The Sin-Eater in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall #HalloweenBooks

Spine-chilling Characters in Real Life and Fiction: The Sin-Eater

Sin-eaters really existed from pre-Christian times to the end of the 19th century. They were summoned to the bedside of a dead person, with the objective of absorbing their sins by eating and drinking food placed on the corpse’s body, thereby enabling the deceased to continue his journey to afterlife in a sinless manner.

Many sin-eaters were beggars, and the custom was carried out in different parts of the British Isles, including Yorkshire and Wales, until mid-19th century. The last Sin-eater reportedly died in Shropshire, in 1906.

The Eyre Hall Trilogy is not a horror story, but there some sinister characters and events in the novels, which are set in Victorian England. Last year leading up to Halloween, I wrote a post about a spine-chilling Sin-Eater, Isac das Junot, who appears in All Hallows at Eyre Hall.

If you would like to read an extract of Junot’s visit to Eyre Hall in All Hallows at Eyre Hall, follow this link. If you’d like to read an extract of Junot’s visit to Eyre Hall in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, continue reading this post.

Chapter XIX – Junot Returns

Some things had changed since my last visit to Eyre Hall, but most had remained unaltered. Dawn had not yet broken, and I could see candlelight coming from her window. I presumed the widow was having breakfast in her room to avoid the hordes of fake mourners who would soon be flooding into the drawing room. 

I stood before the unlocked door and kicked it open. A gust of wind and snow swirled into the hall. A maid screamed and ran through a door and down to the servant’s quarters. Was my presence so disagreeable that they were so easily frightened? Could they see what I saw? Could they see the sins I had absorbed and feel the evil I carried?

The house was still. The guests had not yet arrived, but I could smell the corpse upstairs. I supposed he was in Mr. Rochester’s room. Another sinful meal awaited me.

I was about to walk up the stairs when I heard a stuttering voice behind me. I recognised the terrified, long–limbed servant I had seen last year.

“I’m afraid Mrs. Mason cannot see you.” 

I turned, parted my chapped lips and showed him my sharp grey teeth. “I have come to see Mr. Mason, you idiot.” My hollow voice reverberated in the empty hall. “So announce me to his widow, unless you wish yours to be the next funeral.”

He jumped back and babbled some unintelligible words. I managed to decipher the last three. “Please leave, sir.”

“Will you be responsible for Mr. Mason’s permanence in this house as one of the undead?” My voice rumbled across the hall.


This time, Jane not only allows Junot to carry out his macabre ceremony, but she also has a conversation with him. Why would Christian Jane allow him into her house? Part of her conversation with him can help us understand her reasons.

When Junot asks Jane, “Why do you not fear me?”

Jane replies:

“Because I know that good and evil are two sides of the same coin, just as happiness and sadness, and beauty and ugliness are all part of our nature. There is no good without evil. Each of us has both. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. You chose evil, so you make the rest of us your opposite: good. Why should I fear you?”

“You are unwise not to fear me,” I said as we walked into the same room I had entered the last time. The corpse was laid out, dressed, and blackened. The smell was the most nauseating I had ever encountered. Was he already decomposing? Had his soul escaped before my arrival?


The Sin-eater not only claims to save the dying from hell, but also from wandering the earth as ghosts, thereby performing a service for the living as well. Junot also claims to predict the future, and Jane seems to believe that he does indeed have such powers, but does he? Or is he a charlatan?

Surprisingly, Jane believes Junot’s rituals serve a purpose, because she is not willing to take the risk of having ghosts at her beloved Eyre Hall. She also believes in Junot’s powers of divination, which are wound into the plot in each novel.

Jane believes that evil exists as a real force of nature, yet she believes that the power of good is stronger and will therefore finally win the battle, which is why she does not fear him. She also believes in destiny, which is why she believes the future can be seen, because the path has already been laid out.

Junot will reappear again in Book 3 of The Eyre Hall Trilogyy, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, to absorb more sins and make a devil’s pact with one of the main characters.

All Hallows at Eyre Hall US and UK Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall US and UK are both on Kindle Countdown Deal ay 0.99 until 2nd of November.


The Moon in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall

There’s a full mon tonight, as I’m sitting in my terrace listening to the waves, and recovering after the stress and excitement of yesterday’s book launch. I have already discussed the symbolism of the moon in Jane Eyre in earlier posts: The Moon in Jane Eyre Part One and The Moon in Jane Eyre Part Two.

