Today I am over the moon to introduce to Unusual Fiction, a writer whose work is inspired by the beauty and glamour of bygone eras. A lover of all things vintage, whose wonderful website girlinthejitterbugdress.com is an homage to the splendor of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s (and more). Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you – Tam Francis; ghost story author with a vintage twist. (Oh, and her book covers are beautiful!)
Tam Francis writes historical romantic fiction with a pen in one hand and a vintage cocktail in the other. She has taught swing dancing for fifteen years with her husband (retired Navy), and is an avid collector of vintage sewing patterns, retro clothing, and antiques. All of which make appearances in her paranormal and historical stories.
What draws you to horror as a genre?
As someone who writes historical fiction, I like playing with the what if of having ghosts appear in my stories from my favorite time eras. Specifically the 1920s-1950s. I like my vintage ghosts to rub up against my contemporary characters and see how they clash, but how they are similar. And what if they fall in love? Oh my!
In your opinion, what are the essential components of a great ghost story?
I think there has to be an element of suspense and fear. Those components can vary in degrees of gore, fantasy, mystery, and strange, but those two basic ingredients need to be there. I also feel there needs to be a compelling reason for the ghost to be there or to haunt. My ghost baby’s have gotta have back (story)!
If you could have a celebrated horror/ghost story writer (living or dead) endorse your writing whom would you pick?
Neil Gaiman. Although he doesn’t write exclusively ghost/horror, he is one of my fave writers for originality and development of story. And my, oh, my if he could narrate one. Well, that would be the bees knees!
What is your favourite character from one of your works and why?
Mia Waverly in my time-travel, murder mystery, paranormal ghost romance: The Flapper Affair. She captures the spirit and feminine feminist ideas of the 1920s and is more open-minded and adventurous than her contemporary lover.
Have you ever experienced a supernatural/ghostly encounter?
Yes. When I was newly married, my husband was stationed in San Diego (US Navy), and we rented an upper floor of a 1928 four-plex. I had just jumped in bed and was about to drift off, when I felt the bed sag beside me. I assumed my husband was home early from his night sift. I rolled over to wrap my arm around him, but his side of the bed was empty. I sat up. My heart raced. A chill ran up my spine. I told myself: It’s just your imagination. As you were falling asleep, your dream bled into reality. I lay back down. I felt it again. Not only the mattress compressed, but the pillow beside my head. This was no quasi dream. I bolted out of bed. Turned on all the lights in the house and stayed awake until my husband came home. Interestingly, he too had experienced other strange, inexplicable phenomenon in that apartment. I’m convinced it was haunted.
Excerpt from “Clouds and Rain” taken from the collection of short stories: Ghostoria: Vintage Romantic Tales of Fright
The sharp blade made a sucking, sickening sound like gutting fish, as it cut into her belly. The flesh fell open in spongy layers. She in command of his being, sliced through the embryonic sac and set the knife on the table next to the block of ice. The blood smeared in the pool of overflowing melt.
With his hands she groped for the tiny, bloody body inside of her.
One hand cupped around the baby’s head, the other around its bottom, and yanked it free. She set the bloody bundle on his lap, grabbed the knife, and cut the cord. She cleared the mouth and nose, cleaning the babe and swaddling it, setting the baby boy in the basket. He cried loud and strong, filling the hut with a hurricane of sound.
Fergus thought she would leave him then, leave him for good, but he watched again as his puppetted arms yanked another babe from the bloody slit and repeated the procedure. The baby girl howled louder than her brother.
His body convulsed as Ester expelled herself from him. This time he did feel like ice, the deepest, coldest ice of a sunless universe, the coldness of eternity, of time and space. And then it was gone. She was gone from him. He wept with all the love he had, all the love he’d lost and all the love never to be.
Find out more about Tam’s work and check out her books below: