Wednesday, 25 July 2018

On Ghosts and Witches and Haunted Florida - an Interview with Gaby Triana



I am delighted to welcome author Gaby Triana to my blog today. Gaby is the author of both horror and YA stories and her latest - the first in her Haunted Florida series - is called Island of Bones. Here she talks about her writing, her hometown and why she would make an excellent kitchen witch...

C.C: First of all, congratulations on Island of Bones. I loved it. The atmosphere, suspense, ghosts, secrets and the mystery were a brilliant combination and made for a pretty scary ride. It had a distinct ring of authenticity about it so I am guessing you needed to do a fair bit of research, am I right and how did you go about it?

GT: Thanks, Cat! Well, I live in Miami, Florida, only a 3-hour drive from Key West, so much of that authenticity comes from being a local. As for the tidbits about 1950s Key West and Havana, Cuba, my parents are Cuban exiles who came to Miami in the early 60s, so they lent some first-hand experience to the narrative from their own memories. 

C.C. You have a second in the Haunted Florida series coming out in September, can you tell us a little about that?

GT: The second book is RIVER OF GHOSTS, and it comes out September 26th. This one is about a Miccosukee woman living on the reservation in the Everglades (a few miles from where I live) who gives airboat rides and can’t help but add an element of the paranormal to her tales. This goes against her culture but she is drawn to all things supernatural, so when a TV production crew offers her a large sum of money to escort them to an abandoned haunted depot in the middle of the Everglades, she takes them, against her better judgment. Needless to say, all hell breaks loose. 

 C.C. When did you pen your first work, and what was it?

GT: My very first published work was a young adult novel called BACKSTAGE PASS about the 16-year-old daughter of a famous rock musician attending a public Miami high school incognito. The book came out in 2004 as part of a 2-book deal with HarperCollins, and for the next 17 years, I wrote and published in the young adult genre. Meanwhile, I was wishing I could write paranormal/horror for adults. J


C.C. When did you first become interested in horror and what drew you to it?

GT: That’s the funny thing. Horror was and has always been my first true love, not young adult books. I became a horror fan as a child listening to narrated tales of Edgar Allan Poe on my little blue and white record player back in the 70s. From there, I became easily drawn to the works of Stephen King, because of King’s unabashed inclusion of young characters in his stories. Pet Sematary had a significant child character. It had several kids that were my age when I first read it (at 12), The Shining had young Danny Torrance in it, and Carrie was a teen coming of age. Whether he meant to attract kid readers or not, he did because of his genuine kid POV narratives.


C.C. What is your writing process?

GT: It’s evolved over the years. I used to outline the whole thing out, chapter by chapter, because I didn’t trust myself to know what I was doing and didn’t want to waste time writing something that would go nowhere. Nowadays, I’ll outline the first few chapters, just to get me started, fill in the ending, but leave the middle entirely open, except for the occasional plot point. This gives me a road map for direction but with the freedom to go in anywhere with the novel I choose, as long as I end up where I planned. Only once has the story diverted from that ending in a way that benefited the plot.
 

C.C. What was your route to publication?

GT: I was an elementary school teacher for 10 years first, but I always used to write scary stories in high school and college, so writing has always been a part of me. I began writing stories for my 4th-5th grade students, and one became my first manuscript, still unpublished called Freddie and the Biltmore Ghost, about a 12-year-old and her friends who investigate an abandoned hotel in Coral Gables, Florida. From there, I published BACKSTAGE PASS and 6 other young adult novels over the next 17 years: CUBANITA, THE TEMPTRESS FOUR, RIDING THE UNIVERSE, SUMMER OF YESTERDAY (about abandoned water park, River Country, in Disney World), WAKE THE HOLLOW, and CAKESPELL.


C.C. Who are your greatest writing influences and why?

GT: Judy Blume was a huge influence for me growing up, because I appreciated the honesty in her stories. She wasn’t afraid of writing real kids, real teens into her books who were all going through real situations and emotions, and I knew, when I became a YA novelist, that I wanted to write the same way. Also, in high school, I was introduced to William Faulkner who wrote using a stream of consciousness style, and most of my first novels all adopted a similar style. I loved the immediacy of first person, present tense, the way thoughts just popped up and flowed right as they were being formed. It made me feel like I was right in the characters’ minds.


 C.C. You have said that your ambition is to live ‘a witchy life in the forests of New England’. What sort of witch would you be?

