Friday 30 September 2011

Book Review: Snowdrops by A.D.Miller

SnowdropsI noticed this book when it was shortlisted for this year's Man Booker prize, and was drawn to it by the description as "an intensely riveting psychological drama" My luck with award winners is a bit mixed, and I quite liked another of the short-listed books, Pigeon English so thought I would give this a go.

The book is narrated by Nicholas, in the form of a confession to his betrothed, relating the events of his last winter in Russia. He was working as a lawyer, with the transfer to Russia a potential shortcut to a partnership. A chance encounter with Masha and Katya sets him on a path to moral free fall, and sees him become no better than the many corrupt, hedonistic individuals he has previously been so quick to criticise.

Snowdrops introduces the reader to a bleak landscape, populated by gangsters and prostitutes, where strip clubs and young girls trying to snag themselves a rich husband are par for the course. I loved the descriptive power the author uses to evoke both the tourist landmarks that were familiar from TV and magazines, but also the residential and less salubrious areas. There is also an interesting amount of historical detail and the older Russian characters with their proverbs and stories from the past were very engaging.

There is so much to this book, for example we see various scams that range from the small scale to those involving State bodies. The narrative style made it feel very direct and as it was clear from the start that something had gone quite badly wrong, and as the details slowly revealed themselves, I found myself desperate to keep reading. It was interesting to see Nicholas as both victim and perpetrator, and consider how he had found himself in the position he did. I'm not sure whether I was chilled by the vividly depicted Russian winter or how far things went.

This is a brilliant tale of corruption and lust, and of moral decline on a personal and a much larger scale. What a debut.

Format: Kindle, bought by me
My Rating: 5*  

Book Review: Rogue Agent: A Thriller (Jaclyn Johnson, code name Snapshot series) by Sean Sweeney

Rogue Agent: A Thriller (Jaclyn Johnson, code name Snapshot series)Jaclyn Johnson is a character I first encountered in Model Agent, and to understand why I like her so much you might want to take a look at my review for that book. In brief though she is a kick-ass CIA agent with great gadgets, model looks and a visual impairment.

In this book, despite heightened security, the world largely watches on in horror as terrorists attack the USA v UK football match at Wembley during the 2012 Olympics. After the death of thousands of US citizens Jaclyn is sent to London to assist MI5's investigation. However as events pick up pace it becomes personal and Jaclyn finds herself going rogue to try and stop the terrorist.

You can tell Sean is a sports enthusiast, and particularly an Arsenal fan, from the careful details relating to the football within the book. The Olympics does seem like an obvious target for terrorist attacks and the author has come up with the sort of scenario that is no doubt worrying British intelligence services at present. The plot is worryingly plausible, and I found the parts written from the terrorist's point of view an interesting study in fanaticism. This book also provides a good tour of parts of London which suggest the author has really done his homework.

The story is told from a range of viewpoints which gives the reader a good overview of how events are received by Jaclyn, the terrorist, and senior figures in the US administration among other. Using the viewpoint of a number of characters can be problematic, but that certainly wasn't the case here.

This isn't your average spy series, it definitely takes things a little less seriously than most, and I loved Jaclyn's kit which once again would give Bond a run for his money. Again the tag line probably gives a good flavour of how serious this book is -  "The double O's have nothing on her double A's". However I thought the tone at the end of the book wasn't quite right considering what was meant to have happened. Without giving the end away it's hard to explain! I also thought that in parts Jaclyn was a bit antagonistic, which made me like her just a little less.

This installment has action, strong ladies, love and loss, and cool gadgets. I think I enjoyed the first book more, perhaps because the plot of this one is that much closer to home, but this was still an enjoyable read and I'm glad to hear book 3 is in hand!

Format: Kindle, bought by me
My Rating: 3*

Book Blogger Hop time

Well this has been a bit of an odd week, was away last weekend, then had to cope with actually going to work this week, plus hospitalised relatives and charity events, so I haven't had much time for reading or blogging. I'll make up for it with 2 reviews later though.

