The Real Witchwood Manor

She’s not a stripper. She’s an ecdysiast.

The lady in the fantastic hat (and precious little else) is Gypsy Rose Lee. She was a vaudeville performer, burlesque dancer, and her mother’s second favorite child (of two). Gypsy put the tease in striptease with an act so unique, so elegant and refined that American journalist H.L. Mencken made up a word to describe it. He called her an ecdysiast, which essentially means “one who molts,” because of her slow, one-feather-at-a-time way of taking off her clothes.

In addition to her career as a stripper – no, wait – as an ecdysiast, she was also an actress, a playwright and a novelist. (I believe the phrase you’re looking for is renaissance woman.)

By now you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with me or my book. That’s a valid question. Here’s what: Gypsy Rose Lee once owned a house in a small town in the lower Hudson Valley region of New York state, which also happens to be my home town. It’s on a main road but it’s set back so far that you can’t see the house when you drive by. All you can see is the sign that spells out the name of Gypsy’s house: Witchwood Manor.

It’s just an ordinary sign, nothing remarkable about it, except that name. It’s so evocative. So mysterious. I remember being a little kid, driving by on the way to the grocery store with my mom, and wondering what it meant. Were there witches in the woods there? Magic? Was there a girl, maybe one like me, who lived there? Was she good or bad or maybe both?

Witchwood Manor has been sitting in my imagination, just waiting for me to figure out the story I wanted to tell about it for a long time. When I started writing Tab Bennett and the Inbetween, I took the name for Pop’s house without a second thought. Then I filled the house with magic and elves instead of witches and added the girl (only she’s a woman now) who would have to figure out if she was good or bad or both before the story could end.

I like to think Gypsy would be OK with that. At least I hope she would. I have a sense that she was exactly the kind of artist I’d like to be: bold, multi-faceted, visionary, and confident enough to take her clothes off in a room full of people and be able to make intelligent conversation while doing so. She’s kind of become my idol and I’d like for her to like what I’ve done with the place.

I’m telling you all this because I want the Witchwood Manor sign. Badly. I’ve wanted it for years. In high school I had a friend who offered to steal it for me. I declined. Last week someone offered to paint a copy for me. I thanked her, but that’s not exactly what I want either. I want that one from out on the road. The only question is, how do I get it – without resorting to petty larceny?

I’m going to work on that.

In the meantime, do any of you know (or are you) the actor Victor Garber? To the best of my knowledge, he’s the current owner of the real Witchwood Manor so I’d imagine he’s the man I need to see.









The Love Triangle: An Informal Poll

People keep asking me who Tab ends up with –  Robbin or Alex. This is a terrifying question because the truth is, just between you, me, and the series of tubes we call the world wide web, I have no idea. Sometimes I think it’s definitely Alex. But sometimes Robbin is so sweet and angry and sexy I begin to think it might be him – in spite of all the baggage. But then I don’t know because I have a sense that Alex has a lot going on that we just haven’t really had a chance to get into yet. And he certainly doesn’t lack for sexy…

I’m never this conflicted. It was very easy for me to decide I am a Team Edward, Team Eric, Team Damon kind of girl. And Logan or Piz? Come on, is there even a debate there?

It’s usually so clear to me. But not this time. So I thought I’d ask around. See what some of you are thinking. It won’t change how things end up for Tab and her small but devoted team of love interests, but I’m curious. So if you’ve read the book and picked a favorite, I’d love to know who and why. Stop by the comments and let me know.


PS: Write-in candidates are also welcome.

PPS: You think Tab’s love life is complicated now, just wait until book 2.



Trust Issues: A Word from Tab Bennett

Lately my life is like a fairy tale. Unfortunately for me, it’s the Grimm kind. The kind where the woods are deep and dark and full of monsters; where a mother’s longing for something forbidden means terrible consequences for her daughter; where the huntsman who takes the princess for a walk in the woods plans to steal her heart – literally – right out of her chest.

I’ve always thought of myself as normal – ordinary even – but that changed after my sister’s disappearance brought some long-hidden secrets into the light, revealing a world I never dreamed existed and a destiny I can’t deny. Now “normal” means wicked subterranean kings and murdered Elvish princesses and clandestine revenge schemes. Instead of planning to marry my childhood sweetheart, I’m fending off a handsome prince’s irresistible advances. Suddenly I’m not a bank teller / college drop-out anymore, I’m a frickin’ Elvish princess.

To get to happily ever after, I’ll have to sort out my trust issues, unravel an assassination plot, and avoid a sociopath with an axe to grind – all without the help of a fairy godmother.

Once Upon a Time

Last night I finally watched the season finale of ABC’s Once Upon a Time. In case you don’t know, Once Upon a Time is a television show about fairy tale characters including Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, the various Princes Charming (you know, all the biggies) who are cursed by a wicked queen to live ordinary lives in the small town of Story Brooke, Maine. They wander around, doing regular things without any idea that they were once a princess or a wolf or a conscientious cricket. Only we know who they really are.

In spite of the occasional touch of cheesiness, a certain little boy I could do without, and the town’s constantly smirking mayor, Once Upon a Time has become one of my favorite shows. In part, it’s because I’m a sucker for stories about the struggle between good and evil, light and dark, and the complications that come from trying to figure out which is which, but there’s something else I really like about this show. Last night I finally figured out what it is.  All the girls kick ass. Little Red Riding Hood is the wolf, not his victim. Emma Swan, the show’s heroine, slays dragons and fearlessly takes on the evil queen. Snow White saves Prince Charming at least as often as he saves her. And she’s not a dope who’s tricked into eating the apple that renders her lifeless, she’s a hero who eats it willingly to save someone she loves. I think the world needs more of this – more stories about girls who slay dragons and are as capable of rescuing as they are of being rescued.

That’s part of the reason I love reading urban fantasy. Heroines who aren’t afraid to get a little dirty (take that however you like) are at the center of the genre – whether it’s Sookie Stackhouse or Mackayla Lane or Georgina Kincaid. What attracts you to the genre? Who’s your favorite UF heroine? Tell me all about it in the comments.







Loud & Proud: My Romanceaholic Guest Post

Sure, it’s easy for me to admit I’m a romance reader now, but in the not so distant past I would have sworn on my mother’s grave (even though she’s not dead) that I thought they were silly. I’m over at today talking about how my Kindle helped pushed me out of the romance readers closet once and for all. Do you find yourself reading more romance novels now that ebooks have become so popular? (Apparently, it’s an international phenomenon.)

Stop by at The Romanceaholic and tell us all about it.