Thank you so much for being here with us today Kat Ross!! Read on below for an excerpt of The Thirteenth Gate! Also, don't miss the giveaway either!
Hi! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thanks so much for having me on the blog today! I was born and raised in New York, but live far enough north of the city now that I can keep a chicken coop in my front yard. Having grown up in Manhattan, I really enjoyed researching New York in the Gilded Age (the 1870s to about 1900) for the Dominion Mysteries series. It was very Wild West in a lot of ways, but also quite sophisticated. I think the raw energy and attitude haven’t changed much, although at least there aren’t thousands of children sleeping barefoot in the streets anymore.
I love old maps, and have a giant one of London from 1890 on the wall next to my desk. I used it to plot the various routes the characters take on foot and by carriage in The Thirteenth Gate. Apparently, the memory centers in the brains of London taxi drivers are a lot bigger than those of average people. To pass the notoriously grueling cabbie test, you have to memorize a labyrinth of 25,000 streets—all within a 10-kilometer radius of Charing Cross train station! It takes people years and years riding around on mopeds.
Do you write an outline before starting a book or just write?
Oh, I’m a huge outliner. I can’t imagine trying to write a mystery by the seat of my pants; there are just too many moving parts. The same with my fantasy books, although I’ll admit, I didn’t outline the trilogy in advance. I wrote each book as I came to it. Somehow it all worked out! There’s definitely a balance between knowing enough that you can write a scene with confidence, and leaving the story with some breathing space for spontaneity. Otherwise it’s very easy to get bored and end up writing by the numbers.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
It’s a crazy story, actually. I signed with Strange Chemistry, which was a division of the UK publisher, Angry Robot. The contract was for a three-book deal, very exciting for a debut author. And then, a month ahead of my release date, in the midst of my blog tour, Strange Chemistry abruptly folded. My agent called me with the news the very same day boxes of bookmarks and postcards I’d ordered arrived on my doorstep.
The whole fiasco did have a happy ending. We got the rights back and sold the book to Amazon Skyscape for a bigger advance. Some Fine Day came out within the same year. But that was quite an early lesson about the unpredictability of this business!
I know authors get asked this a lot but do you have any advice that you would give to aspiring writers?
This probably isn’t all that original, but it’s really true: you have to think long-term. A few people have magical overnight success, but for most of us, it happens more around book four and beyond. Stuff will happen. Some things will succeed, some will fail. Don’t pay too much attention to income or copies sold, just keep putting your work out there. If it’s good, you’ll find your audience. And make sure you have a beautiful cover!
Can you tell us, in your own words not the book description, a little about your book?
So The Thirteenth Gate picks up from the end of The Daemoniac, although it can definitely be read as a standalone. The awful Dr. William Clarence has just escaped from Greymoor Lunatic Asylum. He’s being hunted by Lady Vivienne Cumberland and Alec Lawrence, who work for the Society for Psychical Research. As the story progresses, you begin to realize that the two of them are much more than they appear—and that Alec isn’t even human. Without giving it away, I’ll just say the plot has elements of Gothic horror, locked-room mystery, and paranormal fantasy—with a dash of Sherlock Holmes.
Can we expect more novels from you in 2017?
Definitely! Next up is Nocturne, Book #1 in the new Fourth Talisman series. The setting is a world that’s tidally locked to its star, so half is always in daylight and half in night. The title refers to the dark side, where the story opens. It carries on the historical elements from my earlier series, with the human cultures modeled on ancient Greece and Persia. There will be atrocious villains, star-crossed lovers and lots of sword-fighting!
And I do plan to continue the Dominion Mysteries with a third installment, for either winter of this year or early 2018. Two words on that: necromancers and Transylvania.
What are some of the pros and cons of being traditionally published verses being self-published in your opinion?
There are some nice perks of traditional publishing: trade reviews, visibility, placement in brick and mortar stores. But personally, I prefer to have control over things like pricing, covers, release dates, etc. I feel like traditionally pubbed ebooks in particular are incredibly expensive. When you’re trying to build an audience, asking people to shell out five or six dollars (or much more) is going to be an uphill battle. My self-pubbed books are already doing much better than the book I published with Skyscape. The other issue is that I write full-time and can release three books a year on my own schedule. That wouldn’t happen with a trad publisher.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.”
It reminds me not to sweat the little stuff. (:
Favorite kind of chocolate?
Russell Stover assorted dark chocolates in the fancy box. I buy it for myself all the time.
Cats or dogs?
I have both, but yeah: Cats.
Favorite book or author? Yeah, we know it can be hard to choose! ;)
Caleb Carr. The Alienist is so brilliant.
Right now in your line of site, how many books can you see?
What book are you reading today?
The Descent by Jeff Long. I can’t even imagine how many hours of research he put into that book.
Have you ever been out of the state where you live?
I love traveling! My last great trip was to Budapest to research a book. We visited Vlad the Impaler’s tomb in the labyrinth beneath Buda Castle.
The Thirteenth Gate
Date of Publication: June 26, 2017
Number of pages: 380
Word Count: 88k
Cover Artist: Damonza
Winter 1888. At an asylum in the English countryside, a man suspected of being Jack the Ripper kills an orderly and flees into the rain-soaked night. His distraught keepers summon the Lady Vivienne Cumberland—who's interviewed their patient and isn't sure he's a man at all. An enigmatic woman who guards her own secrets closely, Lady Vivienne knows a creature from the underworld when she sees one. And he’s the most dangerous she's ever encountered.
