Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gothic Spring By Caroline Miller: Guest Post & Excerpt

Caroline Miller is a woman of many distinctions. Oregonians know her distinguished career in public service. She served two terms as Multnomah County Commissioner, preceded by a term as an original councilor with Metro, the Portland area regional government.

As a novelist, 2009 marked a creative milestone for Caroline Miller. Gothic Spring is a classic page-turner centering on a talented, independent young woman, tormented by her passions and intolerance and the mysterious death of the vicar’s wife. This novel is being reissued in print format by Koho Pono LLC and is available in electronic format. Miller published a fictionalized memoir, HeartLand, earlier that same year. A third novel, still unnamed, is slated for publication shortly.

Miller is a member of PEN. Her prolific short stories thrilled readers in publications as diverse as Children’s Digest, Grit and Tales of the Talisman. Her short story, ‘Under the Bridge and Beneath the Moon,’ was dramatized for radio in Oregon and Washington.

Aside from writing, Caroline is a talented painter whose silk pieces have been sold in Portland art galleries and featured in juried exhibitions.

Caroline headed the Portland Federation of Teachers and is enshrined in Oregon’s Labor Hall of Fame. She taught English at the high school and university level. Caroline Miller holds degrees from Reed College and Northern ArizonaUniversity, where she graduated with honors in Literature.

Find and Follow Caroline Miller:

What would you like readers to take away after reading your book?

I’d like my readers to close the last page of Gothic Spring feeling  they’ve experienced a world that has kept them entertained, even beguiled, but left them musing about its implications for their own lives.  What is art, after all, if it does not cause us to reflect?

As an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), I’ve been acutely aware of the influence women have upon one another.  The novel explores those various influences without judgment but with clear eye to interactions that support but sometimes destroy.  Victorine Ellsworth is a youth growing up in a repressive, Victorian society and surrounded by women who might be her role models, but fail her miserably.  Her guardian aunt smothers her; her former teacher wishes to liberate her but the older woman’s ego gets in the way.  The Vicar’s wife, wary of her husband’s fascination with the wild, young girl, tries to curb the child’s alluring manners. 

Of course the men who are dominant in the society have their roles to play.  One loves her  too well but not wisely; another loves not well enough or not at all.  For both, Victorine is an object of desire, her talent sacrificed to her beauty. 

While women in today’s world have assumed a greater role in the work place, they face many of Victorine’s dilemmas.  True, they may bring home the bacon but they still cook it and do the dishes too.  A stigma remains for a girl who is too bright; beauty is still considered to be a prime asset and, sadly, there are women who wish to turn back the clock back and their sisters for the breakup of the traditional home and the decline of civil society.
 Many modern women don’t believe their fortunes could be reversed.   Feminism in their lexicon smacks of an idea that is old fashioned.  After reading Gothic Spring, I would like for them to pause and consider how much has really changed.   

Title: Gothic Spring
Author: Caroline Miller
Genre: Fiction – Gothic
Published by: Koho Pono, LLC
Content Warning: Implied Sexual Elements
Recommended Age: YA (Young Adult), 15-17 years of age, 18 +
Format(s): eBook, trade paperback
ISBN 13: 978-0-9845424-9-9
Number of pages: 316

Victorine Ellsworth knows something about the death of the vicar’s wife… but what? Is she the killer? Or the next victim?
Gothic Spring is a journey into a mind that is unraveling. Victorine is a young woman poised at the edge of sexual awakening and cursed with more talent and imagination than society will tolerate. The conflict between her desire and the restrictions that rule her life lead to tragic circumstances.

I do not expect anyone to understand the bizarre sequence of events that changed my life from its bucolic existence into a living hell; nor do I look for compassion. Suffice it to say, I grew up in the northern part of England, an only child who’d been orphaned since I was ten and, prior to the time of these mishaps which I am about to describe, I had been living for five years under the protection of an indulgent aunt — a plump woman in her mid-sixties, whose faded mouse-brown hair aged her beyond her years..
Growing up, I kept to myself much of the time. Being a bookish child, I fancied that I was brighter than my classmates at the Leland School for Girls, that ivy encrusted structure that looked more like a mausoleum than a center for learning. I imagined that they resented me for my passions, Shakespeare and Milton, while they contented themselves with chatter about bustles and garden parties given by the Queen. Further, because I suffered from a severe form of epilepsy and was subject to seizures, they thought me strange, or at least, unreliable.
No matter, by the age of thirteen, my seizures increased and the purgatives became more severe. No longer did I suffer mere episodes of faintness that could be remedied with the application of trinitrini. What followed were periods of complete collapse that began with a tingling in the limbs, then a stiffening and ended in bodily thrashings so severe that I had to be held down to prevent me from doing myself an injury. Not a pretty picture I suppose, though I never had any recollections of my suffering, being unconscious at these times. Certainly these seizures and the treatments that followed, pine baths and the application of leaches, were remedies alien to a classroom. I was forced to withdraw from school, my education assigned to the sometimes careless hands of a series of tutors, most of them so unremarkable that I can
recall neither their names or faces — except for Mr. Huddleston, who was dismissed because he wrote me endless poems. The other whom I remember with some fondness was Vicar Soames who served not as my academic but as my Biblical teacher.
A cleric of advanced years, the Vicar’s frock coat reeked of the camphor he rubbed into his joints, and his asthma made him wheeze. Despite his impairments, he was faithful to me and tottered to my fireside each Wednesday afternoon so that, once grown used to him, I found him amusing. Toward me, he showed both patience and endurance, being neither alarmed nor repulsed by the excesses of my illness. In time, we two misfits grew together, each accommodating the other the way the earth accommodates a seed until it flowers.
On the occasions when his infirmities caused him to be absent, I missed him and was saddened when these lapses increased. His failing health affected his work in the parish as well, and in time the church council called for his retirement. Aunt Julia was among them, though I suspect she had another motive as well. The extended length of our visits, the Vicar’s and mine, became an annoyance to her. “The man is forever underfoot,” she would often complain. Nor did the gifts he brought me, flowers and sweet meats meant as rewards for my studies, win him her approbation. At the very least, she accused him of spoiling me. At the very worst, she may have spied him kissing my hands, my cheeks.
Whenever the subject of retirement was broached, however, the Vicar argued against it. “One does not retire from God’s work, Miss Ellsworth,” he huffed during a chance street encounter with my aunt. “I may not be a young man, but neither am I so enfeebled that I should be put out to pasture like an old cart horse!” His remarks did nothing to endear him to my relative who wielded considerable influence where church politics were concerned. In the end, her will prevailed. A railway ticket was purchased, lodgings arranged for in Brighton and in a matter of days, the old man was no more than a memory.

Gothic Spring by Caroline Miller
NURTURE Book Tour Schedule

·                 May 14th – Jaidis @ Juniper Grove

·                 May 15th – MK @ MK McClintock Blog

·                 May 15th – Mindy Wa. @ Books, Books, and more Books

·                 May 16th – Peggy Ma. @ Book Absorption

·                 May 17th – Grace L. @ Books Like Breathing

·                 May 17th – Sydney Ch. @ A Case of Reading Insomnia

·                 May 18th – Bobbie @ Nurture Virtual Book Tourz™ Blog

·                 May 21st – Adrienne Ge. @ Paper Hangover

·                 May 21st – Laurie J. @ Laurie’s Thoughts & Reviews

·                 May 22nd – Jaidis @ Juniper Grove

·                 May 23rd – April R. & Wendy @ My Book Addiction and More

·                 May 23rd – Inga K. @ Me And Reading

·                 May 24th – Beverly G. @ Everyone Loves A SiNner

·                 May 24th – Laurie J. @ Laurie’s Thoughts & Reviews

·                 May 25th – Bobbie @ Nurture Virtual Book Tourz™ Blog

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