This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger Jane Jordan. She is the author of Raven's Deep, Blood and Ashes, and A Memoir of Carl (a Gothic vampire trilogy) and The Beekeeper's Daughter, a dark historical romance. Her latest novel is Whisht Hall, a multilayered thriller set to be released on June 22. Jordan was our featured writer on November 2, 2018.
Whisht Hall moves between two locations: Dartmoor, in the south West of England, and New Orleans in the deep south of America. Each location offered me plenty of inspiration.
Dartmoor has long been the home of ghostly apparitions, and supernatural beings. The great granite tors (rocky outcrops) loom forebodingly over the dangerous mires. The thick Dartmoor mist can appear within minutes, cloak the landscape, and conceal the treacherous ground to any hapless traveler. It is no surprise that this was the setting for the famous Sherlock Holmes story of The Hound of the Baskervilles. The moor still retains an air of mystery and magic.
Hound Tor is a famous site, a place of mystery and a location that I have visited and climbed. The dense mist cocooned everything around me and made it feel surreal, and I could quite believe something sinister lurked just out of sight. Legend says that Hound Tor was once a dog that had been turned to stone by witches. Then, in the 1970s, the granite collapsed, and the hound was released from the spell to stalk the moors forevermore.
The hound was joined by others and over the years there have been various names given to these ghostly apparitions: The Phantom Pack, The Yell Hounds, The Devil’s Hounds, and the Whisht Hounds. Not only do they roam across the desolate Dartmoor, but they haunt the enchanted Wistman Wood.
This wood is an ancient place and is truly enchanted, resembling something out of a fairy tale. Stunted oak trees with gnarled and twisted trunks make up most of the wood, while emerald-green, moss-covered boulders carpet the floor. This makes rapid progress through the wood impossible.
Wistman Wood was a sacred grove of the druids, but in modern times it retains atmospheric feeling helped by the sight of moss-covered coats on some of the trees that long ago were fashioned in the shape of bearded men and other strange guises. To add to the feeling of this wood, on dark and misty nights there have been reports that bloodcurdling howls can be heard coming out of Wistman Wood, echoing across the moors. Wistman Wood is said to be the most haunted place on Dartmoor.
For me, Dartmoor was the perfect setting for Whisht Hall – a grand old house on the remote moor that conceals an unsettling story of sibling rivalry. This novel delves into the supernatural connection that identical twins can have. But this story is partly about voodoo, and this part of the story unfolds in New Orleans, an atmospheric city which is filled with so much culture and legend.
Voodoo was a fascinating aspect of the story to research, as it is a religion of sacred objects and rituals to empower life and bring good fortune. Practitioners reject the negative associations with evil and invoke spirits that are part of nature. However, as with any practice, it can be corrupted, and for the story, I explore how that corruption can destroy lives.
New Orleans and Dartmoor are worlds apart, and voodoo is not something that is part of the English culture, so writing Whisht Hall felt like a monumental undertaking. This multilayered thriller spans twenty years and tells the story of the Louyar and Derneville families.
A New Orleans native, Marguerite Louyar is searching for a connection to her Creole heritage. Her fate is sealed the moment she enters The House of Dambellah. What unfolds in this inconspicuous shop in the French Quarter sets in motion a chain of events that will affect her family for years to come. Marguerite’s niece is Amy Derneville, who travels to remote Whisht Hall on Dartmoor, the home of her uncle and three cousins.
Far from being close, these siblings have unresolved rivalries, and one possesses an odd and destructive power.
After an eventful outing to a dangerous tor and haunted wood, Amy does not know who to trust, and the cries from of the legendary Whisht hounds shatter her nerves completely. As the mystery of the family starts to unravel, her uncle is murdered on the moors. Fearful that she could be next, Amy flees to New Orleans and to a strange house in the middle of the black water swamp, but here lies some dark fragment of a past she never knew.
Drawn in the world of voodoo, Amy uncovers the shocking truth about her family as she is propelled towards disaster. Then she must return to England and face an adversary who means to destroy everything she holds dear.
For more information, visit the author's website at www.janejordannovelist.com
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/Jane-Jordan/e/B0034PL9FI?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3&qid=1558452044&sr=8-3