First things first, congratulations to Ewan for winning our Eterna Files giveaway! Ewan, who has been notified by email, will be receiving a signed copy of the brand new paperback edition of The Eterna Files directly from the author herself!
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, last week I wrote a review of Leanna Renee Hieber’s latest gaslamp fantasy novel The Eterna Files. In brief, The Eterna Files chronicles the efforts of two secret teams established by their respective governments on either side of the Atlantic and tasked with finding answers in the quest for immortality. As always after finishing a good book, I am currently in a state of mourning over no longer being able to live in this fantastical world, especially in this case a world so full of exciting international drama and paranormal intrigue. Luckily for me (and any of you that decide to read this dark Victorian masterpiece), the second book in the series, Eterna and Omega, is coming out in August!
Until then, author Leanna Renee Hieber has graciously decided to help us get through these six long months by answering some questions on behalf of her characters. I asked her a question directed at Clara Templeton—one of the main characters of The Eterna Files and the one inadvertently responsible for sparking the American government’s interest in immortality. Clara is more sensitive to aspects of the paranormal than most people are, particularly to ghosts and apparitions—though it was another power of hers that intrigued me throughout the book: Clara can remember details from her past lives.
I asked: In The Eterna Files, your supernatural knowledge of your history of reincarnation significantly influences your personal interest in the search for immortality. How much of your past lives do you actually remember? And do you have a favorite life you’ve lived or person you’ve been?
Clara: *sighs and traces a finger around the edge of a porcelain coffee cup*
“You know, it’s refreshing to have the opportunity to discuss my lives. It isn’t in everyday company that I can speak freely about any of my gifts. Yes, Spiritualism is all the rage as a parlor trick, magicians have made pretty pennies off the particularly gullible, but those of us who are Gifted with actual, true Sensitivities are the ones that go unnoticed and underappreciated. We keep it this way so as to remain legitimate, to not sully our Gifts with the obscuring glass of fame and fortune. But the frustrations of being one of the few honest Spiritualists in a town of charlatans is wearying. My sense of many lives keeps me grounded. It reminds me that there have always been reprobates around anything sacred and inherently good, and to not suffer fools. The knowledge of my lives keeps me rooted in trying to make the world just a bit better, a bit safer, a bit more humane, every life. Betterment as incremental is a critical sensibility. If I could not rejoice in this, then I would think I had failed every century in never having progressed as far as my dreams were capable. If I had, I wouldn’t be here, now, trying despite all the darkness to find a bit of hope and justice.
“My favourite lives might be lives at sea, last century as a captain of a tall ship, or early this century when I was again female, and made wondrous botanical discoveries in the Southern Americas before falling ill in a life cut too short by Cholera. I am an adventurer and a seeker of the universe’s mysteries, that much is clear. Asking relentless questions of myself, of life, death and the heavens is the crux of a reincarnate soul.”
I love this answer! I hope we get to hear more about Clara’s past lives in the next book. As a bonus, I also asked a couple of questions to the two characters I felt would most likely be readers of this blog if they were alive today.
The first of these characters is Rose Everhart, Harold Spire’s right hand woman in London’s Omega department, a confident, gifted decoder of ciphers and hunter of clues and patterns. In The Eterna Files, Rose explicitly mentions having an interest in Gothic literature. I asked her, “What’s your favorite Gothic novel?”
“Well, if you must know, my secret favourite is The Monk, as it is so much more titillating and overwrought than the preeminent Gothic novel, The Castle of Otronto. If one is to love a good Gothic, make it a sublimely wild one, otherwise what’s the point of the abandon in the first place? I’m nothing if not practical about the use of escapism.”
The other character I addressed is Lavinia, the Eterna team’s receptionist with some paranormal powers of her own. She’s my favorite character so far, though she plays a relatively small role in The Eterna Files. Lavinia is the Victorian equivalent of a modern day goth, wearing mourning fashion as her everyday ensemble and hanging around with others who have a flair for the melancholy and the melodramatic. I asked her, “What’s your favorite book?
Lavinia: *splays herself on a fainting couch, her all-black bombazine layers and tulle veils spilling out in all directions*
“Ah, I’m so flattered to be asked! I wasn’t sure my dramatic tale would continue to be told into these dark, Eterna days, but I am exceedingly glad of it. As for my favorite book, well, the serialized novella Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, of course, it’s been all the rage in my circle, Her Majesty’s Association of Melancholy Bastards, founded by my fiancé Nathaniel Veil. Le Fanu is a God—never mind that he’s Irish and we’re British I can look past that—if it weren’t for him, who would write us such beautifully lush, melancholic beauty featuring such paranormal fascinations to make all the denizens in the Underworld clutch their breast in anticipation of his next tale? Since Poe’s death we have had no master in the genre to take up his venerated black mantle, we have been so bereft, and Le Fanu has come to save us.”
As expected, Lavinia has spectacular taste! Carmilla is one of my favorite works as well, as you may remember from my glowing review of the trailblazing vampire novella.
Do these answers have you intrigued? The Eterna Files comes out in paperback in just over a week, so be sure to look for it in your local bookstores or online. If you’ve already read it—who are your favorite characters so far? And what would you want to ask them? Let me know in the comments!