Spiritualists, Houdini, and a New Release! #CuspOfNight

Marcia was kind enough to invite me to share my upcoming release, Cusp of Night with readers of The Write Stuff. Thanks, Marcia! 🙂

I’m jazzed to be here with this novel that twines two timelines in a tale of mystery and suspense. Cusp releases on June 12th, but you can pre-order your copy now from any major bookseller, through this link.

Part of the book addresses spiritualistic practices of the nineteenth century. The research was riveting!

Most seances of that time were held in dimly lit rooms, with the “sitters” often divided by gender. The medium opened with a prayer or a hymn. The use of musical instruments was also common, and played an important part of the evening. Spirits frequently chimed in with ghostly instruments, giving sound to horns, trumpets, and bells. Often these instruments would fly about the room, soaring above the heads of the sitters who clasped hands or pressed their palms to the tabletop, fingers touching. Glowing images often appeared—anything from full manifestations to disembodied faces or ghostly hands that would touch the sitters on the back or shoulders.

It may seem odd to us that people of the era could be fooled by pieces of cheesecloth said to be “ectoplasm” or ghostly hands controlled by air pumped through rubber tubes, but mediums of the 1800s were as much showmen and magicians as they were practicing spiritualists. The country was hungry to communicate with the dead, especially after the massive loss of life during the Civil War. After honing their skills on the dingy circuit, there was an abundance of amateur magicians and charlatans ready to step up and fill the voracious call for mediums. Practitioners of the day weren’t above advertising their skills in the classified ads and lining their pockets.

Harry Houdini demonstrates how a medium might produce ectoplasm using a streamer of fine cloth

By Harry Houdini (“Spirit Tricks”. Popular Science. December, 1925.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Some of the most notable mediums of the time were cited for fraud repeatedly, yet people still flocked to them, fully aware they’d been tagged as cheats. None of that mattered in the fervor of reaching through the Veil to Summerland, a place where the dead resided, and might communicate with the living.

Although, taken at a later date than Cusp of Night is set, the photo on the left shows Harry Houdini demonstrating one way in which a medium produced fake ectoplasm.

In my book, Cusp of Night, Lucinda Glass—a medium of the late 1800s—reaches out to Maya Sinclair, a librarian whose life changed the moment she was injured in a car accident. For a period of two minutes and twenty-two seconds, Maya was clinically dead.

Here’s a closer look at the blurb:

Banner ad for cusp of Night, a mystery/suspense novel by author, Mae Cllair

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .


You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Other Social Links

bio box for author, Mae Clair


52 thoughts on “Spiritualists, Houdini, and a New Release! #CuspOfNight

  1. Reblogged this on From the Pen of Mae Clair and commented:

    I’m visiting my friend Marcia Meara on The Write Stuff today, with a look at how seances were conducted in the 1800s. Come on over and take a peek. While you’re there, check out Marcia’s fabulous blog that supports other writers, and her wonderful books. I have all of them and they’re gems!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We visited Disney World earlier this year and rode The Haunted Mansion – when you mentioned instruments flying about the room, it made me remember the floating instruments on that ride, lol. Looking forward the the book, Mae!

    Liked by 2 people

    • *blush* Aww, thank you for that. I’m thrilled you enjoyed it so much. It was a challenge doing two timelines and two mysteries, but I think my love of the “old” time period helped. If only I had a time machine, LOL!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m late to the ball, but I’m very happy to have you here on The Write Stuff today, Mae, and I hope you know you are welcome ANY time! BUT, this is extra-special today, because I am in love with the entire concept of Cusp of Night! And before I forget, let me say once again that the cover of this book is spectacular! Just perfection!! Am pre-ordering in a minute, and so excited for you. This one is going to be a big hit!

    And now for your post. LOVE all the information included. I’ve seen/heard bits and pieces about seances of that era, but after reading this, I’m more than ever intrigued by it all. The total willingness to suspend disbelief and accept the frauds being perpetrated is actually quite sad. These were people who wanted to believe so badly, they were willing victims. Having said that, I do love a good, fiendish ghost story, especially one built around a legend. Can’t wait to read it.

