My first novel, An Unexpected Guest, was inspired by Vita Sackville-West’s short story An Unborn Visitant, about a stick-in-the-mud woman in the early 19th century visited by the spirit of someone important to her who changes her life. I took that story to heart, ran with it, and An Unexpected Guest was born. This book takes place in the fictitious town of Norwich, Massachusetts, which is on the northeast coast between Rockport and Ipswich. I imagine it sitting next to Innsmouth, the fictitious town H. P. Lovecraft created for his horror story A Shadow Over Innsmouth. No, there are no fish people in Norwich. 🙂
Here’s a blurb from the book:
Annie’s life is in crisis, and it’s time for her to change things. She is determined to be controlled no longer by her arrogant boyfriend and overbearing mother: for the first time in her life, she is going to follow her dreams and do something she truly wants for herself. Her dreams lead her to a picturesque Bed and Breakfast by the ocean that is rumored to be haunted. As she throws fear to the wind and opens up to life’s new possibilities she meets Jason, whose long blonde hair and cheeky attitude she cannot resist.
The bed and breakfast is called the Abigail Blackburn House, and I based it on a haunted bed and breakfast on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. This b&b dates back to the Revolutionary War, and it sits on a river. I had heard about it several years earlier, and after much planning finally stayed there when I was in town for a theater stage crew convention. The story behind the haunting is as follows: British soldiers came up the river and proceeded to set the small town on fire, destroying most of it. Soldiers threw torches on the porch of this b&b, which was originally a brothel. The proprietress swept the torches off the porch with her broom. She made a deal with the soldiers. She would house them, feed them, and allow them to use her services as long as they didn’t burn the place down. They agreed, and this b&b was allowed to stand whilst homes around it burned to the ground. The haunting involves the ghost of the proprietress wandering the halls in the dead of night, checking on her clientele and the women to make sure everyone was comfortable. There have been other sightings as well. The b&b itself is absolutely beautiful, decorated in Victorian splendor. It includes a lovely bar and discounted dinners every Friday night. The rooms are beautiful, spacious, and very homey in that Victorian style I liked very much.
The first time I stayed it was off-season in mid-winter. I was in a room overlooking the river. What a view! I enjoyed a delicious meal and the company of a man I met in the bar. He came to the b&b several times per month to enjoy dinner when in town on business. No, I did not take him to bed, although he was very handsome. We ate dinner together. That night I slept well until about 3 am when I heard a party going on in the room next to me. There was a lot of noise. I managed to go back to sleep. At about 4:30 am I heard heavy footsteps walking up and down the hallway. I immediately thought of the ghost of the proprietress stalking the halls checking on everyone and went back to sleep. I wondered why she wore combat boots, since the footsteps were very loud and heavy. I felt very safe, secure, and comfortable. Not the least bit scared.
The next day, when I went down for breakfast, I told the clerk about the party and the footsteps. She told me I couldn’t have heard anything because I had been alone in the building all night. Yeeeahhh!!!!! The party! The footsteps! None of it could have happened!!!
Of course, I had to return. 🙂
The second time I stayed I was with my husband. While we slept, someone turned on the overhead light in the middle of the night. I was a very light sleeper and I snapped awake the moment the light turned on. He snored away next to me. I was far too tired to get up and turn off the light, so I went back to sleep. When I woke up shortly before dawn, the light was out. I asked my husband later about the light and he said he had turned it off before going to bed. He didn’t get up during the night at all.
So who turned on the light? And who later turned it off?
I heard those footsteps in the hallway again, and felt as safe as I did the first time. No party this time, though. At least this time there were other guests in the place. I wasn’t alone in the building again.
My experiences affected me so much I wrote about them later in An Unexpected Guest. This book includes information about the flu pandemic of 1918 and how it affected the region. Plus it’s a very romantic and haunting love story. The town of Norwich is based on the Massachusetts coastal town where I live. It has all the homes that date back to the 1800s, the ocean, the cliffs, the beaches, and the rustic romance. If you love a good and romantic ghost story, you’ll love An Unexpected Guest.
[Intro: Annie and Jason are on the deck of the Abigail Blackburn house overlooking the harbor. He has told her numerous times it’s very important that she buy the house. He’ll do anything to convince her to buy, but she doesn’t know the real reason he needs her to buy the place. Is Jason a ghost or is he flesh and blood?]
“Why is it so important to you that I buy this house?”
“I already told you. I don’t want to lose you. You seem to have your heart set on owning this house, but you have your doubts. I hope I can help to talk you into it.”
“If it’s any consolation to you, I’m leaning towards buying it.” A boom sounded from outside, followed by a loud whistle. Curious, Annie walked to the picture window, with Jason following on her heels.
