I am delighted to announce BETWEEN THE SHADOWS (THE LEGION OF MITHRAS) is now available in print and e-book (Kindle) format. Availability in Nook e-book formats is also available.
BETWEEN THE SHADOWS is a stand-alone novel, and the first book in THE LEGION OF MITHRAS series. Readers of my romance novels should be aware this is not a sensuous or formula romance with a final HEA. This is a continuing series, intended to keep the reader spellbound and engaged as to what happens next and how the characters move forward toward a final resolution. There is, however, a romance element introduced in BETWEEN THE SHADOWS that will become more prominent as the series progresses. Having said that, this book is not Historical Romance, but Historical Fiction with gothic mystery/suspense/thriller, paranormal/supernatural, and romance elements.
I am super excited about this book, and cannot wait to hear what you think about it. A great deal of research went into the book, and I even included a glossary at the back of the book which addresses characters, places, events, and some Scots-Gaelic terms.
But, let’s delve deeper into what BETWEEN THE SHADOWS is about? And what is THE LEGION OF MITHRAS?
BETWEEN THE SHADOWS is a haunting historical paranormal mystery/suspense/thriller set in 1813 England and Scotland. What can I say except I love plots that keep you guessing and in suspense. Original plots that offer both dark and light moments, and an unforgettable journey for the reader. As a writer, I personally feel that incorporating all these exciting sub-genres into this series will offer something unique, exciting, and unforgettable for readers age 15 to adult.
The Regency period, especially in 1813, was a tumultuous period in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. King George III was mentally ill and unable to fulfill his obligations as monarch. His Royal Highness Prince George Augustus Frederick, was named Prince Regent in 1811. In addition to the ongoing Napoleonic Wars, Britain was also engaged in the War of 1812 with the United States of America. So, what better time to add another threat into the mix? And introduce a remarkable heroine who begins a journey of self-discovery, empowerment, and often terrifying challenges that can change her world.
Thus, when an ancient evil rises to threaten the world of the living and the realm of the dead, 19-year old Patience Sinclair is recruited by a covert group of young, extraordinary English lords, known as The Legion of Mithras, to help save mankind.
Patience Sinclair has lost everything—her family, her freedom, and the young man she loves. Yet three years of exile in the highlands of Scotland has made her more determined than ever to prove she deserves to be free. The time has come to embrace what she is, and the gift she has kept hidden from the world.
However, returning to London is not without danger. Each step Patience takes puts her in the terrifying path of a serial killer, and an evil unlike anything she has ever known.
When fate reunites her with Viscount Leighton, Patience discovers there are others with supernatural abilities they have closely guarded. Can she and the Viscount move beyond the pain of their past, learn to trust love, and work together with the mysterious, secret Legion to conquer evil? Or, will darkness win?
You won’t want to miss learning about PATIENCE SINCLAIR and the powerful members of THE LEGION OF MITHRAS. What is the secret they have also hidden for years? What is the evil that grows and threatens humanity? This book marks the beginning of an extraordinary journey for Patience Sinclair and the Legion members that will not only redefine their existence, but their importance in the future of their country.
THE LEGION OF MITHRAS members are introduced in BETWEEN THE SHADOWS, yet their unique abilities will see them rise to become a unique, secret organization within the British government as the series progresses. Their supernatural abilities and importance can be compared to fictitious covert groups (i.e. X-Men, X-Files) that are called upon to investigate and deal with extraordinary, paranormal or mysterious situations that cannot be resolved through ordinary channels like the military. And since BETWEEN THE SHADOWS takes place in 1813, when the British government was involved in two wars, clearly, they were not equipped to handle the life-threatening threat revealed in BETWEEN THE SHADOWS.
Another way to reference the secret existence and importance of THE LEGION OF MITHRAS in this series, would be to think of them as a fictitious ancestor to MI-6 (Military Intelligence, Section 6) of the British Government’s Secret Intelligence Services), but with supernatural abilities.
Just remember, BETWEEN THE SHADOWS and THE LEGION OF MITHRAS are ‘fictional’.
Now, doesn’t that sound exciting?
The Kindle version of this book is $3.99. However, if you purchase the beautiful Print version of this title for $12.50 at Amazon, you can buy the Kindle version for just .99 cents.
