Friday, June 24, 2016

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: This Madness of the Heart by Blair Yeatts @blair_yeatts @GoddessFish

This Madness of the Heart
by Blair Yeatts
GENRE: gothic mystery/thriller


Bad religion can be deadly. So Miranda Lamden, small-town religion professor, discovers in This Madness of the Heart. The dark hollers of Eastern Kentucky offer fertile soil for shady evangelist Jasper Jarboe, new president of Grace and Glory Bible College, as he beguiles the small mining town of Canaan Wells with his snake-oil charm.

When Miranda isn’t teaching at Obadiah Durham College, she’s investigating paranormal phenomena—or enjoying a turbulent romantic relationship with backwoods artist Jack Crispen. JJ’s inquisition-style gospel has alienated her long since, but when he announces his plan to transform her forest home into an evangelical Mecca, complete with neon cross and 40-foot Jesus, Miranda girds her loins for war. But JJ isn’t finished: he goes on to launch an attack on her friend and fellow professor Djinn Baude with an avalanche of vicious rumors. Not only does he accuse Djinn of demonic communion with the old Voudon witch whose curse killed the college’s founding family, but he also smears her with insinuations of lechery and vice.

With JJ’s urging, hate boils over into violence and tragedy, sweeping Miranda up in its flood. One death follows another as a miasma of evil overwhelms the tiny community, and only Miranda can see clearly enough to halt its spread.

This Madness of the Heart is the first in a new series of Gothic mystery-thrillers featuring Professor Miranda Lamden, whose spiritual gifts have drawn her beyond university walls to explore the mysteries of other world beliefs. Her unique vision brings her into repeated confrontations with evil, where too often she finds herself standing alone between oblivious onlookers and impending disaster.

Buy Links:

This Madness of the Heart e-book is free @Smashwords.

(CreateSpace will be up on May 1)


The night turned around her, until, in the darkest watches before dawn, she rose from her knees, abandoning the bloody altar with its guttering candles. A queen entranced, she paced slowly down the hill toward the sleeping house, her eyes blind with visions. Through the front door she walked, into the hall’s center, to the foot of the great staircase. There she raised her bloody hands and cried aloud in a high-pitched wail, sinking at last to a low hissing hum.

“Guede-z-araignee! Come a-hungered! Drink di lifeblood o’ dis evil man! Drink he mem’ry away! Tak he woman int’ di night, Tak’ he chillun, tak’ dem all! Tak’ dem int’ di darkness! Tak’ dem all—tak’ dey lives, tak’ dey bodies, tak’ dey souls! Gi di blood o’ di murderer no rest, not in dis life, not in di next. Spill dey blood on dis bloody land! Come, Guede-z-araignee! Come an’ drink!”

Like a snake swaying on its coils, a tendril of smoke emerged from the darkness, swelling and growing, rising and twisting toward the upper floors of the plantation house. Tiny rainbow-hued flames licked at the polished floor. Then, with a screaming roar, fire like a spider’s bloated body engulfed the great hall, swallowing the keening woman and gathering the curving staircase to its tumid breast. A billowing inferno exploded into the long upper halls, curling and crisping the fine imported wood, sealing bedroom doors with sucking flame, feeding on the agonized cries within: a holocaust offered to a vengeful deity, sated at last with the charring bodies of the landowner’s family... the whole family, save one, a tiny boychild, carried sleeping from his father’s house by an old black nurse, terrified by the fiery havoc she had witnessed in her dreams.

Author Interview:

What inspired you to write This Madness of the Heart?

I’ve loved mysteries all my life, beginning with Mary Stewart’s long list of romantic suspense novels. I read them over and over again, battering the books into fragile pulp, probably beginning even before my teens. Then there was Agatha Christie, and all the many other British women of mystery. My favorite among them was Dorothy L. Sayers, with her character Harriet Vane. More recently, Nevada Barr and Charles Todd have been favorites. I think it was inevitable that I’d finally write a mystery of my own: they’ve been my favorite down-time reading all my life! Madness in particular is my response to greedy and power-hungry “Christian” evangelists. It’s admittedly over the top . . . vengeful ghosts don’t play much of a part in most charlatans’ life stories. But I believe that there’s often more than we realize happening beneath the surface where evil is present.

