The Big Thrill Discusses THE BLACK MOTH with Carolyne Topdjian
Ever since the hitman’s daughter, Mave Michael Francis learned she is the owner of a crumbling grand hotel, life has been upside-down. Not only is she struggling to fit into her new role and to reconcile with her incarcerated father, but a string of bizarre burglaries is plaguing the nearby village. Meanwhile, the hotel director is running ghost tours to drum up desperately-needed revenue, and Mave’s staff is scrambling to host an over-the-top goth wedding. Mave needs to ensure the event is a success to rescue the hotel from bankruptcy. But when she discovers the mask of the Château du Ciel’s rumored ghost in the defunct greenhouse where the wedding ceremony is booked, her priorities fracture.
Months ago, the supposed ghost, Holden Frost saved Mave’s life, then vanished into thin air. It’s an enigma and debt she can’t forget. As she plans for the big wedding by day, Mave secretly digs into Holden’s true identity and disappearance by night. Her search takes her to the most sinister place: the darknet. And instead of answers to decode Holden’s whereabouts, she attracts a stranger online who also wants Holden Frost found—and who will kill Mave’s father in prison unless Mave delivers Holden’s location, dead or alive. Tick tock.
As the clock winds down to the wedding and her father’s potential murder, Mave becomes increasingly ensnarled in Holden’s troubled past. And while she’s being used as bait to raise Holden from the dead, the stranger online may be closing in for the kill—and may be closer to her at the hotel, than her father in prison.
Author Carolyne Topdjian recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest paranormal, THE BLACK MOTH.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
When I wrote my debut, The Hitman’s Daughter, it was originally meant to be a stand-alone gothic mystery. However, the characters’ backstories were so layered and rich, that I found a few of them acting like scene-stealers, demanding their own stories be told. Hence, THE BLACK MOTH, (book 2), was born. It features the mysterious life and death of Holden Frost—a key supporting character in book 1. Holden is a complicated anti-hero with “book boyfriend” potential. Enough said!
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
I was definitely thinking of a ghost story in particular, however, revealing that would involve spoilers so it’s a secret! Shh! I will say, however, that THE BLACK MOTH has Mave overseeing a big, over-the-top goth wedding; so I had loads of fun listening to the bride’s soundtrack as I wrote her scenes. Some songs mentioned in the novel include a string-quartet cover of “Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones, “Just Like Heaven” by the Cure, and “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal. There’s also a creepy “ghost” record that keeps playing, “I’ll be Seeing You” by Billie Holiday.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
I hope readers will get an appreciation of feminist gothics—no more damsels in distress! While Mave Michael Francis has lots of hang-ups and vulnerabilities, being helpless and passive isn’t one of them.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
I currently have a very special project in the works, an Armenian gothic titled Müze. It’s set in a museum, sort of like a gothic, eerie Night at the Museum meets Glass Onion. It’s a ghost story that addresses the Armenian genocide obliquely as a layered, nuanced and fragmented memory. I sincerely hope its anti-hate message reaches readers.
Carolyne Topdjian is author of THE BLACK MOTH and The Hitman’s Daughter (Agora/Polis Books), a gothic thriller which Library Journal calls a “fast-paced, haunting novel of survival” (starred review). In addition to writing suspense novels, Topdjian has published short fiction in PRISM International, Dreamers Magazine, and Firewords Quarterly. She is a professor in the Faculty of Media and Creative Arts at Humber College and currently lives in an old haunted house. You can connect with her on social media, @TopdjianC, or at www.carolynetopdjian.com.
THE BLACK MOTH with Carolyne Topdjian