To start things back up is author Juliet Blackwell. I absolutely love her Witchcraft Mysteries but have to say that the debut of her Haunted Home Repair Mysteries really impressed me as well!
A year after If Walls Could Talk came it is time for part two in the Haunted Home Repair Mystery series. Dead Bolt is due out this week and I have it on pre-order because this author is just a joy to read!
I hope you all enjoy Juliet's guest blog and will enter the contest to win your very own copy of her new release!
I’ve always been a big fan of ghost stories. You know that kid who always wants “one more” scary story around the campfire? The one who sneaks in to watch the ghost-riddled gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows even though she’s forbidden? That was me.
My mother comes from the South, so when we were visiting relatives I didn’t have to look very far to find a cool, often gruesome yet romantic ghost story – I wonder whether there’s a single plantation standing that doesn’t sport a specter or two? But I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and to me California seemed hopelessly “new” -- no spooky swamps, very little fog, and not much gothic architecture. No place for ghosts to flourish. Or…was there?
Winchester Mystery House, one of two historic houses in California that claim to be “certified” by the government as being actually haunted. (In fact, when I was a kid the Winchester House was even more intriguing than it is now. It was ramshackle and unkempt, its dark grey façade the true picture of a haunted house, and they let you run around on your own. Since they renovated it, the façade is not nearly as frightening…and the tours keep everyone together rather than letting you peer into every corner. The mansion is truly bizarre, though, and well worth the price of admission.)
Now that I write my own ghost stories, I’ve hunted with ghost busters, attended séances, and been on just about every local ghost tour there is: The Chinatown ghost tour, the Pacific Heights ghost tour, the Haight-Ashbury ghost tour. There are stories of unpaid gambling debts; of a relative held in an attic who escaped to kill a visitor in the parlor with a machete; of a hotel in which a former resident is known for coming and covering guests in extra blankets; and of an unhappy fellow who attempted to escape his unhappy home life by running off to Chile, but perished while at sea and was returned to his front doorstep, his body pickled in a keg of rum.
Atherton mansion and its purported ghosts (I’ll let you in on a little secret: one of the best parts of being an author? Reading ghost stories, touring fancy houses, and hanging out in cool San Francisco neighborhoods in the name of “research”) and came across a story that seemed too crazy for fiction – in fact, my editor was wary about including the barrel of rum detail in my book! But of course I had to incorporate it into Dead Bolt. I added a very human murder, a little romance, and developed a mystery related to the history of the house, as well as the current occupants.
All around, I’d say that the kid with a love of ghost stories has been pretty lucky…I grew up to live in a haunted house! Doors open and close, lights go on and off, and frequently I hear footsteps overhead when I’m the only one at home. But I’ve lived here for many years, and I’m certain the ghosts are benevolent. And one thing I’ve learned from researching the paranormal: the “veil” between the living and the dead might not be nearly as impermeable as we think.
How about you? Do you believe in ghosts? Any experiences you’d care to share? Oh, and if you have a really good story…mind if I steal it for my next Haunted Home Renovation novel?
Dead Bolt (Obsidian, December 6, 2011)
Turner Construction's latest restoration project is a historic Queen Anne Victorian in San Francisco. This time general contractor Mel Turner has to work around the owners who insist on sticking around- along with some ghosts that insist in their own way that the work stops...
The ghosts aren't the only ones standing in the way of the renovations. A crotchety neighbor, Emile Blunt, secretly wants this house, and could be behind some of the disturbances. But when Emile is found dead, it's Mel who appears guilty. Now she must restore the building-and her reputation-before it's too late.
Read an excerpt
Juliet Blackwell is the nationally bestselling author of the Witchcraft Mystery series, which features a misfit witch with a vintage clothing store in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood (Secondhand Spirits, A Cast-off Coven, Hexes and Hemlines, and In a Witch’s Wardrobe, coming 6/12). The Haunted Home Renovation series began last December with the release of If Walls Could Talk, also a national bestseller; Dead Bolt is second in the series.
Under the pseudonym Hailey Lind, Juliet penned the Art Lover’s Mystery series with her sister Carolyn--including the Agatha-nominated Feint of Art. Arsenic and Old Paint is the latest in the series.
A former anthropologist and social worker, Juliet has worked and studied in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France. She now lives in a happily haunted house in Oakland, California, where she is a muralist and portrait painter. She was a two-term president of Northern California Sisters in Crime.
Praise for Dead Bolt:
"Cleverly plotted with a terrific sense of the history of the greater Bay Area, Blackwell's series has plenty of ghosts and supernatural happenings to keep readers entertained and off balance."
"In Blackwell's smooth, seductive second mystery featuring San Francisco historic house contractor Melanie Turner (after 2010's If Walls Could Talk), something otherworldly is interfering with Mel's work on Jim and Katenka Daley's 1890s Queen Anne Victorian. Mel must also contend with the elderly neighbor across the street, Emile Blunt, who's determined to buy the Daleys' house, even though it's not for sale. Mel's father, himself a former contractor, tries to smooth things over with the crotchety Emile, only to find him shot dead the next day.
Desperate to save her character and her renovation from a murder, Mel may have to dig the truth up about yet another ghost before all is said and done. The return of divorced Mel's old crush, green building expert Graham Donovan, adds romantic interest. Cozy fans will want to see a lot more of the endearing Mel."
Juliet is giving away a copy of Dead Bolt (US Only!)
How To Enter
Juliet asked a question at the end of her guest blog. Answer it ;)
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