GT: Ha! I have always wanted to move out of Miami, not because I don’t love it—it’s my hometown—but to experience somewhere new. I’ve never lived in a place that experiences the four seasons, so I would probably be a green witch or a kitchen witch, since I associate cooking, baking, and seasonal foods with the way I’m feeling at different times of year. I can see myself growing pumpkins and squash in my little garden then harvesting them and making delicious butternut squash soups, all while infusing them with magical goodness that makes my family happy. J


C.C. When are you at your happiest?

GT: When my kids are home. When they’re away, I feel incomplete and borderline depressed. But when they’re home, and the house is abuzz with that lovely sound of teen boys chattering, playing, and when the dinner table is filled with their bodies and hungry mouths, and it’s not just me and my husband, I have more young men to cook for, it makes me feel happy. I love being a mom. J


C.C. Have you ever been on a ghost hunt (If so, what happened? If not, would you go on one?)

GT: I have never been on an official ghost hunt, though I’ve always wanted to. I’ve been on historical ghost tours, and I’ve broken into several abandoned locations, but never experienced anything ghostly at those spots. I have, however, experienced ghostly phenomena at my father’s house here in Miami. Disembodied voices in the middle of the night, glowing blue lights that appeared and disappeared in the middle of the air for no reason, and lights turning on and off by themselves. Also, another time I complained that my hairbrush was missing, and an hour later, it was sitting right where it should have been when I knew for a fact it hadn’t been there an hour before, and nobody was home to move it. I’ve also seen and felt presences while meditating.

 
C.C. Finally, tell us something most people who know you might not know. We promise not to tell!

GT: A lot of people don’t know that besides being a teacher and a writer, I also used to own a cake studio, Cakes by Gaby, https://www.facebook.com/Cakes-by-Gaby-114312925256678/ where I made wedding cakes, sculpted cakes, and cakes for all special occasions. A lot of people don’t know that I tried out to be a Miami Heat dancer and made it but did not take the job because I had just started teaching. Finally, a lot of people don’t know that I have two tattoos. My first one which I keep hidden is of a butterfly (me) surrounded by four tiny butterflies representing the three children I’ve had and the one baby I lost.


 C.C. Thank you so much for joining me, Gaby. Now how can we follow you?

GT: THANKS! It was fun being here, Cat!

Twitter: @gabytriana
Instagram: @gabytriana

Monday, 9 July 2018

Demons, Revenge, Ghosts and Hauntings... They're Back!


Thanks to my lovely publishers, Crossroad Press, five of my titles which have been out of print are now back, in shiny new editions and with stunning new covers. Here they come:

Cold Revenge

Some dinner invitations are best ignored...

For no apparent reason, Nadine, Maggie, Gary, and Nick are invited to dinner at the lavish home of top fashion writer, Erin Dartford. But why has she invited them? Why doesn't she want her guests to mingle? And just what is it about the mysterious Erin that makes them want to run for their lives?

Little do they know that as they prepare to eat their first course, an evil as old as mankind is about to be unleashed. And revenge really is a dish best served cold…



Cold Revenge is available here: 


Miss Abigail's Room
It wasn’t so much the blood on the floor that Becky minded. It was the way it kept coming back…
As the lowest ranking parlour maid at Stonefleet Hall, Becky gets all the dirtiest jobs. But the one she hates the most is cleaning Miss Abigail’s room. There’s a strange, empty smell to the place, and a feeling that nothing right or Christian resides there in the mistress’s absence. And then there’s the blood, the spot that comes back no matter often Becky scrubs it clean. Becky wishes she had somewhere else to go, but without means or a good recommendation from her household, there is nothing for her outside the only home she’s known for eighteen years. So when a sickening doll made of wax and feathers turns up, Becky’s dreams of freedom and green grass become even more distant. Until the staff members start to die.

A darning needle though the heart of the gruesome doll puts everyone at Stonefleet Hall at odds. The head parlour maid seems like someone else, the butler pretends nothing’s amiss, and everyone thinks Becky’s losing her mind. But when the shambling old lord of the manor looks at her, why does he scream as though he’s seen the hounds of hell? 
 Review:
"I enjoyed watching Becky try to unravel what was going on and I was surprised (in a creeped out way) by the things that happened around her. Having those around you pat you on the head and talk around you like you're not there is one of those things that gives me the deep down willies. It was horrible and scary and I liked it a lot. Paranormal horror. There's nothing more terrifying" - Reading the Paranormal 
 Miss Abigail's Room is available from:
The Demons of Cambian Street
 Sometimes evil wears a beautiful face...  
After her illness, the quiet backwater of Priory St Michael seemed the ideal place for Stella to recuperate. But in the peaceful little town, something evil is slumbering, waiting for its chance to possess what it desires. When Stella and her husband move into the long-empty apartment, they're unaware of what exists in the cupboard upstairs, the entrance to an evil that will threaten both their lives…
The Demons of Cambian Street is available from:
 The Devil Inside Her



Haunted by the death of her husband and only child, Elinor Gentry’s recurring nightmares have left her exhausted. She’s crippled by debt, and only the remnants of her former life surround her, things she can’t bear to sell, and wouldn’t make much profit from if she did. Then, for no apparent reason, the nightmares transform into pleasant dreams. Dreams that lead her to take back control of her life.