This time, I can’t resist writing a post on two occasions in which the moon is a present in important scenes in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall.




The moon, especially in combination with the sea, radiates mystery and magic, and is closely connected to the subconscious, in the shape of dreams and wishes associated with love, especially when it seems unattainable.

In Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, the moon appears rippling on the sea, during long voyages, on various occasions. The first time is in Chapter 1, when Michael goes up to the deck after a storm while he’s returning to England.


That evening, I could not find rest, so I returned to the deck to pray for the dead. The sea was as still as a mirror, alight with the sparkling moon and starlight. It would have been a beautiful sight if my eyes had not been clouded by the curse of emptiness.

I dug the red button out of my jacket pocket and held it up to the waxing moon. Its shape pierced through the holes confusing my stunned eyes into seeing a vision of soft pale skin and long auburn hair. I had willed myself not to think about Jane, although it was impossible to forget the reason I was a living corpse.


Michael had travelled thousands of miles to start a new life away from Eyre Hall and forget Jane, but on this occasion, after over a year away, he realises, with the help of the moonbeams (and other events which have occurred previously), that he has been a ‘living corpse’ without Jane.

In the following excerpt, the moon appears during a final love scene in Chapter XXIX, between Annette Mason and another mysterious character.


The moon was shining over the rippling waters, and a strong wind blew into my face, lifting my hair. His eyes darkened as his hands held my face close to his.

“Do you like my kisses, Annette?”

I moved my lips closer to his in reply. I closed my eyes and listened to the waves breaking against our boat, rocking us gently in the middle of the ocean. I laid my arms on his shoulders and thought he would be easy to love if I could forget John’s tormented face, when he kissed me farewell and vowed it would be our last embrace.


Annette is still in love with John, but the family’s secrets and lies make it impossible for them to marry, while another man, is determined to make her love him.  Will he succeed?


Does the moon appear in any important scenes in your novels?

If you’re not a writer, can you think of any novels you’ve recently read where the mon appeared in an important scene?



Book Launch Blog Party: Theme BOOKS

Blog Party 28th August
It’s past midnight in Europe, where I live! It’s officially the launch day of my second novel, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, and to celebrate, I’ll be hosting my first Blog Party with the help and encouragement of Suzie Speaks!  Thank you Suzie! I would never have been so daring without your example and support!

I have never hosted a Blog Party before. I have looked at at a few, like Suzie’s, and searched on the Internet and I’ve discovered it’s basically a spot for bloggers to share their work on the same day and check out the work of others.

So, visitors post links from their own blogs and interact with other visitors by checking and commenting on their blogs, too. It all takes place on the hosting blog, in this case Rereading Jane Eyre.

The result is that visitors reach an audience they might not normally reach, so traffic and interaction should increase in all participating blogs.

As I’m new to this, I’ll be following Suzie’s layout and rules.

I’ve decided to add a theme: Books

1. Choose your favourite post related to books. It could be a review, a reflection on writing, your experiences as a reader, any aspect of publishing. Anything related to books!

2. You may have more than one favourite post, so you can post up to three different links, but for maximum impact I would suggest that you wait a little while in between posting them rather than in one go.

3. Introduce yourself and your blog briefly and paste the link to your post in the comment section of this post.

4. Enjoy! Relax, pull up a chair, meet other bloggers! Find new blogs, comment on their posts, follow, reblog and share. Let them know that you met them here! This is a really useful way of discovering new blogs, particularly if you have only just joined the blogging world and when I have participated in similar things I have really enjoyed them!

You don’t have to follow me to participate, you don’t have to be an established blogger – you could have written just a single post – and feel free to invite your friends! You don’t have to be a writer. I will leave it open all weekend, so if you can’t join in now you can come back at any time over the next few days!

Feel free to share this post on all of your social media accounts too!

You can find me on Twitter: @LucciaGray
And on Facebook: Luccia Gray, Author of the Eyre Hall Trilogy

I’m looking forward to seeing ‘old’ blogging friends and meeting new ones 🙂

Have a wonderful time!

Characters, New and Used

2 days to book launch

I met Norah Colvin some months ago in the Blogging Universe. She is an enthusiastic teacher, writer, and an informative and supportive blogger. Please look up her thought-provoking blog. We usually bump into each other writing Flash Fiction at Carrot Ranch.

