Veronica's #WritersDiary: The Lanthorne Ordinary Witches Return: A Chat with Author Cynthia Raleigh!
“To me, a witch is a woman that is capable of letting her intuition take hold of her actions, that communes with her environment, that isn’t afraid of facing challenges.” – Paulo Coelho
The countdown to #Halloween is on, and a perfect time to continue with this #SpookyMonth of fine reads! This week we're chatting with multi-genre #writer Cynthia Raleigh, author of mystery, true crime and paranormal suspense tales (with a witchy flair)! Book 2 of her Lanthorne Ordinary Witches series, Sister of Wales is releasing soon and I can't wait to see what happens next with the extraordinary MC, Yarrow! Let's catch up with Cynthia:
Q1. Cynthia, I've read Book 1 of your Lanthorne Ordinary Witches series, Summoning the Winds. I was particularly intrigued with the topic of witchcraft in the 1600s in the then colonies, a topic that has certainly raised a lot of controversy and discussion over the centuries. What inspired you to take on this topic? I also enjoyed the herbal remedies/naturist aspects. Your research is extensive--where did you begin?
I’ve had a keen interest in the supernatural since I was a young reader. As I got older, I read accounts of the ordeals women were subjected to before and during witch trials and it percolated through my mind for decades. I wondered what if those women, said to sicken families, kill cattle, fly through the night skies, and ruin crops truly had the powers they were accused of having. Innocent women, and a few men, wound up at the end of a noose on the weakest of claims and ‘spiritual’ testimony.
I wanted to write a book exploring the concept of what would have happened if an accused woman had been and done exactly that of which she was accused? Would she have been successfully captured, imprisoned, tortured, then gone helplessly to her death? I doubt it. And if not, what would life be like for her and others afterward? This series is based on that premise.
Herbal lore fascinates me. My family had a summer cabin and I was out scouring the roadsides and woods for wildflowers, mushrooms, berries, anything I could find and I still do. In the Lanthorne series, Yarrow Pickering combines the female witch character with this handed-down lore as a cunning woman. More than herbalists, cunning women combine herbalry, folk methods, midwifery, and their own brand of power. It could be a dangerous profession but they were vitally important to their community. Still, too many of them ended up being accused when life went sideways for someone. Yarrow Pickering is my representation of a Colonial Cunning Woman.
Q2. Book 2 of the Lanthorne Ordinary Witches series, Sister of Wales, is releasing soon. Can you tell us more about the storyline?
Sister of Wales is set in 1660 Connecticut. Yarrow discovers a curious object washed up on shore near the Lanthorne Ordinary, which is the 17th century version of an inn, and takes it home for closer study. An incident occurs in the village at the same time which leads to more peculiarities. Yarrow is drawn into a situation different from any she’s encountered. Yarrow’s involvement links her to her mother’s history and home country of Wales where part of the story takes place.
I expect the book to be published before Halloween. The release date isn’t set yet, but I’m hoping for October 19th, but it may be October 26th. I’m eager for the cover reveal which will be a week before the book is out.
Q3. I recently bought one of your Perri Seamore mysteries and am looking forward to reading it ( I'm starting with Book 2, Buried Roots). Your main character Perri is a traveling nurse and enjoys genealogical research. I understand you have some first hand knowledge when it comes to this MC's passions--can you let us know what led you to create this series?
Genealogy has been a profound part of my life. Our ancestors are so much more than names on a census record. In the vast sea of family history stories, some are poignant, some stunning, others are mundane, but they all give glimpses of the flesh and blood people our relatives were. With my love of mysteries, both real and fictional, I wanted to write a series using genealogy to solve a mystery. I take inspiration from some of my own family stories, some of which remain unsolved mysteries.
There are three books in the Perri Seamore series so far. With each book, I’ll include more of the complicated, up-to-date methods of research and detection, but the series starts using basic genealogy techniques. I want my books to entertain as well as draw some reluctant researchers into having a look at their own history.
I’ve been a Registered Nurse for 25 years and wrote my main character, Perri Seamore, as a traveling RN. It’s a profession that offers uniquely brief and yet sometimes profound connections between nurses and their patients. Nurses hear a lot of family stories. A traveling nurse has the option of a bit of off-time between assignments which gives my character the opportunity to do a little snooping around and follow an intriguing trail.
Q4. You've also ventured out of the world of fiction to write a true crime book based upon the deadly deeds of a gruesome serial killer. I'm sure the research required for this book was extensive. What led you to take this project on? What challenges did you find in crafting the storyline? As a multi-genre/fiction-non-fiction author, what challenges do you face when marketing your books? Do you have completely separate audiences or is there crossover with your readers?
I decided to write the true crime book for a couple of reasons. These murders were committed in the city where I grew up. It happened before my time but not so long that the pall of Leslie Irvin didn’t still hang over much of the tristate area. As children, we heard bogeyman-style stories of Irvin to keep us in line. I didn’t even know what he looked like but can remember dreaming I was outside my house at night and he was creeping down my street in his car.
Another reason I chose to write the book was that this case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and was the impetus for legislation that still governs journalistic crime reporting of today. For example, Leslie Irvin’s initial murder trial is why we say “alleged” before statements regarding suspects and open investigations.
The biggest challenge was finding accurate contemporary accounts. She was a young teen at the time and recalls the anxiousness and measures neighborhoods took to safeguard their families. I ended up relying greatly on archived newspaper articles from New York to California which had to be weighed against all other sources. Newspapers can be fairly reliable in ways but sensational in others, so I spent a lot of time looking for evidence to back up what was reported. I contacted police stations, newspapers offices, libraries, and court clerks for information. Constructing the storyline is best described as a long streak of hair-on-fire days. There’s a lot of detail in the book and presenting the correct progression of testimony and evidence could be exasperating since there is no trial transcript. The trials of the time operated under less stringent rules than today and this one was often a spectacle.
There are certainly challenges to multi-genre marketing. I haven’t been as organized in promoting as I want to be. It’s one of the first things I’ll be working on after the launch of Sister of Wales. For me, it requires a more structured way of presenting material that appeals to each group of readers. There is some crossover in my books, mainly between the two series and not as much between the readers of fiction and nonfiction.
Q5. Enquiring minds want to know--what are your writing plans for 2022?
I plan to write three books over 2022: one book in each genre. I enjoy the change of mindset and type of research required for each style. Plus, I don’t want to get significantly farther along in one series than another. After Sister of Wales comes out later this month, the next book will be the fourth in the Perri Seamore series.
Cynthia, thank you so much for being my guest this week and best of luck with your upcoming release, Sister of Wales--I loved learning about the stories behind the stories! If you'd like to keep up with Cynthia and her works, check out her links here:
Amazon Author page: amazon.com/author/cynthiaraleigh
More Reads for this #Spooktacular Season of Scary...
"By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes..."
I think Wills has summed up this season of spooky reads #bootifully! Bibiana Krall and I have two books in The Haunted Series that are sure to bring on those #Halloween vibes. We so appreciate all the #readers who have bought Hearth Fires and Tangled Webs and left those cherished book reviews. We have one more #giveaway drawing for our spooky tale book lovers--let us know if you have our book! Happy #SpookyMonth reading! 🎃 #Boo
💀📚💋The Haunted Series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08HQ2XSP8
Pssst, This Week Bibiana and I are chatting with Mr. Wordrefiner, Mark Schultz!
We're talking all things Tangled Webs, writing and whatever the spirits decide this week with Mark on his website. Our discussion topics will have some entertaining tidbits, I'm sure. It's a great way to not only promote your books, but you get a chance to interact with readers and writers too. Stop in to take a looksie and better yet, ask us a question. We'd love to hear from you!
Murder, mystery, and chocolates this week from the writers of Twitter...
Author Agatha Chocolats, Thirteen Bitter Sweets (Chandler's Chocolate Box Mystery Book 2), 5⭐
Anna Clementine has returned to the eccentric town of Paris Falls, Tennessee to work at her grandfather's world famous, candy empire, Chandler's Chocolates. A sweet, new product, Once Upon a Truffle is about to be released, and as the event coordinator for the company, Anna's job is to promote it!
The first big event---a beauty pageant held in a castle at the edge of town. It's a Paris Falls tradition--the mayor, contestants and pageant moms take it very seriously. The competition takes a deadly turn before it even begins, placing Anna in a very awkward spot as she dodges jabs from the dueling beauty queens and the scorn of the local police. She sets out to trace down the killer with help from her charming sidekicks, meeting the residents of the town to sort through the clues. Will she be able to stop the mayhem before the pageant comes toppling down? Or will her first assignment be her last?
Author Agatha Chocolats' weaves a charming whodunit with a home town flair. The characters are delightfully quirky, getting into situations that are both mysterious and side splitting at times. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this second installment of the Chandler's Chocolate Box Mysteries. Warning, you will be craving chocolates as you read this fetching tale, best to have some nearby--a highly recommended read!
Next up in the reading queue:
Tis the Season for #Living Hygge
I can't tell you how much my demeanor has changed with the arrival of autumn. Even though in southern California we don't get the drastic, temperature drops and colorful, falling leaf foliage---we are experiencing the start of a much needed rainy season. The cleansing smell of the rain tainted air is exhilarating and I cherish every drop of it.
As I'm in the writing zone for book 7, the twinkle lights and crisp air are giving me that added push to make this story come alive. I love the dark mornings and early evenings. Every time I look up and gaze into a candle flame, I smile. Simple things, yes, but what a magical time it is...#Living Hygge, it's a good thing...
Crowns and Kisses,