I love hosting authors here, and I’m never happier to do it than when I know the writer and her work—and LOVE both. Mae Clair has been here before, and she’s always entertaining and always offering a fascinating story. Today is no exception. She’s releasing her latest novel, Cusp of Night, the first of her newest saga (The Hode’s Hill Series), and she’s agreed to share some of her research with us. Let’s give her a warm welcome.
Thanks for having me as your guest today. I’ve been making the rounds with my latest release, Cusp of Night, a book with timelines set in the past and present. This is becoming a trend in fiction, especially with suspense novels. Cusp of Night is equal parts suspense and mystery with elements of the supernatural—and more than a few historical facts.
The research for this book was fascinating, especially as related to the past—in which my main character is a spiritualist of the late 19th Century. We often think of a séance with many people holding hands around a table, but in the time period in which I’ve set my book, many mediums used a “spirit cabinet.”
First introduced by Ira and Henry Davenport, the spirit cabinet was similar to a free-standing closet. During séances, the medium would sit inside the closet, hidden by a curtain or doors. Occasionally, a medium might invite a “sitter” to inspect the cabinet to ensure nothing was hidden inside.
To ensure no tomfoolery could take place, the medium would allow their hands to be tied, then enter the cabinet with the curtain or door closed behind them. Once the lights were lowered, the medium would slip their bounds and manipulate items hidden in a trap door—bells, chimes, even fake “ectoplasm.” Some spirit cabinets had artfully concealed false doors in the back, allowing the medium to don wigs, creep free, and steal about the room in the guise of a phantom. Before the lights were raised, the medium would ease back inside the spirit cabinet and retie their bonds.
In some cases, spirit cabinets had slots for the medium to slide their hands through and join with others at the table. In this case, the medium had to be extremely skilled to slip free, leaving the sitter grasping a fake hand. Sound crazy?
Remember, those attending a séance were focused on what was happening around them, not the fingers twined with theirs. With bells chiming, tables tilting, and ghostly faces bobbing from the darkness (all things a skilled medium could achieve using their toes and hidden wires), no one was apt to notice a change of grip on their fingers. As farfetched as it seems, this is stuff really happened.
In Cusp of Night, my main character in the past timeline—Lucinda Glass—uses a spirit cabinet. To find out how, you’ll have to read the book. 🙂 Maybe I can tempt you with the blurb:
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:
Well, if that doesn’t entice you, I don’t know what will. Perhaps a word-of-mouth recommendation. I’ve read it, and I LOVED it. Mae has a way with words that is unparalleled, and she wove the plot threads together masterfully. I highly recommend this novel.
If you’d like to talk to Mae about this post or her novel, please leave her a comment. I know she’d love to chat with you. Thanks.
An unexpected family issue has come up. I will be offline today, but I’ll respond to comments tomorrow. Thanks for understanding.
Mae, so glad to have you here today. My book came at midnight, and I did a happy dance for you. Congratulations on your release!