    Off to order the book!! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your blog is awesome, Marcia, and I am thrilled to be here! I am so glad you’re intrigued by the concept behind Cusp of Night. I love that cover, too. Kensington did an amazing job with the ideas I sent them. I couldn’t be happier with it.

      I think people of the past were of two minds about seances and spiritualism—they were desperate to connect with the departed and/or they viewed the whole thing as entertainment. It was “trending” at the time, and was probably vogue to get together and chat about what they experienced at this or that seance. And if they happened to receive a message from a departed loved one, it was icing on the cake.

      I always loved this time period, but I really fell in love with it writing this book. Thanks so much for the pre-order, my friend. I hope you enjoy the tale!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sure I will enjoy it, Mae, and I have a special fondness for books that span two time periods. (Having had the insane idea that my very first effort at writing a novel should do that very thing!) I’m so looking forward to this one.

        And I thank you for the kind comments about the blog. I love how it is growing and evolving, and look forward to MORE posts from you, including a review post. And don’t forget to post when this one goes LIVE on Amazon. Loads of luck with it! 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have that same fondness for books with two timelines. I can’t seem to get enough of them. It was definitely a challenge to write, but so worth it.

          The Write Stuff is really growing and evolving. I do have a review post to put together, and I will add another post when the book goes live. I’m not sure I’ll actually post on my blog that day, but I definitely plan to the day before that. Thanks again! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  4. So interesting that the fascination with communicating with the dead was exacerbated by the huge casualties caused by the Civil War. It makes sense, though the degree of gullibility seems strange. Great snippet, Mae, and thanks for hosting, Marcia! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • The loss of life in the Civil War really played into the whole thing, Diana. So many people wanted assurances that their loved ones had moved on to a better place. I guess they were willing to trade gullibility for that.
      And then there was a contingent that viewed the whole thing as entertainment.
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the snippet!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Mae, each post is more intriguing (and scarier) than the last. I’m looking forward to Cusp of Night. Just have to share, recently, I stayed at a B&B built in 1866. I fell asleep easily, but I awoke soon after – hearing footsteps, whispers, odd noises of all sorts. Well, a long story short, I decided the chain hotels are better for me. 🙂 Thank you for hosting, Marcia.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Very creepy, Gwen. That would spook me for certain.
      I’ve stayed in two haunted hotels in my life, but in both cases, I found out they were haunted after I booked my stay. Even though I write about weird things, when it comes right down to it, I’m a wuss. I would never stay at a place that I knew was reputed to be haunted. I’m so freaky about that stuff!
      My love of the time period (wherein I set half of this book) is due to my love of illusion, magic, and the era in general. I am so glad you found my post intriguing and hope you enjoy the story I’ve conjured! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds engrossing Mae. I’m so behind in my reading but still very much looking forward to the 2 books of yours I still have growing moss on my Kindle. My bad, but I’ll get there. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I fully understand about being behind on reading. I’m right there with you, Debby! One of these days we will both (hopefully) catch up with our colossal TBRs, LOL.
    Thanks for checking out my latest. I’m glad you liked the sound of it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s amazing that people still flocked to so-called mediums even though they were frauds. I suppose it just shows how desperate some people were to believe some sort of connection with the other side. I can’t wait to dig into Cusp 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s so true about people being desperate for assurance about a connection to the other side. Especially after the Civil War, which caused so many to lose those they loved. Mediums also used to put on shows in auditoriums and pack the halls. The research was riveting. So glad you’re looking forward to this one, Julie!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah was an excellent read. If you get to check out Cusp of Night, I hope you enjoy it as well, although it’s really more mystery/suspense with elements of the supernatural. And a smidgen of horror too, I guess. Thanks for checking out my post, Robbie!

      Liked by 1 person

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