In the last couple of weeks I did manage to post reviews for:

Alison Wonderland, contemporary fiction by Helen Smith
On Dark Shores: Parallels - The Black-Eyed Susan, a fantasy prequel by J.A. Clement
Waiting for Robert Capa, which defies categorisation - romance, historical fiction, biography? -by Susana Fortes, and
Space, inspirational fiction by Emily Sue Harvey

For anyone who'd like to win a Scott Nicholson e-book I am giving away a copy of the screenplay of Creative Spirit. Entries end tomorrow, so take a look here if you haven't entered yet! Scott also popped by and did an author Q&A, as did David M. Brown. Many thanks to both of them for sharing their thoughts.

Now on with the blog hop!

Great question this week - In honor of Banned Books Week, what is your favorite “banned or frequently challenged book”?

I'm afraid to say I haven't read many of them, as I love the idea of celebrating my freedom to read, but taking a look through I noticed The Diary of Anne Frank was on the list. It's an amazing book, I read it at school and was very moved by it. How on earth can a book with such an important historical account be banned?

Have a great weekend everyone, and thanks for stopping by
TC xx

Monday 26 September 2011

Book Review: Space by Emily Sue Harvey

Space Banner
Although it isn't one of the main genres I read I do enjoy inspirational fiction now and then, and when I had the opportunity to take part in Emily Sue Harvey's blog tour for her book Space I was keen to review the book.

Dan and Deede Stowe are a solid couple who have raised their much desired miracle daughter Faith and are now looking forward to reaping the rewards of their hard work and enjoying retirement together. These plans go very much awry when their  recovering drug addict Faith moves back in with them. She is divorced with a daughter of her own and for reasons incomprehensible to her parents has spiralled into an addiction that has nearly killed her more than once.

Dan and Deede are both religious and find strength in their faith. However they find themselves with opposing views on how to deal with their daughter, her unreasonable behaviour, the financial burden, the impact of the stress on their health and the loss of their own space. What should they do to save their daughter, and themselves?

I found this a very moving story that painted a picture of a devoted couple who should be relaxing and enjoying life instead having to fund and support Faith to try and stop her killing herself. There is no graphic details of her drug use, and in this case what is unsaid is almost as powerful. I thought that while some might find the religious aspect a little off-putting for me the fact they had both their faith and a very supportive family to fall back on yet still struggled to cope highlighted how difficult a situation it must be. It must be any parent's nightmare and I found it hard to put down as I wanted to find out how it turned out for their family. Most of the story is told from Deede's viewpoint, but there are some parts written from Faith's perspective to help her mother understand why she became an addict. This was a really clever device and helped me as a reader get a better idea of how they found themselves where they did.

This was a touching yet enjoyable read and I'll be looking up the author's other books.

Format: Paperback, review copy
My Rating: 4*

Sunday 25 September 2011

Scott Nicholson Giveaway - Creative Spirit Screenplay & Winner of Solom

Sorry for the delay in doing the draw for Solom, I hope it didn't give any of you a sleepless night! I have now picked the winner using, and Scott will be in touch shortly with...Brenda. Congratulations!

Almost at the end of Be Nicholson's Agent month and we have one last giveaway for you. This one is the screenplay of Creative Spirit which I adopted and reviewed for this promotion. You can read my review of the novel here.

This giveaway is open to anyone, and the deadline for entries is Sat 1st October at 12 noon (BST) All you need to do to enter is fill in the form below. Email addresses will only be used to contact the winner and send their book to them. The e-book is available in all the main formats, but if you have any questions on that front please let me know. Even if you don't have an e-reader don't forget free apps are available for computers and mobile/cell phones so you don't miss out.