The EPUB version of BETWEEN THE SHADOWS is also available for $3.99 on Nook.
The print version of BETWEEN THE SHADOWS is available for purchase ($12.50) from Amazon Worldwide, and most online and independent booksellers. If they do not have it in stock, they can get it for you from the distributor. Or, better yet, ask them to carry your local bookstore to carry the series in-house.
Thanks so much for your continued support. Enjoy the adventure! ~ AKB
Decided to take a break from doing final edits on Between the Shadows (my soon-to-be-released Historical Gothic Thriller), to officially thank someone who helped me during the lonely, often grueling writing (and editing) process. Not that we’ve ever met, or he’ll read this, but thank you to the brilliant composer Dario Marianelli. And since tomorrow, June 21st, is his birthday…Happy Birthday, too!
If you take a moment to think about it, how often one life can touch and impact another life without realizing it. A kind word, a smile when you feel as if your life sucks, an outstretched hand when you have fallen…again. But even beyond a physical presence, the work of an artist can touch your heart, or inspire you as well.
Music plays an important part of our lives and our memories. Think about the impact it has on your favorite films. Steven Spielberg is a genius when it comes to directing, producing, editing, and understanding the impact of music on film. There is a reason why he chose the amazing John Williams to score his films. From the stirring march that connected us to Indiana Jones, to the powerful yet emotional theme to Schindler’s List, the music and film became one and helped tell an unforgettable story. And let’s not forget the terror that accompanied the shark in Jaws.
For certain, music has been center stage in my life, largely due to the influence of my mother, a professional musician and singer. And so it is that I can honestly say that music has enhanced every aspect of my life. There is a soundtrack to my life. I am sure there is one to your life as well. My soundtrack consists of songs my mother sang to me, school concerts, Broadway musicals I attended, movies I watched, rock groups and symphonies that I love. Don’t believe me? There are 3,108 songs on my phone right now.
Music brings comfort, happiness, a connection to your spirituality and faith, and also helped me endure some soul-searching moments of darkness and despair. Music (at least for me), also triggers the imagination and can take you on an adventure just like a book. All you have to do is close your eyes and listen.
As a kid, I would listen to music doing homework. So, not surprisingly, I find that I not only write better listening to music — but it helps the editing process, too. I make a playlist of music for the time period of a particular book, or listen to a motion picture soundtrack (nothing with lyrics) that fit the mood, scene, etc. And that leads me to composer Dario Marianelli.
Right now, I am listening to the motion picture soundtrack from Jane Eyre composed by Dario Marianelli. Hauntingly beautiful, this score inspired me whilst writing this particular book. It also helped me to navigate the journey of its heroine, Patience Sinclair, and capture her emotions and essence.
I’m halfway through with line edits. When a writer gets to this final lap in the creation of their book, you scrutinize every word, every line. Does the scene convey what I want the reader to feel and visualize? Does the narrative enrich or weigh down the book? Is it too wordy? Not enough description? Does the dialogue sound natural as well as accurate for the time period? Will the character connect with the reader emotionally? Will her situation resonate with the reader, whether they are female, male, young, old, etc. Or, will they just not care and toss the book aside?
I have even been reading scenes aloud to hear the pacing and flow of narrative and dialogue, with music from this score playing in the background. As I listen to this soundtrack for the umpteeth time, whilst reading my finished book, I am filled with such emotion. It has indeed been a journey, and there were times I found a new direction because of something music inspired.
A novelist begins their journey of crafting a book with this glimmer of a story inside them. Very much like making a tapestry, each thread is important as one weaves the tale. You must have balance. There must be both light with dark, good and evil. Above all, for me, there must be a plot that keeps the reader emotionally invested and interested. [Image by Bjorn Ewers]
This particular book, the first in a series, has been a struggle. The waters were choppy at times. I’ll be honest, more than once I thought maybe I should just forget it. As a historical novel set in the Regency period, research is involved that must be accurate yet not distance a reader. The plot of this book is very dark, frightening. The emotional, as well as physical, journey of the heroine is such that nothing can be rushed. Without giving too much away, she is somewhat of a tortured soul who must learn to embrace who she is, what she is, and find strength on her own. She must learn to not care what others think about her, but be true to herself.
