Welcome to my Nightmare... Where Ro discloses where those crazy ideas come from.
I plan to do some blog posts about some of the weird shit I write about and where some of my freaky inspiration comes from. Take for example, my upcoming release with Kimberlie L. Faye and Ellay Branton out 10/31, The Banes of Lake's Crossing. An historical horror romance mashup set in pre-statehood Nevada. Let's pick this apart...
1. Historical - Uh, since when does Ro of Rock 'n' Romance notoriety write historical? Well, you may or may not know that I, in fact, hold a Bachelor's degree in History and Secondary Education with an authorization to teach Sociology. A million years ago before I started writing, I fancied myself an historian. I love history. I've taught it for a combination of fifteen years in the classroom and in Independent Study, which is what I teach now. I became a history teacher because I HATED history in high school. I fought with my 10th grade teacher and my 11th grade teacher told us girls we were all going to end up "barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen" if we didn't do our homework. (He also called the boys "retarded gorillas" for fun.) So I got to Graceland College and discovered a love for all things history with the help of four fantastic professors. One was a missionary from New Zealand, one was a Mennonite who rode the Freedom busses through the South and helped with the voter registration drives, one was a Civil Rights Attorney, and one was our church historian. Fascinating men. I actually worked in the department as a TA for two years during which I helped my professor enter all of his interview notes into his computer (On MS DOS, people. Talk about historical!) and I learned all the fascinating and disturbing details behind one of America's most puzzling series of murders committed by a cult in Kirtland, Ohio. Which leads to...
2. Horror - I LOVE IT! I've watched horror movies and the like since I was a tiny girl at my stepfather's knee staying up late to watch Creature Features and Twilight Zone. I fell in love with Stephen King in high school and read everyone from Clive Barker to Dean Koontz and Peter Straub. I read the Exorcist while still in high school and then after college I devoured true crime texts because I was intrigued by the psychology behind America's most infamous murders. I am a huge fan of the original Universal Classic Monsters all the way up to the Evil Dead Saga and today's Conjuring films. I love staying in spooky hotels (which I'll be writing about soon) and going on Haunted History Tours, which I plan to do in Reno for RT 2018! Enough evidence for you there?
3. Romance - Yeah, I still don't know why I ended up writing romance haha. It was never something I read growing up other than Judy Blume. I was never a chick flick fan, I've never read Nicolas Sparks... But the thing I love about romance is that hope is always present, and love possesses the power to heal wounds. That's it! Oh, and the sexy tiems are fun as well. When I did start reading romance, it was almost always paranormal. I started with J.R. Ward when I was sick with pneumonia back in 2009, then Charlaine Harris and then Sherrilyn Kenyon and then Jeaniene Frost... You get my point. Along the way I met Cynthia St. Aubin and Kerrigan Byrne and fangirled over their books and how super cool they were, and it was in one of their events that I met Ellay Branton and Kimberlie L. Faye. A year or so later the three of us had all self-published our first books and we were on our way into this crazy authory world. I still talk to them every single day and they are my bestest friends.
The Banes of Lake's Crossing - So the three of us had been planning to do something together for eons and after writing our stories for Gone With The Dead, we decided to do it again, this time in a world the three of us created. My previous blog post gives you an intro into this insanity that we shall unleash upon the world in just a few days, but I wanted to give you a little more background... And another snippet. But I also wanted to share the cover quote from the fabulous Kerrigan Byrne who has been incredibly supportive of all three of us...
"Each installment of this compilation will tantalize and terrify you. An absolute must read!"
And here is a scene from when our heroine meets her hero in The Fourth Man:
Lake’s Crossing, Nevada Territory
Julianna Monroe dreaded the sound of wheels crossing the bridge. Each new wagon or carriage that arrived brought the roughest of men with the nastiest of intentions.
Lake’s Crossing was twenty miles north of Virginia City and provided safe passage and supplies for miners working the Comstock Lode and other precious metals deposits in Nevada Territory. She knew she should count herself fortunate. Those horrible men provided a steady income for her father. He’d developed a crippling case of rheumatism since their arrival from Massachusetts and had used every penny they’d saved to open an assay office and exchange. Miners could bring their gold and silver for appraisal and he would handle any financial transactions they wished. Rufus had connections with several large banks in New York as well as San Francisco.
Julianna, her two sisters Elizabeth and Victoria, and her mother worked to keep the inn they’d built over the past year running smoothly while her father conducted business with the miners. Most days she wouldn’t have to wait on them, just clean up after them, but tonight was a different story in every way. The men who walked through the door and into their reception area were like none she’d ever seen before.
It wasn’t strange for men to arrive at all hours of the day and night, but the men who crossed the threshold at midnight were definitely not their ordinary guests.
There were four of them. Each was dressed in the finest of clothing, without a trace of dirt or filth. That alone made them an exception. They appeared related, all with the same black hair and eerie green eyes. Their smiles seemed wrong for some reason, and though they made Julianna uneasy, it wasn’t for the usual fear of their grabbing hands and lewd requests. More men than she could count had offered large sums of money for her and her sisters. Thankfully they hadn’t needed the money. For now.
Katherine Monroe never flinched before the men, no matter how disgusting they carried themselves, but she seemed to struggle some with these particular guests. Upon hearing the doors open, Julianna’s mother had come in from the kitchen and approached the desk. One of the men stepped forward and removed his hat, grinning at her mother like he had a secret to share. Katherine rubbed her hands nervously on the apron she wore to cover her dress as she worked.
