Monday, May 21, 2012

Gothic Spring by Caroline Miller : Interview & Excerpt

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.

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

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.

Hello Caroline.  I am so pleased that you are visiting today and I'm excited to find out a little more about you.  What can you tell us about your next release.

My next book is scheduled to be released in October of this year.  The title is Trompe l’Oeil (to fool the eye) and it takes place in France in the 1960s during the French Algerian War.  Rachel Farraday is about to graduate from Mills College when she receives an unusual offer to travel to a small village in France to help a stranger, Madame de Villiers, develop a history of her chateau.  The woman’s hope is that the study will attract tourists to the 400-year-old estate and bring in money to restore the crumbling edifice.   As Rachel’s parents are recently deceased and she has no other family ties, she accepts the offer.  But when she arrives at the Chateau L’Ombre, she discovers that her employer and the chateau pose numerous mysteries, not the least of which is the existence of some underground tunnels that haven’t been explored in years.

 That sounds great!  When in the day/night do you write?  How long per day?

I write 5 – 6 hours a day.  I begin by 8 am, stop for lunch and I hour of exercise; then it’s back to the computer until 4.  I read until 7 pm when I stop to watch the OPB news.  I also read after going to bed as reading is a critical part of the creative process.  Of course the routine varies so that I can meet friends for coffee, cry on the plumber’s shoulder when another water pipe breaks in my 1896 Victorian home or I am desperate for food and have to go shopping.  But I’m pretty much a workaholic as I didn’t take up serious writing until late in life.

What are you passionate about?

Haven’t you guessed?  Writing!  But I am still politically active on social causes, women’s’ rights among them.  And if I forget to mention my work on animal rights, the mice in my basement would never forgive me.

What is the scariest moment in your life?

When I was in Africa at the time of the Mau Mau riots in the early 1960s, I foolishly decided to drive from Gatooma in Zimbabwe to the capitol of the country.  The police officer, to whom I was required to report, being a foreigner, warned me against my plan.  I decided to ignore him.  I was young and I was an American.  50 miles out in the desert, my VW expired and I was alone.  A group of African men seemed to arise out of the bush, almost as if they’d been formed by the gusts of wind and sand.  One of them came toward me, and I confess, he did not look friendly.  The others hung back as if waiting for his instruction.  I was terrified --no catatonic as several European women has been burned alive in their cars during the uprising.  I thought I was about to die.  The man came close enough so that something on his person cut me, I’m not sure what, but I felt a searing pain.  Thank god for that pain.  I found my anger.  Hopeless as it was, I was prepared to fight.   And then I heard a horn honking as a car careened toward me down the highway.  One of the local teachers from a nearby school was waving frantically.  At the sight of him, the Africans melted back into the desert, as mysteriously as they had come.  The policemen had sent the teacher after me.  I bless that policemen to this day.  He was my guardian angel.   I truly believe that but for his caution, I would not be here to write this paragraph today.

What is the best fan letter you have received?

The best fan letter came during my political life. I was one of 5 elected members on a county commission when a politically hot issue came before us.  A good deal of money was involved for those on the winning side of the issue.  When the first vote was cast, I was away, recovering from surgery.  The vote was 2-2.  Forced to return to my duties early, I was lobbied harder than a sunflower is worried by a family of bees.  After studying the matter, I realized that to serve the public interest I’d have to vote against my normal constituency. When I walked into the chambers the tension was palpable.  My friends and political allies were stunned when I voted against them.  I was reviled by the losers, except for one.  A cream colored envelope arrived at my office the next day. The note was from one of the lobbyist for the losing side. It said, “You were the only one who voted with integrity.”    

Do you have a website or blog?

I write a blog 5 days a week (M-F) about life seen through the prism of literature and writing.  I can be found at  My new website is still in transition but it will be   I hope your readers will find me at either place. 

That's it from me for today. Thanks again for letting us find out a little more about you on this stop.  :)

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, Heart Land, 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 Arizona University, where she graduated with honors in Literature.

Find & Follow Caroline Miller:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  GoodReads

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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