More than a decade ago, six kids witnessed unspeakable horror. Not all of them lived to tell.
Riza is no longer that kid – troubled, angry, and filled with secrets. She’s grown up, and when she stumbles upon an on-line forum about the shuttered Northern Michigan Asylum, she tries to pretend it never happened – not the years of experimentation, nor the strange midnight writings, and most of all, not the murders.
But someone wants her to remember.
Deaths shockingly similar to those that occurred in 1989 are happening again.
As the killings get closer to home, Riza is forced to face her past one last time.
Get lost in a chilling story of childhood secrets, unsolved murder, and a malevolent asylum for the insane.
Bitter Ground is the eighth and final installment in the Northern Michigan Asylum Series.
Thanks for stopping by Nesie’s Place today! Author Penny Hampson is here to share a little bit about herself and her latest release, The Unquiet Spirit.
Welcome, Penny! What inspired The Unquiet Spirit?
I was also keen to introduce elements of real life that are sometimes overlooked or ignored — issues that I feel strongly about that don’t easily fit in a historical novel. One of the characters in The Unquiet Spirit suffers from a chronic illness, and I wanted to show how that can impact the whole family, something I have personal experience of as a carer.
Do you have a favorite character in the story?
No, I quite like all my characters, even the ones who are a bit naughty. I think that, as a writer, one has to feel something for the characters one creates, even the villains, in order to make them believable.
What is your work schedule like when writing a book?
My work schedule can be erratic whether I’m writing a book or not. I try to write most days but it is not always possible. As soon as I finish one book, or at least the first draft, I start the next one, it’s a continuous process. I find it’s good to leave a gap of time between completing a first draft and then going back to it to correct and rewrite.
When did you write your first book?
I started writing my first book, A Gentleman’s Promise, about four years ago. I was working full-time then, so I was only able to write at weekends. I came to writing quite late in life, so I feel like I’m catching up. The downside is that I don’t have the same amount of time to devote to reading because I no longer have lengthy commutes.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written four books in total. The Unquiet Spirit is my third book and my first contemporary novel. My fourth book, an historical novel called A Bachelor’s Pledge will be released next month. I don’t have a favourite book, I enjoyed writing them all, though they each had their difficulties. The Unquiet Spirit was in some ways easier to write because it’s set in the present day, so there were no tricky historical issues to deal with.
Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?
I’m a hybrid author. My historical novels are all self-published, but The Unquiet Spirit is published by Darkstroke. It’s good having total control over one’s stories and how they look, but the costs of professional editing, proofing and covers are significant. These are costs which I considered to be essential before releasing my books. However, I’m happy to say that my experience with Darkstroke has been excellent.
Do you write full time, or do you also work outside the home?
I gave up full time work a few years ago to care for a chronically ill member of the family. While this restricts my writing time, I now have considerably more time to write than I did before.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
A lot of my time is taken up with the usual household tasks like cooking and cleaning, but in my downtime I enjoy going for walks, swimming, reading, and visiting family and friends. Of course, this year has been rather different for everybody, thanks to Covid, so trips away and socialising have been off-limits. I still manage to fit in a daily walk, and now lockdown here has relaxed I’ve been able to get a bit further afield — doing the same circuit round my town everyday for several months was beginning to send me crazy!
Coffee or tea?
I drink both, but only decaffeinated. The husband is a budding barista who is working on his latte art, so I enjoy a wonderful decaffeinated flat white every day.
Do you have pets who “help” or inspire you?
I can’t have pets I’m afraid, because of the ill-health of a member of my family. If I could, I’d probably have a dog – one like Sal, who appears in The Unquiet Spirit.
Where’s Oxfordshire located? What’s one interesting thing about it?
Oxfordshire is a county just north-west of London. It’s quite a rural county, which is lovely for me, because it means that the countryside is on my doorstep. Being city born and bred, it’s still a novelty for me to see green fields and open vistas every day. Oxford, the county town of Oxfordshire has two universities, one of them, established in the 12th century, is the oldest university in the English speaking world.
Totally addicted to social media or could you live without it?
I have a Twitter account and I’m on Facebook, so I suppose you could say I’m addicted. I spend some time on both everyday.
What’s your next project?
My next book is already written. A Bachelor’s Pledge, an historical mystery/romance set in 1810 will be released on 7th October. It tells the story of government agent, Phil Cullen and Sophia Turner, the young lady he rescues from a notorious brothel. Both become embroiled in a plot to unmask a ruthless French spy and prevent a hidden cache of gold reaching French shores. Expect lots of adventure and action. Like The Unquiet Spirit, it too is mainly set in Falmouth and Bath, making my research trips to these places doubly useful!
Beyond that, I have more contemporary paranormal mysteries to come. I’ve plans for Freddie, a minor character from The Unquiet Spirit, to have his own encounter with the supernatural, and I’m also working on a short story about witches set in Glasgow.
Please share an excerpt (extract) with us from one of your favorite scenes.
