I’m delighted to introduce my blog guest, Cheryl R. Cowtan, an educator and fantasy author, whose book 2 in The Fergus She series, “Master of Madhouse”, is available for pre-order on Amazon.
WHEN DID YOUR PASSION FOR STORY TELLING SEIZE YOU?
I was known as the Queen of Campfire Storytelling in public school. Not the coolest cat on the block, but I was certainly entertaining. I got my stories from old guys who got their kicks telling scary stories to kids, from the many horror and gothic novels I was consuming at a young age, and from the creepy imaginings of my own brain as it processed all this thrilling stimulation. Being able to transfer these ideas and stories onto paper is the big payoff for me. I’m keeping the urban legends alive and kicking, expanding on ancient story forms, and hopefully affecting my readers. That makes me happy.
YOUR SERIES IS NAMED, “THE FERGUS SHE”, WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE?
As a Canadian fan of Stephen King, I grew up knowing more about Maine than Montreal. I was a voracious reader, but rarely, did I ever read about Canadian cities or towns in novels during the 70s and 80s, and so I decided I would someday make sure my geography would factor in my own writing. I’d love to say I cleverly chose “The Fergus She” for historical or other significance, but the thinking behind the series conception went something like this:
After reading a number of vampire texts, I noticed the vampire experience almost always occurs from an outside catalyst (getting fanged by a vamp). Then I thought, imagine if the protagonist was dragging a vampire around on the inside, only didn't know it. And imagine if that vampire was a petulant, but deadly Scarlett O’Hara character. And image if the protagonist thought this inner demon was mental illness. And imagine if I added a sexy highlander like Jamie from the "Outlander" series, and then of course, I'd have to have him betray my protagonist, because love hurts. Sucks, really. So, the highlander would resurrect the inner "she-V" and my protagonist would lose control over her life. How horrible for my protagonist, Rachel, UNLESS that resurrection occurred through the best sex ever, and it was worth being possessed by the she, to be with the highlander. And … highlanders… Oh yeah, the Fergus Highland Games – that’s a good place I could sell my book… I used to live in Fergus. I like the sound of “The Fergus She”… it has a ring. Yes, that’s the name of my new series—The Fergus She.
However, since that caffeine-jacked thinking process, I’ve learned is a popular Scottish male name with origins of “man” and “vigor” and “force” and “choice”—a perfect origin combination for a story about a Scottish clan chosen by a demon to serve her resurrection.
It was only later, upon visiting a distant Irish relative of mine, that I learned of the tale of leanhaun shee, a beautiful woman or fairy mistress who takes a mortal lover and inspires him creatively while enslaving his will, which leads to madness and early death. This woman or fairy legend hails from Celtic tales as leannán sí, Scottish Gaelic stories as leannan sith, and is also known as leannán sídhe.
So, in the end, the title, “The Fergus She” matched up to the storyline, even if I didn’t purposefully or consciously plan it all out that way.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR SERIES PROTAGONIST.
The main protagonist in “Girl Desecrated” book 1 of The Fergus She series, Rachel is a whoring, boozing, eighteen-year-old who has been damaged by a religiously fanatical mother and a loveless childhood. Even worse, she is possessed. When Rachel learns there is a demon slumbering inside, and it’s wed to an old school vampire, she must find a way to reverse her own possession, or be bound to the demon’s vampire husband, Gräfen, forever.
Gräfen is an evil "Mr. Darcy"-- a land-holding, old school vampire. When Rachel appears at his Gothic mansion, her human frailty lights his candle.Victim to Gräfen's sadistic desires and surrounded by a bedlam of servants, Rachel tries to befriend the count's enemies to escape. But the lines of good and evil are not always clear, and Rachel soon finds herself suffocating in a deadly tangle.Will she be able to escape the madhouse before the master goes too far?
WILL RACHEL BE SHARING THE ROLE OF PROTAGONIST IN BOOK 2, “MASTER OF MADHOUSE”? IF SO, WITH WHAT CHARACTER.
The story of Scarlett’s past will continue in the second book. Scarlett’s story of her time as William Cane’s wife at the colony of Jamestown, Virginia runs alongside Rachel’s own adventure. It’s a measured unravelling of one stop in the multitude of timelines Scarlett has lived in. Her story at the colony begins in, “Girl Desecrated” and will deepen in book 2 as we find out how the Puritans and the Powhatans deal with a demon in their midst.
JUDGING FROM BOOK REVIEWS ON GIRL DESECRATED, 1984 (BOOK 1), FANS EAGERLY AWAIT PUBLICATION OF THE SEQUEL. A PUBLISHERS WEEKLY’S BOOKLIFE REPORT GIVES “GIRL DESECRATED” A 9/10 FOR BOOK CONCEPT “ORIGINALITY”, AND PRAISES YOUR WRITING AS “COMPELLING” AND “EVOCATIVE”, A WRITING STYLE THAT “KEEPS THE PAGES TURNING”! THIS IS INDEED HIGH PRAISE FOR A DEBUT NOVEL.
LET’S TALK ABOUT “MASTER OF MADHOUSE, 1894”.
In Master of Madhouse, a classic bedlam gothic of entrapment, macabre misadventure, and male dominance, Rachel experiences full possession under Scarlett’s reign. As Scarlett trashes what is left of Rachel’s life, she releases control to Rachel and then sets up situations in which Rachel will have to choose to once again be locked in her body. These manipulations eventually backfire, and Rachel finds a way to stay topside. But, in her fight for freedom, she taps into Scarlett’s skills and ends up running right into the arms of Scarlett’s husband, vampire lord and master of his estate, which seems frozen sometime in the late 1800s. Rachel has a history of making unwise decisions, and this novel will continue that tradition as Rachel attempts to unravel the mysteries of Gräfen’s home and history in an attempt to escape his brutal courtship.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE DIFFERENT TIME PERIODS IN YOUR DARK FANTASY SERIES?
My series uses a lot of mirroring symbolism, dual lives, two sides of the same, dichotomy and juxtaposition in order for me to present my themes of identity and choices. The periods 1984 and 1894 are mirrored periods, the first I chose just for the fun of a 1980s hard rock setting, and the second was my flip, but also a favourite time period for my own reading pleasure in which novels like American Gothic are set, and novels like The Picture of Dorian Gray and some of my favourite Sherlock mysteries were written.
WHEN WILL BOOK 2 BE AVAILABLE?
I’m planning to release Master of Madhouse before April of this year. Readers may pre-order through Amazon.
|Author, Cheryl R. Cowtan|
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