History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

16 September 2009

Leanna's Haunted London Blog Tour

The Hoydens would like to give a warm welcome to Leanna Renee Hieber, who is visiting us on the thirteenth and last day of her Haunted London Blog Tour. One of the founders (foundresses?) of Lady Jane's Salon, Leanna has combined her interest in ghost stories, London, and the Victorian era to create a ghostly Gothic tale of ancient prophecy and gas-lit intrigues.

Here's the blurb from the back of Leanna's book (and the incredibly gorgeous cover): "What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Considering how few of Queen Victoria’s Londoners knew of it, the great Romanesque fortress was dreadfully imposing, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met the powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadow, the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She knew simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow-white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gifts. But this arched stone doorway offered a portal to a new life, an education far from the convent—and an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death…"

And now, without further ado...

The STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL Haunted London Blog Tour – Lucky day 13 and final stop!

Last but certainly not least, hello my History Hoydens! Thank you so very much Lauren, for the invite and to the Hoydens for hosting me today on the final Strangely Beautiful Haunted London Blog Tour stop! Today is very special because I unveil a ghost from Book II of the Strangely Beautiful series – an exclusive sneak-peek excerpt!

For those of you just joining us, the purpose of the Haunted Blog Tour is to celebrate the release of my Gothic Victorian Fantasy debut, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, this Tour has introduced the real, documented London haunts who “ghost-star” in my book. When Professor Alexi Rychman and his Guard of spectral police make their rounds, it is to any number of London phantasms. Since these characters are familiar to The Guard, I don’t get to tell all their details. But here I can give them their due. Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of the novel, first in the Strangely Beautiful series!

Oliver Goldsmith and Ye Olde Cock Tavern – 22 Fleet Street, EC4

While you may know Fleet Street from Sweeney Todd, there’s more than just a demon barber down Fleet Street. Of mid-16th century vintage, Ye Olde Cock Tavern is the oldest pub on Fleet. Writer and playwright Oliver Goldsmith (1730-74; She Stoops to Conquer, The Vicar of Wakefield) is buried in the graveyard of Temple Church which lies to the rear of the Tavern. A barmaid once exited the rear door and found herself face to face with a floating, disembodied head. It took a great deal to calm her down, and she only started up screaming again when, upstairs in the Tavern, she saw a portrait of Goldsmith on the wall, shrieking that his was the face she saw.

Here’s how I use his spectral presence in the Strangely Beautiful sequel – to be released May 2010…

“Busy night tonight, Lord Withersby,” Headmistress Rebecca Thompson stated with a partial smirk. “I was just on my way to Ye Olde Cock Tavern.”

Elijah made a face. “Oliver Goldsmith’s floating head again?!”

“Afraid so. It won’t take but a minute, just up Fleet Street.” Rebecca mounted her horse and they moved slowly, Elijah walking beside.

“Damn writers and their bloody legacy,” Elijah scoffed. “Loathe to leave anything. Damn them all, there isn’t a single noble profession in the world.”

“Save for those born with money and therefore need not labour?”

“Oh, no, my class is constituted entirely of sniveling idiots.”

“What then,” Rebecca laughed. “There must be some worthwhile aim-”

“Yes," Elijah said firmly. "Ours. We’re the only noble ones, Rebecca!” He then eyed her. “How are you faring these days?”

Rebecca snorted. “And where have you been these few days?”

“I was asking the question, Rebecca. I was wondering how it feels to be free of the looming shadow of His Highness for a bit,” Elijah grinned.

Rebecca thought a moment. “Not bad, I suppose. Not bad.”

“Good then. Keep your strength sound. Leader Alexi may be, but you of all people oughtn’t be kept at heel.”

“He did not put me at heel.”

“No, he didn’t,” Elijah’s gaze was uncomfortably frank. “You did. He respects you the most. But you never did yourself that honour, did you?”

Rebecca’s discomfited clearing of her throat satisfied Elijah.

“Hold onto your head, Oliver!” Elijah cried. “We’ve come for it again, you witless sot! I never did like a single one of your tired phrases!” Elijah threw open the tavern door and burst inside with a raucous yell, drawing a pretend sword and clearing the entire first floor in a few bounds.

Rebecca witnessed the instant commotion and couldn’t hold back a laugh. Before the burly man behind the bar could tackle him, Elijah held out his arms in one swift, grand gesture like a conductor halting a symphony and all was immediately quiet, the entire assemblage staring suddenly off into space, content and unaware.

Elijah, unable to help himself, waved his arms about a bit, seeing how the entire company moved their heads in response like marionettes on strings. This caused him limitless glee and Rebecca had to take his arms gently and lower them lest he play the giggling puppeteer all night.

“You allow me no fun,” Elijah pouted, a stray finger still making one slovenly drunkard’s gaze turn loops. Rebecca confiscated both his hands in hers and nearly pressed her nose to his.

“Ask Jane about all the fun she had. We cannot all entirely misbehave.”

“I thought I saw something about a children’s ward...”

“She was guilty as charged. Healed the whole ward.”

“Ah, brilliant,” Elijah grinned.

“You picked the locks, didn’t you?” Rebecca chided.

“What, and let Michael steal my mischief? If Alexi gets the privilege of a honeymoon, then we’ve most certainly the right to our own bit of fun.”

Elijah and Rebecca entered onto the back stoop in tandem. Sure enough, Oliver Goldsmith’s disembodied head bobbed at eye level, his transparent features looking entirely offended.

“Stop scaring the barmaids, Goldsmith! Let your prose do it for you!” Elijah pinned the writer by his century-dead eyes while Rebecca’s bold incantations settled to a soft hush.

The hovering skull of the infuriated writer soon dispatched, they crossed back through the quiet, lazing pub. Elijah relinquished his spell with a flick of his wrist only as the front door clicked shut behind them.

--- (End of Excerpt)

I confess, that’s some of the most fun I’ve had with a ghost story.

I’m indebted to Richard Jones, founder of the Discovery Walks of London and author of the fantastic compendium “Haunted London” and “Walking Haunted London” published by Barnes & Noble Books, a main resource for my research. Visit him at www.haunted-london.com. Come visit me at www.leannareneehieber.com to find out more about all things Strangely Beautiful! I hope you’ll pick up the book and love it as much as I loved writing it! If you have the book, enter my CONTEST! (Details on website). Be sure to comment here to be entered to win a signed copy of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker!

Thanks to those of you who have been ardent Tour followers, it’s been a joy to have you on board! I’ll be doing periodic ghostly tidbits and previews on my blog so stay tuned and keep in touch!

Strangely Beautiful Blessings!

Leanna Renee Hieber


Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

Welcome, Leanna! It was wonderful to meet you the other night and hear you read (in case you're confused, Amanda Elyot is my historical fiction pen name; I'm Leslie Carroll in "real life.")

Ye Olde Cock indeed! Lovely pun!

8:29 AM  
Blogger KT Grant said...

Congrats on all your success Leanna! Now I am very anxious for more beautifully ghost tales from you.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Kristian Mercer said...

Hi Leanna! I'm a big fan of the Gothic, too - the Bronte sisters as well as the older works. Do you have a particular favorite - one that inspired Percy's story?

I'm looking forward to reading your book!

8:52 AM  
Blogger Leanna Renee Hieber said...

Hello Amanda! So lovely to meet you! When I'm back in town from Ohio, let's do coffee in the city, shall we?

Thanks my dear!!

Hello! Indeed, I'm obsessed with all Gothic fiction. I do love the Brontes - Wuthering Heights especially - and I have to say that Dracula was very influential to my style.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Hi honey! Just wanted to drop by and say how much I've enjoyed the Haunted London Blog Tour and thanks for giving us a sneak peek at the sequel. May is too far away!

10:57 AM  
Blogger mrsshukra said...

