Today I'm pleased to welcome Chelsea Quinn Yarbro to Horror Maiden's. Growing up I loved her Saint-Germain vampire series and I still enjoy rereading Beastnights, a werewolf novel. Her new series focuses on Poppy Thornton, an intrepid crime reporter, and Chesterton Holte, Gentleman Haunt. There are two books out in this charming series so far, you can find my review of Haunting Investigation (Book One) Here, and my review of Living Spectres (Book Two) is below.
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has published over ninety novels and nonfiction works and more than seventy pieces of short fiction. She's known for her bestselling series of historical horror novels featuring the 4000 year-old vampire Count Saint-Germain. She's been awarded a literary knighthood by the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, a Grand Master award by the World Horror Association, was the first woman enrolled as a Living Legend by the International Horror Guild, and has received two Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Horror Writers Association and from the World Fantasy Association in 2014. Yarbro lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with the Gang of Two (her irrepressible cats Butterscotch and Crumpet).
HM: Tell me a little about yourself.
CQY: I was born in 1942, in Berkeley, California. I’ve lived in the East Bay Area for most of my life; still do. I went to Berkeley public schools for most of my basic education, and attended San Francisco State College, now University for three years, then settled down to write. I worked in the family cartographic business until I started to sell my fiction. I have served as Secretary of Science Fiction Writers of America, regional vice President of the Northern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and was the first woman President of the Horror Writers Association. I married Donald Simpson in 1969 and we divorced in 1982. I have no children, though I have had two horses (not at the same time) until arthritis caught up with me. I now have two cats (at the same time).
HM: What do you do when you’re not writing (day job)?
CQY: Writing is my day job, and has been since 1970.
HM: How long have you been writing?
CQY: I started writing when I was six. Between that first effort and the time I started to sell stories, I wrote plays, some for school projects, some for a long-defunct children’s theatre company. I sold my first story in 1968, and now have amassed a fair amount of published material.
HM: Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
HM: What do you find most challenging and enjoyable as an author?
CQY: The demands of publishing can be quite challenging, and learning to live with massive financial uncertainty is, too. I love writing.
HM: Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?
CQY: Not that I know of, but if I do, I’m used to them, and so they don’t seem strange. I do have one quirk — I don’t like to send off submissions on a Thursday. It made more sense when we had to mail things back and forth, but now, it’s a left-over from a time when avoiding the weekend slowdown in the post made some kind of sense.
HM: What kind of hobbies do you enjoy in your free time?
CQY: I still like to read; when I could still ride, I’d spend three afternoons a week on my horse; I occasionally do musical compositions. When I’m working, I sometimes listen to opera, which I love.
HM: What is your favorite book? Movie? TV show?
CQY: Those things change over time, so I’ve learned not to answer this kind of question. Apologies all around.
HM: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
CQY: Write every day. Do not show your work to family or friends until it is published. Stay out of writers’ groups until you have established your own voice. Get used to your own company. Be polite: say please and thank you often. Do not fight with critics or fans. And keep in mind that the toughest competition you will ever face is the last thing published with your name on it.
HM: Can you tell us about any of your new work? Future work?
CQY: I just turned in Chesterton Holte, gentleman haunt, #3, Shining Phantoms, and am working on a second play for the Baker Street Players in Jackson, California. I’m also writing another Saint-Germain, Orphans of Memory; I’m about half finished with it. And I’m working on a couple of short stories. After the first of the year, I’ll be starting Chesterton Holte #4, Chasing Ghosts.
HM: If you weren’t a writer, what would you do for a living?
CQY: At this stage of my life, I have no idea.
HM: What scares you?
CQY: Almost anything can, under the right circumstances. I am phobic about tunnels.
HM: What question do you wish someone would ask and what is the answer?
CQY: Here’s one of a long list: What would you like people to be aware of about Saint-Germain? That he is a grown up.
HM: Where can fans find you online?
CQY: You can find out a lot about my work and my schedule on chelseaquinnyarbro.net and on my Chelsea Quinn Yarbro — Author page on Facebook.
HM: Thanks for joining us and stop by anytime!
Now onto Living Spectres,,,,
From the Description
It’s been three months since crime reporter Poppy Thornton was left to die in an abandoned warehouse by her cousin Stacy, chief suspect in a high society murder. Rescued by the quick thinking of Chesterton Holte—her "gentleman haunt"—and Police Inspector J.B. Loring, Poppy is determined to get the real story and see justice done. But Stacy has fled Philadelphia with the widow of the man he is accused of murdering, and now an international manhunt is on for the suspected conspirators. As that search continues, Poppy, Holte, and Loring have a new mystery: the disappearance of GAD Pearce, 18 year-old heir to the Pearce fortune, who has vanished while travelling through Eastern Europe. The suspects range from the young man’s jealous siblings to a mysterious cult of Armenian refugees.
