Monday, June 26, 2017

Interview - The Thirteenth Gate by Kat Ross

Welcome, Kat. Tell us a little about your latest release.

Thanks so much for hosting me today! The Thirteenth Gate is a fun genre mashup of mystery/history/paranormal fantasy. It’s fast-paced but also covers a lot of subjects that fascinate me, like rare books on the occult, ancient Egypt and Gilded Age New York. I have a Pinterest page on weird Victoriana, another minor obsession. Anyway, the story weaves together magic and demonic possession with a locked room murder mystery. More books will be forthcoming in this world, each more or less a standalone so people can start reading at any point.

If you are a parent do you find it hard to juggle writing and parenting? Any tips for time management or sneaking in writing time?

My son is twelve now, so things have definitely gotten easier. But I wrote my first book, a dystopian thriller called Some Fine Day, starting when he was about four and a half. I cobbled the manuscript together from stolen moments on commuter trains, doctor’s office waiting rooms, literally anytime I had a few minutes to myself. I would carry a spiral notebook and scribble in longhand. The funny thing is that when you’re under intense time pressure, you tend to get a lot done. Now that I have hours-long blocks of writing time, I struggle against procrastination and spacing out. But I guess the lesson is that if you really want to do something, you can find time for it. And even though it seems like tiny dribs and drabs, eventually you’ll be writing “The End.”

Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?

I’m interested in what makes people tick, and I find the best way to do that is by forcing them into really agonizing choices. I used to be more merciful to my characters (personally, I’m very laid-back and easygoing), but that got boring. So I’ve learned how to peel back the layers of self-delusion one by one to see what’s underneath, which is usually a fairly brutal process. At the end of The Thirteenth Gate, Vivienne Cumberland is placed in an impossible position. How she resolves it shows the truth of her feelings toward Alec Lawrence, even if she can never express them in words.

Which romance book or series (or other genre, if you don’t write romance) do you wish you had written?

For sheer beauty of prose, deep ideas and the best plucky young girl protagonist of all time (sorry, Dorothy), I’d have to say Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, which begins with The Golden Compass. It’s just a masterpiece.

Is there a genre(s) that you’d like to write that you haven’t tackled yet?

I’d love to write a contemporary thriller series someday. I’ve read tons of them and have a special fondness for Jack Reacher. He’s reliably badass without any ego, which makes him extremely sexy. I also love the fact that the books are usually set in Podunk towns in Texas or the Midwest. For a Brit, Lee Child has an amazing intimacy with backwater Americana.

Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?

I really love Balthazar. He’s a former necromancer who’s done some truly horrible things, but is now semi-reformed. I say semi- because he’s on the side of the good guys, but he’s also two thousand years old and stays young by stealing the life forces of the women he beds. Their…mojos, shall we say. He doesn’t kill or hurt them—in fact, they have no idea he’s doing it. But it’s not very chivalrous, is it?

He despises himself for doing it, but he’s afraid to stop because he believes he’s going to Hell when he dies. I first imagined Balthazar in an epilogue to The Midnight Sea, the first book in my historical fantasy trilogy set in ancient Persia. He appeared on a whim, and ended up becoming a major character in the series. I couldn’t resist carrying him over to The Thirteenth Gate, but anyone who’s curious about his whole backstory can find it in the Fourth Element series.

If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?

One word: Transylvania.

What is next for you? Do you have any scheduled upcoming releases or works in progress?

Next up will be the first book in a new multi-book fantasy series that continues the Fourth Element trilogy. Book #1 is called Nocturne, and it’s set in a world that’s locked to its star, so half is always in daylight, and half in night. The mixture of heat and cold also produces some extreme weather in the twilight zone called the Umbra. My first book was set in a future version of our own world where climate change has created superstorms called hypercanes (which are theoretically possible, according to a scientist at MIT), and the apocalyptic side of me is looking forward to returning to a story that has F8 twisters and other terrifying phenomena.

What book are you reading now?

I’m halfway done with The Descent by Jeff Long. It’s so bloody good.

My TBR includes Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell, Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #1) by Mark Lawrence, and The Gods of Gotham by Timothy Wilde.

The Thirteenth Gate
Dominion Mysteries
Book Two
Kat Ross

Genre: Fantasy/mystery

Publisher: Acorn

Date of Publication: June 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9972362-8-6
ASIN: B071RQ142S

Number of pages: 380
Word Count: 88k

Cover Artist: Damonza

Book Description:

Winter 1888. At an asylum in the English countryside, a man suspected of being Jack the Ripper kills an orderly and flees into the rain-soaked night. His distraught keepers summon the Lady Vivienne Cumberland—who's interviewed their patient and isn't sure he's a man at all. An enigmatic woman who guards her own secrets closely, Lady Vivienne knows a creature from the underworld when she sees one. And he’s the most dangerous she's ever encountered.

As Jack rampages through London, Lady Vivienne begins to suspect what he's searching for. And if he finds it, the doors to purgatory will be thrown wide open…

Across the Atlantic, an archaeologist is brutally murdered after a Christmas Eve gala at the American Museum of Natural History. Certain peculiar aspects of the crime attract the interest of the Society for Psychical Research and its newest investigator, Harrison Fearing Pell. Is Dr. Sabelline's death related to his recent dig in Alexandria? Or is the motive something darker?

As Harry uncovers troubling connections to a serial murder case she’d believed was definitively solved, two mysteries converge amid the grit and glamor of Gilded Age New York. Harry and Lady Vivienne must join forces to stop an ancient evil. The key is something called the Thirteenth Gate. But where is it? And more importantly, who will find it first?


The Greymoor Lunatic Asylum made a grim impression even in daylight. It crouched at the end of a long, treeless drive, barred windows gleaming beneath a peaked slate roof. After her first interview with Dr. William Clarence, Lady Vivienne Cumberland had taken a hard look at those bars. She’d strongly suggested to the asylum superintendent that he move Dr. Clarence to a room with no window at all.
That had been just over a month ago. Now, in the darkest hour of the night, with rain coursing down the brick fa├žade and thunder rattling the turrets, Greymoor looked like something torn from the pages of a penny dreadful, hulking and shadowed despite the lamps burning in every window. At the wrought-iron front gate, a black brougham drew to a halt. Following a brief exchange with the occupants, two officers from the Essex constabulary waved it through, immediately ducking back into the shelter of a police wagon.
“I told them to watch him,” Lady Cumberland muttered, yanking her gloves on. “To keep him isolated from the staff and other patients. Clearly, they didn’t listen. The fools.”
Alec Lawrence gripped the cane resting across his knees. He had been present at the interview, had looked into Dr. Clarence’s eyes, a blue so pale they reminded him of a Siberian dog. The memory unsettled him still, and he wasn’t a man who was easily shaken.
“We don’t know what happened yet,” he pointed out. “Superintendent Barrett can hardly be faulted considering we withheld certain information. I rather doubt he would have believed us anyway.”
Vivienne scowled. “You may be right, but it was only a matter of time. I’ve known that since the day Clarence was brought here. The S.P.R. made a very bad mistake entrusting him to Greymoor.”
“We still don’t know for sure—”
“Yes, we do. The killings stopped, didn’t they?”
“That could be for any number of reasons,” he said stubbornly.
“Including that the creature who committed them is behind bars. Or was, at least.”
Alec Lawrence buttoned his woolen greatcoat. This was not a new debate. “Perhaps. But there’s not a scrap of hard evidence against him. Nothing but a single reference in a report by some American girl and Clarence’s own odd demeanor. Had there been more, he would have been locked up tight in Newgate Prison.”
Vivienne turned her obsidian gaze on him. With her high cheekbones and full lips, she might have been thirty, or a decade in either direction. Only Alec and a handful of others knew better.
“That American girl is Arthur Conan Doyle’s goddaughter and she seemed quite clever to me. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway,” she added quietly. “Walls don’t hold Dr. Clarence’s sort for long.”
“Look,” he said, softening. “For what it’s worth, I think we did the right thing taking him off the streets. I just....” He trailed off, unsure how he meant to finish the thought.
“You don’t trust my judgment anymore. Since Harper Dods.”
“That’s not even remotely true. I simply think we need to keep open minds on the matter. The signs aren’t there, Vivienne. I’m the first to admit Dr. Clarence is an odd duck, perhaps worse. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t human.”
Vivienne arched a perfectly sculpted eyebrow. “And yet here we are, summoned by Sidgwick in the middle of the night. I wonder if he’s regretting his decision?”
The note from Henry Sidgwick, president of the Society for Psychical Research, had arrived in the form of a small, bedraggled messenger boy pounding on Lady Vivienne’s front door in St. James an hour before. It was both vague and ominous, citing an “unfortunate incident” involving Dr. Clarence and urging all due haste to the asylum.
“I suppose we’ll find out in a minute,” Alec said, turning his collar up. He swiped a hand through chestnut hair and jammed a top hat on his head. “Off to the races.”
A gust of rain shook the carriage as it slowed at the front entrance. A six-story tower capped by a Roman clock and white spire anchored two wings extending on either side. Unlike most asylums, which had separate annexes for men and women, Greymoor’s residents were all male. The north wing housed those poor souls suffering from garden-variety disorders like dementia and melancholia. The other was reserved for the so-called “incurables,” a euphemism for the criminally insane. Violent, unpredictable men deemed unfit for prison.

Despite his doubts, Alec Lawrence would have happily had the lot of them over for tea rather than spend five minutes in the company of Dr. William Clarence. In his heart, he wondered if Vivienne’s instincts were correct. But he wanted her to be wrong because the alternative was far worse.

 About the Author:

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She's the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day, the Fourth Element fantasy series (The Midnight Sea, Blood of the Prophet, Queen of Chaos), and the new Dominion Mysteries. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios.

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