When or at what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve tried to answer this question several times now, and I really don’t know the answer. I made up stories about my tiny stuffed animals when I was 6 years old, and was invited by teachers to share them with other primary classes on a regular basis. I read voraciously, and I know I wrote as well, but there are many years where I just don’t remember doing it. Maybe it was because my school skipped me ahead a year from 3rd to 4th grade. I recall life being very tough there for a while. I wrote my own romantic fiction as a teenager, but never showed it to anyone, and won a prize or two for writing in local competitions. But I didn’t realize that I desperately wanted to be a writer until after my children were born, and I was teaching college religion classes . . .

What is the earliest age you remember reading your first book?

I must have been three or four, because the first book I remember reading was my brother’s 1st grade primer (in a house we moved out of when I was 4), with major characters Dick, Jane, Spot, and Puff. I still have almost perfect visual recall of the book: cover, illustrations, and all.

What genre of books do you enjoy reading?

Mystery-thrillers and fantasy are my favorite genres—not surprising, since I’ve chosen to write gothic mystery-thrillers! I’ve spent most of my life studying and reading non-fiction, and teaching religion courses in college, and I’m burnt out on non-fiction. I like fiction with substance and depth, but it also has to create a world where I’d like to live. Unremitting violence and ugliness put me off. Choosing books is like eating food: you’re likely to become what you read.

What is your favorite book?

As long as I keep reading, I’ll keep discovering new favorites, or at least I hope I will. They change with the years, and I don’t think there’s ever been just one. Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night is an enduring favorite: brilliant characters, suspense, violence, hate, romance, and redemption—they’re all there. Charles Williams’ Descent Into Hell is another . . . it’s a cautionary tale about self-absorption, with intermittent paeans to human spiritual potential. Lois McMaster Bujold’s Paladin of Souls. Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Other Wind.

You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?

Oh, dear. Again I have favorites plural, and like books, they change as I change. Also, different authors appeal to different moods, different moments. But if I had to choose one lifetime favorite it would probably be C.S. Lewis, because I still reread all of his fiction every couple of years—and have been doing so since my teens. He reinforces my belief in the essential goodness, spiritual richness, and meaning of the universe, without being obnoxiously proselytizing or pious—or androcentric. He has his issues, but so do we all.

If you could travel back in time here on earth to any place or time. Where would you go and why?

Arthurian Britain, definitely! I’ve had a lifelong love affair with Arthurian literature, from Mary Stewart’s Merlin books to The Once and Future King and Camelot, Mists of Avalon, and on and on. And that’s only the mainstream popular fiction. Then there are Prophetiae Merlini, Gregory of Monmouth, Black Book of Carmarthen, Morte d’Arthur, Tennyson, and so on. I suspect the reality might something far less enchanting, but you never know. To actually glimpse that age in person and know would be worth any amount of danger and disenchantment!

When writing a book do you find that writing comes easy for you or is it a difficult task?

Yes. LOL Sometimes when I write it’s like riding the crest of a wave. Nothing can stop the flow. Of course, there’s the inevitable letdown when your nerves are suddenly scraped raw by the return to the gritty reality of the here and now, but it’s worth it. And then there are the days of plodding trial and error, when nothing comes easily and everything feels trite and hackneyed. I find that the trick is to keep going—unless I reach the point where it all seems like garbage and I have the overwhelming urge to hit “secure empty trash”! Then I’ve learned to just close the file and walk away. I can usually tell when I first open a book file in progress if I’m going to have to deal with revulsion. It’s probably just a matter of my own moods. But eventually I hear the book whispering to me again, and I go back.

Do you have any little fuzzy friends? Like a dog or a cat? Or any pets?

