Ciao, amici! I’m so happy to host today’s guest. She’s one of my favorite authors, but she doesn’t publish nearly often enough to suit my tastes, so she’s not here nearly as much as I’d like (though she’s welcome anytime, release or not). Lucky for us, she’s got back-to-back releases, so we’ll be seeing a lot of her. She’s a talented writer, a huge music lover, a fellow Story Empire collaborator, a generous and supportive blogger, but most importantly, a dear, dear friend. I hope you’ll join me in giving Joan Hall a warm welcome.
Woodstock, Music, and Curses?
Thank you for hosting me today, Staci. It’s always a pleasure to visit, and I’m excited to tell your readers about my newest release.
House of Sorrow is a short-story prequel to my upcoming novel Cold Dark Night, book one of the Legends of Madeira series. It’s the story of Ruth Hazelton, a reclusive older woman who lives in a two-story Victorian house in the fictional town of Madeira, New Mexico. Ruth reflects on her life, particularly when she and her husband Lee first moved to town.
Most of the scenes occur in the late 1960s/early 1970s, so I incorporated historical events into the story as well as a few personal memories. I had a lot of fun remembering those times.
The summer of 1969 was an eventful one. Probably the most memorable event is the Apollo 11 moon landing, but other things happened that year. Some good, others tragic.
As you know, I’m a big music lover, particularly that of the ‘60s and ‘70s. I create playlists for all my books. While I don’t mention any songs in the book, some of those I included on my playlist are “For What It’s Worth” (I call it the ultimate sixties song), “Turn! Turn! Turn” by the Byrds, and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising.” (Full moons play a significant role in Cold Dark Night.)
Readers can view the entire playlist by clicking this link.
Speaking of Creedence Clearwater Revival, they were one of several groups who performed at Woodstock in August 1969.
In today’s excerpt, Ruth visits her elderly friend and learns several law enforcement officers once lived in her house. What’s more, the place seems to “call” to the wives.
The summer of ’69 wasn’t without tragedy. While the astronauts were on their way to the moon, a car crash involving Senator Edward Kennedy happened on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts. A young woman lost her life, and Kennedy pled guilty to leaving the scene of the accident.
“It’s the Kennedy curse,” Sam had said.
“Come on, Sam. It’s an unfortunate tragedy, but he made the choice to walk away from there.” Ruth knew she’d never convince him to change his mind. And if he did see things her way, he’d never admit it.
In August, news of the brutal murders of actress Sharon Tate and four others left the nation in shock. When another couple was murdered the following night, residents of the Los Angeles area went into high alert.
On the opposite side of the country, over 400,000 people gathered at a dairy farm in Bethel, New York for three days of peace and music at a festival called Woodstock.
Life in Madeira seemed far removed. Ruth was grateful to live in a town where neighbors looked after neighbors, people were friendly to one another, and violent crime was virtually non-existent.
Her visits with Margaret Bell became a highlight of each week. Ruth enjoyed listening to her stories about early life in Madeira.
One afternoon, Ruth found her reading the newspaper. Margaret smiled as she entered the room, but there was an element of sadness on her face. “Hello, dear.”
“How are you today?”
“Feeling a little melancholy. Just read where Nita Roberts passed away. I hadn’t seen her in years.”
“Nita Roberts? The name doesn’t ring a bell.”
“I’m sorry. Of course, you wouldn’t know her. She moved out of state a few years back to live near her daughter.”
“Were you close friends?”
“Nita was several years younger, but I considered her a friend. She and her husband lived in your house. They moved in after he became police chief.”
“Is that so? Sam Johnson said another former chief also lived there.”
“Yes. Bill Guthrie. His wife loved the place. Nancy said she knew it was the house for them the minute she saw it.”
“It was the same for me.”
“Never stopped to think about the connection with our law enforcement leaders and the house. First my stepfather, then Edward Roberts, Bill Guthrie, and now your husband. There was also a young town marshal who once rented a room from me. Quite a coincidence, don’t you think?”
Dream home or damned home?
Ruth Hazelton is over the moon when her husband Lee agrees the nineteenth-century Victorian in Madeira, New Mexico, is the perfect home for them. While he starts his new job as police chief, she sets about unpacking and decorating.
But it’s not long before Ruth needs more. She becomes a fixture in the community, making time for everyone, volunteering, hosting events—she’s every bit the social butterfly her husband is not. Through her friendships, she learns several former residents of her home met with untimely deaths. If she were superstitious, she might fear a curse, but such nonsense doesn’t faze her.
Until the unthinkable happens.
Now, as the end of Ruth’s life draws near, she must find a way to convey her message and stop the cycle to prevent anyone else from suffering in the house of sorrow.
Connect with Joan:
Sounds great, doesn’t it? I promise you, it is. I was glued to the page from the first word to the last.
Please join me in wishing Joan all the best with her new release. But first, I know we’d both appreciate it if you’d make use of the purchase, like, and share buttons. Once you do, I hope we’ll see you in the comment boxes. Grazie!