Yesterday, Norah asked me a question, which has triggered this post.

Norah’s question.

It is quite an interesting thing to take characters from a well-known book and place them into a different situation with other characters. You’ve probably shared it elsewhere, but I wonder why you chose to do this rather than introduce totally new characters.

There are three answers to this question: The long answer, for those who want to get to know me better. The intermediate answer, for those who want a concise, non-rambling reply, and the short answer, for those who really busy and have no time for nonsense!

The Long answer is especially for Norah, because I know that when she asks a question, she wants and deserves a proper answer!

Long Answer:

When I started dabbling with writing novels, many years ago, I realized I kept writing about myself and people who were close to me, but I didn’t want to do that, so I stopped writing novels and wrote diaries instead.

More recently, I decided I needed to express my creativity by writing a novel, but I wanted to make sure I wrote about other ‘invented’ people, not myself, or anyone I knew personally. I was teaching Postcolonial Literature at the time to Undergraduates. One of the topics we dealt with was related to 20th century writers ‘writing back’ to ‘colonial’ or 19th century writers. Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, were on the agenda. I became fascinated with the topic. I have written a chapter in an academic book titled: Sexuality and Gender relations in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea (I’ll be writing a post on that soon).Please don’t even think of buying it. It is ridiculously priced. If anyone wants to read my article, just let me know.

Identities on the move cover

There are other posts on this blog related to the madwoman in the attic and postcolonial and feminist literary criticism which you may like to have a look at, if you are interested in the topic. Madwoman in the Attic Part I and Madwoman in the Attic Part II

When I started my three-part sequel to Jane Eyre, my plan was to expose Rochester as a tyrant and revindicate Bertha Mason as his victim. I am sure that Jane Eyre would have become another victim, given a few years, which is what happens in my novel.

I also wanted to make sure that amends would be made, so Bertha’s daughter (my creation) would be reinstated, and Jane would find happiness and lasting love, with another man (my creation). That’s what I set out to do and what I’ve accomplished with The Eyre Hall Trilogy (the final instalment, book 3, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, is well on its way!).

The Eyre Hall Trilogy is meant as a tribute to Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Elizabeth Barret Browning, Robert Browning, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Thomas de Quincey, C. S. Forrester, Daphne du Maurier, Jean Rhys, George Elliot, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen, and so many more 19th and 20th century authors whose works are firmly lodged in my literary mind.

You pierce my soul

From Captain Wentworth’s letter to Anne Elliot in Jane Austen’s, Peruasion.


Their works and literary personas are interwoven in my novel as characters and events. For example, I have used some of Charlotte Bronte’s characters, reinventing them a generation later.

Most of the characters I have invented are based on characters created by other writers, or they are based on real writers’ lives. In some instances I’ve changed their names. For example, Robert Browning is the inspiration for Mr. Greenwood. Jenny Rosset is based on Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poem Jenny. The portrayal of the use and abuse of opium is based on de Quincey’s Diary of an Opium Eater. Jane’s first novel is based on Rebecca.

Michael is a complex character who is a mixture of characters. He has part of Hornblower by C. S. Forester, ‘Pip’ in Great Expectations, and Captain Wentworth in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Charles Dickens appears as a character in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall. Dr. Carter has learnt his techniques of criminal investigation from Conan Doyle’s Dr. Watson. Annette Mason and her background are based on Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea. Jane quotes Lord Tennyson. I could go on, but I’ll let you look out for more influences.

Rossetti by William Holm Hunt

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

rossetti dante gabriel jenny B20096 77

The first page of his poem, Jenny.

Of course, it really doesn’t matter if you don’t pick this up. I’ve created an intertextual and diachronic mélange in my mind, which I have translated into a trilogy. I don’t want my readers to analyse my literary influences and background. I want readers to enjoy an exciting and mysterious, Victorian, gothic romance.

Eyre Hall  Trilogy

Finally, I’ll admit it, Norah. I’m an irreverent, daring, and provocative writer who looks to her favourite writers for inspiration. Please don’t be mad at me, I’ve done it because I love all these wonderful writers, and I can’t get them out of my mind or my writing.


Intermediate answer.