Once again Holte uses his ghostly powers to uncover answers and pass on what he learns to Poppy— who must then alert Loring without revealing her otherworldly source.
Is GAD still alive? Can Poppy keep her job despite social convention, the disdain of her male colleagues, and the dangerous attraction she feels to Loring? Will the authorities succeed in tracking Stacy down? What’s really going on behind the closed doors of the politicians and bankers who run the city and the state?
And as the search for truth takes Poppy and Holte deeper into a forest of dark secrets and official corruption, who will die next?
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Smoke & Shadow Books
Publication Length: 416 pages
I received a copy of this book for review purposes. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this anthology. I did not receive any form of compensation for my review.
Living Spectres is the second book in the Chesterton Holte, Gentleman Haunt series. It picks up a few months after the events in Haunting Investigation. I had a lot of fun reading the first book, unfortunately I didn't enjoy Living Spectres as much. Poppy was just as plucky and Chesterton was just as gallant but the detailed descriptions of every single outfit (head to toe), and the planning of meals made it hard to get into the story. Poppy's Aunt Esther is a fun character to get to know. The way she reacts to a wedding proposal helps to illustrate the societal restrictions for women in the 1920's. The intertwining mysteries of where GAD, Stacy, and Louise are and the plight of the Armenian refugee's never really come to a satisfying conclusion, maybe in book three,,, Overall this is still a charming book, just not my cup of tea. 3 stars.
Buy the Book
"A perfect blend of mystery, history, and haunting. I loved this. Can't wait for the next in the series." -- Adrienne Barbeau, actress, author of Love Bites and Make Me Dead
In 1916 France, two men are executed by the Germans. It is now 1924, and the ghost of Chesterton Holte haunts P.M. Thornton. Holte is there to assuage his guilt over the death of Thornton s father in 1916, who was killed with Holte over a misunderstanding. P.M. is Poppea Millicent Thornton who is determined to become an ace crime reporter, like her father, for the Philadelphia Clarion. Poppy has spent too much time covering ladies book clubs and flower shows; she is ready for the big time. VERDICT Better known for her historical vampire series featuring le Comte de Saint-Germain, Yarbro launches a new paranormal series that offers a richly detailed look at life for women as the Roaring Twenties takes off. Poppy is a strong character who desperately wants to honor her father and not succumb to her aunt s blandishments to marry and raise a family. A solid choice for fans of Alice Kimberly s Haunted Bookshop mysteries or Nancy Atherton s Aunt Dimity novels. -- Library Journal, December 2015
Set in 1924, this first in a paranormal mystery series from old pro Yarbro (best known for the Saint Germain historical vampire novels) is an agreeable and inventive yarn. Poppy Thornton, a young socialite, is trying desperately to break into crime reporting for the Philadelphia Clarion when she's approached by the titular Holte, the helpful ghost of a spy executed with Poppy's father during WWI. The murder of an upper-crust acquaintance of Poppy gives Poppy her chance. The death appears connected to other crimes committed at a level of society that the working-class police and reporters have difficulty exploring. As Poppy cleverly exploits her social connections, Holte interviews the spirits of several murder victims, hindered by the fact that ghosts tend to be forgetful. It's all good fun until the action breaks off abruptly at the end. Of course, a series may have continuing themes, but this book leaves far too many plot threads dangling. -- Publishers Weekly
"Haunting Investigation, set in the late 1920s in the city of Philadelphia, is a novel that displays Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's characteristic historical accuracy and attention to detail. Here, she combines the mystery and ghost story genres to tell a suspenseful tale of murder with an engaging heroine and a well-drawn cast of characters. This diverting and involving story will leave readers both satisfied and hungering for more stories featuring Poppy Thornton and Chesterton Holte." -- Pamela Sargent; award winning author, Earthseed and The Shore of Women
If you want to read one of the best mystery writers alive...if you want to have a few delightful hours of compulsive reading, then I suggest you read this haunting Chesterton Holte mystery by the World Fantasy Award Grandmaster Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Dammit, she's that good! -- JACK DANN award winning author, The Memory Cathedral
"Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's work has haunted me all my life, and Haunting Investigation shows why. CQY is a master of the imagination and the queen of storytelling. I can't wait for her next book!" --Nancy Holder -NYT Bestselling Author, Crimson Peak: The Official Movie Novelization
"This is the first time I have read Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's novels and this was a wonderful introduction and a treat to read." -- Veronica Lynn, Goodreads