Today is a really proud day for me. “The Seance” has finally launched, published by new outfit Dark Chapter Press. The paperback looks fantastic and the e-book is doing well, thanks to good pre-order interest on Amazon.
The Seance is well suited to its launch on Halloween. It is a creepy tale of horror, betrayal and loss set in Victorian London. We follow Albert Kench as he calls into question all that he believes is true in the world as he investigates the mystery surrounding his sister’s mental and physical collapse. Assisted by an old friend, Albert finds a man who may have the answers; a self-proclaimed black magician who has integrated himself with society’s elite. Delving into the unknown, Albert confronts horrifying truths beyond his reasoning and understanding, sacrificing the morals he clung to, on his quest for vengeance.
The story is born of my fascination with all things Victorian. Where Dr Blessing was born of my interest in Victorian medicine, cure-alls and genuine pharmaceutical practices, The Seance comes from my interest in quack science, mystics and the Spiritualist movement. Mediums employed many shady practices and tricks (some of which occur in the story) and preyed upon the faith of those who mourned for lost loved ones. They happily took money on the pretense that they could tap into the great beyond, to bring back messages from the departed. So many Victorians, even those of good standing and well-educated, fell for it, lining the pockets of these shysters quite willingly.
Magicians emerged, never claiming to make use of spiritual powers, rather insisting that they created an illusion. Their purpose was to entertain and to baffle, not to take money from the emotionally vulnerable. In many cases, these magicians, applying the science they understood from the creation of their illusions, sought to expose the fraudulent mediums, often posing as believers in Seance sittings, striking when the moment was right.
Arthur Conan Doyle was a believer in Spiritualism, which I found surprising, given the application of reason demonstrated by his greatest creation. Conan Doyle’s wife too, was deeply embedded in Spiritualism. Indeed she claimed to possess the ability to ‘spirit write’ or ‘automatic write’, a practice where a spirit supposedly guides a pen or pencil held by the ‘medium’, to scrawl a message to the living. A great friend of Arthur Conan Doyle’s, the illusionist Harry Houdini, voiced his incredulity on this matter and so Conan Doyle invited Houdini to a demonstration.
In the demonstration, Lady Conan Doyle declared that she had a message from Houdini’s dead mother, and commenced to ‘spirit write’ a message from her. Houdini (whose real name was Erich Weiss and who was born in Budapest, Austria-Hungary) was astonished and declared it a marvel that his mother, who had never been able to speak a word of English in life, had been granted the ability to write in English, post-mortem.
The Conan Doyle-Houdini friendship ran somewhat cold thereafter.
With this little insight into where the story came from, I hope you’ll check out The Seance. You can request the paperback from your local bookstore, or go to one of these well-known retailers:
For those who would like to know more about the Victorian age of credulity, I recommend as a starting point “Medical Meddlers, Mediums and Magicians” by Dr Keith Souter.