How many versions are there of Anthony and Cleopatra? Romeo and Juliet? Troilus and Cressida? Shakespeare’s weren’t the first, either. Most writers look to historical, literary and mythological characters for inspiration. I’m not the first, and I’m sure I won’t be the last writer to use ‘real’ or ‘fictional’ characters from other sources.

“What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.” Eugene Delacroix

There’s always more to a great work of art than meets the eye. Rereadings, reinterpretations, and rewritings are enriching and pay tribute to the original works and authors.

I’ve written a post about sequels, prequels, reinterpretations, rewritings, and writing back, which deals with this topic in greater depth.


Short answer.

Why not?


Kandisnky quote


So, what do you think about ‘used’ characters, is it OK to reuse them?

Facebook Book Launch Party: Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall

Book Launch Facebook

Are you on Facebook?

If you are, you are all invited to a Facebook Party to Launch Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall!

There will be fun, games and prizes to celebrate the Launch of Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall.

On Friday 28th of August for TWO HOURS only, at 6pm UK time and 7pm Spain time.

For the US: 10:00 am – PST / 11:00 am – MST / 12:00 noon – CST / 1:00 pm – EST

Please join in and share! We’ll have fun!

Click on the banner or follow this link to join in:

I’ll be going to the Launch Party for Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall

Meet The Main Characters in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall

Three Days to Book Launch

Main Characters in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall

Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall is the second volume in the sequel to Jane Eyre. Some of the main characters in this novel also appeared in Charlotte Bronte’s original novel, nevertheless, I have moved them on 22 years. I have developed their characters, reinventing them at a later stage in their lives. Other characters are my own creation.

Characters mentioned in Jane Eyre:

Jane Eyre, Richard Mason, Leah, Admiral Fitzjames (he was captain in Jane Eyre), Mrs. Diana Fitzjames, Adele Varens, Bertha Mason, Dr. Carter.

Characters of my own creation:

John Eyre Rochester, Michael and Susan Kirkpatrick, Annette Mason, ‘young’ Dr. Carter, Captain Carrington, Mr. Greenwood, Dante Greenwood, Nell Rosset, Jenny Rosset, Phoebe, Simon and Beth.


Jane Eyre. Jane is no longer a nineteen-year-old naïve and young girl. She is a mature woman in her early forties. She is involved in social work, mainly with orphans and parish schools. She writes novels, much like Charlotte Bronte did, and manages the Rochester estate. She had been married to Mr. Rochester for over 20 years, and had one son and several miscarriages. There were many ups and downs in the marriage, which ended with Edward Rochester’s death in book 1, All Hallows at Eyre Hall. The end of book one left Jane in a state of confusion, depression and physical illness. Her husband had died, she was blackmailed into marrying Mr. Mason, her husband’s brother-in-law, she suffered yet another miscarriage, and the man she thought she loved left her. She is gradually recovering her physical and mental stability.

Mr. Mason. Richard Mason was Mr. Rochester’s greedy and evil brother-in-law. He was Bertha Mason’s brother. Bertha Mason was Mr. Rochester’s first mad wife. Richard returned from Jamaica with Miss Annette Mason, Bertha’s secret daughter (Book 1). Jane married him because he promised to hide Mr. Rochester’s secrets from young John Eyre Rochester.

Annette Mason. She was born in Thornfield Hall from an unknown father, while her mother, Bertha Mason, was married to Edward Rochester and locked in his attic. Her uncle, Richard Mason, took Annette back with him to Jamaica, where she was brought up in a convent, as an orphan, supervised by her uncle. Her uncle brought her back to England to claim her birthright when Mr. Rochester died (book 1). She is living at Eyre Hall as Jane’s ward.

John Rochester. He is Jane and Rochester’s son. He is headstrong, spoilt, and rich. He is in love with Annette, whom he believes is his cousin. He had accepted an arranged marriage of convenience, but his fiancée died, and now Jane is trying to convince him to marry her flirtatious younger sister, Phoebe. He is studying Law at Oxford.

Michael Kirkpatrick. In book 1, he was Jane’s faithful valet, but he left when she accepted Mr. Mason’s proposal, because he was in love with Jane. He joined the Royal Navy and is promoted to lieutenant by Captain Carrington. In book 2 he returns to Eyre Hall to help his sister, Susan, who also works for the Rochester family.

Captain Carrington is Michael’s captain on board the HMS Princess Helena. He is a father-figure to Michael, whose father was killed at sea when he was a child. He was captain to Admiral Fitzjames, who is married to Jane’s cousin, Diana.

