QUICK SPLATTER: For the remainder of May and the month of June, you might see me change up my schedule just a bit. My highlighted author or character interviews, and book promos through Graffiti Promotion are quite backed up. When I first launched GP, I never thought I would receive the responses that I have. So I'm going to do my best to release all GP related articles and book reviews before I take a summer break.
My next Graffiti Promotions spotlight is a book promo. But this one is extra special, at least for me. Dianne Salerni was the third writer I met online, when I began surfing the web for like-minded peeps. Believe it or not, she was the first person ever to PM me on Twitter. It took me a while to respond because I didn't even know how to respond.
Title: The Caged Graves
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Mystery
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Book Blurb: 17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania in 1867, pledged to marry a young man she's never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. And a truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery. Nobody in town will explain why, but Verity hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out . . . or to keep the women in. Determined to understand, Verity finds herself in a life-and-death struggle with people she thought she could trust.
Inspired by a pair of real caged graves in present-day Catawissa, this historical YA novel weaves mystery, romance, and action into a suspenseful drama with human greed and passion at its core.
Dianne, I am thrilled to have you here! As you already know, I'm all fangirl over the premise of this story. What inspired you to write it?
I was researching legends in the Pocono Mountains when I came across an online article about a grave surrounded by an iron cage in Catawissa, Pennsylvania. There was a photo of the grave, and when I realized the cemetery was only an hour away from the place my family goes skiing every year, I decided I wanted to go see the grave.
My husband used clues in the article and Google Earth to pinpoint the location of the cemetery. We found the cemetery, but imagine our surprise when we discovered not one, but TWO caged graves!
Then I found out the graves belonged to sisters-in-law who died two days apart in 1852 – and the local historical society didn’t know why their family built the cages. I was determined to write a mystery about them.
Tell us a bit about your main characters or your favorite one.
Verity Boone turned out to be a little spitfire, which is something I didn't expect when I started writing. All I knew about her when I started my draft was that she'd been raised by cousins since the age of two and the death of her mother. In this book, she was returning to her father's house for the first time in fifteen years to take part in an arranged marriage.
I also knew that, because of her name, she had a habit of being very truthful. She always speaks with "verity" -- but this sometimes leads to tactlessness and blurting out things she shouldn't say. She knows how to be charming and delightful, but when her temper gets the better of her, her tongue has a mind of its own.
Her outspokenness comes as a bit of a shock to her fiance, but utterly charms the doctor's apprentice in town. Nate McClure, the fiance, is a bit stiff and has a habit of putting his foot in his mouth, but he does know how to apologize when it's called for. Hadley Jones, the young doctor, takes a liking to Verity and openly pursues her, even though she's spoken for and it's not a very honorable thing to do.
Could you tantilize us with a peek into the world you've created? An excerpt?
Sure. This is an excerpt from Verity Boone's first meeting with Nate McClure, the young man she's supposed to marry so their two families can conjoin their farmlands. It's not going well ...
Verity had no idea what to talk about now. Every conversational topic she’d chosen had led to disaster, and he didn’t seem capable of helping. Nate was looking around as if he might find something worthwhile by the side of the road, scowling as if he regretted meeting her at all.
She too looked around, hoping to find a neutral subject for discourse, and her eyes alighted on an interesting sight outside the graveyard. “What are those?” she asked and strode across the grass to get a closer look.
Outside the cemetery wall stood two odd metal frameworks that looked like tiny conservatories without the glass. Verity had never seen anything like them.
Behind her she heard Nate’s voice. “Oh … no—wait a minute.”
They weren’t conservatories—how could they be? Now they looked like overlarge bird cages.
Strangely large, iron filigree cages, each one about as high as her shoulder and—she felt a shiver run through her—not much longer than a casket.
“Miss Boone!” Nate exclaimed.
Hearing him return to a formality they had left behind in their letters made her turn around. His sisters had decided when he should ask permission to use her given name. They had read her responses, Verity suddenly realized, and possibly decided as a group how Nate would answer each one. He should go back to calling her Miss Boone, she thought indignantly. He should start from the beginning and introduce himself all over again.
“Please,” he said urgently, still standing on the road and holding out his hand to her. “I think we should go back.” He looked so wretched that she felt sympathy for him, in spite of her disappointment. She would have done what he asked without another word if he’d stopped talking then, but he didn’t. “I’m sorry I brought you here,” he said. “I should have realized you hadn’t seen them yet.”
Verity felt as if her heart dropped straight through her body. He wasn’t apologizing for being a buffoon; he was apologizing for something else entirely. Ignoring his hand, she turned back toward the cemetery.
Outside each cage there was a headstone.
She broke into a run, holding up her skirt in both hands, her feet pounding across the grass.
Iron cages surrounded two graves outside the cemetery wall. With a growing dread, she approached the nearest one, and her eyes made out the shape of the lettering on the marker.
Wife of Ransloe Boone
Thank you so much for leaving your signature in the Alleyway, Dianne!
Author Bio: Dianne K. Salerni is an elementary school teacher in Pennsylvania and the author of two YA historical novels, WE HEAR THE DEAD (Sourcebooks 2010) and THE CAGED GRAVES (Clarion/HMH 2013), and a middle grade fantasy series, THE EIGHTH DAY (forthcoming from HarperCollins beginning 2014). Her first novel, WE HEAR THE DEAD, was recently adapted into a short film called THE SPIRIT GAME and is currently making the rounds of film festivals. Blog | Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
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