23 Jun 2016

The Secret of Hillcrest House by Melanie Robertson-King

Title: The Secret of Hillcrest house by Melanie Robertson-King
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Release Date: April 16, 2016
Publisher: King Park Press

Sometimes there’s more to a house than bricks and mortar.
Hillcrest House is one such place. Perched on a cliff in the picturesque town of Angel Falls, there is more to this Victorian mansion than meets the eye. When referring to the house, the locals use the word haunted on a regular basis. Strange visions appear in the windows, especially the second-floor ones over the side porch. Even stranger events take place within its four walls.
Rumour has it, the original owners, Asher and Maggie Hargrave, never left their beloved home. They claim the couple and their family are responsible for driving people away. Over the years, Hillcrest House has changed hands numerous times. No one stays long. Renovations begin then stop and the house is once more abandoned. The latest in this long line of owners is Jessica Maitland.
Will Jessica be the next one to succumb or will she unravel The Secret of Hillcrest House?
Melanie Robertson-King's latest novel serves up a delightful blend of the supernatural and spicy romance, Lynn L. Clark, author of The Home Child, and Fire Whisperer & Circle of Souls: Two Novellas of the Supernatural, & The Accusers
Intrigue, dark buried secrets, hot romance and a neat twist in the tale make this riveting reading, Sheryl Browne, MA Creative Writing, Choc Lit Author
A fun read that keeps you guessing right up to the surprise ending, Dayna Leigh Cheser, Author of Janelle's Time, Moria's Time, Adelle's Time, & Logan's Time.
Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA

The wind picked up making it difficult for Jessica to return the contents to the pouch. As she turned to place them in her purse, a face and hands appeared in the window over the side porch. “There’s someone in there,” she gasped, pointing to the location.
“Keys. I’ll need them unless you want me to break in.”
Transfixed by the image, Jessica couldn’t look away. She extended her arm and dropped her ring holding her house and car keys into his hand.
“You stay here,” he ordered before sprinting to the front of the house.
The face appeared to be that of a young child. After a few minutes, the image faded. She blinked thinking it vanished because she’d stared at it for so long, but even that didn’t help.
Frightened by the disappearance, she dashed after the officer.
When she stepped through the door, the pungent smells of damp and stale assailed her nostrils. Out of habit, Jessica reached for the light switch. She discovered an old-fashioned push button one indicative of knob and tube wiring. That was another expense she wasn’t prepared for.
At one time, the dark wainscoting in the foyer shone. Now it was dull, dingy and covered with dust. The paint above it and on the ceiling had peeled and curled. Flakes littered the floor and stairs. She grabbed a loose piece of paint from the wall and gave it a tug. It pulled away with little resistance.
Two large rooms stood on either side of the main hall. Jessica entered the one to her left. Pocket doors, off their tracks, cut off part of the large doorway. Yellowed wall and ceiling paper hung from crazy angles. The plaster it once covered now exposed. Sheets covered the furniture. At one time, they had been white but now, layered with dust. Jessica thumped her hand down on the back of a sofa forcing a cloud of the grubby powder into the air. Choking, she scurried out and into the room across the corridor.
It, too, was in the same state but in here, boards didn’t cover the windows. Sun shone through grimy panes of glass, and dust particles floated in the air trapped by the beams of light.
The sound of footfalls on the stairs echoed through the house. Jessica turned. She gasped and clapped her hand over her mouth. On the back of a sheet-covered sofa, lay a pristine, long-stemmed red rose.
The officer stepped into the room, securing his truncheon to his belt. “I thought I told you to stay outside.”
She didn’t reply. Stood shaking and pointing at the flower. Tried to speak but no sound came out. The room started swimming in front of her eyes. Her mouth went dry. She felt cold and clammy.
Jessica came to outside on the verandah with no idea how she got there or what happened.
“You fainted,” the cop said. “I caught you before you fell and brought you out into the fresh air.”
She stared at him and nodded only half understanding what he told her.
“By the way, I’m Alain Fournier.” He flashed a smile revealing brilliant white, perfect teeth. “And you are?”
“J-Jessica Maitland.”
“There was no one anywhere in the house. I’ve checked it from top to bottom.”
“But …,” she sagged against his shoulder.
How could that be? She saw the face in the window and the hands pressed against the glass. If no one had been inside the house, how did that rose get there? It was fresh. Not wilted. It made no sense. Her mind had to be playing tricks on her. Tired from the long drive and concentrating on the GPS directions, all she wanted was sleep.