I’m a dedicated servant of cat-kind. I have two rescue cats, who spend much of their time taking turns on my lap while I’m writing—until they get too helpful and start chasing my fingers across the keyboard. They both stay with me in my office most of the time when I’m writing. They have cat runs above my desk, and beds in strategic places all around. They’re the models for the two cats in Madness, Shiva and Shakti:

Shiva scowled up at me with his sleepy green eyes, his thoughts needing no translation:
“Leaving again so soon?” he groused. I walked past him, running a hand down his orange back, and he hooked a claw into my finger in response.
“Monster!” I growled. “You need an attitude adjustment.”
That’s what I got for naming a tomcat after a god whose most conspicuous activity was dancing the universe into bloody chaos and destruction.
Shakti looked on unconcerned, only curling more tightly into her stripy grey ball. At least when she was in a bad mood she kept it to herself.

What is your "to die for", favorite food/foods to eat?

Shaken lemon pie (that’s custard with tons of rind), fried Calamari (with all the crunchy little legs), and Maine lobster-pound fare: steamed clams and lobster, with deep-dish blueberry pie.

Do you have any advice for anyone that would like to be an author?

If you love it, fight for it. If you really are a writer at heart, you won’t be happy if you don’t write—and in the end it’s the writing that matters, not how many books you sell. But you have to keep at it, hour after hour, day after day, in fine weather and in foul.


Blair Yeatts grew up in the midst of a large, old southern Virginia family, much like the family of her main character. She followed her parents into a career in academia and taught religion at the college level in Kentucky for many years. Her special areas of expertise are psychology and Earth-based religions, in which she has done considerable research.

From childhood, Ms. Yeatts has been a fan of mystery fiction, starting with Nancy Drew and moving through Agatha Christie to twentieth century giants like Dorothy L. Sayers, P.D. James, and Nevada Barr. She is fulfilling a life’s dream in writing her own mysteries.

Ms. Yeatts shares her home with her photographer husband, two cats, and a dog. She has a lifelong love of wild nature, and prefers to set her stories in rural areas, where threads of old spiritual realities still make themselves felt. Her first three books take place in different parts of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Author Links:


$25 Amazon or B/N GC

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.


Unknown said...

Thank you for hosting!

James Robert said...

Good Afternoon! I appreciate all the work you have put into bringing us this giveaway, thank you

Unknown said...

Thank you, James, and good luck!

Rita Wray said...

I like the excerpt.

Unknown said...

Thanks again, Rita. Good luck!

Mai T. said...

What books have most influenced your life most?

MomJane said...

What an absolutely fascinating excerpt. I loved your comments.

Unknown said...

Thanks, MomJane, I'm glad you liked them.

Unknown said...

Well, Mai T., I'd say perhaps C.S. Lewis's fantasies. I came from a very conservative Christian background, and he sort of sneaked in the backdoor when I was a teenager, introducing me to a broader world that didn't necessarily wipe out the one I'd been raised in . . .

CJ said...

Fantastic interview! I wish you continued good luck on the tour! Hope you all have a pleasant weekend! :)

Unknown said...

Thanks again, Clojo!

Victoria Alexander said...

Great post, thanks for sharing - I enjoyed reading it :)

Ally Swanson said...

Congrats on the new book and good luck on the book tour!

Unknown said...

Congrats on the Blog Tour; the novel looks great, and thanks for the chance to win :)

James Robert said...

I am helping my brother out a bit while he is camping with his kids and having a fun weekend. Thank you for this giveaway

Mai T. said...

Why should reader pick up this book?

Nikolina said...

The book sounds very intriguing, looking forward to reading it!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Ally!

Unknown said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the interview, Mary!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Lisa, and good luck!

Unknown said...

Sounds like a great weekend, James. :-)

Unknown said...

Why should a reader pick up this book, Mai T? (You always ask intriguing questions!) Perhaps for the reasons I like it: the characters have depth and intelligence; the places and contexts are alive; it's exciting in ways that go beyond the superficial; and alternate realities are present throughout--just as I believe they are in the "real" world . . .

Unknown said...

Thanks, Nikolina! I hope you will read it!