Nothing is More Gothic than a Hot Summer’s Day . . .

The rise and fall of cicada songs, the mist rising from murky brown swamps, torrents of rain so thick you can’t see more than a foot in front of you.

And curling up with an equally atmospheric book borrowed from my grandmother’s bookshelf; V.C. Andrews, or Victoria Holt.

Even when the sun came out, those summer days still felt very gothic and brooding. There was something about the noisy silence of the swamps and the quiet laziness spent slowly swinging in a hammock that felt both carefree and sinister.

When a cloud drifted across the too-bright sun and everything was thrown into a twilight shadow, I would get this strange sort of chill that would leave me with goosebumps.

On overcast days, the air was thick with humidity–and portent–as I waited for the storm. And, although the sun was hidden by the gathering clouds, the green of the plants and trees became even more vibrant.

Okay, yeah, that was probably a lot of purpling of prose, but reading the stack of E. Denise Billups’s books I got with the Amazon gift card (was it really two winter holidays ago?) took me right back to those gothic-infused tropical summers.

It was even more poignantly delicious to feel like a young child again, staying up way past bedtime to read by the glow of a night light.

For you all, E. Denise Billups’s books may not be as evocative of summer as they were for me, but they’re still perfect for indulgent cozy-in-the-dark-with-a-flashlight reading this January. (Or audio in the dark, even.) Heck, if your power’s actually out due to all the climate-change-fueled winter storming, so much the better to read by!

Here’s the books/short reads that were in my E. Denise Billups’s TBR stack (only 18,324 more TBR books to go!):

The Playground

Chasing Victoria

Off the Grid

Tainted Harvest

Kalorama Road

Rebound

By Chance

Ravine Lereux

Keepers of the Gate: Twilight Ends (Book One)

And, if you want to follow up these author’s books with a spooky chaser from another author, check out As Fast as She Can by E.F. Schraeder.

Now, what’s on your gothic summer TBR wish list?

Five Things Friday: Mini-Interview with Author Bibiana Krall

For this week’s interview, we’re journeying through the evocative flavours of Bibiana Krall’s “mysterious world”. Enjoy the voyage!

Willow Croft: I read on your website that Tangled Webs (Book Two of your Haunted Series), has autumn-themed recipes and cocktails at the back of the book. So, without giving away any spoilers, what’s your favorite autumn flavor/foodstuffs to include in recipes?

Bibiana Krall: I grew up on a farm in Michigan and the flavor that most represents harvest for me will always be the apple. We had our own fruit trees and pressed apples into cider at the local mill to drink with breakfast and sip on chilly evenings with mulling spices. There is nothing more comforting than a warm slice of homemade, apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. In the bonus pages of Tangled Webs, I included a recipe with a savory twist on a classic. Enjoy!

Willow Croft: I see that you’re a collector of objects. For a twist on the topic, what’s your favorite memory, or story of place, or even a memory of a particular scent, that you’ve collected?

Bibiana Krall: It’s true. I have an oddball collection of art, coins and even a few first-editions. Scent carries my strongest memories. The green-resin of a pine forest snoozing under the snow, the mellow earth after a gentle rain (petrichor) and oh… how I love gardenias. I planted some bushes in my yard, as they remind me of my grandmother. Creamy-white petals with notes of vanilla and exotic spice, what’s not to like?

Willow Croft: How does your writing transform not only your world, and the world of the reader, but the world at large, perhaps in terms of cultural, social, environmental change, and the like?

Bibiana Krall: I’ve been a storyteller ever since I can remember. The world is a mysterious and mystical place that holds a tradition of verbal and written stories that helps humans understand our past, present and future.

My hope is to change the reader’s perception that someone in another culture or a person who looks or lives differently than we do, may understand us more than we’d previously imagined. Heroines are an important part of what I do, as without strong and resilient women in our lives where would any of us be?

I gravitate towards themes of: ‘good versus evil’ ‘haunted houses’ and ‘a stranger comes to town’ to talk about fear of the unknown, overcoming and also to show that often there’s more to something than what you initially notice or believe. The greatest gift in fiction and hopefully in my work as well, is to discover that you aren’t alone in your struggle.

Willow Croft: If you could travel anywhere in the Cosmos you sky-watched as a child (as quoted from your blog), where would travel, and why?

Bibiana Krall: When I was a child, I yearned for a quick trip to Venus or to skateboard across the rings of Saturn. Now my wish is to travel to the Pillars of Creation and watch the EGGs zing across the darkness as they are born. The Eagle Nebula in the Serpens constellation is seven thousand light years away from us. To witness stars being created in real-time would blow the mind, so I included my wonder for the ‘Pillars’ in the mysticism of the Irish Phantom Series.

Willow Croft: If you were reincarnated as one of your literary heroines (or from another author’s works), who would you decide to be?

Bibiana Krall: That’s a tough one! What woman wouldn’t want to be Rebecca before she clashes with the horrible Mrs. Danvers or Jane Eyre living life on her own terms? In my own stories, I admire Ayanna in Prospect Hill for her intelligence, magic and herbal skills and Mary in the Irish Phantom Series for her courage to face terrifying situations and her ability to find happiness, friendship and true love after a breakdown.

Thank you for making space for my creative world. Your insightful questions made me think, smile and dream. Hopefully y’all know me a little bit better now. This was an honor and great fun! – Bibiana

Website: www.bibianakrall.com

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/bibianak