I’m pleased to be able to welcome author Beth Trissel to the Blunt Pencil today! Beth caught my attention with her fascinating posts about herbal lore over on her blog, One Writer’s Way, and I’ve asked her to talk about the importance of research. Over to you, Beth!
Passion for the past and research into those who’ve gone before me is the underlying inspiration for all my work, as is the beautiful Shenandoah Valley where I live. My Scots-Irish ancestors were among the earliest settlers here. Did you know Virginia has more ghost stories than any other state? Not necessarily because we have a more fertile imagination, but sadly because the Old Dominion has seen more bloody battles over the centuries than any other. Think back, Jamestown (founded 1607) was the site of the oldest successful English settlement and its history is a violent one. And on we go to the many heart-rending wars fought with the usurped Indians, a number of them waged on Virginia soil.
March on to the Revolution; anyone heard of Yorktown, to name just one famous battle? And let’s not forget that horrific most uncivil of wars, much of it fought in, you guessed it, Virginia. And yet, this multitude of hauntings doesn’t only feature soldiers caught in an endless fray who haven’t gotten word the war’s over, although there are legions of tales that do, and entire companies of ghosts are said to battle on. Many tales feature the myriad of people, great and small, who dwelt in our richly historic state.
The old Virginia homes and plantations have accumulated a wealth of such stories. Thus, it was while touring some of these English styled manor homes with my dear mother and doing research for my historicals that I conceived the idea for my paranormal romance, Somewhere My Love. Added to this meld of vintage Virginia is my own heritage, a vast source of inspiration from my childhood. On my father’s side, I descend from old Southern gentry, now impoverished after the Civil War, Great Depression, and various other misfortunes, including the untimely death of my brilliant grandfather. But the gracious Georgian home his ancestor built (circa 1816) still stands outside the historic town of Staunton.
Ever determined the family home place was haunted, I wove stories through my fevered mind, along with my continual search for Narnia which entailed frequent treks into the old wardrobe. This house is also the primary inspiration behind my recent light paranormal romance, Somewhere the Bells Ring. But I digress. Frequently. The magnificent ancestral portraits in my family and on display in other Virginia homes held me transfixed, wondering. And it was just such a portrait of a striking dark-haired gentleman who embedded himself in my thoughts. Who was he? Why did he die so young? That other painting of the fair young lady…did she love him?
Often, the guides at these old homes are brimming with tales. But other times we are left to wonder…and ask ourselves are these folk who’ve gone before us truly gone, or do some still have unfinished business in this realm? And what of the young lovers whose time was tragically cut short, do they somehow find a way? Love conquers all, and so I answer ‘yes.’
My love of herbal lore also played a prominent role in the story, as did Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Talk about research…whewwww….
*The outstanding homes behind my inspiration for Somewhere My Love:
Berkeley Plantation (well worth a visit)
Shirley Plantation (well worth a visit)
Family home place (Not open to the public)
“As I read Somewhere My Love, I recalled the feelings I experienced the first time I read Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca long ago. Using deliciously eerie elements similar to that gothic romance, Beth Trissel has captured the haunting dangers, thrilling suspense and innocent passions that evoke the same tingly anticipation and heartfelt romance I so enjoyed then, and still do now.” ~ Joysann, Publisher’s Weekly