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Thursday 21 April 2016

R is for... (The Spirit) Room

Click Here for a list of other A-Zers
The Spirit Room

Throughout April I have invited 26 authors who had been selected as Editor's Choice by the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews
 to help me out with the 2016 A-Z Blog Challenge...

Except to be a little different I interviewed 
their leading Character/s...

Today's Character is from :

HH : Hello! I believe you exist in Marschel Paul’s  novel – what is the title of the book, and would you like to introduce yourself - who you are, what you do etc?
My name is Izzie, short for Isabelle, Benton. I am a young woman of seventeen years in Marschel Paul’s novel, The Spirit Room, and I am the oldest of four Benton children.

HH : Where and when are you? Are you a real historical person or did your author create you?
Marschel invented me. That is to say I never truly lived in history from whence she plucked me but there were two women who were indeed real, Victoria Woodhull and her sister, Tennessee Claflin, who Marschel came to know when reading about the 19th century in America. Victoria and Tennessee decidedly shared some similarities with my sister, Clara, and me. We lived in the same time, in some of the same places, and they had a mother and father much like our own, rather eccentric each in their own ways. Most interestingly, Victoria and Tennessee, for some time, were spiritualists, as Clara and I were.

HH. In a few brief sentences: what is the novel you feature in about?
As The Spirit Room begins, my mother has died recently and rather mysteriously. This has caused me, the eldest, to take on a good deal of responsibility for my younger brother and two sisters. Though I must say that, throughout the story, my decisions were not always the best for my siblings and this rather tortured me. As the novel goes along, I become sure that my mistakes cause dire consequences for all of them.

Old New York
Marschel starts us off in the year 1858.  We live in America, in upstate New York, in a town called Geneva, which sits on a beautiful long lake, though the lake in truth is no longer beautiful to me since Mamma drowned in it and my brother Billy and I found her body there on the shore. And so we begin here, figuring out how to live without Mamma and how to make our living as a family. Papa has hired a famous spiritualist from New York City to train my thirteen-year-old sister, Clara, and me to be mediums like the famous Fox sisters. He wants us to conduct séances and earn fees. I don’t want to do this but we desperately need the money so I reluctantly go along. The séances are a hoax and it just doesn’t seem right to me to mislead people who are aching with grief about their lost loved ones.

HH : Tell me about one or two of the other characters who feature with you - husband, wife, family? Who are some of the nice characters and who is the nastiest one?
Darling, pretty Clara is a natural actress and seems to enjoy being a hoax medium. To her, it’s all theatre and fun. Before our life in Geneva, we lived in Ohio, the six of us. Papa was never what you’d call a respectable and steady man. He was more of a conniver and pipe dreamer, but he wasn’t bad or mean. After Mamma died, he changed considerably. Not only did he turn cruelly against our brother Billy, something that scared all of us, but I simply did not trust him anymore. I can’t explain it. I just knew there grew an illness in his heart. Because of this darkness in Papa, there are many scenes in the novel that are painful. Some are sure to make one cry. On the other hand, one of my favorite scenes in the book is when Clara stands up to Papa in a definitive way. It is most important because she has always looked up to Papa and done as he has asked. Her desire to please him has wrought great sadness upon her so it is a tremendous relief when she makes her stand. 

HH : What is your favourite scene in the book?
Even though there are dreadful things that unfold in the novel that I’d rather not speak of in any detail (in case you decide to pick it up and read it), there are also hopeful things and quirky things and even romantic things. I will simply say that I make mistakes that cause Clara to suffer immeasurably. I blame myself and I struggle to find a way to make it right for her.

Madame Marschel Paul
HH : What are you most proud of about your author?
I am proud of my author for creating my family’s world in the middle of the nineteenth century with tremendous accuracy and intricacy. She touches upon what life was like for girls and women who were not from the elite families of the time as so many novels do, but who were from families with no means except their own ingenuities and inner strengths.

HH : As a character if you could travel to a time and place different to your own fictional setting  where and when would you go?
If I could get Marschel to take me to another world, another time and place, I would like to go ahead a few generations, perhaps to the beginning of the twentieth century in New York City, a place where I do by the way, spend some time in The Spirit Room. I would like to live as my granddaughter or great granddaughter would live. I imagine there would be many more choices for women by then. There are only a handful of women going to college now, but perhaps this would be more common. Perhaps women will do all kinds of things in the twentieth century and I would love to see that, or even be one of them.

More about Marschel Paul and The Spirit Room
Marschel’s website
Marschel’s Facebook
Marschel at Goodreads
Marschel’s Twitter  @thespiritroom

Here is the company we will be keeping on this 
A-Z Blog Challenge!
A 1st  Friday - Aurelia  -Alison Morton
B 2nd Saturday  - Bloodie Bones - Lucienne Boyce
C 4th Monday - Man in the Canary Waistcoat Susan Grossey
D 5th Tuesday - Dubh-Linn  - James Nelson
F 7th Thursday - Fortune’s Fool- David Blixt
H 9th Saturday - The Love Letter of John Henry Holliday) - Mary Fancher
K 13th Wednesday - Khamsin- Inge Borg
L 14th Thursday - Luck Bringer   - Nick Brown
N 16th Saturday - A Newfound Land  - Anna Belfrage
O 18th Monday - Out Of Time  - Loretta Livingstone
P 19th Tuesday  - Pirate Code  - Helen Hollick
Q 20th Wednesday - To Be A Queen – Annie Whitehead
R 21st Thursday  - The Spirit Room - Marschel Paul
U 25th Monday  - A Just And Upright Man - John Lynch
X 28th Thursday – The FlaX flower – AmandaMaclean

So call back tomorrow 
To meet the next exciting Character! 
(unless it is Sunday - in which case, I'll have something different 
but just as interesting !)


  1. What a fantastic premise for a novel - it seems immediately to fit with its period and yet it's different too. Looking forward to reading it!

    1. Thanks Annie - it is a good read!

    2. Thanks, Annie. If you read, let me know your thoughts.

  2. It's interesting to see a novel taking Victoria Woodhull's life as an inspiration, as she was such a controversial figure. And seance stories are always fascinating!

    1. Woodhull was fascinating - the first woman to run for President of the United States, the first woman to own a brokerage firm (with her sister) on Wall Street, unaccepted by the feminists of the time and then embraced, and more. I thought I would fictionalize her life or part of her life, but this other character Izzie, took over the story, and the rest is history as they say.

  3. Wow, Marschel,
    Comgratulations on making last year's final. That's amazing. And what a fascinating story.

  4. Marschel, just watched the amazing video you provided. You are obviously so thorough and dedicated to your subject(s), I'm sure the novel is extraordinary.

    1. Glad you took the time to watch the video! Thanks.

  5. Great! Absolutely loved it!
    Ps... Shared to 1k followers 😏😏

    1. Thanks, Caz. And a special thank you for the Pinterest post.

  6. Great video, Marschel, to highten the suspense about what happens to Izzie and her siblings. And, congratulations on making the Finalist list last year.

    1. Thanks, Inge. The Finalist recognition was the greatest honor the book has received. So appreciated.

  7. Fascinating - I wonder what your own opinion is, Marschel, on the subject of mediums? I think it's a great subject. I just read Noonday by Pat Barker in which there's a gripping depiction of a medium.There was huge demand for them after the IstWW in Britain because so many people had lost loved ones. In Noonday as the reader you're never quite sure whether the medium is a fraud or not - quite a difficult tightrope to walk as a writer!

    1. The whole time (years and years) that I was writing the novel, I was walking that line with my character, the fraud vs genuine medium line, and wanted the reader to be there in that ambiguity. I met and observed a medium a few years ago. I do think some people have gifts to hear and see things in others. As to whether there are spirits "on the other side" speaking? I am not quite there, but it is interesting how in times of great grief and loss of life such as during wars, or pre-20th century medicine, people have turned to the notion of speaking to their lost loved ones. It is definitely part of our human need.

  8. Love the collection of stories you've put together for the video, Marschel.

  9. What a fascinating, and very human story.

  10. Loved that video! Still struggle with book trailers, but this is very good, Marschel :)

  11. I'm really looking forward to the triple whammy: a new time period (for me), a new country, and a new "science". I think most people who read historical fiction enjoy the learning that goes with it, and this will be a real treat! (This is Susan Grossey, by the way - I can't seem to use my own name for these comments. A mystery.)


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