Nell Rosset. Nell is a lively, young girl who is Jane’s companion throughout her illness. She reads to her and walks with her. Her mother, Jenny, is a seamstress at Eyre Hall and Mr. Mason’s mistress.

Adele Varens was Mr. Rochester’s ward. Jane Eyre was first employed at Thornfield Hall as her governess. Her mother, Céline Varens, was Mr. Rochester’s mistress in France, for a time. He always denied being her father. She was a spinster, who now has a widowed suitor, the poet, Mr. Greenwood. They have been living in Venice for the past year with Mr. Greenwood’s young son, Dante. Susan, Michael’s sister, has accompanied Adele as her maid and companion. Adele and Mr. Greenwood are soon to be married.

‘Young’ Dr. Carter is Dr. Carter’s son. He is an intelligent young man, who has taken over his father’s practice in the area, with modern ideas on medicine. He is living at Ferndean, a manor house on the Rochester Estate, with his mother.

Mrs. Leah is the housekeeper at Eyre Hall. She also worked at Thornfield Hall before Jane Eyre arrived. She is the only living person who knows everything about the Rochester family, including their secrets.

 Simon and Beth are two loyal servants at Eyre Hall who are in a relationship.


Would you like to know anything else about any of these characters?

For those of you who have read book one or two, which is your favourite character, and why?



Four Days to Book Launch: Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall

Four days to book launch
I’m a bundle of nerves. I’ve never launched a book before!

Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall is my second novel, but I didn’t launch book 1, All Hallows at Eyre Hall. I just uploaded it to Amazon on 1st May, 2014, hit the ‘publish’ icon, and crossed my fingers.

Fifteen months later, I know better. I’ve met plenty of other authors and bloggers, seen what they do, learned from them, discussed matters, and I want to do a ‘real’ book launch this time.

I’ve organized four main events for the launch:

1- The first thing I did was make Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall available for pre-order on Amazon, just over a month ago.  I uploaded the final version, with trembling fingers, last week. It had been read by seven wonderful, talented, and generous beta readers, and edited twice by a most patient and enlightening editor, Alison Williams. This has been a good idea. I have already sold 50 copies. That means that 50 people are eagerly waiting to download my novel on Friday! They make me feel happy, excited and responsible for their enjoyment.

2- The second thing I’ve done is get in touch with some of my wonderful blogging friends, others will be receiving mails this week, and asked them to help me in my launch by allowing my book launch to appear on their blogs. This will be happening for about a month. I’ll be reblogging, so you’ll be able to meet all my supportive blogging sisters, and some brothers, I hope!

3- The third thing I’ve done is organize a Blogging Party for next Friday, 28th August, right here! Being the ‘clever’ person that I am, I know my limits, so I’ve looked for someone who can help me with the Party, so I’ve asked Suzie Speaks to do so, and she’s kindly pointing me in the right direction. Thank you Suzie! More news soon.

4- The fourth thing I’ve done is organize a Facebook Party. I’ve been to several hosted by writer friends and I’ve had fun, so I decided to do it myself. Although I’ve had an Author Page for about a year, I’ve also had a personal Fb for over seven years, and I have 350 friends. But, I have no idea how to organize a party. Again, I’ve looked for someone who can prepare a Facebook Party far better than I ever could. Becca, Jess, and Katie at LovingtheBook to help me. You’re all invited. More news soon, but it will be from 6 – 8 GMT on Friday, 28th August.

More news soon! Don’t miss out! There will be prizes, and fun and games! Stay tuned!


Sneak Peek! Chapter One of ‘Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall’

Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall is available for pre-order and will be published in a week’s time, on the 28th of August. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter I.


Chapter I – Midshipman Kirkpatrick

Bay of Biscay, November 1866.