If you want to get extra entries you can have another one for tweeting "I want to #BeNicholsonsAgent and win his books with @TCBookedUp & @hauntedcomputer " and a third for mentioning the promotion and giveaway on your blog. The contest is open to everyone, but I'd love it if you want to follow the blog or my Twitter feed too! The winner will be selected by

Friday 23 September 2011

Author Q&A with Scott Nicholson

As part of his Be Nicholson's Agent event Scott has somehow found the time to take part in a Q&A with me. Before we get started - A big Thank You for fitting this in!

 When did you first think of becoming a writer and who or what got you interested in writing?

I was creating as far back as I can remember. We were poor and had a big family, so art was an escape, a way to have a little quiet time in the world of imagination. And I just never grew up.

How would you describe your books and style?

I’ve come to use the umbrella of “weird” just because I write in multiple genres, from psychological thrillers to children’s books. I have written comics and screenplays and I used to be a newspaper reporter, so I have done many different kinds of writing. I enjoy it all and I would get bored if I had to stick to one thing, but the thrillers and the paranormal books are the most common.

Have you ever had any paranormal experiences, and do you believe in ghosts?

I used to ghost hunt and hosted a couple of paranormal conferences, and I’ve collected local ghost stories for years. I had the sensation of being “touched” at a haunted hotel during one conference. But I don’t know if it was psychosomatic or not. I believe in the possibility of ghosts, but I haven’t seen anything to convince me.

Do you start a book knowing what the beginning, middle and end will be or does it take on a life of its own as you write?

I trust the process. I am not all that clever or smart, I just stick with it and let the story tell itself. There’s a misconception out there that writing fast means you are a hack, but I look at it as being truer to the natural storytelling talent we all have. Of course, revision is the hard part!

Are you self-published or traditionally published, and what has been the best and worst thing about the route you have taken?

I’ve done a little of everything—traditional, small press, and self-publishing—and I just signed a deal with Amazon for my Fear series. Each path has its advantages and pitfalls, which is why I try all of them. But I will keep self-publishing as my foundation because I like being responsible for my own work and my own audience. My readers are the only people I have to please.

If this isn't too much like asking a dad which of his children he likes best, which of your characters or books is your favourite?

Yeah, you have to love all your children, even the dumb and ugly ones. I think Ronnie Day in The Red Church is the closest to me, as well as Freeman Mills in Troubled. Or at least as I was at around age 12 or so.

What do you like to read and do you have any other passions?

Just as I write in many genres, I read in many genres, from literary fiction to Stephen King to Mark Twain to new indie authors. I also do some freelance editing, so I get exposure to a lot of what’s happening, and there are many great writers now getting a chance to reach readers, and readers are enjoying this newfound wealth of talent that had been denied them under the old system of publishing. I think it’s great for everyone except those who want to sell a book for an obscenely high price.

Briefly, considering all the changes in the industry over the past few years, what do you see in the future for readers and writers?

The future is already unfolding. We are seeing new authors getting discovered, ebook prices dropping to a fair and affordable level once all the middlemen are removed, and generally an explosion of reading and writing as it becomes easier for everyone to communicate and share ideas. The walls are coming down and we’re all connected. It’s the Golden Age of Literature. 

Some people who dearly love paper books are afraid because it looks like “they” are taking away paper books, but what is happening is people are taking paper books away from themselves by choosing to buy digitally instead of driving to a store. As long as people find what they want, I don’t see a good or bad to it.

 Finally, what are you working on at the moment that you can tell us about?

I just finished up revisions to Chronic Fear, which will be out on Dec. 20 from Amazon, along with Liquid Fear. I am working on a vampire book with J.R. Rain and H.T. Night called Bad Blood that should be out soon, and I hope to have one new post-apocalyptic thriller out for Christmas. So I better go type on it now! Thanks for hosting me at Booked Up, TC.

Scott Nicholson is giving away 15 percent of his September ebook revenues to readers who spread the word about his books. Check his blog or sign up for his newsletter to stay up to date. Nicholson is author of more than 25 books, six screenplays, three children’s books, and four comics.

Just a quick check-in...

