This month I have chosen Emma Carroll and Frost Hollow Hall. Today I have a guest post by the author about Inspiration. Check back tomorrow to read my interview with Emma!
Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll
The gates to Frost Hollow Hall loomed before us. They were great tall things, the ironwork all twisted leaves and queer-looking flowers. And they were very definitely shut.
Tilly's heart sinks. Will's at the door of their cottage, daring her to come ice-skating up at Frost Hollow Hall. No one goes near the place these days. Rumour has it that the house is haunted . . . Ten years ago the young heir, Kit Barrington, drowned there in the lake. But Tilly never turns down a dare.
Then it goes horribly wrong. The ice breaks, Tilly falls through and almost drowns. At the point of death, a beautiful angel appears in the water and saves her. Kit Barrington's ghost.
Kit needs Tilly to solve the mystery of his death, so that his spirit can rest in peace. In order to discover all she can, Tilly gets work as a maid at Frost Hollow Hall. But the place makes her flesh crawl. It's all about the dead here, she's told, and in the heart of the house she soon discovers all manner of dark secrets . . .
Frost Hollow Hall is a thrilling historical fiction debut. Told in Tilly's unique voice, it is a tale of love and loss, and how forgiveness is the key to recovery.
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Inspiration: The Ideas Behind Frost Hollow Hall
I’m not a very creative person in the arty sense. The only things I can draw are horses (they have to be facing left), I’m terrible at wrapping gifts and my handwriting is illegible. Writing stories is different. When it came to penning Frost Hollow Hall it was like a switch flicking on in my head. At times it was very hard to switch off.
So where did the ideas come from?
The truth is I’m a bit of a sponge, a magpie, call it what you will, collecting things as I go along. This was certainly the case with Frost Hollow Hall. Though once I’d gathered my ideas, I then had to turn them into a story that was mine.
My biggest influences were a soupy mix of all of the things below:
1. Books- classics like ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ and modern day takes on Victorian novels such as ‘Fingersmith’ and ‘The Observations.’ Ghost stories, servant accounts, books about Victorian houses, books about death in the C19th century. These were all things I loved reading, so it made sense to write something I’d read myself.
2. Films- Actually, one film. In my teens I watched ‘ The Dead Zone’, based on the Stephen King novel. It’s set during an unpleasantly cold winter and one scene has always stayed with me, the moment when a school ice hockey team falls through lake ice. The boys’ panic is so tangible. So too is the strange underwater light, the air bubbles… it is a deeply disturbing scene.
3. Old Photographs- I trawled books, postcards and the internet for old photos of people who might represent my characters. I found Will Potter and Mrs Jessop almost immediately. Yet it wasn’t until the book was written and edited that I finally found a girl who looked like the Tilly in my head. When I saw her I knew immediately. The other big discovery were ‘post-mortem’ photographs, where as an act of memorial, a family would have their photo taken with a dead relative. These were very unsettling; I decided to not include them in the book.
4. Memories+ Experiences- the first scene I wrote was what is now Chapter Three. This was inspired by my own childhood memories of skating on ice on the Somerset Levels. Like Tilly, dead people have visited me in my dreams. And I know what is feels like to have family members on the other side of the world, when you’d rather they lived just down the road; my only sibling emigrated to Australia 18 years ago.
5. Me- I am a complete snow obsessive, so the story just HAD to be set in winter. I also teach Victorian Literature to AS English students, which has given me an insight into the era. One of the story’s themes is how mothers love their children; I’m very close to my own mum, which is reflected in the importance I place on this relationship. As a teenager I was quite stroppy like Tilly- actually, I probably still am! And finally, I do like a story to have a satisfying ending; I hope my readers feel I’ve given them that.