Christmas is more than a humbug. It’s deadly.
Ben Scrooge has the world on his shoulders handling his recently deceased partner’s business affairs and handling his own book of business. Foreclosures are up and revenue down. A very disappointing Christmas.
Complicating matters further, the Dread is raging through south London, and the sanitariums are overflowing. The infirmed are attacking people throughout the night. Some swear the dead are coming back to life. Ben, however, thinks it foolishness, and he has no time for it.
He’s about to find out who the fool truly is, and only a miracle, or something like it, can save him.
Now meet the author –
* You are going to be new to many of my readers. Tell us about yourself.
I’m a new author but I’ve been writing for a while. This is my first time publishing a novel. I have a 9-5 to pay the bills and my Netflix subscription.
* Tell us about the book that’s just come out.
It’s a retelling of a Christmas carol, heavy emphasis on ‘retelling’. I kept some basic elements of Charles Dicken’s story and created a subplot with original characters. Ebenezer ‘Ben’ Scrooge is a moneylender who’s partner died three months before the onset of the Dread. This dread has killed many victims who rise and attack South Londoners. Three mages arrive to assist but there’s only so much they can do too. They need Ben’s help.
* What started you on your love of writing?
My love of reading. Many years ago I was hooked on the Meredith Gentry series, but book three ended on a cliffhanger. I was obsessed trying to work out what happened next. And then I wondered if I could work out my own story. So I did. Many years and notebooks later, I finished my first novel.
* Do you write in more than one genre – tell us a little about each one and the books you’re working on in each?
I really love Gaslamp fantasy and steampunk. Shambling and Shadows reflects that. I’m working on a steampunk western at the moment that I hope to have done soon. I also write contemporary Paranormal romance. I have a story in the Heart of Carolina Romance writers anthology.
* Have you attended any writing conference or classes? Tell us about some that and some that have been especially helpful.
Many years ago I met someone who told me about the local RWA chapter. I went to a meeting but didn’t have the money to join until much later. Being a part of the chapter has introduced me to a lot of workshops and networking that I wouldn’t have found on my own.
* Are you a member of any writing groups?
Heart of Carolina Romance writers! 😊
* How attached do you get to your characters? Do you know what happens after the book ends?
I don’t know. I think when the story is done, it’s done but I do think about Ben and Michaela (from Shambling and Shadows) from time to time. I’d like to see them but in separate books. For now though all my focus is on the one I’m presently writing.
* Describe your ‘perfect’ writing day.
One where I am in the mood to write and have a lot of coffee doing it. A great comfy chair and a large screen are a must.
* Could you tell us the one question you wish people would ask about your writing… and don’t forget the answer.
Seeing as this is the first novel I’ve published, I don’t know. I guess I wish someone would ask what inspired this work maybe? But only because the answer is strange. My inspiration came from just discovering steampunk and really exploring the genre. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was just released before I thought about this book. And then one night at the end of 2009 I was channel surfing between the musical version of a Christmas Carol and a George Romero movie and that’s when the idea came to me.
Jacob Marley wasn’t quite dead to begin with.
Six feet underground, he alternated between unconsciousness and insanity. When he was awake, he clawed and screamed at the pine lid. When his energy was spent, he fell into unconsciousness until his next manic fit. On occasion he’d hear a voice gently speaking in his mind and he’d calm into another stupor.
Marley was one of the first victims of the Dread. As he was a wealthy man, there were funds to bury him before he woke up that first horrible night. Ben Scrooge, his partner and friend, had stood silently on that August afternoon, watching dirt tossed on top of the casket as the priest droned on from the Bible.
Now that Marley was “dead”, the remaining partner of Marley and Scrooge had inherited everything pertaining to his friend’s clientele, book of business, and private holdings. Marley loaned to the gentry class desperately trying to hold onto their status and lifestyle as their fortunes dwindled. At his death, he had at least twenty active accounts, five of which were in arrears and the rest, upon hearing of his death, would stop paying.
The opposite of Marley, Ben was cold and more selective about his book of business. Some of his longtime dealings were with smaller projects, funding cotton mills and the like. Marley was a partner in most of these endeavors but trying to settle these personal accounts were proving to be a nuisance and a reason to grumble everyday Ben tried to collect.
That didn’t mean losing Marley didn’t weigh on the man. He just didn’t let it show. At night he’d lie awake, running through figures and percentages until the Scotch and sleep carried him away, and tried not to think of Marley. In the morning he’d wake up to a cold room and a long day of chasing down accounts, settling payments, and taking meetings Marley would have been a part of.
At the start of September, the Dread spread madly, infecting every corner and alley of London. Infection took a matter of days. By week’s end the victim would be in a stupor. Maybe dead, he’d heard, but he always thought it was a rumor. They’d revive at night and savagely beat the life out of anyone who crossed their paths. Or infect them to do the same.
The sanitariums were filling faster than they could be built. There was always something ugly he had to avoid on the streets. Screams and cries would rule the night until the early hours of dawn.
This was the new way of life in South London and only a miracle, or something like it, would change it.
Samantha Covington is a steampunk and gaslamp author that also dabbles in contemporary paranormal romance. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org