I'm going away for a couple of days later today, so no blog hopping or anything this weekend. My giveaway of Solom is running until noon tomorrow (Saturday) and I will be doing the draw on Sunday once I'm home.

Have a great weekend everyone!

TC x

Thursday 22 September 2011

Coming Soon Book Review: Waiting for Robert Capa by Susana Fortes

Waiting for Robert Capa (P.S.)From - "Love, war and photography marked their lives. They were young, anti-Fascist, good-looking, and nonconformist. They had everything in life, and they put everything at risk. They created their own legend and remained faithful to it until the very end....

When Gerta Pohorylle meets Endre Friedmann in 1935, they are in Paris; she is German, he is Hungarian, but both are communists, Jews, exiles—and photographers. To sell their work more easily, they change their names, becoming Gerda Taro (in homage to the Japanese Taro Okamoto) and Robert Capa (a portmanteau of Robert Taylor and Frank Capra). Under their new identities, they travel to Spain, entering Europe’s most harrowing war zone to document the country’s quickly intensifying civil war. Love, danger, and a fierce dedication to journalism and art mark their lives as the couple’s story unfolds, and until tragedy overcomes them two years later, theirs is a romance for the ages.

Based on the true story of these legendary figures and already set to be the next film by award-winning director Michael Mann (Public Enemies, The Insider, Manhunter, Miami Vice, Collateral), Waiting for Robert Capa is a captivating love story between artists, and a moving tribute to all journalists and photographers who risk their lives to document the world’s daily transformations."

This book looks like it will be one of those released to great critical acclaim, and translated for the big screen which I imagine will make a good film. However I found myself struggling to finish this book. I'm interested in photography but have to admit I hadn't heard of these photographers before so I wasn't sure how much of the book was a biography and how much was fictionalised. I read it expecting something that would be almost a historical fiction novel, but there were so many names and facts thrown in that it interrupted the flow of the narrative. I was also hoping to learn a bit more about the Spanish Civil war, which doesn't seem to get a lot of attention in the media compared to other conflicts. However while there was some information included it almost seemed to presuppose a degree of prior knowledge which I don't have, so it didn't really enlighten me and the scenes detailing actual conflict were limited and didn't have much emotional impact.

The story jumps around both in time and location, and the narrative in places is very choppy with incomplete sentences. The style worked in some places but overall this had a combined effect of making it a bit difficult to follow at times. Some of the references back to Gerta's life before she moved to Paris seemed to set up mysteries to be resolved, such as what had happened to her previous love Georg who went to Italy, with a suggestion something had gone on that would be revealed, but it never was. Probably a good thing there were no more flashbacks to their time together as I hated the sex scenes. I seriously dislike the use of the word "member", does anyone use it in real life in an anatomical context outside of literature?

I put this book down unsure of whether it was a biography, historical fiction or a romance novel, and my overall feeling was one of relief that I'd finished it. It was okay but I'm afraid I can't be more enthusiastic. It's a shame something I saw as really promising was a bit of a damp squib.

Format: E-book, Advance Review Copy, anticipated release date 27th September 2011
My Rating: 2*

Book Review: On Dark Shores - Parallels: The Black-Eyed Susan by J A Clement

Parallels: The Black-Eyed Susan (On Dark Shores)This short story is set 10 years before the saga picks up in the first book in the series, The Lady, previously reviewed here. The Captain of the Black-Eyed Susan is in debt to moneylender Copeland, who has set up events to ensure the Captain will be unable to pay on time. Copeland has seen the moneymaking potential of the ship and has no qualms about destroying the Captain and his son's lives.

This is a short piece but written in the same descriptive style, well edited and formatted, providing more of a background to the places and residents of Scarlock. Copeland is already scheming, and newly employed henchman Blakey is enjoying his role. This serves to fill out some of the key characters in the series and explain the motives behind some of their later actions.

It is hard for me to rate this as a standalone short story, having already read Book 1. However as a prequel it sheds more light on what happens subsequently and is a good companion piece. I'm looking forward to the arrival of Book 2 later this year!

Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 3*

Monday 19 September 2011

Author Q & A with David M Brown

Fezariu's Banner
David Brown, author of Fezariu's Epiphany (which I reviewed back along), is currently on a blog tour. As well as finding time for a guest post a couple of weeks ago he has also been good enough to agree to do an interview.

David was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and first conceived the idea of the Elencheran Chronicles at college in 1999. He moved to Huddersfield in 2000 to read History with English at the University and today lives in West Yorkshire, now with his wife, Donna, and their six rescue cats Razz, Kain, Buggles, Charlie, Frodo and Bilbo

When did you first think of becoming a writer and who or what got you interested in writing?

I’d always enjoyed creative writing at school but it wasn’t until college that I wanted to be a writer. I’d been spending hours playing the Final Fantasy games on the Playstation and their stories were utterly compelling. Those games led me to Norse mythology which remains my favourite to this day. From there I decided I wanted to create my own world, draw the maps, build an epic history and write novels set there.

How would you describe your books and style, and who has been the greatest influence on your writing?

My novels belong in the fantasy genre though I am trying to do something a little different. Though set in a fictitious world, the stories give more precedence to the characters rather than the land they inhabit. In essence some of the stories wouldn’t be out of place in our world, they just happen to take place in Elenchera. In terms of influence I’d have to cite Tolkien as the teacher many of us fantasy students aspire to. My writing is more inspired by the likes of Hemingway and Murakami, their prose seems so simple but as a whole it is magnificent and beautiful to read. I try to write in a straightforward manner that won’t leave the reader bogged down with endless descriptions.

Do you start a book knowing what the beginning, middle and end will be or does it take on a life of it's own as you write? 

I tend to know the beginning, some of the middle and the end. I knew how Fezariu’s Epiphany would start and end but there were many gaps between those two extremes and I had to just write the story to see how the events would unfold. Sometimes inspiration would come easily, other occasions it would involve a lot of head scratching but I always found a way to the end.

Are you self-published or traditionally published, and what has been the best and worst thing about the route you have taken?

My wife and I decided to go down the self-publishing route with Fezariu’s Epiphany and I imagine we’ll be doing the same in future. It’s great having full control of the book and being able to appreciate the positive feedback knowing it’s down to our individual efforts. My wife has taken on a lot of the publicising of this book and done an amazing job, I have to say. The flip side of course is that going it alone involves a lot of hard work such as formatting the book, arranging avenues to publicise your work and market it too. It’s not for the faint hearted but it’s been an amazing journey so far.

If this isn't too much like asking a dad which of his children he likes best, which of your characters is your favourite?

I’ll focus just on Fezariu’s Epiphany. There’s no way I could pick my favourite character from 47,000 years of Elencheran history! That would be mean! Certainly in this novel Fezariu is an important character but I have a soft spot that lovable toldere, Vintaro, the one who likes a drink and has the gift of the gab as well. He offers some light relief in the book and was a really fun character to write. I think the fact he is humorous makes those rare moments when he’s serious all the more poignant. 

If Fezariu's Epiphany was going to be turned into a blockbuster movie who would play Fezariu and where would it be filmed?

My wife and I are in agreement on this one. If he’s listening, we’d like Jake Gyllenhaal to play Fezariu. He was superb in Donnie Darko and Brokeback Mountain and I believe he could get to the heart of Fezariu’s character. Where would it be filmed? New Zealand tends to be a good location for fantasy films, doesn’t it? I travelled there in 2008 and it’s easy to see why.

What do you like to read and do you have any other passions?

I read many genres of fiction, always plenty of fantasy to admire the work of my peers, but I do enjoy general fiction as well. I also love biographies but I do struggle if I don’t regularly read a history book. It was my favourite subject at school and has inspired me a lot when it comes to Elenchera. Away from books I do love films, especially world cinema. I’ve broadened my horizons a lot in recent years and have started going back to some of the really old films. There are so many hidden gems from the past.

