★★★★★ “Hampshire Stories: A Collection of Tales Set in 19th-Century England by Joe Giampaolo is a stellar collection of short stories!… These are stories of pure delight and feature a lovable cast of characters… Giampaolo’s writing is reminiscent of Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell” (Editorial Review by Literary Titan, 2020).
‘Hampshire Stories’ is an award-winning collection of short narratives set in nineteenth-century England. It has been ranked several times on the Top 100 Best Seller List on Amazon in the Victorian and Regency Historical Romance categories. This compilation was written with particular attention to historical accuracy and is recommended for teen and adult readers who enjoy charming love stories or poignant dramas of the Regency and Victorian periods. You will enjoy this journey back in time to nineteenth-century England.
AWARDS: GOLD MEDAL, LITERARY TITAN BOOK AWARD 2020
-Amazon.com (USA): Ranked #20 on the Top 100 Best Seller List in the Victorian Historical Romance category and #36 in the Regency Historical Romance category (February 2021).
-Amazon.ca (Canada): Ranked several times on the Top 100 Best Seller List in the Victorian Historical Romance and the Regency Historical Romance categories.
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The Land of Ick and Eck follows Harlot’s strange encounters as she travels through a strange land. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
I’m fascinated by children’s stories that are strange and make you think, “Wait, What? Haha, did that just happen?!” Victorian literature for children, as well as older versions of fairy tales, are where I found inspiration for the setup up of this book; they so often make you take a step back, laugh, think, and then continue on with curiosity. These stories can sometimes be whimsically mature, exploring violence, sexuality, and/or morality in creative, imaginative ways. Not treating children like delicate sugar-flakes and allowing for such content adds so much depth to the meanings and understanding of the stories, something I have found difficult to come across in modern children’s literature.
So when I started writing, I wanted it to be something that that gave me similar feelings to when I read older, bizarre fairy tales. I wanted it to take place in a strange world, where things were non-sense, but also made sense if you had the knowledge to understand what was happening, especially when the reader becomes aware of the innuendos. Like many episodic folkloric tales, there is much more than what lies on the service, multiple understandings; that is what I really enjoy about such types of stories. This is one of them.
The world that you’ve built is enthralling and curious to say the least. What were some sources of inspiration for when creating this world?
Reading literature about/from the faerie, medieval, Georgian, and Victorian world was where some of my inspirations came from. I would often find myself reading, for example, faerie lore and tales, medieval fabliaux and chivalric romances, and strange episodic stories that involve children, such as Jerzy Kosiński’s The Painted Bird (a modern tale). I wanted to create something like Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Lewis Carol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but darker and with more macabre and questionable situations.
The realm of Ick and Eck needed to somewhere that made sense not necessarily for the human world but in the faerie world. It was to be a place that the mind of an imaginative child could easily follow and bring to life, but for adults, things might seem a little off (unless they still have the child within them). It needed to be absurd, but penetrable if you put yourself in a different sort of mind-set. To get this inspiration, I often found myself delving into the artworks of Brian Froud and other artists who have continued to add to the world of faeries and fantasy, also mixing them with some of my other interests.
One of those curiosities was religion. There are many religious characters in the book, ranging from the fat-Friar, empty moon creatures, Crowned-Alter-Fops, gluttonous monks, to name a few; I enjoy studying Abrahamic religious texts, traditions, as well as medieval stories of how clergy use power to control others. Several scenes in the book comment on these injustices, but they are mixed in with the faerie world to create a more folkloric feeling. Truth be told, no hesitation of satire was taken.
Another source of inspiration was the study of medieval and Victorian prostitution. As a reader would observe, the protagonist’s name is Harlot; yes, the story does indeed explore the ideas of a dark side of history, as well as a subject very much alive today. From the exploration of courtly love and the desperate knights in need of a doctor’s (i.e. a beautiful woman) cure to save them from love sickness, to the poetic grocery-list like booklets of women found in Harris’s List of the Covent Garden Ladies, these studies were an essential backbone and driving force of inspiration. The story is a critique of this behaviour. It is meant to bring light to a subject so many people want to hide.
The introduction of the book lays this out:
- Into a land of fantasy
- With haste we cast them all aside
- No tearing if you cannot see
- That is what we all make-believe
My list of inspiration could keep going on, so I will stop before I get carried away even more.
Harlot is a curious and innocent character that I found endearing. What were some driving ideals behind the character?
I wanted to create a character that constantly found interest in novel things, while at the same time never really learns much from their experiences. Even after Harlot is assaulted at the beginning of the book (i.e. her blue flower), deceived, used, and treated as inferior, she continues on. Some say this might be a weakness, others a strength, that is for the reader to decide.
I have found it quite funny though, how some people really like Harlot, while others really do not. Some like her curious and innocent perspective, while others think she is rude and inconsiderate, and do not want their children to read about her because she is a negative role model.
In any event, what drives Harlot is her curiosity, her unwavering innocence, and her ability to navigate such a strange place, the land of Ick and Eck. She is such a strong character, a feature I have seen in people who have been abused. I can never understand their strength. They are stronger than I could ever be.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on a couple projects, but I am a very slow writer. It took me eight years to be contempt enough to pursue publishing The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot’s Encounters. But in any event, I am working on a continuation to The Land of Ick and Eck, per say, following a girl named Perfume, as well in another section about Harlot. Each are separate and different stories, written in different styles, but in a way they meet together through common characters, situations, and absurdities.
I am quite excited about it, though I do not know how long it will take to complete.
A much too trusting Harlot finds herself in the preyful Land of Ick and Eck, a place where she encounters peculiar creatures that have the most awful intensions of the carnal sort. By happenstance, she finds the company of a Ground Faerie, a Wood and Water Nymph, and a Butter-Maiden to assist her (sort of) along the way.
But Alas! How the outlandish figures are quite the handful, ranging from the likes of Spriggans, the-man-with-a-can-for-a-head, Jaw Skins, to Alter-Fops, a knight of courtly love, and a Nigwig (to name a few). Thankfully, there are moments of repose, such as those with the band of eunuchs with sacs on their heads, the beautiful Milk-Maidens, and the adventures within the Faerie Ring.
Though the bombardments continue to pursue her, Harlot’s innocent temperament, irrational faith, and devotion to feeding her curiosity provokes her forward, and thus her true strengths are revealed within the Land of Ick and Eck.
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See Me Forever is a genre-crossing novel with elements of romance, mystery, and paranormal as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I love early Gothic so I wanted to create a story where those themes are used in a modern setting and with a full Gothic ending. So the story begins as a conventional romance but gradually becomes darker. It could be described as a modern-day bodice ripper. The book also has a strong mystery element which I’ve written in a traditional mystery style.
Arianna is innately beautiful but isn’t sleazy and has a level of class and integrity that is to be admired. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
The heroine is small town born and bred – she’s quite traditional in her thinking so I used a somewhat old fashioned writing style to reflect that in her thoughts and speech. There’s also Victorian-style speech to show the different time periods that the spirit and Arianna exist in (they converse in the older style speech). The hero is plagued by guilt over a past event and is also terrified of losing Arianna to the evil in her haunted house.
Detective Gauge has some skeletons in his closet but still falls for Arianna. What was the inspiration for the relationship between Arianna and Logan?
To Logan Gauge, Arianna is completely different to anyone he’s ever known – a set of contradictions – fiercely passionate but with a cool, calm demeanor, upfront and honest but someone who seems to have a secret side when she’s in touch with her spirit world. She straight out falls for Logan. Naturally, she’s attracted by his looks but she loves him for his goodness. She describes him as strong and good and sure.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
As I love mystery and my books always have a twist (as any good mystery should), the next book is about a very sophisticated serial thief (woman) who lives in one of the most exclusive apartment buildings in New York. To say more would give away too much as this story will be a whodunnit until the last page. It is, of course, a romance.
As a spirit sensitive, Arianna Harte is used to encountering the dead. So when the mysterious spirit in her crumbling Victorian mansion finally reveals his presence, Arianna is confident she can control him. But Edmond Wilde is unlike other spirits. He possesses a deadly power and is prepared to use that terrifying ability to claim her. As Arianna gradually learns of the house’s dark past and the source of Edmond’s power, she finds herself increasingly under his depraved control. Only one man can fight for her—a fearless, mortal man, stronger than Edmond. But he is a man with his own ghosts from the past.
Placing early Gothic themes and styles in a contemporary setting, See Me Forever is a story of strange happenings, blended time periods, obsession, betrayal and death. With multiple characters and plot twists, mysteries both past and present are revealed, testing Arianna’s gift in ways she never thought possible. Can she and her courageous lover defeat the powerful spirit who threatens their very existence?
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See Me Forever begins in an old alluring home in Erradale Bay where Arianna Harte, a beautiful woman oozing with class, purchases the home in hopes to begin a new life. A spirit is instantly drawn to her, becoming obsessed with wanting her to himself. Edmond Nathaniel Wilde is the man behind the spirit, a well-spoken man who comes from the Victorian era where sins such as infidelity are not to be tolerated. Meanwhile, Logan, a detective, is investigating an incident involved with Arianna’s home and finds himself beginning to fall for Arianna’s beauty and charm. Between a passionate spirit and a detective filled with skeletons in his closet, Arianna will be thrown into a dark and brooding love triangle with supernatural twists.
See Me Forever, written by Susann Oriel, is a beautifully written love story that has a touch of all the right genres; including action, mystery and supernatural elements. It is hot and steamy, romantic and at times frightening, providing a story line that is full of entertainment for all readers.
The words drip with elegance and sweep the reader through a colonial home. Gargoyles adorn the outskirts of the beautiful colonial styled Oak Lane property, giving the reader a glimpse into a home which would have been luxurious in the Victorian era. Susann’s style of writing is easy to read but descriptive; the conversations and interactions between both spirit and human are easily imagined and felt by the reader.
I love the way Susann Oriel describes Arianna Harte. She is innately beautiful but also physically stunning, catching the eyes of suitors around her. But she isn’t sleazy or forward and has a level of class and integrity that is to be admired. Her encounters with others are filled with lustful desire and will leave the reader feeling as though their blood is on fire. Arianna’s is a sensitive, different from a medium in that she sees the spirits as well as feeling them. This particular talent will land her in sticky situations as she sees the faces of those who pass everywhere she goes.
The story begins with more questions than answers and I was eager to know how Edmond had passed. There is an element of suspicion surrounding his death and how his first wife may have died. A woman who previously lived in the home is now an elderly lady and once held Edmonds affections. How do they fit together to form the pieces of the puzzle? You will have to read it to find out!
You’d be mistaken to think that this novel is only a love story. There are mysterious plot changes, broody characters and action scenes that will leave you begging for more. I would recommend See Me Forever for those who enjoy a romantic novel but also enjoy their haunted house styled stories.
Pages: 296 | ASIN: B06XXML53F
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