Author Lynn Carthage shares what it was like to wake up from a nightmare and write Haunted: The Arnaud Legacy, the novel that launches a new young adult series.
I couldn't get the nightmare out of my head. I kept drifting back into it, replaying opening the door of that little stone cottage and realizing it was really one wing of the enormous manor house...tricking me. Houses don't usually trick people.
I thought this might be the start of a book. I had the good fortune to write down the dream, and then riff on it. A first draft spilled out of me in a week, much of it handwritten. I worked on Haunted: The Arnaud Legacy for years, fine-tuning and changing characters, the ending, pretty much everything about it. I built a larger storyline that unfolds over three books--and now it's a trilogy. The first book launched this February; here's a brief excerpt from Chapter One:
You know you’ve done something pretty awful when your family moves because of it. Not just within San Francisco, or within California…not even within the country.
My stepdad, Steven, has a remote job, so it was no problem for him to relocate. Mom is a stay-at-home mom for Tabby; her job “traveled” too. As for me, they un-enrolled me from school just a month before my sophomore year ended.
When you’re a major screw-up, it helps if your stepdad has an ancestral mansion in England ready to move into. Well, not exactly ready. It’s been uninhabited for a long time and needs some serious TLC, I heard him tell Mom. He’d been trying to sell it for years. But at least it’s a place to live, and a place for me to reflect on my behavior and improve it.
My therapy would be a lot more effective if I could remember what I did.
Emerging from the tunnel of trees to the clearing where we could finally see my stepfather’s manor, I let out a moan of disillusionment. This wasn’t the crumbling but still-impressive castle surrounded by broad, grassy lawns I’d imagined back in California, with swans wafting snootily around a lily-ponded lake. Instead, it was a grim, stonewalled prison with the grounds so overgrown they were nearly impenetrable.
I had allowed myself to become interested, had thought there was a lovely poetry to the phrase, “ancestral mansion in England.” But nothing could quell the immediate sense of grinding apprehension the manor gave me. Nothing about it felt right.
As we drove up into its shadow, the manor leaned down over us to look. More than idly curious, it practically rubbed its leathern hands together in glee. Visitors, at last…