Without question, having others to encourage and support you are important, but what if you don’t have someone? What if all you have is yourself? Do you just run away from life? Give up, give in, and hide? Never prove to yourself (and anyone else who doubts you) that you deserve to live and be happy?
Much as we all want to be loved and find love, you cannot be happy until you are happy with yourself. Whatever time period you live in, there are challenges that must be faced and conquered if one is to survive. Patience Sinclair in Between the Shadows is a young woman, just 19 years old. Her story evolves as she evolves. Although there is a romantic element, her journey is more a historical thriller than a ‘happily ever after’ formula romance. You don’t know if Patience will find love or even survive.
It is that unpredictable, unexpected suspense that I hope will keep readers involved, and that will also attract young adult and new adult readers as well. Readers who expect sensuous love scenes in this book might be disappointed, but readers who want an exciting plot with a developing love interest will (I hope) embrace the book.
Ultimately, a writer must listen to the character — very much as you might listen to your child. You have to stop worrying about whether or not anyone will read the book. Scary thought, but true nonetheless. Still, I have never been one to write ‘formula’. Even writing romance, I like plots, and sub-plots. For example, I once pitched a book to an editor from a big NY publishing house. She sat there, gripping the sides of her chair and said, “It sounds really scary”. She wanted a typical romance, a formula romance. No twists. No turns. Oh, they might have to face some difficulty, but the reader always knows everything will be okay. Only the setting or names of the characters are changed, etc.
Ironically, other publishers didn’t know how to market the book either. Is it a romance novel, or a mystery-suspense? It had too much plot for them. Another editor asked, “Can you get rid of the smuggling?” Um, no — especially since it played an important part of the plot.
One editor said, “I had to think while reading this book.” I restrained myself from saying, “And that’s a bad thing????” By the way, that book [pictured] went on to win critical acclaim, numerous awards including the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Romantic Mystery and Suspense, and is an international best-seller, self-published by yours truly.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to read a book where I know what will happen. I don’t want to watch a movie where I know what will happen either. It’s the twists and turns in life that are exciting. The stumbling blocks we all face, (often by whatever cards fate dealt us as children) that can make us weak or strong. A victim or a survivor. Anything can be a learning experience. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? But if you can be true to yourself; if you can face those challenges and press on, you invariably will realize there was a reason for those challenges. There IS a reason for you!
You will grow from that setback, that illness, or whatever life tossed at you. You will NOT let others define you. And you will be stronger for having had the journey. This is what Patience Sinclair has to share with those who will read her story.
Now, as I work on final tweaks and edits, and I listen to the score from the Jane Eyre motion picture, composed by Dario Marianelli, I realize how much this music–his music–helped guide me to write Between the Shadows.
For those not familiar with his work, Dario Marianelli also composed the music for “Pride & Prejudice” (2005) and Anna Karenina (2012) both of which earned him Academy Award nominations. He WON the Oscar for “Best Original Score” for Atonement (2007).
The next time you watch a film, take a moment to truly listen to the score and how it strengthens a scene and enriches the overall experience of the film. If you are a writer, I strongly recommend making a playlist of music to write by, too. If it is a historical work of fiction, find music of the period. Unless you like to tap your feet and sing along when you write, stick to instrumental music.
Anyway, just wanted to share my experience writing Between the Shadows with you, and my gratitude for the music of Dario Marianelli.
Have a wonderful day, and stay in touch for the release date of Between the Shadows.
As a historical novelist, a great deal of time is spent on research to ensure accuracy of a time period as well as to enhance or embellish descriptive narrative and even character dialogue for the reader. One of the things that fans of Jane Austen love so much about her writing (apart from the story and unique, vivid characters) is that, as a reader, you feel transported back to Regency England. Miss Austen provides keen insight into various details of her time period, including the landscape of England, travel, restrictions of society, class, culture, fashion, politics, and even the military. [Pictured: The Madhouse by Francisco de Goya, 1812-1819, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid.]
