Since I am visiting with my agent and editors this week, I asked my friend Kathryn Hills to stop in and talk about the history and fantasy behind her novel, Haunting Highland House, a spicy fantasy romance released by The Wild Rose Press in October. Besides, it’s winter–time to turn up the heat!
The cover of Haunting Highland House, by Kathryn Hills
What was the inception of your most recent project? What were your first steps in building that idea into a viable story?
I’ve always been fascinated by ghost stories, but I never expected to write one. Yet seven years ago, I visited a restored Victorian mansion on Cape Cod and came up with the idea for Haunting Highland House. A bit like being struck by lightning, I was stunned by the story unfolding in my head during the long drive home. I was not a writer, you see, but I became filled with ideas for a book. My imagination swirled around the old mansion, the grand estate it had once been part of, and the turbulent past it suffered as it fell into ruin. These thoughts spurred me on… What would it be like to visit the estate when it was thriving, the late 1800’s? As a “modern person,” what would it be like to be thrust back in time to see the place and meet the people who lived then? And if I went there, could I get back?
How did all this “wondering” and “imagining” lead to connecting ghosts with time travel? In my fictional world, meeting a time traveler is a paranormal experience. Something beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding. No stretch there. But since my absolute favorite paranormal things in my life are ghosts and haunting experiences I melded the two. I’ve been a ghost hunter for years and love the idea of detached spirits or nonphysical entities being unhindered time travelers. After all, what is the past, present, and future to a ghost? Likely something completely different than it is for us. Time is probably different, too. Wouldn’t it be fun if we could travel to “when” we choose and come back, perhaps like a time-traveling ghost? Or someone living with a magical tool to help do it?
- & 3. What kind of research and/or world-building did you do before beginning? AND How does the real world affect your speculative fiction?
Researching ghosts and time travel is a bit like following Alice’s rabbit down a worm hole wearing a tin foil hat. You never quite know where you’ll end up, and there are many theories, none proven. As a result, I chose to invent my own time travel “rules.” (I’m not into spoilers, so you’ll have to read the book if you want to learn more) Once that sticky bit was addressed, I focused on the actual history surrounding the estate and the time period. Wealthy Bostonians, American Victorian society, evolving social customs, clothing, technology, and physical travel such as by coach, train, and passenger steamer. The last led me to research shipwrecks as one plays a large part in Haunting Highland House. I’ve amassed a library studying these things and more for the series.
As this story is paranormal/fantasy romance, I’ve also researched psychic mediums and the rise of spiritualism during the Victorian era, magic, and folklore. All of them are vital to The Time Traveler’s Journey series, and I freely admit I find such topics fascinating. Discussing them with paranormal investigators, psychics, a shaman, and even an illusionist are all delightful perks of being a writer.
- If I could choose a few descriptors that would go in a blurb on the cover…
One line from this first book… Time is but a destination.
- Where should readers go to find out more about my work?
- Link to something amazing…
Following is the link to the place that inspired Haunting Highland House. Its real name is Highfield Hall, located in Falmouth, MA on Cape Cod. You can learn its history, including the amazing journey from ruin to restoration, and see the mansion as it thrives today. Perhaps even visit if you’re in the northeast.
The rich history and many mysteries of New England are the perfect backdrop for Kathryn’s books. Winding roads lined by old stone walls, forgotten cemeteries, grand homes with shadowy pasts…all sparks for her imagination. Whether it’s a quaint seaside town or the vibrant city of Boston, it’s easy for this “hauntingly romantic” author to envision the past mingling with the present.
Taking it further – to have characters experience the past and present, opposite to “when” they belong – is the fun part. No surprise, some of Kathryn’s favorite stories involve time travel. And ghosts! Sprinkle in some magic, and you’re off on a great adventure!
When not writing, she’s taking photographs of the beautiful landscape that surrounds her. Kathryn shares her colonial home with those she loves most…her wonderful husband and daughter, and four crazy dogs.