Today, I’m very excited to be interviewing Gothic author London Clarke. You can read my review of her debut novel Wildfell here.
About the Book
After a traumatic experience with her graduate school professor, Anne Fleming disposes of all her possessions, boards a plane, and plans to check out of life. But a chance meeting on an international flight leads her to Wildfell, a gothic mansion north of London. At first glance, Wildfell seems like the perfect place to hide out, and Anne is intrigued by its strange atmosphere and history of disappearances and deaths. But echoing voices, ghostly mists, a mute girl with a sketchbook full of murders, and a possessive landlady force her to confront her deepest fears.
Anne’s budding romance with gorgeous Irish actor Bain Tierney holds her to the house. But when Wildfell tenants begin disappearing and dying, Anne must decide if she trusts Bain. Is anyone in the house who they claim to be? Or are there are other forces at work inside Wildfell? And will they ever let her leave?
1) Tell me about yourself.
This is always such a tough question. Ha! You’d think it would be easy, but… Well, let’s see. I’ve had a long time infatuation with gothic settings, haunted houses, and vampires. As far back as I can remember, I loved reading and writing about the mysterious house on the hill and the strange, otherworldly, but very handsome man that lived within. I attribute this to being raised on classic literature and Danielle Steele. So although I love a scary story in any form, I especially love them if there’s a little romance involved. Aside from my literary tastes, I’m a former high school English teacher. I absolutely adore dogs (my husband and I have two rescued greyhounds) and wine. And last but not least, I’m a huge fan of just about any BBC series.
2) How did the book Wildfell come about?
Wildfell came about because I wanted to write a contemporary gothic thriller set in my favorite place–England. I was also in a weird headspace where I wondered what it would be like to just drop everything, jump on the next plane, and disappear (haven’t we all felt like that at one time or another?) Originally, Wildfell wasn’t going to have a supernatural element, but I was writing it during a time of year when all of the creepy house shows start up, and I was watching a lot of them.
3) This book has many Gothic elements, yet is set in modern times. How did you bridge the historical aspects of Gothic literature in a modern setting?
When I started writing Wildfell, I had just finished writing a historical (under a different name), and I needed a break from heavy research. I had lived for a year in London when I was younger, and I have returned several times since, so the location was a no-brainer (and I still have friends over there who can help me with questions about a place or an English phrase, etc.) But Gothic literature has always been one of my favorite genres. When I was ten or eleven, I first read Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, and I fell in love with the setting, the mood, the characters. Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with nineteenth century literature, so Anne’s love of the era wasn’t a stretch. One of the things I love about the UK is the meshing of old and contemporary. There is so much architecture around London that dates back hundreds of years sitting right next to a modern structure. It’s almost impossible not to blend the two when writing about the city.
4) What was the most difficult aspect of this book to write?
The end was the most difficult part of this book. I rewrote the ending about five times. The first rendition was a little darker, but as beta readers reported back to me, I realized there were certain minor characters who needed to have a happier ending than I’d written for them. I also wasn’t sure how to tie up a few of the ends but I’m happy with the way things worked out for most everyone.
5) What are you working on next?
I’m currently working on a contemporary gothic thriller set in Virginia. It’s another “scary house” tale … and I don’t want to give too much away, but there may just be a vampire or two afoot. The Meadows will release in October.
About the Author
Obsessed with vampires and haunted houses from a young age, London grew up reading gothic tales featuring romantic and tragic heroes. Wuthering Heights and Dracula are her favorite novels, and although now happily married, she readily confesses that she is a recovering runaway, who once moved to England in search of a man who was the perfect amalgamation of Dracula, Hamlet, Heathcliff, and Mr. Rochester. London holds a B.A. in Music and M.F.A in Creative Writing. She’s had an eclectic array of jobs including receptionist, legal secretary, literary assistant, high school English teacher, and freelance editor.
London lives in a Washington, DC suburb with her husband and two greyhounds. She’s happiest when she’s writing novels, reading books, or binge watching her favorite programs like The Vampire Diaries or Being Human.