Captain Carrington looked up from his desk, waved a hand towards the chair facing him, and busied himself with some papers, ignoring my presence.
It was rumoured that he had spent so long waiting for a captain’s commission, that his hair had turned white and his skin grey. His face was dented with deep ridges that cut his hollow cheeks, and his head and stomach were unusually large compared to his scrawny limbs. I wondered how he had become so overweight with the meagre portions we ate while at sea.
He folded a document, which looked like a letter, and then stared at me before addressing me at last. “Why are you here, Midshipman Kirkpatrick?”
“I wanted to be in the navy, like my father, sir.” I had said the words so often I had convinced myself they were true.
“Who are you running away from?”
I took a few seconds to reply to his unexpected question. “I have never run away from any man, sir.”
“I can believe that.”
His eyes dug into mine, once again. “Cold blood. Determination. I’ve seen you kill without a second thought, when you needed to.”
The crew were mostly decent, self–respecting men, who worked hard and obeyed the regulations. However, there had been a few blackguards of the worst sort, tough merciless men who stole rum and provisions, slept on guard, and increased the workload of the rest of the crew. Many of them had served their time in prison, where they should have remained. A group of such criminals had provoked a mutiny threatening the captain’s life shortly before our arrival in Jamaica. In spite of being flogged for not joining their criminal uprising, I managed to escape with the help of a few brave and loyal sailors and suppressed the rebellion by slaying the scoundrels.
“I’m prepared to do what is necessary for my ship and the crew, sir.” I was relieved that the conversation had returned to professional matters.
“Then it’s a woman you are running away from.” He smiled wryly, and I knew there was no point in denying it. I could not imagine how he knew, because we had never spoken about personal matters. “Not a woman, sir. A very special lady.”
“They are all special to someone, my boy. Beyond your station, perhaps? Her family didn’t think you were good enough, did they?”
“Something like that, sir.”
“So you came here to fix that, did you? To prove that you’re worthy of the damsel?”
“I came to forget.” I had not spoken to anyone about Jane since I left Eyre Hall and it was more painful than I had imagined.
“Of course, to forget.” He nodded mockingly, pressed his fingers on the mahogany desk and raised himself up painfully, swearing as he limped around the cabin. He stopped behind me, breathing down my neck. “But you can’t, can you? She is in your thoughts, under your skin, inside your blood, and you cannot pull her out. You smell her before you fall asleep and touch her in your dreams, don’t you?”
I was relieved that he stood behind me. I needed time to compose myself. How could he know how I felt if I did not understand my feelings myself?
“And when you wake up, your whole body misses her, and your heart aches to hear her voice, you long to look into her eyes, preferably looking up to you from beneath.” I felt his hand on my shoulder. “Am I right, Kirkpatrick?”
I was silent, containing my breathing. How could he know?
“So, what are you going to do about it, man?”
“Nothing, sir. It’s impossible.”
He returned to his seat, staring at me again. “And if you were to return as a commissioned officer, as a lieutenant. Would that make it easier to convince her father?”
“No, sir. It would not.”
“Interesting, no father.” He shuffled the papers on his desk then looked up. “Is that why you’ve been trying to get yourself killed almost every day since we set sail six months ago, Lieutenant?”
“I’m not a lieutenant, sir.”
“You’re a dangerous and valuable man who can kill with one hand and plan the mathematical coordinates of the ship with the other. Your father would have been proud of you, and, one day, so will your beloved’s family.”
“Thank you, sir, for your concern, but I’m afraid not, sir. The lady is out of the question.”
“Then you’ll have to replace her.”
“Admirable self–control and loyalty. I presume she must be married?”
“She is beyond my reach, sir.”
“You were a valet at a country estate before enlisting, am I right?”
I nodded.
“I don’t think a young maid would have made you flee, or rejected you, and seeing the ambition and astuteness in your eyes, I added two and two, and realised it must have been the mistress of the house, or her daughter. Which was it?”
The captain was a gruff man, and although he had been the closest to a father figure I had ever had since my father’s death, I was not ready to discuss my feelings with him.
“In any case, young man, I suggest you start thinking about improving your life, instead of trying to get yourself killed and wasting your life.”
He was right. Jane had offered me a place by her side, and I had joined the navy because I was afraid of commitment. Was I trying to cover up my cowardice by risking my life at sea?
“You know why you are here, don’t you?” The captain interrupted my gloomy thoughts. “Admiral Fitzjames, my last commander, asked me to look after you because your father died in his service; that’s the only reason someone as inexperienced as you would ever have got on board a frigate after only six months at naval school.”
“Thank you for the opportunity, sir.”
“I’m going to give you some advice because you saved my life, and because I can see you have it in you to further your career in the navy. We need good officers who can command respect, and risk their lives.” He paused. “Go back to her, son.”
“I told you it was not possible, sir.”
“You’ll get yourself killed if you don’t. You need to go back and either get her out of your system, or back into your life.”
“Thank you, sir, for your advice. I will think on it.” I wasn’t prepared to tell him why I was living with my soul in the grave.


