I have a new guest author this week – the wonderful Linda Acaster! She’s here to talk about the first book in her series and share an excerpt! I’ll hand things over to her now…
The British have always embraced the paranormal
The creepy ‘Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come To You, My Lad’ was delivered unto the world in 1904 by MR James, and Charles Dickens is renowned for his ‘The Signal-Man’ (1866) which sprang from a true event five years earlier. Every tourist town in the country offers a book detailing supernatural happenings in the locality, and who wouldn’t travel toScotlandwithout attempting to view ‘Nessie’, The Loch Ness Monster?
In my Torc of Moonlight trilogy I focus on paranormal protectors of a different kind, the mere-maids, the goddesses of the water which came to literary prominence in the Arthurian legends: the celebrated Lady of the Lake whose arm broke the surface of the pool to reach for the tossed sword Excalibur and accept it as a devotional gift to powers beyond mortal knowledge.
Despite being wrapped in mediaeval armour and chivalrous exploits, the act embodied in the story dates back well before recorded time. British museums are stuffed with recovered artefacts, many military due to their high cost of production, which had been ceremonially deposited in water courses. Each spring, well and often stream, would have a protective female deity, and often a female priestess who interceded between the realms of mortals and enchantment.
And these are no fancy tales from days of yore. When Regency ladies and their beaus visited Bath or Harrogate to take the waters they would pass over a silver coin and in return take a cup from an old woman who resided by the spring. Derbyshire is renowned for its well-dressing festivals which, despite their Christian overtones, harks to a pagan past.Yorkshire, the county of my birth and the setting of my trilogy, has more springs named Lady Well than anywhere in the country, and many of them hold silver coins left by devotees. Don’t you cast coins into a ‘wishing well’ to invoke good luck? Who are you expecting to answer?
In Torc of Moonlight Nick becomes obsessed with Alice, a history student determined to find the shrine to a forgotten Celtic water deity. Together they decipher the cluesAlice unearths, but as Nick luxuriates in their nights of sensual pleasure he’s in denial of other, darker visions that impinge on his days. To tellAlice will make her flee him. To stay silent could kill her.
Book 1: Torc of Moonlight, multi 5* ebk/pbk is available now; Book 2: The Bull At The Gate coming late fall.
Torc of Moonlight
‘Stay away from me. Don’t you understand? People close to me die.’
Nick believes Alice is overreacting. She’s been unlucky in her life, that’s all. Coincidences – they happen all the time.
It had been coincidence that they’d locked gazes during the lecture, a trick of the light that had lifted her auburn hair. But is it coincidence that someone, something, is distancing him from his friends as the need to possess Alice builds?
Drawn into her obsession with finding a shrine to a Celtic water goddess, and drowning in sensual pleasure, Nick is in denial… until he sees a jewelled sword fade in his hand and knows that he, or the thing that shadows him, has held it, and bloodied it, long ago.
To tell Alice will make her flee. To stay silent could kill her.
For a moment he thought he lay in his own bed in his own room, but the light was too dim, and there was a tinkling that sounded like water falling on rock. The scents of forest flowers assailed him from the pillow and he spread his limbs, luxuriating in the warmth that wasAlice’s bed. The only imperfection was thatAlicewas not sharing it with him.
Raising himself on one elbow, Nick pushed back the duvet. Wrapped in a white kimono, she was sitting at her workstation, the light from the laptop screen sheening her a ghostly silver-grey.
His gaze caressed the rippling fall of her auburn hair, the gentle curve of her shoulders, a pale leg extending into the shadow beneath the table. He wanted to capture her in that pose as a photograph, to look at her hour after hour and not sense the passing of time. Yet he wanted her with him, now, clasped in his arms, the heat of his passion burning a path through her soul.
He whispered her name, murmuring it again and again, gifting it to the air as a never-ending chant… Alice ’n’ Alice ’n’ Alice ’n’ Alice …
Her hand faltered. Her head inclined, and she swivelled her chair to smile at him as he reached out a hand towards her. Alissss…
‘And good morning to you.’
Her brisk salutation broke the charged atmosphere, the forest scents retreating as if from a perfumed candle snuffed too soon. He blinked, rubbing at his face surprised to feel a growth of sharp stubble.
‘Alice, what are you doing over there?’ He threw himself back into the pillows, extending his arms above his head to touch the two walls crowding in on the narrow sleeping space. ‘What are you doing over there when I am aching for your touch? I am bereft. I am distraught.’
He heard her chuckle at his theatrics. ‘If I remember rightly, I was kicked out of bed.’
He sat up, his expression full of mock horror – ‘An aberration’ – and watched amusement dance in her eyes.
‘Some sort of dream. Well, more nightmare, I think. It was deep, whatever it was. You wouldn’t rouse.’
He frowned at her as she turned back to her laptop. He didn’t recall any dream, much less a nightmare. But that was the trouble, wasn’t it? Memories were becoming fragmented. Like that jewelled sword he’d seen clasped in his hand. Sometimes memories didn’t seem like his at all.
Linda Acaster is the author of four novels and over seventy short stories in a variety of genres. Her Reading A Writer’s Mind has been acclaimed as a great teaching aid for writers of short fiction, and her Native American historical Beneath The Shining Mountains continues to be her bestseller. The ongoing Torc of Moonlight trilogy demanded to be written while she was producing illustrated historical walks for a regional newspaper. Catch the novel, and connect with her at: