Friday 15 January 2010

Guest Post Sharon Lathan + contest

Sharon Lathan Guest Blog, Author of My Dearest Mr. Darcy

Thriller, Regency-style!

A collective breath was taken, but released in a rush as another apparition emerged. A woman in trailing garments, face beautiful initially but incrementally morphing into an old crone bent and wrinkled, her elaborate dress falling into rags as her old face decayed before their eyes until only a skeleton in strips of moldy cloth remained. She moved over their heads as she decomposed, skeletal form joining the now visible skeletons positioned all about the stage, or rather what had been the stage, but was now a cemetery replete with crypts and headstones. One by one the dead rose, walking on spindly legs, speaking from lipless mouths, empty sockets roving over the crowd.

Are you frightened? White knuckles gripping your chair edge? Perhaps not. After all, we live in the age of slasher/blood and gore movies galore. But imagine it is 1817. You are in a theatre usually reserved for opera performances and ballets, it is pitch black with eerie music rising from the orchestra pit, and you are witnessing a marvel never seen before. Ghostly visions mysteriously projected from hidden spaces under the stage float and move across the floor and over your head. Scenes from novels are brought to vivid life before your eyes. Monsters never imagined are growling at you, beating their wings, and dripping blood.

This is Phantasmagoria!

Now, before you get the idea that I write horror novels or have taken Jane Austen’s beloved couple where only vampires and zombies dare to tread, allow me to explain! My happily-ever-after, marital bliss saga that recounts the life of Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy is largely hearts and roses. But along with the romance, I delve deeply into the history of Regency Era England. Nothing pleases me more than discovering some fascinating tidbit of history. Thus, when the blissful lovers traveled to a seaside resort for a romantic holiday, I searched long and hard to learn what they might have done for entertainment. Amid the delights of writing in adventures in seabathing, hot air balloons, silhouette parties, sight seeing castles, and horse racing, I stumbled across magic lantern shows.

Simply put, magic lantern shows are the grandfather of motion pictures. Using techniques of optics and illusion dating back to Aristotle and Da Vinci, ingenious inventors in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries further perfected the art of casting lights and shadows to form images. Candles, oil lamps, and limelight were used to illuminate. And, yes, that is where the term “limelight” for being the center of attention comes from. The magic lantern itself was an actual machine or device that used the light to cast images painted on glass slides onto the wall. Over the decades there were dozens of different apparatus invented, some large and others quite small. The slides were pulled through the magic lantern rapidly as stories unfolded upon the wall to riveted crowds paying a modest fee. A simple Google search on “magic lantern” will yield pages of websites giving detailed history on this incredible device that, if never invented, would mean we would still only have books to read! Some may argue that that would be a good thing, but we shall save that for another discussion, okay?

In 1798 France, in the ashes of the horrors seen during the Revolution, a man named Etienne Gaspard Robert, a professor of physics, created an improved version with moving slides that projected the images onto clouds of smoke. Using unique moveable sliders that changed the size of the image seamlessly and allowed it to move as if real, ventriloquism, and music he cleverly capitalized on the superstitions of people in those days, and the remaining bloodlust, to create a show that would rival Clive Barker for frights!

Phantasmagoria, as he titled his shows, took magic lantern performances to a whole new level and catapulted the craze. By 1803 spinoff Phantasmagoria shows were all over Europe. Even, in my imagination, popping up in Great Yarmouth so Darcy and Lizzy could view the spectacle. And there is nothing quite like a scary show to make lovers cling to each other, is there? Ha!

With all the interesting historical facts and intriguing inventions I uncover, I can’t resist writing them in. In the case of the Darcys being “entertained” by a Phantasmagoria show, I stretched even further. Reading through numerous articles that gave scene-by-scene descriptions of such shows, including the original ones by Robert, I created my own in vivid, scary detail. I have no intention of writing horror novels, so Stephen King can breathe easy, but this sure was fun!