Hi Melanie! Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
The Secret of Hillcrest House is a paranormal romantic suspense. Recently divorced, Jessica Maitland wants to make a clean break from her past. Police Constable, Alain Fournier still mourns the death of his wife. And then there’s the house and the supernatural occurrences that take place within its four walls.

What inspired you to write it?
The house. From the time I first saw it in 1993 when I went as a chaperone on my son’s school trip, it spoke to me. Back then, I wasn’t sure what the story about the house would be, just that there would be one.

How did you come up with the idea for the cover?
I used my own photograph and layered it with a cloudy sky and full moon. My picture was in colour but I wanted to make the place look mysterious and scary, so black and white was the way to go. Julie Jordan took my photo and created the rest of the cover. There’s a link between the colour of the text on the front cover and an event in the book. *that’s all I’m saying… don’t want to include any spoilers*. ☺

If it was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?

Definitely, Jason Statham in the role of Alain Fournier. I envisioned Charlotte Coleman (Scarlett in Four Weddings and a Funeral) when I wrote the book and it wasn’t until I went looking for a photo of her to show someone who I was talking about because she couldn’t put the name and face together that I discovered Charlotte had died of an asthma attack in 2001.

Is it part of a series or is it a stand-alone novel?
This one is definitely a stand-alone, but that doesn’t mean I won’t write another one in the same genre.

Where is the novel set and why did you choose to set it there?
The novel is set in the Canadian province of Quebec, where the real house is located, in my fictional town of Angel Falls. *The names have been changed to protect the innocent … or should that be guilty?* ☺

What is it about this genre that appeals to you so much?
Growing up, I read mysteries and ghost stories. I remember some of the first books I borrowed from the local library being Alfred Hitchcock. Also, a couple of my cousins and I took turns telling ghost stories each of us trying to outdo and scare the daylights out of the others. Sometimes, it worked, especially when we sat in the dark in the woodshed at my grandmother’s house.
The house I live in is over 125 years old. I’ve always been fascinated with hauntings (real or fictional) and have experienced a few odd occurrences in my house like seeing someone standing outside the bedroom door at night and hearing footsteps when I’m the only one in the house. Older houses have character and maybe even a few characters that have refused to leave.

What made you want to become an author?
Glutton for punishment? Haha! Seriously, since I was young, I either had my face stuck in a book or spending my time writing stories of my own.

How do you come up with character names?
For this book, since it’s set in Quebec, I wanted a French name for my male lead. It took some time but I decided he would be Alain Fournier. For the female lead, I’ve always liked the name Jessica. Maitland is a village not far from where I live. Since she’s originally from north of Toronto, that name worked for her.
I have a writing program called Writer’s CafĂ©. I don’t use a lot of it but it has a name generator which I’ve used to come up with the combination of first name and last name depending on the gender. Or you can choose from the list of names it contains. It’s a good thing the program was free because that’s the only feature I’ve ever used in it.

Do you struggle to come up with book titles? Do they come before, during or after you've written your book?
Absolutely! I find coming up with the right title for the book harder than writing 100,000 or so words.
Rarely does a title idea come to me ahead of time. In my debut novel, A Shadow in the Past, the title is a phrase in the book. I liked that it worked so for the (unpublished but completed) sequel, Shadows From Her Past, I used the same idea.
For The Secret of Hillcrest House, I couldn’t come up with a title for the life of me. Since my case of ‘title block’ was so severe, I decided to run a contest on my blog. It was a lot of fun and I got a huge response and some great ideas for more titles.

Name one of your all-time favourite books?
Hmm… you ask some tough questions. I’ve read and loved so many books, it’s hard to single out just one. Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride. I love the fact it’s set in Aberdeen and I’ve been there so when he mentions various locations in the city, I recognize them.

Who, or what, inspires you?
Places and/or events. The tagline on my website is “where fact and fiction meet”.

Where is your favourite place to write?
I used to write at the kitchen table, or with my laptop in the living room. But, distractions don’t bode well anymore so I now have a spare room/writing room. A small desk, comfy office chair, shelves and my ‘inspiration’ board. When I wrote The Secret of Hillcrest House, I had all the photos I’d taken of the house printed and pinned up. Now I have the pictures for the Christmas novella up there. And I share a couch with some of my stuffed animals.

What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?
Normally, I don’t like screen adaptations of books. They’re never as good as the book where you can use your imagination. That being said, the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim has to be the best. But only the B&W version. I always envisioned the bed curtains being a rich red almost burgundy. And what did they do? They made them green!

Name two of your favourite authors.Diana Gabaldon (love the Outlander series) and since I love crime fiction, Chris Longmuir (author of the Dundee Crime Series).

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I’m a rock hound. Over the years, I’ve amassed quite the collection. I’ve got one from the stone circle in my debut novel, one from the ruins of my paternal grandmother’s house in Scotland. One of the ones I have on my desk came from Slains Castle in Scotland. The other one that I share my writing space with came from Northern Quebec. It’s hard to describe other than it has pink, white and black in it… and it’s heavy so it also doubles as a door stop.

Who would play you in the movie about your life?
A movie about me? Egad. I didn’t think I’ve done anything to warrant a movie being made about me. *blushes* Shirley Henderson who starred in the TV series, Hamish MacBeth with Robert Carlyle and in the movies Trainspotting and Bridget Jones’s Diary.
Hmm… she’s about the right height for Jessica in my book, so with red hair, she could play her if the Secret of Hillcrest House was made into a movie.

Tell us an interesting fact about where you live.
My house is haunted? Okay, I’ll make it a bit broader. If I go out my front door to the sidewalk (about 10 steps) and turn right, I can see the St Lawrence River. So the standing joke is, I have a river view.

What are your (writing) plans for the future?
I’m currently working on a Christmas novella. It’s really hard since we’ve just got over winter. I want to enjoy summer and not think of snow. However, it is set in a romantic location. Think Miracle on 34th Street meets Sleepless in Seattle.
I also want to get the book that I have completely plotted and partially written finished and out into the real world.

Tell us one thing that's on your bucket list.
I want to travel by train over the Forth Bridge. That means another trip to Scotland but in the grand scheme of things, it’s always on my places to go list.

Favourite myth / fairytale?
Sleeping Beauty. I remember having a Little Golden Book hardcover copy of it as a little girl.

Who/What did you want to be when you were a kid?
An accountant. I sort of fulfilled my wannabe when I was a kid. I do payroll at the company where I work.

While I'm not usually a reader of romantic suspense stories, I did find this a very easy read. Short and succint, I started and finished it within a few hours. The Secret of Hillcrest House had me thinking of Hallmark movies, I could quite easily see this story on screen.
I must say that I was quite surprised how quickly and easily the main character accepted some really ghastly occurrences in her new house though, and would therefore have preferred the book to have been a little longer so the process could have been a bit more believable. Having said that, everything was summed up rather well - the ending actually had me chuckle. But I found myself more intrigued by the house and it's former inhabitants than I was the main characters - I would have liked to have understood more about the ghostly goings-on though. Perhaps a follow-up novella, perhaps!?
* I received a copy of The Secret of Hillcrest House to review from the author

Melanie Robertson-King has always been a fan of the written word. Growing up as an only child, her face was almost always buried in a book from the time she could read. Her father was one of the thousands of Home Children sent to Canada through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland, and she has been fortunate to be able to visit her father’s homeland many times and even met the Princess Royal (Princess Anne) at the orphanage where he was raised.
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for hosting me today, Suzy. When I wrote The Secret of Hillcrest House, the thought of a prequel crossed my mind. Delve into the past lives of those who lived in the once grand mansion and their gruesome ends.


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