As Jack rampages through London, Lady Vivienne begins to suspect what he's searching for. And if he finds it, the doors to purgatory will be thrown wide open…
Across the Atlantic, an archaeologist is brutally murdered after a Christmas Eve gala at the American Museum of Natural History. Certain peculiar aspects of the crime attract the interest of the Society for Psychical Research and its newest investigator, Harrison Fearing Pell. Is Dr. Sabelline's death related to his recent dig in Alexandria? Or is the motive something darker?
As Harry uncovers troubling connections to a serial murder case she’d believed was definitively solved, two mysteries converge amid the grit and glamor of Gilded Age New York. Harry and Lady Vivienne must join forces to stop an ancient evil. The key is something called the Thirteenth Gate. But where is it? And more importantly, who will find it first?
The Greymoor Lunatic Asylum made a grim impression even in daylight. It crouched at the end of a long, treeless drive, barred windows gleaming beneath a peaked slate roof. After her first interview with Dr. William Clarence, Lady Vivienne Cumberland had taken a hard look at those bars. She’d strongly suggested to the asylum superintendent that he move Dr. Clarence to a room with no window at all.
That had been just over a month ago. Now, in the darkest hour of the night, with rain coursing down the brick façade and thunder rattling the turrets, Greymoor looked like something torn from the pages of a penny dreadful, hulking and shadowed despite the lamps burning in every window. At the wrought-iron front gate, a black brougham drew to a halt. Following a brief exchange with the occupants, two officers from the Essex constabulary waved it through, immediately ducking back into the shelter of a police wagon.
“I told them to watch him,” Lady Cumberland muttered, yanking her gloves on. “To keep him isolated from the staff and other patients. Clearly, they didn’t listen. The fools.”
Alec Lawrence gripped the cane resting across his knees. He had been present at the interview, had looked into Dr. Clarence’s eyes, a blue so pale they reminded him of a Siberian dog. The memory unsettled him still, and he wasn’t a man who was easily shaken.
“We don’t know what happened yet,” he pointed out. “Superintendent Barrett can hardly be faulted considering we withheld certain information. I rather doubt he would have believed us anyway.”
Vivienne scowled. “You may be right, but it was only a matter of time. I’ve known that since the day Clarence was brought here. The S.P.R. made a very bad mistake entrusting him to Greymoor.”
“We still don’t know for sure—”
“Yes, we do. The killings stopped, didn’t they?”
“That could be for any number of reasons,” he said stubbornly.
“Including that the creature who committed them is behind bars. Or was, at least.”
Alec Lawrence buttoned his woolen greatcoat. This was not a new debate. “Perhaps. But there’s not a scrap of hard evidence against him. Nothing but a single reference in a report by some American girl and Clarence’s own odd demeanor. Had there been more, he would have been locked up tight in Newgate Prison.”
Vivienne turned her obsidian gaze on him. With her high cheekbones and full lips, she might have been thirty, or a decade in either direction. Only Alec and a handful of others knew better.
“That American girl is Arthur Conan Doyle’s goddaughter and she seemed quite clever to me. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway,” she added quietly. “Walls don’t hold Dr. Clarence’s sort for long.”
“Look,” he said, softening. “For what it’s worth, I think we did the right thing taking him off the streets. I just....” He trailed off, unsure how he meant to finish the thought.
“You don’t trust my judgment anymore. Since Harper Dods.”
“That’s not even remotely true. I simply think we need to keep open minds on the matter. The signs aren’t there, Vivienne. I’m the first to admit Dr. Clarence is an odd duck, perhaps worse. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t human.”
Vivienne arched a perfectly sculpted eyebrow. “And yet here we are, summoned by Sidgwick in the middle of the night. I wonder if he’s regretting his decision?”
The note from Henry Sidgwick, president of the Society for Psychical Research, had arrived in the form of a small, bedraggled messenger boy pounding on Lady Vivienne’s front door in St. James an hour before. It was both vague and ominous, citing an “unfortunate incident” involving Dr. Clarence and urging all due haste to the asylum.
“I suppose we’ll find out in a minute,” Alec said, turning his collar up. He swiped a hand through chestnut hair and jammed a top hat on his head. “Off to the races.”
A gust of rain shook the carriage as it slowed at the front entrance. A six-story tower capped by a Roman clock and white spire anchored two wings extending on either side. Unlike most asylums, which had separate annexes for men and women, Greymoor’s residents were all male. The north wing housed those poor souls suffering from garden-variety disorders like dementia and melancholia. The other was reserved for the so-called “incurables,” a euphemism for the criminally insane. Violent, unpredictable men deemed unfit for prison.
Despite his doubts, Alec Lawrence would have happily had the lot of them over for tea rather than spend five minutes in the company of Dr. William Clarence. In his heart, he wondered if Vivienne’s instincts were correct. But he wanted her to be wrong because the alternative was far worse.
About the Author:
Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She's the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day, the Fourth Element fantasy series (The Midnight Sea, Blood of the Prophet, Queen of Chaos), and the new Dominion Mysteries. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios.