Late last year, I was contacted by a publishing rep at Hyperion to see if I’d be interested in reviewing Wendy Webb’s newest book, The Vanishing, which will be released January 21, 2014. The rep had come across a review I’d written about Webb’s first book, The Tale of Halcyon Crane: A Novel, and wondered if since I’d liked that first one so much would I want to read her latest?
I wanted to help spread the word any way I could, but unfortunately I knew I would not have time to read it before it was released. However, Ms. Webb was really nice about answering questions last time. I wondered if she’d want to do it again? I asked her rep, who asked Ms. Webb, who said YES!
I only posed a few questions. I didn’t want to impose on her time too much. Here are her answers…which only make me want to read her book more. (I’m still planning to, by the way. Hopefully during one of the two big trips we have planned this year!)
HAUNT JAUNTS: Is Havenwood based on a real place?
Wendy Webb: Havenwood is not based on a real mansion, but I did get the idea for the setting from the house in Downton Abbey, which I love. Watching it one night, I started thinking: What if there was a mansion like that in the middle of the wilderness? What sort of eccentric nobleman might have built it 150 years ago? What kinds of strange and otherworldly things might have gone on there? Ooo, a seance… And suddenly, I had my setting and the beginning of my story.
HJ: What is it about haunted mansions that appeal to you for settings? Why do you think this type of setting is so enduring and appealing to readers?
WW: I love big, old houses and for me, imagining and describing the setting is one of the most fun parts of what I do. It’s like I’m living there along with my characters. There’s just something about an old mansion that invites hauntings — there are so many places for things to lurk and hide. And the age of the house has a lot to do with it, too. The past, the shadows of those who had lived there before, seem to hang in the air in old houses.
HJ: Are you working on a new book?
WW: Yes! And it’s almost done. Stay tuned!
I can’t refrain from making a comment about her last answer: What a tease!!!
ABOUT THE VANISHING
Recently widowed and rendered penniless by her Ponzi-scheming husband, Julia Bishop is eager to start anew. So when a stranger appears on her doorstep with a job offer, she finds herself accepting the mysterious yet unique position: caretaker to his mother, Amaris Sinclair, the famous and rather eccentric horror novelist whom Julia has always admired . . . and who the world believes is dead.
When she arrives at the Sinclairs’ enormous estate on Lake Superior, Julia begins to suspect that there may be sinister undercurrents to her “too-good-to-be-true” position. As Julia delves into the reasons of why Amaris chose to abandon her successful writing career and withdraw from the public eye, her search leads to unsettling connections to her own family tree, making her wonder why she really was invited to Havenwood in the first place, and what monstrous secrets are still held prisoner within its walls.