What genre is A Red, Red Rose?
The novel is a cozy mystery as well as a Southern Gothic. Cozy mysteries, like Agatha Christie’s novels, are high on mystery and low on gore; their characters are ones the reader might encounter in daily life anywhere and they are set in small, picturesque towns or villages. Southern Gothics involve the region’s particular cultural issues and usually are set around an old mansion. One or more characters may be considered “grotesques,” that is, they have unusual tics or flaws, and often the paranormal is involved.
Can you summarize what A Red, Red Rose is about?
20-year-old Ashby Overton visits her aunt and uncle at their historic estate in Southwestern Virginia. She hopes to unearth her ancestral roots and the cause of a mysterious rift surrounding the horseback riding death of her Grandmother Lenore many years ago.
Situated high above Moore Mountain Lake, the imposing mansion is an idyllic setting for the aspiring romance writer. From the moment she enters her room in the oldest wing of Overhome, Ashby feels an invisible, enfolding presence. This was Rosabelle’s room, the housekeeper tells Ashby. But no one is willing to talk about Rosabelle.
As summer unfolds, so does the shroud of silence surrounding Overhome. Ever present is a force Ashby never sees, only feels. Candles light themselves, notes from an old lullaby fall from the ceiling, the radio tunes itself each day. And roses, always meant for Ashby appear in the unlikeliest places. Are the roses a symbol of love, or do they represent something dark, something deep and evil?
Full of heartbreak and adventure, fear and passion, the summer leads Ashby on a suspenseful sometimes terrifying journey as she navigates centuries of family strife alongside the puzzling parameters of the spirit world. Ultimately she discovers that some secrets, even the most fiercely guarded, are destined to be revealed.
What major themes stand out in A Red, Red Rose?
Cultural clashes between Northern and Southern values, city and country living, wealth and attitudes about the Civil War
Family ties and bloodlines
Finding self, achieving maturity that transcends self
Revenge and retribution
In addition, history and nature are interwoven with theme and plot
The setting for A Red, Red Rose is fictional Moore Mountain Lake. Is your home at Smith Mountain Lake a model?
In a word, Yes. Readers familiar with Smith Mountain Lake will find many parallels, though all of the characters are completely fictional.
What can you tell us about some of the characters?
Ashby Overton, the protagonist, is idealistic and creative, but she is also willful and determined to ferret out the truth about her ancestry. Her birth parents were killed in a car crash when Ashby was two years old. Adopted by her aunt and uncle who have left Overhome to live in New Jersey, she arrives at Moore Mountain Lake essentially unprepared for the culture clash and the taciturn, reticent folks she’ll be interacting with.
Luke Murley, who becomes Ashby’s romantic interest, seems aloof, almost harboring a chip on his shoulder as he clashes again and again with her. Ashby realizes there are intriguing depths to Luke’s character which drive her determination to know him better.
Miss Emma Coleville and Abe Murley have been working at Overhome since time immemorial. Ashby knows they can provide answers to many of her questions about her family history and about the strange spirit that inhabits her room, but they appear to have little or no interest in revealing the past.
Cousin Jeff, Aunt Monica and Uncle Hunter who live at Overhome are all fully-drawn, dynamic characters who continue to baffle Ashby while pushing her to become more self-reliant and mature.
Rosabelle, the spirit. You’ll just have to read the book!
How did you become interested in writing?
I always say writers know who we are and writers have to write. The writing gene is alive and well in my family: My maternal grandfather was a published poet; my brothers are both published nonfiction authors; all three of my children are writers and a couple of the grandkids are emerging writers as we speak. My mother said I was born with a pencil in my hand!
What else have you written?
Eaglebait, a young adult novel with a school bullying theme, was my first published book. It won two awards—a national and an international one—and is cited on numerous anti-bullying websites, which prompted me to bring it back out in softcover last year.
I’ve free-lanced for magazines, newspapers, chambers of commerce and professional journals. I currently write press for my church and for a local political organization here at the Lake.
My next endeavor may be a sequel to A Red, Red Rose. Many readers have asked for one.
A short biography of Susan Coryell:
A career educator, I have taught students from 7th grade through college-level. I have a BA degree in English from Carson-Newman College and a Masters from George Mason University. I am listed in several different volumes of Who’s Who in Education and Who’s Who in Teaching. I belong to Author’s Guild, Virginia Writers, and Lake Writers. I love to talk with budding writers at schools, writers’ conferences and workshops.
When not writing, I enjoy boating, kayaking, golf and yoga. My husband and I love to travel, especially when any of our six grandchildren are involved.
A Red, Red Rose by Susan Coryell published by L&L Dreamspell: www.lldreamspell.com
Available as Kindle E-book at Amazon; AllRomance/omniLit; multi format Ebook from Fictionwise; iBookstore!; Nook E-Book (Barnes and Noble) $4.99
Print copies available from Amazon and at Barnes and Noble bookstores $13.99