“What garlic is to salad, insanity is to art.”
A streak of madness runs through my family. Evidence can be found in early documents such as the obituary of a cousin who spent her life as a showgirl on the Vaudeville circuit. The obit writer befriended her when they met in a park where my cousin sat on a bench with her feet clad in paper bags. “Why the funny footwear?” the writer recalled asking. My cousin replied that paper bags kept the ants off her feet.
A great uncle used to empty my grandmother’s ice box to fit the bodies of dead rodents and birds. He was a scientist and it never occurred to him that milk, meat or vegetables were more valuable than his specimens.
And then there was my grandmother, a Broadway actress, who apparently enjoyed dramatic scenes on and off the stage. Angry with my father over some minor transgression, she would lean against the door frame, throw her hand to her forehead and exclaim, “Oh darling, darling, how could you!”
Well, the blood of my forebears runs deep, and madness has touched my family in ways that make for more than entertaining anecdotes. Following the death of my father, for instance, my sister sort of came apart. She had a tiny house by a running stream, yet she wanted to keep everything he owned, and he’d collected a lot. She buried the front of her cottage in tarps that covered boxes and boxes of stuff. You couldn’t find the entrance, and when you did you had to walk sideways along a path about a foot wide.
Inside her little house it was no better—floor to ceiling boxes with more junk piled on top clear to the rafters. I took a picture. The only way you can tell what’s up or down in that shot is by focusing on a mask hanging on the wall.
When I wrote Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower, the second romance novel in my series about the Albright sisters, I decided to tap into the mindset of a hoarder. As with all works of fiction, I took that mindset and stretched it as far as it would go. The result is Abella, the villainess of the story who keeps the hero and heroine apart. Instead of a typical Regency where destined couples squabble over misunderstandings, this book is a psychological thriller garbed in hats, gloves and décolleté. It is dark and suspenseful, though it ends happily, as does the story of my sister. She no longer hoards, but lives an interesting life full of harmless, entertaining quirks.
Since you are a “manic” reader, I’m assuming a bit of the loon lurks in your soul, too, so you might enjoy an off kilter Regency with a dash of dementia.
Now tell me, what’s the craziest darn thing you’ve ever seen or heard? There’s a free download of Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower for the best answer. Giveaway ends @12am est 11-23-13 with the winner announced shortly thereafter.
Two years of bewildering silence have passed since Claire Albright met powerful, brooding, Lord Flavian Monroe. On the brink of her debut he suddenly summons her. Can her knowledge of healing stop his ward from hoarding? Embroiled in a desperate attempt to curb the child’s madness, Claire cannot understand Flavian’s burning kisses yet cold demeanor. Will she reach his heart before his ward’s insanity undoes her chance at love?
When he was fourteen, Flavian made a mistake so devastating it ruined all hope for happiness. Years later, he’s still paying for his sin. But before his ward’s troubled mind destroys his home and family, he must see Claire once more. Vowing to keep their relationship professional—she the healer, he the guardian—he finds the bonds of his resolve snapping. Somehow, he must content himself with memories of her . . . but he cannot resist . . . one final embrace . . .
Elf Ahearn—yes, that is her real name—lives in New Yorkwith her wonderful husband and a pesky (yet irresistible) cat. Learn more about her at elfahearn.com or like her on Facebook.