This scene occurs on Kate’s first morning in Falmouth. She’s in a coffee shop where she’s had an abrupt encounter with a guy who couldn’t get away fast enough and his dog Sal who contrarily had wanted to stay. After the guy and his dog had departed the waitress is eager to chat.
“Think you made a bit of an impression there.” Kate jumped at the waitress’s voice. The woman placed a fresh cup of coffee on the table.
“Sorry?” Kate guessed she meant the dog. The guy had wanted nothing to do with her. Hadn’t even given his name.
“On Tom…and Sal, of course. Lovely dog, but very shy; doesn’t like strangers. Bit like Tom, really. Sal usually sits good as gold outside the door while he gets his coffee. It’s his parents’ dog, but he brings it for a walk first thing. Nice bloke.” The woman started to clear the table of Kate’s now empty plate and used mug.
“Really?” Kate was unconvinced. He was brusque and overbearing in her opinion.
The woman nodded and put the dishes back down. She was in no hurry to work. “Yeah. Known Tom for years. We were at primary school together. He went on to the grammar and then university. He was working in London, then out of the blue he came back.” The waitress gave a sigh. “S’spect he’d made enough money. Keeps himself to himself. No girlfriend as far as I know – and that’s not for want of trying by some of the local girls.” She giggled and leaned forward conspiratorially. “Most he does is one date and that’s it.” She smirked. “Yeah, there’s a few disappointed ladies in Falmouth, I can tell you.”
“Hmm?” was Kate’s response to this flood of unwanted information. Why would anyone think a guy so rude was a catch? Though she had to admit, he was easy on the eye when he wasn’t scowling.
The waitress leaned her hip against the table. It seemed she had time on her hands and wasn’t ready to finish the conversation. “You on holiday then?”
“No, I’m here for a while. It might be permanent, not sure yet.”
Oh, I love chatty waitresses, Penny! They know everything about everyone! LOL! Looking forward to reading more about Kate, Tom, and Kate’s house! Many thanks for spending time on the blog with me!
Thank you, Felicia for choosing me and my book, The Unquiet Spirit, to feature on your blog. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions.
Keep scrolling to read more about, and get your copy of The Unquiet Spirit. It can also be read through Kindle Unlimited!
A new beginning. A house with a past. A man with secrets.
It was a dream come true…that turned into a nightmare.
Kate Wilson thinks moving back to Cornwall might be the answer to her prayers. But it isn’t long before she begins to have doubts. Is the house she inherited from her godmother haunted? Or is she going out of her mind? With a stalker, threats, and attempted break-ins, Kate’s troubles multiply.
Then there’s her enigmatic neighbour, the brooding Tom Carbis; a man with secrets he doesn’t wish to share. Can she trust him when he says he wants to help?
In her quest to unravel the mysteries surrounding her, will Kate uncover more than she bargains for?
Set in beautiful Cornwall, The Unquiet Spirit is a gripping suspense with paranormal and romantic elements. Fans of Barbara Erskine will enjoy this tale.
Some time ago Penny Hampson decided to follow her passion for history by studying with the Open University. She graduated with honours and went on to complete a post-graduate degree.
Penny then landed her dream role, working in an environment where she was surrounded by rare books and historical manuscripts. Flash forward nineteen years, and the opportunity came along to indulge her other main passion – writing. Penny joined the New Writers’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and three years later published her debut novel, A Gentleman’s Promise, a historical mystery/romance. Other books in the same genre soon followed.
But never happy in a rut, Penny also writes contemporary suspense with paranormal and romantic elements. Her first book in this genre is The Unquiet Spirit, published by Darkstroke.
Penny lives with her family in Oxfordshire, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).
Regularly 3.99 each, this 2-book set is 99c thru September 6th!
Grab this set if you’re a fan of Paranormal Romance!
I reviewed both books in June – scroll down to read my 5-star reviews! 🙂
Read the complete series together, with all the deleted content included! A sinister illusionist wants Alice… and he won’t take no for an answer. Alice’s life has always been ordinary. But when her new job comes complete with strange noises, creepy legends, a sexy amateur magician, and an enticingly wicked ghost, all that changes. Of course, Alice doesn’t actually believe in ghosts, but what she encounters at the Strande Mansion has her questioning a lot of things—including whether or not her gorgeous new boss is as skilled in the bedroom as he is at illusions. Julian Strande may have died a century ago, but that doesn’t stop him from taking a keen interest in the new caretaker of his estate. It’s been such a long time since he’s had anyone to play with. And he plans to have a great deal of fun with Alice. That is, if he doesn’t decide to kill her first…
_____ Author’s Note: This book is what I would call “villain romance.” This story is for anyone who always finds the villain more interesting than the hero. That said, they are therefore sometimes not the nicest of male heroes. This story has a HEA, but it may be a tough ride getting there. This story has mature themes and content.
At least that’s what Alice Monroe believes long before the end of this read.
But then, I believe it too!
The introverted gamer and geek-girl is happy with her new position as live-in caretaker for the Strande Estate. Once home to illusionist, Julian Strande, the four-story mansion is now a public attraction featuring tours and magic shows.
Alice isn’t put off by the rumors of people disappearing, unexplained accidents, or of the mansion being haunted by Strande himself, but when things not only go bump in the night, they talk… and touch, her fear is outweighed by curiosity and excitement. Julian Strande is haunting his home and he’s a little creepy and a lot pervy. The things he does to her shouldn’t be possible, and… she shouldn’t enjoy it.
However, as she grows closer to the mansion’s current owner, Charles Mensonge, Alice is conflicted. Julian will not be denied, but she’s falling in love with Charles, the arrogant, controlling magician’s great-grandnephew… and the spitting image of him.
When Alice confesses her love for Charles to his uncle, things settle down, but not for long. The mansion, its mazes, and Julian’s mysterious disappearance one hundred years ago become obsessions for her and the pragmatic puzzle-solver doesn’t realize her search takes her closer to Julian and his plans for their future.
Great read that pulled me in from the beginning. The author’s attention to detail made the Strande Mansion a formidable character that had me doodling on a scratch to see the things described.
Alice and Charles are weird… but in a good way. She smoothes his sharp edges and he pulls the withdrawn loner from her comfort zone. They’re a cute couple and have good chemistry even though I knew despite his candid, abrupt personality, Charles wasn’t telling Alice everything.
And then there’s Julian, a one-hundred-fifty-year-old, self-centered ghost with an attitude. Being dead doesn’t stop him from lording over the mansion, dispensing his brand of punishment when people annoy him, much like the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera. The author calls this read villain romance and she nailed it as Julian veers off into psycho-land, flipping between a caring, attentive lover and a harsh dominant. A sleeping Alice doesn’t hear the secret he whispers in her ear, but she’s sharp and will figure it out. Right?
You won’t have to suspend belief for this paranormal tale. Julian Strande will convince you it’s real and not an illusion. Trust me.
Review of Book 2 – June 24, 2020
Book 2 of The Impossible Julian Strande picks up right where book 1 left off, so I’ll do the same with my review.
Julian is nuts!
There. It had to be said. But he is so freakin’ adorable at times, I’ll forgive him anything. Almost.
Though Julian comes out of hiding, Alice is still in the dark as she works to solve his puzzle. Enraged when his sexual advances return, she threatens to leave the estate for good, and Julian does the unthinkable. He kidnaps Charles.
Knowing the demented magician has killed before, Alice races against the clock to find his corpse, hoping Charles is still alive. When she learns the truth, Alice’s reaction is explosive but led by her heart, an easy but short-lived peace wins out. When I looked down and saw I was ONLY a third of the way through the book, I knew this would not end well.
Peace and trust are shattered when Julian confesses the truth about Billy. Devastated, Alice tries to leave the estate and learns the true depths of Julian’s depravity. It still creeps me out!
Suspense amps up as Julian rushes to complete his ultimate goal for Alice. But Alice Monroe is having none of it!
The nerdy geek-girl is smarter than she believes and possesses strength she didn’t know was inside her. I was cheering as she worked to beat Julian at his own game. She wrestles with her heart and conscience, but fear is her motivator to win before her captor reaches the point of no return.
Julian is even more Phantom-like in book 2 as he straddles a fine line between true love and madness. Like the Phantom, Julian’s treatment in his early childhood shaped his life and it followed him into the afterlife.
I was ready for a bittersweet ending, but that would have been too easy. The author drops a plot twist I didn’t see coming, but… it made sense and made me smile because the heart wants what the heart wants.
I highly recommend this read, but please read book 1 first! Reading Ghosts & Liars without reading Illusions of Grandeur first would be like eating a hamburger bun without the patty. You might get full, but you’ll know you’re missing something!
Gathering of Waters is a deeply engrossing tale narrated by the town of Money, Mississippi–a site both significant and infamous in our collective story as a nation. Money is personified in this haunting story, which chronicles its troubled history following the arrival of the Hilson and Bryant families.
Tass Hilson and Emmett Till were young and in love when Emmett was brutally murdered in 1955. Anxious to escape the town, Tass marries Maximillian May and relocates to Detroit.
Forty years later, after the death of her husband, Tass returns to Money and fantasy takes flesh when Emmett Till’s spirit is finally released from the dank, dark waters of the Tallahatchie River. The two lovers are reunited, bringing the story to an enchanting and profound conclusion.
Gathering of Waters mines the truth about Money, Mississippi, as well as the town’s families, and threads their history over decades. The bare-bones realism–both disturbing and riveting–combined with a magical realm in which ghosts have the final say, is reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
One of Essence‘s Best Books of the Decade!
A New York Times Notable Book of 2012!
Gathering of Waters is a finalist for a Phillis Wheatley Fiction Book Award!
Gathering of Waters was named a finalist for a 2013 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award!