Castle of the Wolf

CASTLE OF THE WOLF is the story of a young woman, Cissy Fussell, who finds out after her father’s death that she has inherited a castle in the Black Forest – but only on one condition: in order to keep the castle, she has to marry the son of her father’s old friend. Unfortunately, said son turns out to be a beast rather than Prince Charming.

Two people are to blame for the existence of CASTLE OF THE WOLF (apart from myself, that is). The first is Gaelen Foley, who, incidentally, also gave me the cover quote for the book (and I'm really glad she liked the story she unwittingly inspired!). When I first got to know her, we talked a little about settings, and this e-mail conversation gave me the idea to choose Germany as the setting for some future novel. But that was not all: after she had read THE LILY BRAND, my debut novel, Gaelen told me, “You do know, Sandy, don’t you, that now you have to continue writing dark and kinky?” Ha! I thought. I can do kinky, so dark shouldn’t be a problem either. (Ha, indeed, for this was before erotic romance exploded all over the place and put a whole new definition on “kinky”.) Now, if you mix “dark” and “Germany” and “early nineteenth century,” you end up with “gothic novel.” And the Black Forest, with its deep, dark woods and old castles seemed the perfect setting for such a book. Besides, I spent the early years of my childhood there, thus writing CASTLE OF THE WOLF allowed me to revisit my childhood memories and dig through old family pictures. It was simply wonderful! (That the novel didn’t turn out too dark or too gothic is entirely the fault of the lady with the sturdy boots. Never give your characters sturdy boots, I tell you! They’ll only stomp all the gothicness to dust. Literally.) So, I now had my general premise and my setting: I was going to write a gothic romance set in the Black Forest. But what I was still missing was some idea where and how to start my story. And this is where my former folklore prof comes in.

The last the seminar I took with Professor Simon was about death and mourning rituals (very uplifting, indeed!). For this course I wrote a paper on death, mourning, and femininity in Victorian Britain, for which my major source was Pat Jalland’s DEATH IN THE VICTORIAN FAMILY. In an aside she mentions that people didn’t only dye their clothes black, but that they also dyed horses for the funeral procession.

Horses? But what ...

What if they used cheap dye, and it started to rain?

And into my mind sprang the picture of an old gig, rumbling across a muddy country lane, and thus I had found the beginning of my story: “Water poured from the skies and shrouded the world in grey. Raindrops drummed on the fold-back roof of the old gig, wormed their way through the ancient material and dripped onto the hats of the three passengers. Wetness glinted on the back of the shaggy mare, and dye ran down her sides, leaving black oily puddles on the muddy country lane.”


All the best,

For more information on Sandra and her books please visit www.sandraschwab.com.