Meet My Muse with Helen Goltz
Let me introduce you to my muse—not a woman, but two haunted houses, or at least houses that were perceived to be haunted. They were the basis for my historical romance, Autumn Manor.
When I was a child growing up in Toowoomba, Queensland, there was a huge, derelict house in our neighbourhood called Smithfield. It would have once been grand, and still sat on a large block of land with a forest of trees in front of it. But most of the land it once occupied (300 acres) had been subdivided and sold, and my parents bought one of those blocks. There we built our family home.
Initially I was one of only a handful of children in the new suburb, and at 10-years-of-age I would ride my bike past the house along with the other neighbourhood kids. We would make up stories, fearfully glance to the windows or dare each other to run up the stairs and touch the door. We believed it was full of ghosts and tragedies untold. This was my first muse.
My mother tells a story of being terrified as a little girl when made to practice piano in the front room of her relative’s old timber house where an uncle had once hanged himself from grief. Pairing these two mysterious extracts from history formed the basis for my love story.
Nothing captures the imagination like your own fears but behind every ghost—be it a house or person—lies a story waiting to be told of what once was a life lived. And that’s how I started the love story Autumn Manor … with the bones of a scary old house and a young journalist who takes a trip back to find out who its ghosts were. Every story in the book is based on a real event, a real war story or love encounter … as they say, only the names have been changed.
This was a wonderful emotional story to write and it taught me the importance of living life to the fullest and making sure we love and care for those that are in our lives.
A man hanged himself in the front room of the now abandoned old mansion; Rachael Price, along with everyone in the village, knew the story. But that was a long time ago and the tale had become nothing more than an urban myth by the time Rachael was born. Eighty-nine-year-old Carrie Howell, dressed in her Sunday-best, asks her grand-daughter, Rachael, to stop a while in front of the rambling old mansion-Autumn Manor. Who were these people her grandmother is remembering and what is her connection to the ‘haunted house’ that Rachael avoided as a child? Why is the house abandoned? Who owns Autumn Manor now?
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