Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Leanna Renee Hieber to Darque Reviews with a guest post. Thanks so much for joining us Ms. Hieber!
*Don’t forget to read the instructions below the guest post to enter for a chance to win one of two copies of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker!*
The Guest Post:
My favourite thing about the hero of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker- first in my Strangely Beautiful Gothic Victorian Fantasy series- is this: Clove tea and leather-bound books.
I believe the most evocative, dare I say delicious thing I’ve ever written is how my compelling, enigmatic, ever-so-sexy (otherwise why would I have written him) hero, Professor Alexi Rychman, smells. Before I wax rhapsodic about how intoxicating I find the man, let me set his scene. The year is 1888. London is ghostly and gas-lit. This is the ghostly world in which his tale takes place:
What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Considering how few of Queen Victoria’s Londoners knew of it, the great Romanesque fortress was dreadfully imposing, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met the powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadow, the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She knew simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow-white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gifts. But this arched stone doorway offered a portal to a new life, an education far from the convent—and an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death…
A few months ago author/blogger Lise Horton of my RWA NYC Chapter (http://www.blogger.com/profile/13315265091119634416) gave a fabulous presentation about using sensory input in our stories. This is particularly important when dealing with paranormal universes. Not only is it fun to create and imagine new and unexpected sensory input, but such details can immerse readers in alternate realities and make a book a transporting experience. I find creating the necessary atmosphere, whether realistic or utterly fantastical, a delightful part of the process. During Lise’s presentation I kept thinking of a specific moment in my book. One of my very favourite moments. And in the end, this detail isn’t supernatural at all. I’ll show you. The setting:
Nineteen year old Miss Percy Parker, feeling freakish in her ghostly-white skin has fled from the uncomfortable social trauma of the Athens Academy ball and into a darkened, abandoned foyer where she dances alone. Professor Rychman, helplessly intrigued by her, silently follows, and time stops a moment to allow them this encounter...
From The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker...
Suddenly, Percy realized that she’d never before been so terribly alone. Tears sprang forth, and she let them come.
“Now, now, Miss Parker, what’s this?” a voice scolded from behind.
Percy whirled at the familiar, stern sound. A figure broke from shadow, clad in an elegantly tailored frock coat trimmed with ornate embroidery, and a white silk cravat. His black hair was combed neatly, framing that noble, stoic face at which Percy had spent countless hours staring. Percy’s heart throbbed in her throat.
“Oh, Professor! Good evening!” She nearly coughed out her words, feeling all grace drain away, cut to the quick by his unexpected appearance. She tried to bat away her tears but his firm hand caught her pale, lace-covered fingers. He took her hand, their entwined fingers bridging the cold chasm between their bodies.
“May I have this dance, Miss Parker?”
“Oh … of course, sir.” A blush bloomed ferociously in her cheeks but she was helpless to stop it.
As his hand grasped hers, she examined his full lips, which had just enough curve to make his expression inviting. There was just enough light in those dark eyes to make Percy wholly forget about breathing, and without words or even a nod he drew her hand to his side. He slid his opposite hand around layers of smooth lavender satin and placed the fullness of his palm assuredly upon her waist.
Percy’s hand flew to his shoulder, alighting like a lark on a branch. She saw his nostrils flare, as if he took in the intoxicating scent of the heather she wore, and if her mind did not play tricks he stared at her as if she was his peer. But her mind did play tricks, and these were dangerous thoughts.
They began to waltz—slowly at first, their circles precise and narrow, their gazes locked. Percy, who had already memorized the professor’s features, now savored each pore, crease and eyelash. The study of his sculpted lips forced her to close her eyes or else, truly, her knees would have buckled. In turn she knew she was being parceled; but from him, she welcomed the scrutiny.
Their bodies were one with the music, and Percy found she didn’t have to think about the correct steps any longer. In and out of the moonlight they floated, silent save for the deft clicks of their heels, the whispers of the music rising from below and the occasional sigh escaping Percy’s lips. Their orbit grew, expanded. Her sighs grew into giggles and laughs.
Professor Rychman spun her, and Percy swept fully against him, lingering there for just a moment. Her face brushed his chest and she took a deep breath. He smelled faintly of clove tea and leather-bound books. She did not want to remove her cheek from the thick black lapel of his jacket; she could have nestled in that warm darkness indefinitely. Perhaps, at least, until class. A giddy scream welled up inside her. This was surely a dream…
(end of Excerpt)
Scent is one of the most powerful senses to evoke memory and emotion. For me, having this real, small yet absolutely knowable sensory detail, amidst the improbable and vast spectral universe of the Strangely Beautiful world, has remained critical to me. It anchors me to Alexi, as I journey forward with him as I write his future books. I always have a cup of clove tea by my side when I write, to keep him near.
I very much appreciate the opportunity to be here at Darque Reviews and I hope you’ll love Alexi, Percy and The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker as much as I loved writing it! Blessings!
Leanna Renee Hieber
Thank you so much for joining us Leanna! I wish you the best with The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, and hope to see more in the Strangely Beautiful series soon!
You can visit Ms. Hieber’s website: HERE
You can read a review for The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker: HERE
You can visit her author page on Darque Reviews: HERE
To enter for a chance to win one of two copies of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, please leave a comment on this post. I’d love to hear what draws you to reading books with a historical setting. Two winners will be chosen on release day, August 25, 2009, so be sure to check back to see if it was you! Good luck, and Happy Reading!
Kimberly Swan, DarqueReviews.com