Are you impatient to read book II before it’s published next week?

Five ARCs are available. Just comment below and let me know.

Releasing My Angel

The answer to Writer’s block: Releasing my Angel

Writer’s block, at least in my case, is related to a temporary insecurity or creative overload!

It just happened to me recently when I finished my novel, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, and my five beta readers, who did not know each other, decided that my ending was not quite right.

I was distraught and totally drained. I was sure I could not add another word to my story. Of course, I was wrong. It did indeed need just a tiny tweak to make it perfect, but where was I to find the energy or creativity to tweak if I was exhausted and completely sapped?

First, I tried to calm down! I took a short break. One day with no talk of the novel. Instead, I immersed myself in the mind numbing tasks of painting, singing, and playing with my grandchildren.

wpid-20150704_103052-1.jpg  wpid-20150705_113015-1.jpg

Then I went back to my ending. I still could not see beyond my last line. I went for a walk and imagined a dialogue between the characters. I even ‘spoke’ to them myself about what could happen, as I often do. It helped me get back into the novel, but still I could not envisage another ending.

Surprisingly, I often dream with the characters and events, and I write it all down when I wake up, before I forget! There is a strong subconscious component in writing which helps me move my stories on. Alas, this time, it did not happen in a dream.

Michelangelo-Angel 1

I love Michelangelo’s quote, ‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free’. I often feel that is just what I am doing. Words are an author’s marble, and I have to combine them in the perfect way to disclose, or set free, my angel, or story. The story is there already. My role is to write until I release it. Why couldn’t I release my angel?

Finally, when I am in such a rut, it also helps me to talk to someone about how I feel and try to work it out. In my case, it has to be someone who knows me well and understands my characters and story. It is usually my daughter, who is a great reader and plotter! So, we talked it through, and moved the story on beyond ‘the end’ and way into the future. Pushing the story forward gave me the perspective I needed to look back at my ending.

I sat down and wrote the few more pages that made the end perfect in just a few hours. I had found my angel, at last.

Of course, my real angel is my daughter.

Do you need an angel to overcome your writer’s block? Who is your angel?

‘Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall’ Available for Pre-order on Kindle

If you enjoy reading Victorian Gothic fiction, with plenty of romance, mystery, action, and suspense, you will love Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, the second volume of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, which chronicles the lives and vicissitudes of the residents of Eyre Hall from the beginning to the height of the Victorian era.

Twelfth Night 1

Following Edward Rochester’s death, Jane Eyre, who has been blackmailed into marrying a man she despises, will have to cope with the return of the man she loved and lost. The secrets she has tried so hard to conceal must be disclosed, giving rise to unexpected events and more shocking revelations.

Romance, mystery, and excitement will unfold exploring the evolution of the original characters, and bringing to life new and intriguing ones, spinning a unique and absorbing narrative, which will move the action from the Yorkshire countryside, to Victorian London, and across the Atlantic Ocean to Colonial Jamaica.

Excerpts from Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall


I was convinced I would never see him again. I had tried unsuccessfully to expel him from my thoughts, but he was always there, haunting my dreams and slipping into my mind during the day.


The morning after Twelfth Night, I had planned to leave London and return to Eyre Hall. I was having breakfast by the hearth at the inn, when someone crept up behind me and sat down in the chair to my right. I looked down at his unsteady hands, fearing he wished me no good.
“Michael, I done it. I killed him.”

Gothic elements:

“Will you be responsible for Mr. Mason’s permanence in this house as one of the undead?” I roared impatiently.
“What is it you want?”
“To see the corpse and absorb his sins, of course.”


John stopped before a small casket which looked out of place inside a large niche positioned on the lower level, at the end wall of the vault, below Edward’s, and read, “Infant Eyre Rochester. May 1855.”
He smiled at me, “Do not faint now, mother. You are going to see your baby again, at last.”


Hours later, we were woken by a wild raging storm, which tossed our ship mercilessly like a seashell on the shore. My whole body was shaken and turned inside out. It seemed my entrails desired to escape the storm by tearing out of my body. I looked out of the tiny port hole and saw a huge mass of water and dark objects spinning like a whirlpool, and I was thrust back against my desk.

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