QSFer Gillian St. Kevern has a new lesbian gothic paranormal romance out: “The Lady Of The Bog.”
An ancient queen refuses to stay in the past.
One day Florence Skelton is risking her father’s wrath by reading Jane Eyre and befriending Rosemary, the neighbourhood rebel. The next, a woman she doesn’t know is trying to drown her. To escape her would-be murderer, Florence takes a job as secretary companion to an archeologist and his beautiful, distant wife. But excavating Aylesport bog brings ancient—and deadly—secrets to the surface.
Florence can write about heroines, but navigating the bog’s treacherous waters requires courage she doesn’t possess. Her only hope of survival is Rosemary—and Rosemary doesn’t even know she’s in trouble. Can Florence find her inner heroine before she becomes part of Aylesport’s chilling history?
The Lady of the Bog is the eleventh instalment of the Read by Candlelight series, gothic standalone novellas featuring an ever growing LGBTQIA+ ensemble cast. Read now to sink into a mist-filled world of ancient queens, literary heroines and a collective of lepidopterists.
The front door slammed, rattling the bone china teacups in their saucers. Florence flinched, splashing herself with tea. She bit back a pained hiss, steadying the teapot against the edge of the side table.
“Your father.” Mrs Skelton patted her hair to make sure all pins were accounted for. “He’ll want a cup of tea.”
Hannah snatched up the thread she’d spread out over the best chair. Florence mopped up the spilt tea, conscious of the approaching footsteps. She took the last cup from the tray and turned it right way up. When Mr Skelton opened the door, it was to a scene of domestic bliss. His wife looked up from her knitting , Hannah’s black ringlets bobbed as she bent over her needlework, and Florence poured his tea.
Mr Skelton had seen the scene so many times he took it for granted. He shut the door with enough force that the landscapes rattled.
“Good afternoon, dear.” Mrs Skelton greeted her spouse without surprise. “I hope the choirboys haven’t been misbehaving again.” She spoke without hope—the natural tone of anyone acquainted with choirboys.
“Little devils,” Mr Skelton snarled. He was a broad-shouldered man of medium height and had made a credible scrum-half for his colleague. He had clever brown eyes, charcoal grey hair and whiskers, and, on the frequent occasions that he was angry, red blotches above his clerical collar. “No, it’s not the choirboys. My dear Leticia, you must brace yourself. To think my parish would harbour such—such filth!”
Florence dropped a single cube of sugar into her father’s teacup as noiselessly as possible. What on earth had occurred? Had one of the village maids lost her virtue? A youth discovered tipsy?
Mrs Skelton pressed her lips together. “If it’s the new school teacher, I’ve always said—”
Mr Skelton dropped into his chair. “The reading library. I understood that although a private enterprise, it operated on the understanding that it would serve our community with works of an edifying, Christian nature. Instead—“ He choked on his rage.
“Not sensation novels!” Mrs Skelton held a hand before her mouth. “Or Mr Darwin’s book?”
“Worse than either of those,” Mr Skelton intoned. “Even now, a copy of Jane Eyre is circulating in this very parish.”
Florence jerked, dropping the sugar tongs.
“Florence!” Mrs Skelton frowned at her eldest daughter.
“It is only natural that she is shocked.” Having caused an uproar, Mr Skelton’s mood was subsiding. “The pernicious influence of this—this novel—is well known.” He noticed the teacup Florence held. “Milk, Florence.”
Florence plastered a smile on her face and poured the milk. She reached out with one foot, drawing her sewing basket beneath her chair where her skirt would screen it. If her father was in this much of a temper because Jane Eyre was in his parish, his reaction to learning there was a copy beneath his very roof would be unthinkable.
I realised I wanted to be an author when, as a teenager, I found myself getting annoyed that the characters in the books I read weren’t doing what I wanted them to do. Now that I’m a writer, they still don’t.
I write a variety of genres, ranging from short and silly contemporary romances to urban fantasy and mystery. My current project is the Read by Candlelight series of gothic romances inspired by the works of M R James, J S Le Fanu and the Brontë sisters.
In my non-writing life, I live in my native New Zealand, where I enjoy flat whites, playing pretend with my niece and nephew and trying to keep up with my ever increasing to be read pile. I’m the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance Writers.