Thank you, Blodeuedd, for sharing your website with me today. I hope my brief history lesson has been entertaining and informative. If nothing else it might help in your next Trivial Pursuit game! For more on my Saga and vision for Jane Austen’s famed literary lovers, come over to my website. For now, since this site often covers sci-fi and fantasy, how about sharing a favorite otherworldly or scary bit from a novel? I’ll be sure to check in the comments throughout the day!

Thank you Sharon for stopping by my blog today. It was a very interesting post. I do love learning more.
And now to the contest

Open to US and Canada only.

1 winner: 1 set of Sharon’s trio of books so far, Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Loving Mr. Darcy and My Dearest Mr. Darcy.

Please leave a way for me to contact you if your email is not in your profile.

Ends January 20nd

Married life is bringing out the best in the Darcys. Their mutual attentiveness brings readers into a magical world of love and wedded bliss.

Elizabeth is growing into her role as Mistress of Pemberley, and Darcy has mellowed under her gentle teasing and light-heartedness. Pemberley becomes a true home and a welcoming environment for loving family and friends. The Darcys travel to the seaside, welcome their firstborn, celebrate their anniversary and second Christmas, and at every moment embrace the love gifted to them.

“I love you, my Elizabeth. You are my soul, my blood and bone, my very life.”

Sharon Lathan is the author of the bestselling Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, and Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley. In addition to her writing, she works as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. She resides in Hanford, California in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. For more information on Sharon and her saga, come to her website at:

1/18  My Book Addiction and More
1/20  Alaine, Queen of Happy Endings
1/21  Psychotic State
1/22  Thoughts in Progress
1/25  Love Romance Passion
1/27  Anna's Book Blog
1/28  Seductive Musings
1/29  The Lovestruck Novice



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Ooops. A couple of yucky typos in that last post. Trying again!

    Here's an "otherworldly" bit. Can you guess from which book it is?

    "Meg did not know when she fell asleep within the body of the music. When she wakened Aunt Beast was asleep, too, the softness of her furry, faceless head dropping. Night had gone and a dull gray light filled the room. But she realized now that here on this planet there was no need for color, that the grays and browns merging into each other were not what the beasts knew, and that what she, herself, saw was only the smallest fraction of what the planet was really like. It was she who was limited by her senses, not the blind beasts, for they must have senses of which she could not even dream."

    Did you guess?

    It's from page 185 of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.

    Thanks for the guest blog, Sharon!

    And thanks for the chance to win, Blodeuedd!

    Laura Hartness
    The Calico Critic
    CalicoCritic at gmail dot com

  3. I would Love to win these books big fan of the time period and Jane Austen and just Pride and Prejudice in general.

  4. I love Pride & Prejudice. Read book 1 and it is addicting.

  5. Thanks for the opportunity, count me in!

  6. Morning all! Blodeudd, thanks again for having me today. I really had fun writing up this essay and showing that I can be versatile within my sweet story. LOL!

    So many already checking in while I am still waking up with my first latte.

    Laura, great excerpt! I have not read Wrinkle in Time. I know I should, as an avowed fantasy geek. :)

    Thanks Bells - my novel and "addicting" in the same sentence is always nice.

    Welcome tweetybird and tetewa! Good luck! I will be checking in as often as possible throughout the day.

  7. Not entering, but I'll mention this next week!

  8. Great giveaway![at]gmail[dot]com

  9. I love Pride & Prejudice so I would love the chance to read these books as well.
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  10. No need to enter me. I'm dropping in to say hi and it's great to meet you. And thanks, too, for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you!

  11. What a greta interview and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to win a set of these books. :)

    journey through books @ gmail dot com

  12. Hi everyone :)
    I am glad you all are stopping by for this guest post.

    Great news. I really like the site, hopefully I can offer up some good fantasy/sci fi in the future if you are in lack of it.

  13. Hi Sharon
    I am glad that I managed to have you over, especially since I just read the book. What a turn it took, got my heart in my throat there.

