Our interview today is with Marie Lamba author of the paranormal romance novel Drawn (4.7 stars on 21 reviews). It will be FREE on 8/8 and 8/9. Before we get to the interview a brief book description: She’s the artist that finds him in her drawings. He’s the medieval ghost that conquers her heart. And their time is running out.
Interview with Marie Lamba
Drawn is about an artist who sketches a hot medieval ghost, and who soon finds herself entangled with him and his treacherous past.
When I was a senior in college, I lived for half a year in England. I was studying writing and illustrating, so you know I kept a journal that I filled with observations and with sketches. As someone who read so much gothic literature…The Woman in White, Wuthering Heights, etc. etc., of course I was prone to lurking around old graveyards and exploring dank castle dungeons.
So one day, I was sitting on the cold dirt floor in a dungeon. The only light coming in was through a high small window, crisscrossed with bars and laced with cobwebs. Still, squinting, I could see enough to draw the eerie space in my journal: the chains hanging from the walls, the coarse stones that once must surely have been slaked with blood and suffering. And that’s when I saw him.
Well, “saw” isn’t really accurate, because he wasn’t there at all. Not REALLY. But he was very much there in my drawing. A young man, chained to the wall, his haunting eyes looking straight at me. My own eyes darted from the sketch to the real wall, and for one moment, he was there…
Okay, you’re not buying any of this are you? Hey, I’m a fiction writer.
So here’s the truth. I did study in England, I was well-read in gothic lit, I was trained in fine art (like the artist Michelle in the novel), and I did keep an elaborate journal of my time there, which included sketches. And I did “haunt” plenty of castles and graveyards. But there were no hot medieval ghost sittings, alas. Just a lot of imagination.
What was unique about the setting of the book and how did it enhance the story?
I modeled Blanchley Castle in the novel on Warwick Castle in England. From the little chapel to the grassy green and the dank cobweb-draped dungeon, Warwick Castle haunts my novel, just as surely as Christopher the ghost haunts Michelle in the book. The castle’s layers of history and scandals and curses provide the perfect backdrop.
At the start of the novel, Michelle’s new school hosts a costumed banquet at the castle, and Warwick Castle actually does host themed banquets on its grounds. Also, critical final scenes in the novel take place during a Ghost Tour at Blanchley Castle, complete with psychics and ghost hunting equipment. Ghost tours really have been held at Warwick Castle…and they continue to be held. Sounds like my kind of fun!
What research did you have to perform to back up your story?
When it comes to Drawn, I had a lot of ground to cover. It’s set in England, so I wanted to be current on some of the culture and slang there. I made good use of people from England (especially my sister-in-law) who were generous enough to give me some pointers and add in some good stuff like “Oy oy! Nice pair of stems!”
The book also involves time travel, so that means I had to get sharp about the 1400s. Not just the history, but also how real people thought and felt back then. For this I turned to the ballads and stories of that time as well as to the Paston Letters, which are a series of personal letters between family members that offer an intimate look at everyday medieval life.
The novel also explores issues of mental illness. Michelle’s brother is schizophrenic, and when she starts seeing things herself, she’s sure she is too. I wanted to be especially sensitive on this subject, and to understand not only the medical underpinnings of this illness, but also its effect on the sufferer and the family. Fortunately for me I came upon a remarkable memoir called The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn R. Saks. The author eloquently writes of her experiences as a brilliant academic suffering from schizophrenia. Very personal and illuminating.
In Drawn, you use Michelle’s artistic ability as sort of a portal to another dimension (kind of like the DeLorean in Back to the Future). What led you to this idea?
This idea actually took hold when I myself was a teen artist like Michelle. In my New Jersey high school we had this guest visitor – a woman who painted pictures of historic buildings. She showed us spots where ghostly figures seemed to appear in her work, and she was convinced she’d channeled these spirits. The images of people in Colonial dress were woven into the dappled shadows, and it was pretty eerie.
I didn’t exactly believe her, but I thought it would be amazing if it were true. So in Drawn, many years later, I made it true.
Thanks for having me on Digital Book Today!
Drawn on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Drawn-ebook/dp/B006UITXVI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1338671718&sr=8-2