“We have business to conduct with the exchange office in the morning and we’d like four rooms for the night. Maybe longer, depending on how our business goes,” the first man said.
He exuded power in a way Julianna hadn’t experienced before. She’d met bankers and stockbrokers who’d come through to inspect the mines, but these men seemed even more, well…glamorous. All four were handsome by society’s standards, yet there was nothing attractive about their presence. One was so massive he had to turn a bit sideways to enter the doorway. She had no way to tell how old they were, but they didn’t appear to be much older than her seventeen years. It was always hard to tell. Depending on the type of life people in the territory lived, age was difficult to guess. Life was rough for most people here in the desert, especially those working the mines.
“We can certainly accommodate you. Breakfast is served at seven in the morning. There is a washroom at the end of the hall. Please let us know if you’ll be needing anything else.”
Katherine did everything she could to avoid eye contact with the man who seemed to be the leader. She turned the register toward him and placed the pen on the counter, pulling back her hand as if she feared she’d be bitten. He smiled as if he were used to this type of reception.
“I believe this will cover it,” he said, placing a handful of silver coins on the counter and sliding them across.
Katherine’s eyes went wide and before she caught herself, she looked up. Her look of apprehension faded to a relaxed smile.
“Very well, Mr. Bane. Do you need assistance with your things?”
“No, ma’am,” the massive one said. “Our men will be staying with our coach tonight.”
“My daughter will show you to your rooms.” She smiled at the other men, who each gave a nod as they filed past her to where Julianna waited at the top of the stairs.
Four pairs of green eyes met hers in turn, and a jolt sent shivers throughout her body. There was something unnatural about their presence indeed. The men began to ascend the stairs, and it took every ounce of courage she had to stand her ground and not run from them. She wasn’t afraid of untoward advances, but something more sinister. The leader reached the top first, followed by the massive one. Next came one with such an infectious smile, she was sure he probably had ladies falling for him wherever he went. The last of the four men…
“What is your name?” the fourth asked her. Instead of the unsettling smile, his expression was earnest, almost that of wonder. His presence was different from the others; unnatural still, yet not unpleasant.
“If you’ll follow me,” she said hurriedly, ducking her head as she walked as fast as she could without appearing to be at a run. Her mother had placed them in the four rooms at the end of the hall upstairs.
“No one will bother you at this end of the hall,” she said to the floor. “You should have a peaceful rest.”
The hall seemed to shrink as she reached the end and realized she’d have to move between them to get out if they continued to hover and stare at her like they were. Those smiles…
“Your family is very kind,” the leader said. “Your hospitality will be rewarded.”
His words felt prophetic, but they did nothing to ease her reticence.
“Change is coming, little one,” the massive one said. “We remember those who—”
“There’s no need to trouble the girl,” the fourth said in an angry voice. The massive one turned to face him with the scariest smile Julianna had ever seen.
“Remember your place,” he growled, his voice taking on an almost inhuman sound. He took a threatening step towards the fourth man, who stood his ground. Julianna would have cowered in fear if someone that large ever threatened her, but the cool look the fourth man had on his face made her incredibly curious.
“Thank you,” the leader said, opening the door to the room on his left. “Brother Will, you’ll be taking the room across from me,” he said to the massive one. When he didn’t move, the leader placed a hand on his shoulder, causing the larger man to flinch. He shot the leader an ugly look before throwing open the door. He stomped inside and slammed it so hard, a vase wobbled on the table behind Julianna, nearly toppling over onto the floor. The third man moved so fast to catch it, Julianna wasn’t sure she’d actually seen him move.
“I apologize for my brother’s behavior,” the third said, leaning in close as he righted the vase. Julianna cringed away from him, worried his hands would be on her next.
His expression softened from the creepy smile to one of concern. “I surely didn’t mean to frighten you, miss. Thank you again.” He tipped his hat and entered the room next to the massive one. This left Julianna face to face with the fourth man.
He stood motionless, his head tilted to the side as if he were appraising her. When she could take no more of his attention, she lurched forward to flee. He moved to let her by, but she walked into his path and they collided. He caught her by the arms before she fell to the floor, and she quickly realized her mistake. Once his hands were on her, she felt powerless to look away from him.
“Please tell me your name,” he pleaded, his voice a whisper.
“Why do I have the feeling if I tell you my name, you’ll use it against me?”
A faint smile pulled at his lips as if they weren’t used to such a position. “I could say the same for you.”
He released her and stepped to the side so she could leave, but for some reason she hesitated. “You’re different,” she said abruptly.
A dark shadow crossed his face and he stepped farther away.
“You couldn’t be more correct,” he whispered, and started to turn when she made a noise somewhat like a squeak.
“I meant,” she said, kicking herself for her behavior. “I… Different from them.” She gestured with her chin towards the three doors the other men had just entered.
His gaze followed her movement and he sighed.
“I guess you could be more correct. Goodnight, miss.”
Darkness filled the hall as he closed the door and the movement blew out the lanterns mounted on the walls. Julianna gasped, shaken by the experience but curious about the fourth man.
He was different. She felt evil flowing off the other men like steam from a cup of hot coffee. But this one, the sensation was less threatening, more like sadness than evil. Sorrow. Regret. Something awful had happened to him, of that she was sure, although she didn’t know why.