Finally, what are you working on at the moment that you can tell us about?

I’m working on my second novel, A World Apart, which will take place in the western colonies that feature in Fezariu’s Epiphany. The basis of this book will be a tragic love triangle between three friends that starts in their teens and continues to affect them into adulthood. These kind of scenarios seldom end well and I can promise that A World Apart is designed to make tearful readers want to reach for their

Thank you to David for fitting this interview into a no doubt busy schedule!

Fezariu's Epiphany & Short Stories I-IV - are both available in Paperback/Ebook

To find out more....

Blog - The World According to Dave:

Website - The Elencheran Chronicles:

Facebook - Fezariu's Epiphany:

Twitter - David M. Brown:

Saturday 17 September 2011

Book Review: Alison Wonderland by Helen Smith

Alison WonderlandAlison Temple's life is full of colourful characters, like her psychic postman, club manager friend Taron whose mother is a witch, and inventor lodger slash might be boyfriend Jeff. After using Fitzgerald's Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I) to catch out her cheating husband she takes a job there. It primarily comprises dull temping jobs to get the goods on other women's cheating husbands but now the boss, Ella Fitzgerald, is on to something big, related to animal experimentation taking place in the South West of England.

The plot basically involves the investigation into what is going on in the South West, and Taron's search for an abandoned baby to become an apprentice to her mother. However these elements really feels like a backdrop for the goings on of the author's zany characters. Alison seems lost and has plenty of opportunity to ponder those strange little things in life, with myriads quirky observations that made me smile or nod, and wonder along with her. Alison doesn't seem like much of a PI but she is warm, funny and full of interesting thoughts.

This book encompasses some very diverse characters, lots of drugs and even bestiality, but despite this it is a quick, light read with a quirky sense of humour. I'm still wondering what the meat of a shig (sheep/pig) would taste like and what sauce you'd have with it. Don't read it expecting a crime story or any obvious Alice in Wonderland connections, but do expect some humour and some soul-searching as Alison tries to move forward after her divorce.

I have read a couple of Helen's other books before this, but this was her first. I think her later works are probably more honed and show a wonderful development of the author's descriptive talent, but Alison is a strangely likable character and I found it an enjoyable read.

Format: Kindle, I think I won this book in a giveaway
My Rating: 3*

Scott Nicholson Giveaway - Solom & winner of The Gorge

The deadline for entries to win an e-book of The Gorge has now passed, and I'm pleased (and slightly amused after last week) to announce that the winner is ...

TN Nascar Fan

Can you make it 3 times a charm I wonder?

This week, as part of Be Nicholson's Agent we are giving away an e-copy of Scott's book Solom. You can read the synopsis care of Amazon here.

This giveaway is open to anyone, and the deadline for entries is Sat 24th Sept at 12 noon (BST) All you need to do to enter is fill in the form below. Email addresses will only be used to contact the winner and send their book to them. The e-book is available in all the main formats, but if you have any questions on that front please let me know. Even if you don't have an e-reader don't forget free apps are available for computers and mobile/cell phones so you don't miss out.

If you want to get extra entries you can have another one for tweeting "I want to #BeNicholsonsAgent and win his books with @TCBookedUp & @hauntedcomputer " and a third for mentioning the promotion and giveaway on your blog. The contest is open to everyone, but I'd love it if you want to follow the blog or my Twitter feed too! The winner will be selected by

Scott is giving away 15 percent of his ebook revenues in September to people who spread the word about his books! For giveaways visit Scott Nicholson is author of The Skull Ring, Speed Dating with the Dead, The Red Church, Drummer Boy, and nine other novels, seven story collections, and six screenplays.

Friday 16 September 2011

Book Blogger Hop

That's another week been and gone, and with Christmas decorations already filling the shelves of some of our local stores I feel like I'll be saying Happy New Year to everyone very soon! I've had a good week this week, managed to spend my time off work getting things done and enjoying myself. Yesterday I made it down to the beach, where I read, sipped a latte and even did a bit of snorkelling (which makes the presence of Xmas bits even more weird when it's still so nice out) As a result I've managed to get in more reading than I have normally of late.