A burst of fireworks covered the sky with red and yellow sunbursts. Another firework sailed into the air, and burst into a blue and red flower with trails of yellow that fell to the harbor like tropical fish swimming in the ocean. Annie loved fireworks. A trill of excitement traveled from her stomach and up her spine. Here she was, trapped in a New England snowstorm by the ocean, and a party materialized around her. Nothing like that ever happened in western Massachusetts, where she lived. Norwich was so romantic. It was the perfect location for her to live. Another burst of fireworks criss-crossed the night sky, and Annie felt the boom in her chest. The party was such a fun, festive thing, and she was happy to be a part of it. She felt very at home in the Abigail Blackburn house. It would be easy to live there.
A yellow sunburst exploded a little too close to some trees. It was so loud that Annie jumped.
“They’re going to light the trees on fire!” Annie said. “How did they get fireworks this time of year?”
“I think I know who set them off. Those guys can find fireworks any time of year. Want to go outside and watch?”
Annie held open her kimono. “I’m not exactly dressed, and it looks cold out there.”
Jason walked towards a chair, and removed his coat that he had draped over it. “Put this on. It will keep you very warm. It’s lined with fur.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll be fine. You’ll keep me warm.”
Annie put on Jason’s coat. She buried her face in the fur lining and smelled the sweetness of his Halston cologne and his sweat. It was still warm from when he had worn it last. They walked outside onto the deck. A roman candle soared into the air. Each colorful ball of light illuminated the falling snow.
“This is beautiful. I could imagine myself living here. I don’t want to leave. I do think I could make a go of this place. I badly want to buy it.”
“Then buy it,” Jason stood behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist. She intertwined his fingers with her own. Fireworks fell over the harbor and into the water. The snow fell silently around her. She lifted her head, and held out her tongue. Three snowflakes alighted on her tongue.
“How do you like our snowflakes? We have only the best tasting snowflakes in Norwich.” Jason whispered in her ear.
“I love eating snowflakes. The snow is really coming down. It’s exciting being trapped here for a couple of days. I used to eat snowflakes when I was a kid. There was always lots of snow in western Massachusetts.”
“You get more snow than we get here. Most of the time, snowstorms blow over by the coast, and the clouds dump the snow on Boston or farther west. Cape Cod gets more snow than we do. But not tonight!”
“I love watching the snow fall on the harbor. Look at the way the lights reflect on the water.”
“And just think – you can have that view all the time if you buy this place. Don’t go anywhere,” Jason squeezed her around the waist. “I’ll be right back.” He returned to the dining room.
Annie walked to the edge of the deck and leaned against the railing. She heard laughter coming from a bare spot down the hill on the beach. Five people bundled in heavy coats shoved bottle rockets into the sand, and lit the wicks. They ran away from the fireworks, giggling all the while. The bottle rockets exploded and sailed into the air with a loud whistle. Annie felt a sudden urge to join them. She wanted to be a part of the festivities. When she looked around, she realized that she already was a part of the goings-on. Jason obviously went to pick up something for her. Clarice spotted Annie looking around, and she waved. Annie smiled and waved back. Living in Norwich would be easy. The locals already welcomed her. It was up to her to make them a part of her life.
Buy links for “An Unexpected Guest”
Amazon Paperback: http://tinyurl.com/yb9ya5t
Amazon Kindle US: http://tinyurl.com/yhbll2h
Amazon Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/1rCWxGn
Web Site Page: http://elizabethablack.blogspot.com/p/unexpected-guest.html
Elizabeth Black – Bio
Elizabeth Black writes erotica, erotic romance, speculative fiction, fantasy, and horror. She also enjoys writing retellings of classic fairy tales. Born and bred in Baltimore, she grew up under the influence of Edgar Allan Poe. Her erotic fiction has been published by Xcite Books (U. K.), House Of Erotica (U. K.), Circlet Press, Ravenous Romance, Scarlet Magazine (U. K.), and other publishers. Her horror fiction has appeared in “Kizuna: Fiction For Japan”, “Stupefying Stories”, “Zippered Flesh 2: More Tales Of Body Enhancements Gone Bad”, “Midnight Movie Creature Feature 2”, “Voluted Tales”, and “Mirages: Tales From Authors Of The Macabre” (edited by Trent Zelazny). “Zippered Flesh 2” made the recommended reading list for the 2013 Bram Stoker awards. An accomplished essayist, she was the sex columnist for the pop culture e-zine nuts4chic (also U. K.) until it folded in 2008. Her articles about sex, erotica, and relationships have appeared in Good Vibrations Magazine, Alternet, CarnalNation, the Ms. Magazine Blog, Sexis Magazine, On The Issues, Sexy Mama Magazine, and Circlet blog. She also writes sex toys reviews for several sex toys companies. She has appeared as a speaker at numerous conventions including Balticon, Arisia, NoVaCon, SheVaCon, JohnCon, and two Worldcons.
Where To Find Me On The Web
Elizabeth Black – Blog and Web Site: http://elizabethablack.blogspot.com/
Elizabeth Black – Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizabethablack
Elizabeth Black – Twitter: http://twitter.com/ElizabethABlack
Elizabeth Black – Ello: https://ello.co/elizabethblack
Elizabeth Black – Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/elizabethblack