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 . . .

PRE-ORDER HERE

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