As we enter December, I’d like to share with you a spooky tale set in the 17th century you might want to check out. I reckon it would make perfect reading as the days get shorter and colder and darkness begins to take hold.
It’s called The Devil’s Bride and I’ve chatted with the author, Emma Jackson, to give you some more info about the book and writer. You can find the synopsis below, followed by the interview! Enjoy.
A cursed boy. A vengeful girl. Once they meet, things will never be the same.
No one goes near Edburton Manor – not since the night in 1668, when demons rose from the ground to drag Lord Bookham’s new bride to a fiery death. Or so the locals say.
That’s what makes it the perfect hideout for the gang of highwaymen Jamie Lorde runs with.
Ghost stories have never frightened her. The living are a far more dangerous prospect, particularly to a woman in disguise as a man. A woman who can see spirits in a time when witches are hanged and who is working hard to gain the trust of the most ruthless, vicious man she has ever known because she intends to ruin and kill him.
But when the gang discovers Matthew, Lord Bookham’s illegitimate brother, who has been trapped by a curse at the Manor ever since the doomed wedding, all Jamie’s carefully laid plans are sent spiralling out of control.
Hi Emma, welcome to the blog!
One of the first things I notice about a book – and despite the saying – I always judge a book by its cover. I love the artwork for The Devil’s Bride; how much input did you have in its design and can you tell us a little about the process involved?
Thank you! When it was time to start designing the cover, I was very excited that my publisher asked me if I had any ideas. I spent a bit (okay, maybe a lot) of time looking at covers for books in similar genres that I really liked and pulled together a few of my favourites, which I passed over to Darkstroke to give them an idea of the tone and style I was thinking would suit it. The rest was all down to them!
Spooky stories often play on the instinctive human fear of the unknown. With your story set in a different, more superstitious time period – the 17th century, do you think this can help add to that unfamiliar feeling for the reader in comparison to a story set in the present day?
Yes, I definitely think it can add to the feeling of danger and threat, when characters are placed in a time where people were much more open to believing things which had no explanation – so much of life was inexplicable still, so it wasn’t such a leap for people to believe in anything, particularly if it fit around their prejudices. Even more frightening was the way they were prepared to act on these superstitions to do such drastic and terrible things themselves, like hanging people as witches because they happened to have a large birthmark, or slept with someone they shouldn’t. As a modern reader, I think it’s hard to wrap your head around that logic.
How much additional research did you need to do for your book; were you already familiar with the history and culture of the time period?
I wasn’t overly familiar with the time period but in some ways I was lucky that the premise of the story meant I didn’t have to go too deep into the historical research. Most of the novel is set at the manor house, so in a way the characters are in a small bubble away from everyday life. However, even in that restricted setting, I still had to figure out things like appropriate clothing, food that was available, attitudes and religion, and would constantly have to stop to look up little things, like turns of phrase, to see whether they would have been used at that time at all!
You’ve also written a comedy romance and a festive romance, One Kiss Before Christmas (due out this month!). How much does romance play a role in The Devil’s Bride?
The main relationship in The Devil’s Bride between Jamie and Matthew is a romantic one and their meeting is the catalyst for everything that happens in the book, so it’s integral in that sense, But, I wouldn’t say it is a romance in the understanding of it as a genre term, since there are particular beats that need to be hit to satisfy romance readers, and The Devil’s Bride leans more into the fantasy side in that respect.
Did you initially feel out of your comfort zone at all in writing a spookier, darker story than your other books or was this something you always knew you’d write? Do you plan to write more in this genre?
Weirdly, no, it didn’t feel odd to write something darker. I love reading all kinds of genres – romance and fantasy being my main favourites at the moment – so it feels natural to write any kind of story which I would enjoy reading. I think all of us have light and dark in us, so it’s interesting to explore that, and create characters who think completely differently to others, placed in totally different environments, to see how it will play out. I am definitely planning to write more fantasy!
You’ve got some great reviews up already, with loads of praise for the atmospheric tension and dark themes you create. What’s the secret to keeping the reader on edge?
I wish I knew precisely, but this question really made me think and I realised that I wrote The Devil’s Bride very differently to how I’ve written my romantic comedies! Usually I have a rough outline and, of course, for a romance I know that the ending is going to be a happily-ever-after; it’s all about figuring out the journey of the two main characters as they get to that HEA. The readers know that too – that’s why they’re along for the ride.
With The Devil’s Bride, I didn’t know exactly how it was going to end. I started with two characters, already both in tenuous circumstances with regard to their own safety, and then gave them opposing goals and I’d write each scene and ask myself what they would do to survive and to keep their goals in sight. In that way their agency kept the plot moving, all the while I could drip feed in some of the mysteries of the manor – and of the other characters – to up the stakes around them and keep the screws tightening.
If you could describe The Devil’s Bride in just three words, what would they be?
Tense, dark and atmospheric.
Would you say there are any influences that stand out as inspiring the story you wanted to tell here?
One of my reviewers said The Devil’s Bride reminded her in some ways of Jamaica Inn, which was the most amazing compliment because it’s one of my favourite books. While I am in no way comparing myself to the amazing Daphne DuMaurier, that sense of tension and adventure, all wrapped up in a gothic, brooding atmosphere, was definitely something I was hoping to achieve!
What’s next for Emma Jackson?
I’m currently working on the first book in a second world fantasy series and the world-building feels immense, but I am loving the challenge of it. I’m also revising the very first novel I ever wrote, and, hoping to start on the second book in The Devil’s Bride series soon.
Let’s get to know the person behind the pen (or keyboard) a little better with a quickfire interview:
What is your favourite spooky story?
As I mentioned earlier, Jamaica Inn, is an all-time favourite, but I also love that all time gothic classic, Jane Eyre. It’s more about atmosphere for me – I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to Horror.
Halloween or Christmas?
I love Halloween now I have kids, they really enjoy dressing up (and eating sweets), but it will always be Christmas for me.
If you could spend time writing anywhere on Earth, where are you choosing?
A villa in Sicily please!
Are you more productive in the morning, afternoon or evening?
I’m used to having to be productive whenever I can around looking after small children, but by choice, I would probably say late-morning is my best time.
Are you a big planner or a make-it-up as you go writer?
I definitely lean towards planning, but never too much, otherwise I find it kills the enjoyment of writing.
About the Author
Author of the Best Selling A MISTLETOE MIRACLE and contender for the Joan Hessayon Award 2020, Emma has been a devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old. When she’s not running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished. Her latest romantic comedy, SUMMER IN THE CITY, was released in June, with a festive romance, ONE KISS BEFORE CHRISTMAS, due for release on 2nd November 2020.
Emma also writes historical and fantasy fiction as Emma S Jackson. THE DEVIL’S BRIDE was published by DarkStroke in February 2020.
You can find out news about Emma via her website, by signing up to her newsletter at http://www.esjackson.co.uk or on:
Amazon link: http://bit.ly/TheDevilsBr