  14. I am a lover of everything Jane (Austen, that is) and I would love to win these books.

  15. Oh my, it has been busy while I was detained elsewhere! I should point out, in case it wasn't totally clear, that the very first paragraph of this essay is an excerpt from My Dearest Mr. Darcy. It is one paragraph from the Phantasmagoria show that Darcy and Lizzy view.

    Chris, thanks for any mentions you can give. I appreciate that. :)

    Hi EJ! Hi throuthehaze! Any P&P fan would LOVE my novels - but then I may be a teensy bit partial. Ha!

    Thanks Susan. Win A Book is so popular and I appreciate the listing.

    Good luck Sheila and Sandra!

    Blodeuedd, I love hearing that you reacted to my novel. That is the hope, naturally. Thanks again for having me!

  16. I'm trying to think of an excerpt and not having any luck. If only I were at home with my books staring me in the face. I do have Rion by Susan Kearney with me and there's a moment when the hero changes in to a dragon to protect the heroine that's pretty cool.

    carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

  17. I should share something too, so I picked the tale of Blodeuedd and how she became Blodeuwedd at the end, not a happy tale. But then I do love mythology

    "You are never to show your face to the light of day, rather you shall fear other birds; they will be hostile to you, and it will be their nature to maul and molest you wherever they find you. You will not lose your name but always be called Blodeuwedd."

    That sounds like a nice excerpt. Would think yes it would be pretty cool

    I really did, first I was not sure to be honest, mostly cos the only sequel I had read included a vampire, lol. But then I came to the sweet story of their life, and I enjoyed the months they had together. And I am sure I would enjoy book 2 and 3 to see what happened next that year

  18. I love this contest- crossing my fingers! (Thanks to Bells for sending me here!!)

    rexreadingrobot at gmail dot com

  19. AAhh!! I'd love to win these!!!

    Win a Book sent me over ;)

  20. Hi :)
    Thank you for sharing here Sharon. I love your post on "Magic Lantern Shows". I love history!
    I love the otherworldly aspects in the story of Jason & The Argonauts.

  21. I'm mad about Pride and Prejudice, so I would love to win this set of books!

  22. Sounds great! Please enter me :)

  23. I'm just beginning to explore the Austen spin-offs - I'd love to read these. Thanks for the chance to win!

    geebee.reads At gmail Dot com

  24. Hey Blodeuedd!! Dropping by to see what's going on here!! You do not have to enter me in... but know that I will pimp this out honey!!

    Hope you have a great weekend! Hugs to you!

  25. These books look great - I love Austen spinoffs! As far as scary, I don't have any quotes handy but It by Stephen King scared the crap out of me and to this day clowns and sewers creep me out.


  26. great giveaway-I'd love these books

    tiramisu392 (at)

  27. I don't have an exact bit but the scariest novel I've read to date is Cormac McCarthy's, THE ROAD. He created a post-apocalyptic world where humanity is at its most diminished level. Cannibalism, check. Warfare, check. Fighting to save your beloved child, check. Just so emotionally charged it was downright frightening.

  28. Please count me in.

    simplystacieblog at gmail dot com


    Please enter me in the giveaway. I loved Pride and Prejudice and I know that these three will be great reads.

  30. I love any play on Jane Austen! Count me in! Your books sound wonderful.

  31. I don't read too many scary novels.. but I was reading a very retro 'scary' book (circa late 1950s) and the facepalm moment was when they decided the kitten was the re-incarnation of the murderous boyfriend. Of course, why didn't I see that! (Palm to face)

    Clearly I need better quality reading material. Won't you please help me??

  32. Sharon is a fabulous author, please count me in!


  33. Hi everyone :)
    Thanks for stopping by, especially to you new people on my blog.

    Hi Cecile,
    Well I sure know that you can pimp this oh so well :D
    I hope you are having a great weekend hon.

    Oh, you have watched IT? Yup that destroyed clowns for me, they are so freaky!

    Good choice. I have not read the book but will watch the movie when it comes on DVD

    Kitten as the ex boyfriend, well that was sure a twist.
    I'd say read some cute and nice historicals ;)

  34. Now this would be some win! Awesome article and something I would enjoy reading...I love the history of her research! WONDERFUL!

    Great blog today sweetie!


  35. What a fabulous turn out! I sure wish the giveaway was a dozen copies of my novels! Good luck to everyone.

    I actually don't do scary movies or novels at all. I have a few Stephen Kings on my shelf, such as The Stand (one of the best books ever written, period), but that is as far as that goes. The only scary movie I will watch is the occasional well done ghost story, like What Lies Beneath with Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer. Or a good suspense will hold my interest, but nothing with zombies or demons. *shudder

    Writing the Phantasmagoria play was tough in one respect since I hate scary things, but then I like a challenge! Interestingly, since I was originally placing my chapters online as fan-fiction, the Phantasmagoria chapter was posted two weeks before Halloween! I did not plan it that way, it's just how is fell, but it was kind of fun to coincide. My readers got a kick out of it at the time!

    Thanks Hawk :)

  36. I had to comment you about the Kaye book you commented about to my blog. I actually did a request to my library about that book along with several other requests. I was so suprised when I noticed that they actually took them and ordered those books. I have other amazing books coming up I never thought I could find from the library at here. :)

  37. Thanks Hawk
    Very interesting post, I totally agree with you there :)
    I am glad you stopped by, miss biker witch ;)

    I am with you Sharon on the scary movies. Not at all for me. Strangely though I have been watching a lot with zombies lately, and I do not know why since they scare me half to death.

    Milka :) Running over to your place now

  38. What a great essay Sharon! Your education into all things Regency is a bonus to me and all readers. ALl these extra tidbits in your novel make for truly captivating reading!
    I LOVE your books and I am sure all lovers of anything JA related will find them beautifully romantic entertaining and dramatic in just the right combination.
    Happy reading!
    TSBO devotee

  39. This was very interesting and still creepy nonetheless. It amazes me what people did back then for entertainment. Taking turns around the room would bore me to tears after a while.

    Thanks for the contest Linda :)

  40. Love any spin off of P&P...
    One of your books would be a great win, but to win all three is awesome! Count me in for the giveaway and a big thank you to Blodeuedd for hosting it!

    Oregon Kimm

  41. Vee
    Great comment, you sure like these books, and her knowledge of history is sure a bonus.

    Lol, oh tell me about it, I would be bored to death too. At lest they had books then, cos walking around, nope.

    Good luck Kimm!
    A treat indeed

  42. You know, Jenny Girl, after a few "turns around the room" I think even I would be up for a Phantasmagoria show! I do my best to keep my characters busy, but the truth is that the wealthy had an awful lot of free time on their hands. Of course, if one is a newlywed, all that time can be spent in a certain type of stimulating exercise. ;-)

    Vee, you are just too sweet! What would I do without my #1 fan? Thanks!

    Nice to "see" you again Oregon Kimm! Best of luck.

  43. Hi again Sharon.
    I thought the whole Phantasmagoria scene was a lot of fun. As for my own favorite "other-world" stories, I have a couple. First, Anne Rice's "Servant of the Bones". I thought the whole basis for the story was interesting. the other follows over a whole series. Sherrilyn Kenyon's Werehunter characters. I love the idea of shapeshifting and the way she weaves mythology into here story lines makes them seem almost plausible.

    Blodeuedd, I enjoyed your blog. Hope to be able to read more.

  44. *giggles*
    Oh yes the rich and powerful, well at least they are in their honeymoon stage still.

    Hi Nora,
    Thank you! Nice to meet you too. I have read some Kenyon too, and I do like her shifters and the whole mythology aspect. That Artemis

  45. I cannot wait to read this book. I've really enjoyed Sharon's series!



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