The Curse of Malenfer Manor
Genre: historical mystery / paranormal
Publisher: Wayzgoose Press
Date of Publication: October 1
Word Count: 85,000
Cover Artist: DJ Rogers
Those in line to the Malenfer estate are succumbing to terrible ends –is a supernatural legacy at work, or something entirely more human?
Young Irish mercenary Dermot Ward retreats to Paris at the close of World War I where he drinks to forget his experiences, especially the death of his comrade, Arthur Malenfer. But Arthur has not forgotten Dermot. Dead but not departed, Arthur has unfinished business and needs the help of the living.
Upon his arrival at Malenfer Manor, Dermot finds himself embroiled in a mystery of murder, succession, and ambition. Dermot falls in love with the youngest Malenfer, the beautiful fey Simonne, but in his way are Simonne’s mismatched fiancé, her own connections to the spirit world, Dermot’s guilt over the circumstances of Arthur’s death… and the curse.
Can you please share with us a little about yourself?
Of course. I was lucky enough to travel quite a bit growing up. Different cultures, different accents, and different languages always seemed normal for me. I think that allowed me to set the book in France and use an Irish hero and not think that was odd.
Have you always wanted to be an author?
No, not really. When I was a kid I wanted to be a lion tamer or an astronaut or a vampire hunter. There are not a lot of Scottish astronauts – paid ones at least – and the salary from vampire hunting is not what you might expect. Yet I have always been creative, full of stories and ideas, full of fantasy. I have always been fascinated by tales, – the weirder the better. It took a while to translate what was in my head to paper, but now it seems normal to write. Writing is therapeutic too – I didn’t know that before. So I guess what I’m saying is that I suffered from poor career counseling, though lion taming still looks like good fun.
Can you share with us your typical writing day? Is there anything you have to have while writing?
It’s a fascinating question. I looked up the routines of a lot of authors when I started the novel, and the inconsistency was cheering. You get the sort that write anywhere, anytime. I personally hate that lot. (Envy might be the better word.) Then there are the regimented ones, conscious of their own weaknesses. Up at seven. Breakfast and brush teeth. At the desk by eight. Write till the bugle sounds for lunch, or don’t write and gnash teeth. Dismount from the typewriter for the day. I felt an affinity with them. Then there are the eccentrics and the loons. Victor Hugo had his servant hide his pants till lunchtime to force him to stay in the house and write. I took the middle road. I wear my pants, but I write only till lunch, and I turn off the Internet completely. The Internet calls to you. Can you hear it now? Can you? Noooooooo!
What would you say is the most challenging or rewarding part of writing?
Holding it together. Coming away with a coherent whole that a receptive mind can buy into. The chapters or scenes themselves spill out – they do for me, anyway – but it is knitting these bits of string together that is both the challenge and the reward.
Can you please tell us about your latest book?
One of the first reviews of the book put it succinctly: A ghost story, a war story, a story of revenge, a story of greed... The Curse of Malenfer Manor is a gothic mystery; but, really, what the heck is that these days? I had trouble (I still do) pinning it to a genre. That is a problem because bookshops like to know on which shelf it should sit. I like to think, and the readers so far agree, that it appeals to many people.
The Curse of Malenfer Manor is set in the aftermath of World War I. The Malenfers – their ghosts and curses, secrets and sins – represent the old world now in ruins. My hero, Dermot, is almost dragged down by it all. Almost. I won’t tell you more than that.
How did you come up with the idea for this story?
Soldiers and war are sown in my family history. We’ve been dying for King and country for generations. There is a bit of that in the story, but just a bit. Mainly the book is an homage to stories I have enjoyed. I wanted an entertaining book first and foremost. I didn’t want dull. Ghosts, war, murder, and romance didn’t strike me as dull.
Can you share with us your current work in progress?
Certainly. A remote Scottish Island in the 1920’s, owned by a reclusive industrialist. A cast of curious characters arrive, invited, and pretty soon start to be murdered. The supernatural element remains, and there may be a cameo or two from some of the Malenfer Manor cast. One can’t write mysteries and not be influenced by the late great Agatha Christie.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Goodness. I like a lot. I tend to go for the classics, but I read in genres too. I remember finally reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula. By that point I had seen dozens of vampire films, seen vampires on TV, and read of them in other books. Stephen King, Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris were all good, but Stoker was the best. There was something of the ‘old school’ gothic that really spoke to me. It was civilized and yet full of dread. Edgar Allen Poe, everyone should read him, and HP Lovecraft’s short stories.
Do you feel that any of your favorite authors have inspired your writing style?
They have certainly made me aware of style. I like books that move. John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps, Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle. Dan Brown, whatever you think of him, you can’t say his books don’t move. I tried to keep that always in mind. Whenever I started rambling or getting flowery with description, I’d tell myself to put it in gear.
Open your book to a random page and please reads us a few lines.
The green fairy. The gift of the absinthe. A foot into another world. Dermot had heard of hallucinations before, but nothing like this had happened – yet the vision had looked so real. Dermot drew his hands to his lap, conscious that they were shaking.
“I just saw a man,” Dermot confessed. “He was a friend from long ago.”
“Then bring him in. What’s all the noise for, Irish?”
“The man I saw died in the war.”
What is in your To Read Pile that you are dying to start or upcoming release you can’t wait for?
Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda was recommended and I finally got it on e-book, only to have my e-reader loaned to a friend. Grrr. There were 20 holds in the library. I finally got it last week. It was worth the wait.
Have you ever used anyone from your real life encounters in any of your books?
Of course! I don’t write clones, but I like to think that memorable characters are a hybrid of the real and the imagined. I will deny this before the judge.
What was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself while you were writing?
That I had the perseverance. It is a marathon, not a sprint. As important, or more so, is what I learned of others – those close to you who put up with you and support you while you do it.
He was born and raised in Scotland. He studied History and Geography at the University of Glasgow.
The World Wars left Iain’s family with generations of widows. As a result, Iain has always been interested in the tangible effects of history on family dynamics and in the power of narrative to awaken those long dead. For the characters in The Curse of Malenfer Manor, he drew on childhood reminiscences and verbal family history—though he hastens to add that his family had barely a penny, far less a
manor, and any ghosts dwell only in memory.
He lives in Vancouver, Canada, with his wife and two children.