In the last week I have reviewed:

The Fourth Reich by Tom Schwartz, a timely thriller
The Goat Woman of Largo Bay by Gillian Royes, a Jamaican cozy mystery coming soon
An Epitaph for Coyote by Bryan R Dennis, contemporary fiction, and
The Scar by Michael S. Weiner, a crime novel

Scott Nicholson is continuing his month of promotions, Be Nicholson's Agent, and dropped by with a guest post on his inspiration for the manor at the heart of Creative Spirit. If you haven't entered already there is still a little bit of time to join the giveaway for a copy of Scott's book The Gorge, original post here for details.

Moving on the blog hop, this week Jennifer over at is asking

As a book blogger, how do you introduce yourself in your profile?

As you'll see if you take a look at my About me page I like to share a little bit of personal info, sheds a bit of light on some the things I mention in my posts, but mostly it's about how I got to where I am with the blog. I hope it gives authors who are looking for a reviewer who is a match for their books enough info, and tells blog followers a little bit about me (without making me a prime target for ID theft :D )

I hope everyone has a great weekend, I'd like to be able to post at some point saying I have claimed a freed book from The Guardian's Book Swap, but I expect otherwise it'll just be a quiet one here.

TC x

Guest post By Scott Nicholson - Creative Spirit and Art

Creative Spirit and Art
By Scott Nicholson
My modern Gothic ghost story Creative Spirit was inspired by an actual haunted manor, set high in the foggy Appalachian Mountains. The Cone Manor was built just before the 1900’s by industrialist Moses Cone, who very loosely serves as the chilling antagonist Ephram Korban in the novel. Cone bought up thousands of acres of prime ridge lands and built a magnificent estate, though he didn’t spend a great deal of time there due to poor health and the demands of running an industrial empire manufacturing denim jeans.

Art and music center around many of the ghost stories that swirl around the manor house, and perhaps it’s fitting that the main floor of the house is now a mountain craft shop. (The house was used for some opening scenes in the Stephen King movie “The Green Mile.”) There were portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Cone that occasionally slid from the walls and would be found the next morning leaning against one another. Piano music can often be heard softly playing even when the building is empty. 

People who spend the night in the manor, snowed in during bad weather, report hearing furniture moving around upstairs though the building is empty, and doors often open and close by themselves. I toured the entire house once, which is where I got the idea for the cramped basement, and the creepy upstairs rooms that have “boxcar siding” for walls but are oddly shaped.

The element that served as a prominent scene for the book is the widow’s walk, a porch-like area on top of the house that was a fixture of seaside houses, where the “sea widows” would scan the ocean looking for the return of a loved one. The actual manor view is of valleys and ridges, and I borrowed those for the novel, along with the numerous chimneys in the manor, which seem to suggest Cone was rather cold-natured. Or maybe he had an affinity for fire, another element of the book.

Even after he died, he didn’t find peace, as his body was reportedly dug up because of rumors that he’d been buried wearing jewelry. The grave robbers, upon finding nothing, allegedly left his corpse propped up against the granite monument to his memory. Another legend says the marked grave is not his actual burial site at all.

I couldn’t say for sure whether the actual manor is haunted or not, but it sure gets creepy in Creative Spirit! I hope you journey inside the story and find out for yourself…if you dare.
Scott Nicholson is giving away 15 percent of his ebook revenues in September to people who spread the word about his books! Giveaways are at Scott Nicholson is author of The Skull Ring, Speed Dating with the Dead, The Red Church, Drummer Boy, and nine other novels, seven story collections, and six screenplays.

You may also want to take a look at my recent review of Creative Spirit and Scott's video showing a little of the manor (The Manor was the original paperback title of the book, changed for e-book release)