Message From The Author

Author's Message

I love historical fantasy because I can lose myself in a world where Mr. Darcy might be just around the corner...or the ghost of a murdered girl out for revenge. It combines corsets and cravats with paranormal mysteries of every kind. And it was particularly fun to write a story about Victorian ghosts since I live in a haunted Victorian farmhouse. And I love the 19th century...Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, the Romantics...it's a pleasure to explore the moors and the streets of old London. I love the language, the manners and curtsying in drafty old manor houses.

Haunting Violet takes place in Victorian England, during the 1870s, which was the pinnacle of the interest in mediums and séances. Talking to ghosts was all the rage in private parlours and public halls. There were many fraudulent mediums at the height of the Spiritualist craze in both England and America. There were hundreds of tricks to fake séances and spirit communication. 

But there are also stories which can't be explained away by tricks; visions of spirits, the touch of a ghostly hand, secrets revealed. And Violet Willoughby is caught at the intersection of these worlds, of both the living and the dead, and the pauper and the prince. She is in every way an “in-between” girl.

I wanted her to be an outsider so that the reader could more easily slip into a different time period. She is not naturally able to navigate the intricacies of Polite Society, any more than we are. She is not aristocratic, she is not naturally elegant or wealthy, and she would rather read books than flirt with eligible bachelors. But she is clever, resourceful and compassionate. 

The details of clothes and food and the popularity of séances are as accurate as I could make them to create a realistic backdrop for ghosts and spirit possession. I love research and I want to know how people drank their tea, how their boots pinched their toes and the smell of the coal smog in London. It’s the little details that I find particularly fascinating. I read every book I could get my hands on, watched movies for the fabrics and the feel (if not historical accuracy!), and saw Highgate cemetery through a YouTube video. We even invited a medium to come sit at our dining room table by the light of a fire to better understand how it would have felt to have a stranger speak to the dead for us.

But in the end people are people; we still all just want to be happy. 

And 1870 or 2010, I love a girl who can kick butt...especially when wearing a corset.

- Alyxandra Harvey


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