A string of horrific and unexplained suicides–and an unnerving discovery about Elinor herself—lead her best friend to seek help from the one person who has seen all this before, and things begin to spiral out of control. Hazel Messinger knows that Elinor’s newly found wellbeing is not what it seems, and Hazel’s not about to let the demon inside remain there permanently.
The Devil Inside Her is available from;

The Second Wife
 Emily Marchant died on Valentine’s Day. If only she’d stayed dead…
When Chrissie Marchant first sets eyes on Barton Grove, she feels as if the house doesn’t want her. But it’s her new husband’s home, so now it’s her home as well. Sumptuous and exquisitely appointed, the house is filled with treasures that had belonged to Joe’s first wife, the perfect Emily, whom the villagers still consider the real mistress of Barton Grove.
 
A stunning photograph of the first Mrs. Marchant hangs in the living room, an unblemished rose in her hand. There’s something unnerving and impossibly alive about that portrait, but it’s not the only piece of Emily still in the house. And as Chrissie’s marriage unravels around her, she learns that Emily never intended for Joe to take a second wife…
Reviews
"This story is a fantastic choice for anyone who prefers to allow their imagination to inflate certain horrors instead of asking the author to spell everything out in bright red letters." Long and Short Reviews
"Wonderfully creepy and intriguing." - Reading the Paranormal
  The Second Wife is available from:

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Ghostly Baker Street


Say the name ‘’Baker Street’ to most people and their immediate thoughts will turn to Sherlock Holmes, the seemingly infallible detective of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s extraordinary (if occasionally flawed) imagination. Ask them to name anything else connected with this street and many (including me) will mention the haunting and poignant autobiographical song by Gerry Rafferty.

Baker Street is in Marylebone in the heart if the bustling city. It has an underground station (on the Bakerloo line) and right around the corner stands Madame Tussaud’s and the London Planetarium, but Baker Street itself is an unprepossessing thoroughfare, with seemingly little but legend to recommend it.

  Named after the builder, William Baker, who laid out the street in the eighteenth century, it started life as a high class residential area but is now comprised mainly of commercial premises; oh, and the Sherlock Holmes Museum, situated at – you guessed it – 221B (which isn’t even a real address!). Confusingly, the museum is actually located between numbers 237 and 241.

A number of famous real people have lived in Baker Street –and some appear not to want to leave it. The eighteenth century actress, Sarah Siddons, is one of them. Her house was where number 228 stands today. She is seen walking through walls on the first floor.


 Meanwhile, nearby, the (now closed) two hundred year old Kenwood House Hotel, not only had sightings of an apparition dressed as a Cavalier gentleman, it also possessed that most fascinating of supernatural entities -  haunted furniture. Specifically, the drawers opened and closed by themselves and the mirror…poltergeist activity has been reported. With no guests to tease or terrify, it is not known if the ghosts still haunt.

 At 245-247, the Volunteer Gastropub not only feeds and refreshes its visitors, but guests can also look out for the ghost of Rupert Nevill, whose family owned a large manor house on that site which burned down in 1654. He is said to appear in the cellar – indeed, the cellars are the originals so would be familiar to him.

Deep underground isn’t free of apparitions either. Travellers on the Bakerloo line have reported seeing the reflection of a ghostly figure in the window, sitting next to them. But there is no one there…

I have always been fascinated by haunted locations and, in my novella - Linden Manor - there are ghosts both ancient and more modern congregating in and around a house with many a secret. Here's a taste:

Have you ever been so scared your soul left your body?

All her life, Lesley Carpenter has been haunted by a gruesome nursery rhyme—“The Scottish Bride”—sung to her by her great grandmother. To find out more about its origins, Lesley visits the mysterious Isobel Warrender, the current hereditary owner of Linden Manor, a grand house with centuries of murky history surrounding it.

But her visit transforms into a nightmare when Lesley sees the ghost of the Scottish bride herself, a sight that, according to the rhyme, means certain death. The secrets of the house slowly reveal themselves to Lesley, terrible secrets of murder, evil and a curse that soaks the very earth on which Linden Manor now stands. But Linden Manor has saved its most chilling secret for last.

Here's where you can find it: