Today, the Quirkies are pleased to welcome Leanna Renee Hieber on the blog. She is the fantastically talented author of THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER. She joins us from her Haunted London Blog Tour celebrating the book's release in late August. Read on, and one lucky commenter will win a copy of this wonderful book. Leanna, glad to have you here. Without further ado--
The Strangely Beautiful Haunted London Blog Tour day 10!
From the back cover:
What fortune awaited sweet, timid, Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Considering how few of Queen Victoria's Londoners knew of it, the great Romanesque fortress was dreadfully imposing, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met the powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadow, the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She knew simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow-white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gifts. But this arched stone doorway offered a portal to a new life, an education far from the convent--and an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death...
Thanks, Quirky Ladies, for letting me haunt your blog today!
For those of you just joining us, the purpose of this Haunted tour is to celebrate the release of my Gothic Victorian Fantasy Romance debut, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. This Tour will introduce you to some of the real, documented London haunts who "ghost-star" in my book. When Professor Alexi Rychman and his Guard of spectral police make their rounds, it is to any number of London phantasms. Since these characters are familiar to The Guard, I don't get to tell their full story in the book, but here on the tour I can give them their due. Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win a signed copy of the novel, first in the Strangely Beautiful series! (Mailing to U.S. only please)
Today we meet: The ghostly Percy(s) of London!!
My ghost-like but all-too-human heroine, Miss Percy Parker, isn't the only ghostly Percy in London. There are two well known Percy spirits, the first known as Percy the Poltergeist. Now Percy is generally thought to be a male name, and indeed, Percy is not my heroine's full name, it's used as her comfortable nickname. Her full name is something the hero discovers later in the book.
But it was reading about these spirits that solidified "Percy" as Miss Parker's nickname. Oddly enough, though these two spirits haunted different parts of the city, both Percys haunt buildings named Burlington...
The Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly, W1
The Burlington Arcade, built in 1819 is a roofed, arched passage full of shops. It was supposedly built to deter an onslaught of detritus tossed from pedestrians over the wall of Lord George Cavendish's home, Burlington House. The arcade was plagued by a particular poltergeist. Items in a leather shop were lifted from shelves in the dead of night and arranged in neat patterns on the floor. Scotland Yard ruled out human activity and remained perplexed. The staff posted a sign, having affectionately named the spirit Percy: "Poltergeists Gladly Served without Fear or Favor." This actually seemed to quiet Percy's antics, the spirit hasn't been active since.
Powell's Walk, Chiswick, West London, W4
The second Percy haunts the Old Burlington, a beautiful Elizabethan era building that was once an inn of great renown where infamous highwayman Dick Turpin was said to have stayed. One of the harmless resident spectres is dressed is dark clothing and a swirling cloak and a wide-brimmed hat. Residents fondly call him Percy. He stares out from windows, watching, cutting an eerie figure. Funnily enough, this image cemented the picture of my hero Alexi as we meet him en route to leading an exorcism.
Here's how my Percy arrives to Athens Academy, looking quite the ghost. From The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker:
A young woman, the likes of which London had never seen, alighted from a carriage near Bloomsbury and gazed at the grand facade before her. Breathless at the sight of the Romanesque fortress of red sandstone that was to be her new home, she ascended the front steps beneath the portico with a carpetbag in tow. One slender, gloved hand heaved open the great arched door; Miss Percy Parker paused then stepped inside.
The foyer of Athens Academy held a few milling young men, papers and books in hand. Their jaws fell in turn. In the diffuse light cast by a single chandelier they saw a petite, unmistakable apparition. Dark blue glasses kept eerie, ice blue eyes from unsettling those stares that she nervously returned. Much of her snow-white skin was hidden from view by a scarf draped around her head and bosom, but only a mask could have hidden the ghostly pallor of her fine-featured face.
The sudden tinkling of a chandelier crystal broke the thick silence. Percy's gaze flickered up to behold a young man, equally pale as herself, floating amid the gas flames. The transparent spirit wafted down to meet her. It was clear from the stares of the young men of solid mass, rudely focused on Percy, that they were oblivious. She herself acknowledged the ghost only subtly, lest she be thought distracted as well as deformed.
The spectral schoolboy spoke in a soft Scots brogue. "You'd best give up your pretensions, miss. You'll never be one of them. And you're certainly not one of us. What the devil are you?"
Percy met the spirit's hollow gaze. Behind her glasses, her opalescent eyes flared with defiance as she asked the room, her voice sweet and timid, "Could someone be so kind as to direct me to the headmistress's office?" A gaping, living individual pointed to a hallway on her left, so she offered him a "Thank you, sir," and fled, eager to escape all curiosity. The only sounds that followed were the rustling layers of her sky blue taffeta skirts and the echo of her booted footfalls down the hall.
--(End of Excerpt)
I'm indebted to Richard Jones, founder of the fabulous Discovery Walks of London and author of the fantastic compendium "Haunted London" and "Walking Haunted London" published by Barnes&Noble Books, a main resource for my research. Visit him at http://www.haunted-london.com/.
Come visit me at http://www.leannareneehieber.com/ to find out more about The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and follow along the rest of the Haunted London Blog tour! While you're on my website, check out my contest! I hope you'll love the book as much as I loved writing it! Be sure to comment to be entered to win a signed copy!
Leanna Renee Hieber
Thanks, Leanna, for visiting with us today. To win a copy of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, leave Leanna a comment. A winner will be chosen from among the commenters after Friday, September 4th. Good luck!!!