I am a firm believer in providing as accurate and visual a picture of the time period for my books as possible. And I love doing research. But sometimes a writer playing detective by delving into the past can come upon historical research that proves more upsetting than they’d anticipated. For example, while researching an important backstory element for my upcoming novel, Between the Shadows, I found myself venturing into dark, frightening territory.
I soon realized the book I was creating was not a ‘happily ever after’, formula romance but evolving into a Gothic thriller about a courageous young woman who must not only embrace who she is, but realize her destiny. For faithful readers of my work, there is a romantic element that develops over the course of the series, but it is not the focal point of the book. [Pictured: Plague Hospital by Francisco de Goya, 1800, Private Collection]
Enduring love, although something humans all desire, cannot be forced or contrived. Emotion and trust must develop as an individual develops and comes to accept themselves. Truth is, no matter the time period, life can be difficult. For someone impoverished or without protection, especially a woman in the early 19th century, it could be bleak and brutal. Someone once told me that the key to writing a book that kept the reader enthralled was to put your character up in a tree (so to speak) then throw rocks at it. Obstacles. Challenges. Danger. Whether real or imagined, what happens to the character should be compelling, riveting.
Just like life in the 21st century, how we deal with illness, struggle, dangers, the oppressive challenges and risks, or seemingly hopeless heartache, can either conquer our spirit or make us stronger. I must admit, I relate more to characters that are not only searching to find themselves but challenged on their journey. As a reader, you want them to succeed, to have hope, and find love, acceptance, and happiness. The harder you must fight for something, physically and/or psychologically, the greater the victory.
More than anything the protagonist in Between the Shadows wants to find acceptance, love, and be free of her personal demons. But in order to achieve that she must face one life-threatening challenge after another, not knowing who to trust, and all the while haunted by her greatest fear–the ticking clock of Bedlam.
So, today I would like to share with you some of the research I have learned about this facility and its tragic history.
Since its beginning in 13th century London, Bethlem Royal Hospital has been known by many names. In 1247, it was used as a priory for the sisters and brethren of the Order of the Star of Bethlehem. Located in Bishopsgate, it was called Bethlem. In 1330, Bethlem changed from a priory to a Royal hospital controlled by the City of London. It should be noted that mentally ill patients were not allowed at this time.
In 1337, Bethlem first admitted mentally ill patients. In time, the only patients admitted to Bethlem were mentally ill. Nicknamed Bedlam, a word which means disorder, mayhem and chaos, the facility soon became synonymous with cruel and barbaric treatment of the poor souls confined within its walls. [Pictured: 19th century restraining device.]
In the early 1500s, there were 31 residents called inmates housed at Bethlem. It wasn’t until 1700 when these mentally ill individuals were finally referred to as “patients”. Let’s just pause a moments to think about this absurd milestone. It took the administration of this so-called hospital exactly 363 years to reconsider and change what they called the people under their care. In fact, it can readily be said that the progression of proper psychiatric care for the mentally ill at the hospital moved at a snail’s pace.
Pictured is a map from the 16th century showing the layout of Bethlem Royal Hospital in Bishopsgate. The facility had a church, courtyard, some stone buildings, and even a garden. However, the 31 inmates at Bethlem at that time saw little (if anything) of its courtyard or garden. Most spent their days and nights in some form of restraint, imprisoned in a dank, bitter cold environment that offered little hope for compassion or any type of comfort.
A few non-violent patients were allowed to leave the premises and even given a license to beg. However, patients considered dangerous or violent were left manacled, often unclothed, and chained to the stone floor or wall…day and night. The so-called logic for why they were left unclothed was that it “made no sense to clothe them because they would often tear their clothing in fits of temper”. (I daresay anyone manacled and chained to a wall 24-hours a day would likely tear at their clothing for no other reason than desperate frustration.)
As to the requirements for a person being admitted to Bedlam, all it took was someone’s word against you. It didn’t matter whether you were being labeled by a physician, family member, acquaintance, or stranger. There was no innocence until proven guilty, no examination or medical diagnosis. And this criteria for admission to the hospital was something that continued Imagine the corruption of someone wanting you out of the way, and committing you to this asylum. In fact, when commenting about the five years he spent committed to Bedlam, playwright Nathaniel Lee said, “They called me mad, and I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me.” [Pictured: Restraining Bed or Crib preventing patient from any movement.]