Hi Leanna! Your book looks good at the Barnes & Noble here in Honolulu! Can't wait to read it!


10:57 AM  
Blogger HODGEPODGESPV said...

hi,kiddo. i have been without power for a week and playing catchup like crazy. did i miss anything? i finished the book, loved it and just need to post my review? what grand fun! i don't know that i can wait until MAY! couldn't they move it up a bit? have you got a cover yet? is it as good as this one?
spvaughan yahoo com

11:15 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Thanks so much for visiting us, Leanna! I love gothic stories and I also love theater, so I thoroughly enjoyed the Oliver Goldsmith story. What gave you the idea for this series?

2:01 PM  
Blogger J said...

I'm looking forward to reading the series. I have found I really enjoy magical Victorian novels!

2:03 PM  
Blogger Amanda from Novel Addiction said...

I'm sad to see this blog tour end, I've been following it for weeks now! I love reading all the excerpts!

Morning Glow
ohmorningglow AT aol DOT com

2:28 PM  
Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

I have so enjoyed following your blog tour, Leanna! I LOVE a good ghost story! And of course I am addicted to Gothic romance. I can't wait to read yours. What is it about ghost stories that makes them so appealing to us? My brother, the most no nonsense, logical man I know married a lady who loves anything paranormal. They've gone on several haunted tours here in Alabama and in other southern states as well. What is it that draws us to these stories?

6:25 PM  
Blogger donnas said...

Thanks for the great blog too. I have loved the stories and excerpts and cant wait to get the chance to read your book and see whats coming next.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

6:35 PM  
Blogger Leanna Renee Hieber said...

Thanks honey! Can't wait for YOUR release!!!

Oh, cool, that's neat to know, thanks!

My dear, hello, no the tour has been pretty quiet as I've been travelling, don't worry. :)
Thanks for posting a review! Can't wait to see it. As for Book II, May is the only slot they could fit in the 2010 calendar, better then then September :) *hugs*

Thanks! I was influeced by some great fantasy fiction and historical fiction at the time, and surrounded by Shakespeare as I was working long hours as a performance intern at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Miss Percy Parker walked into my mind and I knew I'd never be the same. I wanted to find out why she looked the way she looked, and considering I've always loved the 19th Century, putting a paranormal story (I've always loved paranormal and fantasy so my book HAD to have those elements) into a Victorian setting just felt natural to me. Everything else fell into place around those elements.

Me too! Hope you enjoy! Have you read Libba Bray? She's one of my favourites currently. Her "Great and Terrible Beauty" is definately on my keeper shelf.

Hi Morning Glow!
Welcome back - you were the winner at the Romance Bandits! I'll email you. Has been great to have you on board.

Thank you, and about loving this stuff... Oh, I know! I'm not sure about the pull, other than I've always, always had it. Between the Victorian Era and my love for the paranormal, I wonder if it's a past life experience for me that makes me feel truly haunted by this era and by other paranormal phenomena.

Thank you so much for being here along the tour, I'm so pleased to have had you on board, I really appreciate your time and your support!


7:54 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This book looks really great. I can't wait to read it! And thank you for introducing me to a new genre... :)

5:25 AM  
Blogger Leanna Renee Hieber said...


Why thank you! I'm very honoured to introduce you and look forward to converting you to the Darker side. *grin* Don't worry, I make sure my characters come through on the side of Light in the end. :)

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Hope Tarr said...

Can't wait to read the sequel. Bobbing ghost heads, what fun!


11:36 AM  
Blogger Cherie J said...

Thanks for a wonderful blog tour. It was alot of fun. I am looking forward to reading your book.

Cherie J

5:09 PM  
Blogger Leanna Renee Hieber said...


I'll contact you via email and we'll arrange for the book to be sent to you! Blessings and thanks everyone!

Be sure to check out my website as I'll plan on doing a ghost story once a month on my blog in anticipation of Book II!

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Spa said...

I am new to this site. I have just learned about this site. I am going to read on and it’s very interesting to know.

4:52 AM  

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