Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I am pleased to be hosting a double feature all wrapped up in one blog post by the author C. S. Alleyne to help promote her recent horror release Belle Vue.
Firstly, I have an excerpt for you all from Belle Vue and then, I have an interview with C. S. Alleyne.
However, before that let me give you more information about Belle Vue.
- Paperback: 350 pages
- Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing (25 Aug. 2020)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1646693116
- ISBN-13: 978-1646693115
- Amazon UK / Amazon US / Blackwell’s / Goodreads
Jealousy. Betrayal. Murder. And a hunger for vengeance that spans the centuries…
History student Alex Palmer is thrilled when his girlfriend, Claire Ryan, buys an apartment in Belle Vue Manor, formerly a Victorian lunatic asylum.
But as Alex begins to discover the dark truth about the asylum’s past, he, Claire, and their friend Marianne find themselves on a nightmarish journey. Each will face the deadly consequences of the evil that began with the construction of the first Belle Vue Manor by an aristocratic French émigré in 1789, as well as the cruelty and satanic practices that continued when it became an asylum for the insane.
As the two strands—past and present—unfold, Alex uncovers a supernatural mystery where revenge is paramount and innocence irrelevant—without being aware of the price he, and those around him, will pay.
Excerpt from Belle Vue:
Second Section of CHAPTER ONE
Monday, 29 September
Just five minutes more.
Ignoring the music in the other room, Alex Palmer typed the final sentence of his outline and sat back. He should be pleased, but he couldn’t hold down the niggling dissatisfaction with what he’d written.
His rear end numb, he stood and moved to the window. Holding onto the ledge, he executed a few tentative leg squats as he gazed out at the clear night sky. He focused on the top of the hill at St. Albans Cathedral in all its floodlit glory. In fact, that place of worship was the source of his discontent. Although he loved anything to do with history, he wasn’t convinced his choice of the cathedral in the Victorian years for his final year dissertation was the right one for him. Nothing much happened then, and he wanted a bit of excitement. It was local, though, the right period and so far, nothing else had come close.
Alex picked up his phone and scanned his messages. He tapped three kisses and a smiley in reply to Claire and pressed send. The rest he ignored.
As he joined his flatmates, Paul and Gary, in the lounge, he added his voice to their falsetto wailing that drowned out Bob Marley.
He picked up a can of beer from the coffee table and an unlit spliff. His meeting with Hamish, his dissertation supervisor, wasn’t until tomorrow afternoon so he planned to enjoy himself. Lectures—and hard work—began Wednesday.
As the bass throbbed through him, he lowered himself onto one of the armchairs and lit the joint.
“Man, I wanna be back on the beach, not here,” Paul said.
Gary, next to him on the couch, burped his agreement.
“Gaz, you remember that Jamaican woman at Earl’s Place?”
“Do I? My eyes are still watering.”
“She didn’t leave my side all night. Couldn’t get enough of me.”
Alex and Gary grinned. They looked at each other and back at Paul in his bright blue surfing shorts and a yellow T-shirt. Both stretched tight. The sound of hooting filled the room.
Tilting his chin with his finger, Gary simpered. “Don’t tell me, Mr. Stud-Muffin, she’d been searching for you all her life. She likes Greek slap heads with hairy butts, hey brudder?”
Catching the instant change in Paul’s expression, Alex groaned then stepped in quickly. “More than carrot tops with small willies.”
“I think the term is hung-like-a-stallion,” Gary said, in his broadest Aussie twang. “Here, let me show you.”
He unfolded his lanky frame from the sofa and started to unbutton his fly. In unison, Alex and Paul yelled at him to stop. Gary shrugged and flexed his biceps instead. He grinned and adopted ever more ludicrous poses before announcing, “Gotta take a crap. Back in a mo.”
A duet of “ughs” accompanied the music.
They spent the next few hours reminiscing about their summer vacation and seriously dented their supplies of booze, marijuana, and assorted snacks.
During a brief lull in the music, the sound of munching filled the void, but not enough to cover the ringing of Alex’s mobile. He jumped up. His head spun and he staggered to his room as though on a rolling boat. He picked up his phone from the desk and gave it a quick glance.
“Hey dere, sweetheart,” he said in a very bad West Indian accent, as he half-reggaed, half-tottered back into the lounge. “What choo up to?”
He turned the music down and listened carefully. Gary and Paul pretended to be asleep but kept nudging one another as if he wouldn’t notice.
Belle Vue. He’d forgotten about that place. A germ of an idea flitted into his consciousness, then slipped away. His head was doing a great impression of a ball of cotton wool. Belle Vue. Closed because of a scandal, he was sure. He’d love to see what they’d done with it, so he agreed to meet her there tomorrow at nine and mentally crossed his fingers that any hangover wouldn’t be too bad.
Before he could stop himself, he added, “Is Matron coming?”
“Of course, but don’t call Marianne that.”
He smothered a laugh and shook his head as Gary who’d first used the term, suddenly came to life and blew his cheeks out.
Claire continued, “And make sure those two morons keep their mouths shut, too.”
“Hey, how come you can insult my friends, but I can’t say anything about—?”
“I’m hanging up now, Lexi. Love you.”
“Love you, too.” He ignored Gary and Paul miming Claire’s favorite Titanic scene. When Gary started singing, he decided to call it a night.
Interview with C. S. Alleyne.
Would you please tell us about your book?