After 1557, the management of Bethem Royal Hospital was transferred to the Governors of Bridewell. A Keeper was given the sole responsibility of managing the facility on a day-to-day basis. This Keeper received payment from parishes or the relatives of inmates. Consequently, the extent of care, comfort, or consideration that might be given to an individual was dispensed based on how much payment, if any, the Keeper had been given. For those poor souls without friend or family, one can only imagine the cruelty imposed.
To get a better perspective on how foul the facility was at this time, apart from the horrific treatment given to its patients, an inspection in 1598 revealed terrible neglect of the hospital’s cesspit, known as the “Great Vault”. Mind you, this was just one of the areas cited as being in deplorable condition at that time. In the midst of this rotting, stinking facility, there were 20 patients housed there. One poor soul had been there for over 25 years.
In 1619, the Governors’ appointed Keeper, Thomas Jenner, was replaced by Helkiah Crooke, who not only had the ‘favor’ of King James I, but was the author of a book on anatomy entitled, “Microcosmographia: a Description of the Body of Man [pictured]. Yet despite Crooke’s monarchy approved title as Keeper-Physician, he did not provide medical care. Rather, he continued the hospital’s mismanagement and was rarely present at the facility. In addition, he embezzled funds whilst the inmates were starving.
Despite all the allegations against Crooke, it wasn’t until King James I had died and Charles I became king that an official investigation into the Keeper-Physician was made. Ordered by King Charles I, the investigation exposed the outrageous behavior of Crooke, and also revealed that the hospital steward had been stealing goods (such as clothing) donated to the hospital and food intended for the inmates. What the steward didn’t keep for himself, he had the audacity to sell to the inmates. Once again, those who didn’t have money or anything to ‘trade’, went hungry. Needless to say, Crooke and the steward were dismissed.
In 1634, the day-to-day management of the hospital changed. Instead of the Keeper-Physician, the facility had three highly educated, medically trained individuals to oversee daily operations. An apothecary, non-resident physician, and a visiting surgeon were hired by the Governors. Although it seemed the Governors were concerned about the operation of the hospital, the physical neglect, abuse, and often bizarre treatment within its walls continued.
Outside its walls, the hospital became the object of public scrutiny, too. Among the constant complaints from citizens living nearby was noise “hideous and great” echoing from gaping windows that held no glass, the foul stench of human excrement that permeated the air from the ‘Great Vault’, and the unsightliness of decaying buildings. Yet despite the ongoing neighborhood protests, it took almost 100 years for something to be done.
In 1675, the inmates of Bedlam were relocated to Moorfields, situated outside the city proper. Robert Hooke (a noted scholar, inventor, polymath, and architect befriended and influenced by none other than the great Christopher Wren) designed the hospital’s impressive new buildings.
The Court of Governors continued to elect the trained medical staff, but appointments were based less on qualifications and more on social connections. Nepotism would also play a major factor. In 1728, James Monro was given the salaried appointment as Bethlem’s physician, and had total control of the facility and its daily treatment of patients. His appointment began a 125-year dynasty of his family holding this position.
Patients were divided into two groups, the curables and incurables. However, wards to separate these two groups of patients from one another was not implemented until 1725-34. And since the incurables were often dangerous, consider the poor, frail, and frightened individual being placed alongside them without any intervention or protection.
One might think that by the 18th century, compassion and genuine concern for the ill-treatment of these patients at Bedlam might have become more prevalent. After all, some of these people must have had families. For those that did not, surely the church felt it their Christian duty to see to the poor and ill. However, such compassion was not the case. Instead people found a twisted form of entertainment by going to see the “Show of Bethlehem”. For a penny, they gained admittance into Bedlam so they could stare and laugh at the poor souls held captive there. For the more cost-conscious citizen, entry was free on the first Tuesday of each month.
Because madness was often considered a sign of ‘moral weakness’, there were other citizens who visited the hospital to impress upon reckless family members what terrible fate awaited them if they continued their immoral living.
