Can you, in less than five words describe your book?
Paranormal urban romance, gargoyles, fey
What inspired you to write it?
I think it was in 2009 that a small on-line publisher ran a contest called the Scottish Nocturnal contest, and I badly wanted to write something for it. I had spent the past two years trying to get my head around the romance genre well enough to write it. The theme of a Scottish hero who was also a creature of the night appealed to me, so I thought I’d give it a go.
The first snag I hit was that I didn’t want to write about vampires or werewolves. There were a lot of stories featuring them, and I couldn’t think of an approach that satisfied me. I wanted something different—and gargoyles adorned many Scottish cathedrals… so gargoyles it was.
The second snag was that I wasn’t familiar with Scotland and its landmarks, and I had to think of a way to bring it to more familiar territory. The opening chapter was the result.
And here's the excerpt....
The crate had been loaded with care, its contents cushioned by foam, and iron bands shrunk to fit so it didn’t burst open. It had been packed in a shipping container and hauled down from the highlands on the back of a monster truck driven by a driver who should have been certified insane long ago. Its contents had been auctioned before being packed back into the crate and loaded onto a ship in Greenock.
Since then, the crate had travelled three oceans and rounded the Cape. It had skirted the southern reaches of the world’s largest island and come to rest in that island’s only island state. The crew of the freighter, Hinchinbrook, was glad to see the back of it.
It wasn’t that there was anything particularly sinister about the crate—it was a normal shipping container, painted a bright reddish-orange and labeled in white with the firm’s logo, just like all the others. Unlike all the others, however, there were some in the crew who claimed they only had to walk past the thing for it to give them the creeps… and there were some as whispered that something moved within.
Others claimed the wind moaned more loudly when they stood in close proximity, and a few even claimed that the wind moaned when they stood right next to it and there was no wind at all. More than one hinted at seeing a look of relief cross the lorry driver’s face as the thing was unloaded from his truck.
Claire Handley knew nothing of these rumors as she watched it being unloaded at Hobart’s docks—and she wouldn’t have cared if she had. She didn’t have time for such things. The Hotel Gothica, her Hotel Gothica, was due to open in less than a week, and the gargoyle was the last thing that needed to be fitted before the hotel’s inauguration. It would form the perfect finish to the guest entrance in what had once been Saint David’s Cathedral.
Claire had kept her promise of keeping the main area of the cathedral open to the public. The stained-glass windows and vaulted ceiling provided the perfect backdrop for the Gothica Café, and she had reserved a portion as a chapel, using long tubs of carefully pruned and trellised citrus trees to form a living wall around it. Smaller tubs, containing sweetly-scented lavender, formed a low border around the trees, and the two-tiered arrangement gave privacy to any who might need it.
Velvet-covered benches, flanked by statues or more greenery, and iron-work chairs and tables were scattered around the remainder of the hotel’s ground floor to provide people with nooks in which they could settle to wait for loved ones or guests, or stations from which to admire the windows—and all around the place were gargoyles, some hanging from pillars, others hiding beneath benches, and still others peering out from beside potted plants. It was no longer a church, but Claire hoped it was still a place where people could find solace and solitude.
The benches, statuary and greenery had been set aside to provide a clear path for the crate and its contents to follow, and Claire watched as the workmen began unpacking the creature she’d fallen in love with in Scotland.
Perhaps ‘fallen in love’ was too strong a term, but she could think of none better to describe the feelings of pride and affection she felt for the beautiful carving. Yes, it was a gargoyle, and, no, it wasn’t exactly pretty, but it showed superb craftsmanship and elegant lines. Claire suppressed a flutter at the memory of some of those lines.
The corded muscles of its forelimbs stretched into well-muscled shoulders, and the large hands that would rest on the lintel over the door leading to the registry and hotel lifts and stairs were curiously human, in spite of the half-extended claws sprouting from their fingertips.
Claire sighed. Whoever had modeled for the creature, had possessed a fine chest as well… and abs, very nice abs… and the back below the wings. You could run your fingers along those muscle lines for ever… She shook her head, trying to shake her thoughts in a more businesslike direction. It’s only a statue for heaven’s sake!
Leaving the workmen to their task, she decided to visit the kitchens of Café Gothica for a coffee. Matthias, the café’s lessee would probably be in, going over his preparations for opening night, and he would want to tell Claire how they were progressing. Revising Matthias’s plans in her head, Claire turned away from the workmen. As she did so, she noticed a figure standing at the entrance to the cathedral, a visitor far too early for opening night.
“I’m sorry, but we’re closed,” she said, moving to intercept it. “We don’t open until…” She hesitated, recognizing who it was.
“I know when you open,” the man sneered, “but I wanted to see where you would be putting my inheritance.”
Many thanks for sharing Eleanor!
If you'd like to find out more about Eleanor Maine and her books, click on the following weeks. Enjoy your Wednesday!
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