Hartley is an Australian rural ghost town that has made a revival for all the right reasons—but it can not shake off its evil past as the phantom returns to haunt its new residents. A converted presbytery that accommodates visitors was once a playground for everything evil in this house—a place for deprived young priests and unfortunate orphans. Consumed by a dark evil source locked away in a cobalt chest for one hundred and fifty years.
Will Clarisse be strong enough to reject the trade-off—the power to foretell future events of her choosing and the horrors that come with the visions? What if she could predict a serious illness or an incident that would forecast a tragedy for a loved one? Perhaps a winning lottery or horse race?
This is a haunting tale of cursed taunts and mindless games of an angry and sarcastic phantasm that occupies the basement, lonely and desperate for someone worthy to take over his curse. The contract with the evil entity comes at a cost for Clarisse—ingrained in her lust to control future events. This becomes an affliction of the mind that she can no longer separate from her reality.
Enter her dark world of greed and lust-driven by Clarisse’s decision to hold onto her newly acquired supernatural power or walk away and resume her normal life—-even at the expense of the spiteful and evil chantage.
Targeted Age Group:: YA, and new adult audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 1 – G Rated Clean Read
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The book explores the battle between good and evil in our society in a fictitious setting (a rural ghost town in outback Australia). Good is always triumphant in the end although pain and suffering inevitably behold those affected by the evil chantage. I was inspired by the rural ghost setting of a real town in New South Wales, Australia as a great backdrop for the storyline. It has a beautiful Catholic church and presbytery built during the period of colonialisation.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
There are two main characters are Clarisse and Harry and a phantom makes up the main protagonist in the book. The supporting characters appear in scenes throughout the book. The supporting characters represent the town of Hartley 150 years ago; a priest, detective and indigenous tracker. All of whom have a role to play in the development of the plot through the main characters.
With his brass skeleton key in his right hand and a gas lamp in the other, he waddled into the dark basement and descended through croaky timber stairs. They squeaked and felt unstable beneath his feet, forcing him to hold on tight to the ornate metal railing. But this deluded underground basement had not seen visitors for a decade. The foolishness of Father O’Hara to send him to a place unfrequented like the Siberian desert—to find a piece of the holy sacrament was convoluted. It had more to do with Father O’Hara reliving the past and romancing his spirituality than anything else—but it also had an underlying mischievousness and fishy purpose.
Father Grimaldi reached the end of the pathway to a perplexing circumstance—two identically carved wooden doors on either side in front of him. They appeared entrances to separate rooms, and he had to decide which one to take. No one explained to Father Grimaldi, there would be two doors, and more importantly, which one the skeleton key would open. Was it a trick, a test or forgetfulness on behalf of Father O’Hara? These were not your typical doors—built solidly with an arch style design and carved features. They were a product of the times when doors designed to keep people out and bound by strength and intricate design. It did not matter if the doors were the main entrance of a marvellous house or the darkest chamber—they still needed to look good. They were bourgeois and fanciful—out of place for a room beneath a house. These doors did not belong in this dreary place.
He juggled his cape to give himself enough mobility to place the skeleton key into the mortice lock He chooses the left-sided door out of superstition, and nothing else—better to start left to right was his omen and only rationale. It was like a left ear burning or a left-hand palm holding bad fortune and detailed in the lines by a palm reader. He twisted the lock several times and turned the brass key until he finally heard the click of metal upon metal. The door was ajar sufficiently for him to create enough room to slide through. The rusting hinges showed signs of their age and screeched with a high piercing sound that penetrated the eye drums to a level of discomfort. Father Grimaldi swallowed and grinded his solitary teeth to relieve the pain from the noise. He was inside the first room but was it the right place?
A ravenous cellar with dark bluestone bricks hastily joined as though the bricklayers understood this room was never going to be a showpiece. They just did the job as quick as they could and got the hell out of there. The air carried a stench of dead mice like caustic acid eating through your nostrils venomously. He placed a handkerchief over his face and tied it to the back of his head to filter the smells and offer relief from the putrid and stale air. Father Grimaldi lifted his lamp to get a better view and turned across the room looking for the ornate cross—but the dense moisture in the air stifled his visibility. To his right, the mellow lamplight reflected off a wine rack with around fifty bottles of red sacramental wine. These bottles, covered in the dust one inch thick, contained ageing wine used in delivering the Eucharist.
He brushed off the dirt on the wine bottle closest to him and read—Alter wine, Tawny Port-1850. Made by Monks in New South Wales.
Although a storm was raging upstairs with howling wind and rain, it was silent in the cellar. Dissociated with the rest of the world above—this room lived in its dimension. Locked in time and fermenting its ideology of secrecy and reclusiveness. If the room was alive, this is how it was portrayed—nothingness, miserable and empty of all memories. If a place could die, then it was already dead. If life was not worth living, then it had succumbed already to superficial non-existence and misery. The sins of the past poisoned this room—and Father Grimaldi could sense it, and it made his body tingle at the thought.
The chilling cold air caused him to start shaking as he was not prepared with his courtier to withstand the elements. He wanted to leave and get out quickly from this wretched place. He took a couple of steps forward, reluctantly at first, into the room to check for the ornate cross. But it was something else that caught his attention—a cobalt blue metal chest about knee height. It was the type of chest used by pirates to store precious cargo. How such a chest got to the cellar in the first place was a mystery. It was very uncommon to find such a piece in an outback town. Nevertheless, it looked new and well preserved—untouched by human hands for over a hundred years.
Father Grimaldi was cold and uncomfortable, and the brazen air filled his nostrils. And even though he wanted to leave, he was not done—captivated by the beauty of the cobalt blue chest. He tried to get closer and investigate. That was typical of Father Grimaldi—always meddling and sticking his nose in places where it was best left alone. He had a lack of self-protection—and impulsive disposition that continually engaged in a battle of wills to accomplish his point of view. To his behest, he was not frightened to tackle the hard questions and was relied upon by the church for assignments in challenging places—where no priest wanted to go. And although the church hierarchy found him annoying, he was their best mister fix it—the man that confronted the most testing problems.
Before Father Grimaldi took another step, he heard screeching on the wall directly in front of him. He gulped and swallowed while his heart started thumping. It was an ominous sound designed to grab his attention. He took a deep breath, held it while looking disconcertingly toward the wall, A musty haze of light captured his attention with speckles of dust forming patters of floating particles. The incandescent light came from nowhere—there were no windows in this room. He lifted his lamp above shoulder height to improve his view of the uncanny sound. An icy hand out of nowhere tapped him on his right shoulder and then patted him in a circular motion. He stood frozen and tense as he gripped his hands into a fist shape—his heart pacing and eyes glued directly in front of him. He shook his shoulders more than once as a tickle went up to his spine—it had a skeleton-like feel devoid of any life or tenderness. It was the hand of a dead man but with the metaphysical qualities to touch.
He turned around sharply to confront the phantom—almost losing grip on his lamp to find nothing but darkness in front of him. Was it playing games to appease itself—to control the emotions of others weary of its presence?
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