People came to stare at the ‘curables’ and ‘incurables’ of Bedlam by the thousands. In 1814 alone, 96,000 people came to “visit” Bedlam. Ironically, at this time, King George III was also being treated, albeit privately, for madness. Still, the depraved conditions and horrendous treatment of the mentally ill continued. Not only did they suffer frightening treatment for their illness, they were subjected to mocking and cruelty by the public.
In 1815, after 140 years in Moorfields, Bedlam was relocated to St. George’s Field in Southwark. The architecture designed by James Lewis included an annexed library and a ballroom. In addition, steps had been taken to address how patients should be treated. They were now called “unfortunates”; one must assume it seemed a more compassionate term of the time. Men and women were housed in separate wings, but they could gather together in the evenings to listen to music and even dance in the ballroom. One must assume that those patients allowed to do this were more controlled in their behavior. At chapel, however, patients were separated again.
Unfortunately, contrary to the ballroom dancing privilege (which might have been done more for public relations purposes than the welfare of the individual), neglect and inhumane treatment of the “unfortunates” continued. The same year the hospital moved into its grand new building in Southwark, a report of Bethlem Royal Hospital proved it was still Bedlam inside.According to one Dr. Connoly (in his report to the House of Commons), he saw: “patients each chained by one arm or leg to the wall, each wearing a sort of dressing gown with nothing to fasten it. Many women were locked up naked with only one blanket”. “Sleeping cells were either exposed to the full blast of cold air or were completely darkened”. Patients diagnosed as incontinent were kept in the damp, dark basement with nothing but straw on the floor. A year later, in 1816, glass was installed in the window, although not glazed. A new wing for the criminally insane was also built in 1816, where 45 men and 15 women were secured.
At the Parliamentary Committee on Madhouses, a proponent for “lunacy reform” named Edward Wakefield provided crucial testimony. Having toured Bethlem several times to review how patients were being treated, he cited the “thuggish nature of asylum keepers”. Methods of threatening, intimidating, and punishing patients was considered viable treatment for their illness. Shock treatments such as ‘cold bathing’ were also implemented whereby the patient would suddenly drop (without warning) through a trap door into ice cold water. The practice of confinement to various degrees also continued. Devices for confinement included feet and wrist manacles, an early form of a strait jacket, and a restraining bed (or crib) that more resembled a casket with bars where the patient could not move or even sit up.
A primary focus of Wakefield’s testimony was the care of a 55-year old American marine named James Norris. In 1800, the American had been detained at Bethlem on allegations of ‘lunacy’. Yet it wasn’t until 1814, when Norris was discovered in isolation as an ‘incurable’ in Bethlem Royal Hospital. Restrained to a wall by a mechanical device that made movement impossible, he was in frail health. Even worse, he’d been kept manacled on this iron device, alone, for ten years. The reason given for him being so severely restrained was that he’d been violent in the past. (Personally, being an American, far from home, and imprisoned in an asylum against your will might make anyone violent. Perhaps he wanted someone to listen to him, to believe him.) Ironically, when awareness of this patient was made known, six members of Parliament visited Norris. Each man stated Norris was rational, quiet, and capable of coherent and topical conversation. Based on Wakefield’s testimony and the illustration of Norris made public, he was finally released from his manacled restraint and isolation. However, the damage to his body and spirit had been done. He died, still a patient of Bedlam, a few weeks later.
As more and more evidence was given in 1816, and the severe degree of continued inhumane treatment of patients was brought to the forefront of public awareness, as well as Parliament, Thomas Munro, principal physician (and grandson of James Munro), resigned in June of that year.
Bethlem Royal Hospital continued onward, and still exists today. Situated on 270 acres in the London borough of Bromley, it strives to provide the most advanced and comprehensive level of quality care to patients. Needless to say, with the passing of 768 years since it first opened as Bethlem Royal Hospital, education, technology, medicine, and measures to diagnose and understand mental illness has grown to great heights. And the compassionate, humane treatment for those suffering from this condition have also improved tremendously. Still, when one hears the word Bedlam, an undeniable turbulent undercurrent of its scarred and haunting history remains.
Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate the opportunity to share with you some of the information I have learned through research on this subject. ~ AKB
For more information about the History of Bedlam, here is an informative and chilling video that addresses the men placed in charge of the hospital, and some of the patients held at Bedlam.