asked her neighbor, John Wright, to accompany her to her abandoned family home. But when the two of them get to the house, she’s not so sure it’s a good idea to enter…
“The moon has already risen.” A cold swirl of air brushed the back of her neck. Shivering, she rubbed her nape, glancing around.
Only the two of them stood in the 1950s-style living room. The shadows were empty. Nothing stirred and yet…
“What’s wrong?” John asked.
“Nothing. Let’s get going,” she replied, thinking about the graveyard next door.
All those professional groundskeepers riding around the smooth grass of the cemetery on their efficient lawn tractors, sucking up the spirit remnants of the dead, shredding them, and spewing them out. The workmen unknowingly created ghosts that drifted on every errant breeze and collected in the comforting solidity of her deserted stone house.
Remnants and tatters of lost souls.
John held out a hand to her. She ignored him and walked forward into the gloom. Involuntarily, her gaze brushed past the central stairway to the rooms on her left. The dining room lay in that direction and beyond that, the kitchen.
Cool air brushed her cheeks like a caress.
The dining room held only tatters and unwanted memories. She could feel the warmth slipping away from her, leaving her lethargic and unable to focus. Just like the dead mockingbird on the porch. Too drained to escape in time.
But the present faded as she stared into the dining room, transfixed. The sound of Patsy Cline drifted through the air, the singer’s voice overlaid with the pops and scratches of her mother’s much played record.
“Peaches, have you finished setting the table for dinner?” her mother’s lilting voice called, memories flaring more brightly than the shadowed present.
Through the arched doorway, she could see the big maple table in the center of the dining room. Long, white curtains with yellow ruffles hung dejectedly from the metal valances. Gray streamers of spider webs drifted down from the hems of the curtains, swaying on errant drafts.
The memories focused sharply, scrubbing away the dust and cobwebs.
She was twelve again. Through the dining room’s wide archway, the kitchen glowed with light and heat…
Amy’s other books include: a Regency, SMUGGLED ROSE; two Regency romantic mysteries, I BID ONE AMERICAN and THE BRICKLAYER’S HELPER; and a paranormal romance, VAMPIRE PROTECTOR.