Caught with pot in her dorm room, Bailey Randolph is exiled to a relative’s ancestral home in Virginia to straighten herself out. Banishment to Maple Hill is dismal, until a ghost appears requesting her help. Bailey is frightened but intrigued. Then her girlhood crush, Eric Burke, arrives and suddenly Maple Hill isn’t so bad.
To Eric, wounded in Vietnam, his military career shattered, this homecoming feels no less like exile. But when he finds Bailey at Maple Hill, her fairy-like beauty gives him reason to hope–until she tells him about the ghost haunting the house. Then he wonders if her one experiment with pot has made her crazy.
As Bailey and Eric draw closer, he agrees to help her find a long-forgotten Christmas gift the ghost wants. But will the magic of Christmas be enough to make Eric believe–in Bailey and the ghost–before the Christmas bells ring?
Stay tuned for a sneak peak into Somewhere the Bells Ring! Now we go to our Cozy correspondent, Tink, who's sitting in front of the fire at Maple Hill with Beth and a few ghostly companions. Take it away, Tink....
Tink: Greetings from Virginia! It's snowing outside, but Beth and I have cocoa to keep us warm. Speaking of drinks, Beth, if you were a mixed drink what would you be and why?
Beth: I’d like a hot toddy made with good Scotch whiskey, please, and a cozy seat by a crackling hearth. The hero’s favorite as well.
Tink: This might be wishful thinking *looks out at the snow* but iff you were stranded on a desert island and could bring only one of the following…what would they be? Person? Song? Book?
Beth: Person. I’m not a loner. I’d bring my tribe.
Beth: Birdie. You can turn them into nesting sites or feeders.
Tink: Now for a bit about your book. If you wrote to music, what would be this book's theme song?
Beth: Funny you should ask. I do write to music and the theme for this story is Christmas Lullaby – by MannheimSteamroller.
Beth: The hero appears in the past and the present in this story. In the past he says: “Did no one ever instruct you to knock before entering a gentleman’s bedchamber?”
In the Present, he says: “Of course. Good to see you again, Bailey.”
Tink: Would you define your hero as an alpha or a beta? Why?
Beth: Alpha, he’s a Marine. Or was, although once a Marine always a Marine.
Beth: Boxers in both instances (although men in WW1 wore shorts that buttoned in the front).
Tink: What is your heroine’s idea of the perfect date?
Beth: A lovely candlelight dinner and dancing, but bear in mind that the story opens in 1968 and flashes back to 1918, so not contemporary but vintage American.
Beth: The timeless quality of their love, assuming you mean the H&H. I also really enjoyed writing the outspoken housekeeper Ella who was very much as my dad described her from his childhood. Somewhere the Bells Ring is based on the gracious old Virginia home place where my dad was born and raised and I grew up visiting over the holidays.
Tink: More seriously, what was your biggest challenge crafting this story or these characters?
Beth: Somewhere the Bells Ring was inspired by the poignant dream I had years ago about a young woman, a guest in this old home during the holidays, and the mysterious gentleman she met. That dream nagged at me every Christmas until I finally wrote their story. Getting it right was the trick. I chose to set it in the late 1960’s because I’m nostalgic about that era, but the dream actually took place earlier in the century judging by their costumes. Thus the flashbacks to 1918 and the end of WW1. But I pondered for ages which era to wing back to. Having a Marine Corps Captain grandfather who distinguished himself during the thick of the fighting in France during The Great War and then tragically died when my father was only three definitely influenced this story–dedicated to the grandfather I never knew, but grieved all the same.
Tink: Least favorite?
Beth: The F word. Not a fan of putrid either.
Beth: The trill of the meadow lark in spring time. Hate: Static buzzing
Beth: A good honest English Damn. (To quote The Scarlet Pimpernel)
Beth: Script writing and I have. Even won a few awards but went back to novels.
She turned toward him. In her long, white nightgown, hair tumbled down around her, wearing that lost look, she bore an unnerving resemblance to the mysterious woman in Wilkie Collins’ classic mystery, The Woman in White. Eric fervently hoped the similarity ended there. As he recalled from the novel, that unfortunate lady had been unhinged.
Leaving the door ajar, he stepped inside. “We missed you at breakfast.”
She answered distractedly. “I wasn’t hungry.”
He limped to where she stood, the hitch in his leg a little less pronounced today. Maybe he was getting stronger. “Why are you here, looking for ghosts?”
“Or a door to the past.”
He tried to coax a smile to her trembling lips. “Did you check inside the wardrobe?”
“Eric, I’m being serious.”
“That’s what worries me.” Leaning on his cane with one arm, he closed his other around her shoulders and drew her against him. Such a natural act, and she accepted his embrace without pulling back.
She smelled of flowers from her perfume and wood smoke. “Mercy, child,” he said in his best imitation of Ella, “it’s as cold as a tomb in here.”
“It wasn’t last night.”
Tink: And the final questions our friends back home have been waiting all day to ask…. If you could choose the spirit of anyone (real or fictional) to haunt to walls of your house…who would it be?
Beth: The ghostly hero of Somewhere the Bells Ring, Edward Burke. J
Tink: What’s your favorite ghost story/legend?
Beth: I like the ones where the ghosts are quite real, like a glimpse back in time, more mysterious than scary and not bad. The Shenandoah Valley is full of ghost stories. Virginia in general is. Volumes have been published. For example, one interesting account set in the valley involves a young man who arrived at an old plantation home early in the morning to collect a carpet he’d been directed to take back to the store for cleaning. A woman in period dress opened the door and indicated the room and carpet which he removed. Later, after he’d gone, he got a phone call telling him to wait and collect the carpet when the staff arrived as the house was locked—seems the resident ghost let him in.
Tink: Why do you think big southern plantations are popular place for ghosts to live both presumably in the real world and in fiction?
Beth: People get attached to these beautiful historic homes and are reluctant to move on. That, and these houses have seen a lot of wars and other drama over the years. The woman mentioned in the above story was murdered. A psychic should tell her its time to move on.
Beth: The dream I referred to that took place at Christmas so I already knew the setting and I soon sensed it was a ghost story.
Thank you Tink for another great interview! And thanks to Beth for answering all of Tink's nosy questions....
Married to her high school sweetheart, Beth lives on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by her children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, her love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into her work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans, and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of her inspiration. In addition to American settings, Beth also writes historical and time travel romances set in the British Isles. You can learn more about her at her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads!
***GIVEAWAY: Cozies, Beth has generously offered a giveaway for today's Cozy Guest Friday feature! By commenting to today's post before midnight EST tomorrow, you will be entered to win a digital download of Somewhere the Bells Ring in PDF, ePub, or Kindle format. (Chances of winning depend on the number of entries; you must be 18 years or older to enter.) One winner will be chosen randomly and announced Sunday morning so be sure to check back in to see if you have won!