Belle Vue is a paranormal horror set in two time periods around a Victorian lunatic asylum when it first opened in 1868 and after it is converted into luxury apartments in the present day.
Alex Palmer, a history student is thrilled when his girlfriend, Claire Ryan, buys an apartment in newly refurbished Belle Vue Manor. But when he starts researching its background, he discovers the dark truth about the asylum’s past and Alex, Claire, and their friend Marianne find themselves on a nightmarish journey.
Mirroring this is the tale of two sisters, Mary and Ellen Grady. In 1868, Ellen needs Mary’s help but she is betrayed and finds herself in Belle Vue Insane Asylum. Ellen finds it is not the sanctuary she imagines but one of cruelty and dark practices. A murder takes place in the asylum and it is Mary Grady, who stands accused of the crime. Her sensational trial and its aftermath set off a hunt for retribution that bridge the centuries to the present day.
Alex finds himself caught up in events outside of his control as the evil from the past exacts a heavy toll on those in the present day.
What was your inspiration for writing the book?
I used to walk past a derelict asylum on my way to the gym. It fascinated me especially when it was then converted into luxury apartments. I started reading about the history of asylums and found out this fate mirrored what happened to so many of these buildings both here and in the US.
Sometime later, I found a book in the library about murders in Hertfordshire (the county in which I live). In it there was a case about a girl in that asylum who was murdered. That story and my connection to the location captured my attention in a way nothing had done before. I’ve always jotted down ideas for stories, but never got round to completing anything. But this inspiration fired me up and from having years of half-finished stories and yellowing notes, I wrote every spare minute I could get and didn’t stop until Belle Vue was complete.
How did you choose the title?
It’s meant to be ironic as the views from the Belle Vue institution are stunning – it sits on a hill overlooking the lush greenery of the extensive grounds but of course for the inmates inside the view is not so beautiful.
Which character/s do you relate to the most?
That’s a difficult one. I can’t say any of the ‘baddies’ as they are beyond the pale as to what they get up to! With Alex, Claire and Marianne the main characters in the present day story while I haven’t been through most of what they go through and cannot relate to those aspects, I think Alex is the one I relate to most. That’s because of the combination of his love of history and doing research, his wanting to do the right thing but also being confused by how the other sex operates!
What do you like most about writing?
Creating characters. For me that is a fascinating process as you can choose every aspect of their lives and appearance and with but a few words change their fate. What I didn’t expect was that – for me – the characters became so strong that it was as though they were directing their actions and speech on the page, not my imagination! Writing is also something I can do anywhere, anytime so it gives me great flexibility which I love.
Where is your ideal place to write and/or read?
If I’m writing by hand or just jotting down ideas and plot lines on paper then propped up in bed with drinks, munchies and papers strewn all over. Otherwise for proper writing and editing, I like to sit at my desk with 2 monitors so I can use the other screen to quickly check things and have my notes spread out in front of me on one level and the keyboard at another.
What scene, in the book, are you most proud of?
There are a number of scenes in Belle Vue which are very powerful focused as they are on key plot points, but for me I am most proud of the hanging chapter (yes I did say that lol!). This may seem odd to be proud of such a thing but as a pivotal plot point (which I can’t reveal as it would be a spoiler) and a difficult subject to write and evoke appropriate feelings about, I think – hope – that it achieves for the reader what it set out to do. Only the reviews will tell me that.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m not sure I do as yet as I’m still pinching myself. And to be honest I’m probably more of a marketer in the run up to the launch of Belle Vue which is my first book. Writing (if you don’t count answering interview questions) has been the last thing on my mind lol! Trying to get reviews and publicity is almost a full time job and one I hadn’t realized I’d applied for! Once the dust has settled and with a published novel and novelette under my belt and I can return to writing the next book then I may call myself a writer then.
If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
Being with the people I love, making sure there’s nothing embarrassing for them to find after my demise, dining out (in stretchy clothes) in the very best restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner and enjoying a night of passion with my other half (although that may need to be the night before due to all the food consumed lol!).
What would you like to say to aspiring/beginning writers in the community?
Persevere. If you love to write or have a story you want to tell, then – as long as you are enjoying yourself – keep at it. Passion for the process as well as the subject is very important – especially if you want a long writing career. Don’t let rejections get you down (I could paper a mansion with mine lol). Read them and see what you can learn and apply it.
About C. S. Alleyne.
C S Alleyne grew up in Australia and originally trained as a hotel manager in the UK. After several postings in the Caribbean she changed tack and completed her MBA followed several years later by a PhD in Information Systems. She is a management consultant and also lectures in several universities.
With a lifelong love of reading, anything historical and a fascination with the supernatural and death, her vacations usually include visits to such places as the Pere La Chaise cemetery and the catacombs in Paris, the tombs in Egypt, the Popes’ crypts in the Vatican and any church yard with gravestones – you get the picture…
Cheryl was inspired to write Belle Vue by her daily journey past a block of luxury apartments that had been converted from an old asylum. Like her protagonist, Alex Palmer, she started to investigate its past and learnt that one of the inmates was murdered there in the late 19th century. The victim’s sister was hung for the crime. Cheryl was also thrilled to discover the asylum’s overgrown cemetery in her explorations of the area!
Belle Vue is her first, full length novel. Jonathan Myerson (Oscar nominated, Bafta and 4 Time Emmy winner) says he is ‘blown away’ by Belle Vue – ‘I am hugely impressed by this novel – it’s ambitious and daring and amazingly imaginative’.
Find C. S. Alleyne: