Read Gothic Victorian Novelist Essie Fox's Interview & Enter to Win "The Last Days of Leda Grey"

I'm so excited to have as a guest today Victorian Gothic novelist Essie Fox, author of delectably, bleak titles The SomnambulistElijah's MermaidThe Goddess and the Thief and now her new book inspired by Gilded Age silent films The Last Days of Leda Grey, which is being released in mass paperback today. It will also be the prize in today's giveaway!!!

Giveaway Ended:

Follow for future giveaways: Essie Fox & Stephanie Carroll 

Also, consider (we won't force you) signing up for our blogs/newsletters, which is the best way to get insider tid-bits on our work and news about new books and giveaways like this one.

Sign up today to become one of Stephanie's VIPs! 

Follow Essie Fox's blog The Virtual Victorian!

Choosing the Winner

The Winner is @Shelley_Motz_Writer

Giveaway Book!!!

Essie Fox has written three Victorian novels. Now, The Last Days of Leda Grey moves into the Edwardian era, and also the 1970’s, as it tells the haunting story of an enigmatic silent film actress ~ before an obsessive love affair leaves her abandoned and alone for more than half a century.

“The Last Days of Leda Grey takes as its backdrop the early days of film, and peoples it with charismatic, enigmatic characters in a world that hovers between history and illusion. Meticulously researched and vividly told, it’s a richly evocative story, brimming with intrigue and suspense.”
M L Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans

View The Last Days of Leda Grey on 

“Luminous … Leda Grey’s world is utterly beguiling.” The Times

“Deliciously unsettling.” The Independent

The glee with which Fox approaches her material is infectious.” The Guardian

“A deliciously eerie affair.” Sunday Express

“A truly enchanting and magical book.” Brighton and Hove Independent

“Wonderfully atmospheric.” Red Magazine

“Magnificently conjured. A Hitchcockian atmosphere of ‘encroaching dread’ and menace.” 
Historia Magazine.

And now, introducing Essie Fox! 

Essie Fox was born and raised in Herefordshire. At Sheffield University she studied English Literature. She then went to live in London to work in newspaper and book publishing ~ after which she spent more than twenty years as a freelance commercial artist.
Since 2011, Essie has been writing novels which are published by Orion Books. The first three books are ‘Victorian’, and her debut, The Somnambulistwas shortlisted for the UK National Book Awards, was featured on Channel 4’s TV Book Club, and has also been optioned for TV/Film by Hat Trick Productions. Her fourth and latest novel,  The Last Days of Leda Greymoves on to the Edwardian era, and also the 1970’s.

Learn more on her website!

Questions About Essie & Her Work

How long have you been writing and how long did it take to break into traditional publishing?

I started writing about nine years ago, after I’d worked as a commercial artist and illustrator for more than twenty years. But, I’d always had a desire to write and suddenly I realised that I needed to get on with it. So ... I took a deep breath and decided to take three years off work, as if I was going back to university to study for another degree. I told myself that if I didn’t manage to write a novel, get an agent, and a publisher during that period of time then I would return to my artwork - though as it turned out I’ve never returned because, luckily, I achieved my goals. Who knows what the future years may hold, but for now I’ve discovered my passion in life ... which is painting with words instead of a brush.

As for the past... my first novel, The Somnambulist, was published in hardback by Orion Books in 2011. Since then, Orion have published three more of my historical novels, and it really has been wonderful to see the worlds of my own creation coming to life on the published page.

What category of Gothic Victorian fiction do you write—mystery, romance, paranormal, magical realism, literary, etc.?

I actually think my novels contain elements of all those categories.

How do you keep a genre that’s been around since Victorian times fresh and new while also fitting the genre? Do any of the classics influence your work?

The previous question has some bearing here because although I adhere to many of the tropes of Victorian literature I also tend to seed in elements of the paranormal - with events that may be real, or else may be in the mind of the characters. I also try to include something pertinent to my present life - something to keep the writing alive for me. For example, in The Somnambulist, and also Elijah’s Mermaid, I used place settings of East London and also rural Herefordshire, both of them having been my homes at various times in my life. In The Goddess and the Thief, the novel was set in my current home town of Windsor, which means that as I walked the streets, the parks and forests all around (which haven’t really changed that much since the way they looked in Victorian times) I could almost think myself into the mind of my protagonist.

With my latest novel, The Last Days of Leda Grey, which moves on to the Edwardian era, and also the 1970s, I was profoundly influenced by old black-and-white silent films I’d once seen, by the streets and vintage shop fronts in the seaside town of Brighton, and also by childhood memories of the heat wave of 1976 when England enjoyed a summer so long it resulted in a water draught. The hallucinatory nature of that heat - day, after day, after day - was a vivid inspiration for the almost hypnotic effect I hoped to recreate in the mindset of my young male journalist, who visits the aging Leda Grey in her secluded cliff top house where many ghostly things occur.

As far as the classics are concerned, I studied Victorian literature while at university and since then I’ve continued to enjoy and also to be influenced by the work of the Bronte sisters, by Wilkie Collins, and Bram Stoker. Charles Dickens is not so much of a favourite, but he does have such wonderful characters, often with the eccentric mannerisms that I also strive for in minor characters. In addition to this, I’m influenced by the poetry of the era; increasingly by Emily Dickinson whose language is utterly compelling, and really very modern in tone.

What is your favorite modern book from your own genre or a book you know readers who like your work will enjoy? Favorite classic Victorian Gothic?

Oh, there are so many. Here is a small selection...

Little Egypt by Lesley Glaister. This is a claustrophobic and mesmerizing modern gothic that I cannot praise enough. When I read it recently, I loved the fact that it had some similarities to themes in my own The Last Days of Leda Grey. An old woman in an abandoned and crumbling house. A mysterious past, with links to Ancient Egypt.

Affinity by Sarah Waters is an intensely eerie novel with a fabulous twist in the tail.

The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox is a brilliant high-brow thriller. Great characters and plot. And, there is an equally good follow-up in The Glass of Time.

The Quincunx: The Inheritance of John Huffam by Charles Palliser - which almost out-Dickens Dickens, and does so with a knowing nod because the main character’s names of John Huffam are the middle names of Dickens. And then, as the novel (it’s very long) gradually unfolds, we see so many references to Dickens’ own storylines too. An addictively entertaining and engrossing read.

The Observations by Jane Harris. Set in Scotland, this novel sees the uniquely wonderful character of Bessie Buckley taking on the job of a maid to Arabella, who lives in a fine country house. The traditional Victorian themes are told with wit and originality. Often very eerie. Often wry.
For those who enjoy a Victorian crime mystery, the Hatton and Roumande novels by D E Meredith are a rare treat. Intelligent, rich in period detail, and drenched in sinister intrigue.
The novels of Wendy Wallace, The Painted Bridge and The Sacred River, are works of subtle brooding menace, highlighting the strengths and also the limitations of women in an era when they had far less freedoms and rights than those in existence for many of us today.

Do you have any writing quirks like habits/rituals or certain music or something else that gets you ready to write?

When I’m writing a first draft I tend to do exactly the same thing each morning. I get up, go down to the kitchen and make a strong coffee with freshly ground beans, which I then take back to bed again where I work until the early afternoon - or whenever it suddenly feels ‘wrong’ to still be in my nightclothes.

Questions About The Last Days of Leda Grey

How much of The Last Days of Leda Grey is based on historical events?

Quite a lot! I have entirely fictionalized my main characters, but many early films of silent cinema were made in the English seaside town of Brighton during the Edwardian era, where photographers-turned pioneer film makers lived and worked successfully due to the remarkable quality of light - which helped a lot when they didn’t have the big studio spotlights used today.

My film director is French, with his creative passion and expertise reflecting the fantastic and magical films once made by the genius Georges Méliès. But the films of Leda Grey are darker, and also increasingly ominous, reflecting not only my heroine’s life when she was young and starred in them, but also the disturbing events that happen in the present day - when my 1970s journalist discovers the elderly Leda Grey and interviews her for an article, with consequences more sinister than he could begin to imagine.

What was your research process like: Any unique or interesting sources? What did you look into in order to build this historical setting and world?

I read all that I could on the early film-makers and their work in the Brighton area. As so often happens when researching a certain place and time, some surprising facts did spring to light. Related specifically to the book I discovered the town of Shoreham (very near to Brighton) was used for making many open-air films, with the large stone fortress port it has (once built as protection against the French) being used as a studio, or ‘stage’. Once again, that sparkling ocean light! But Shoreham was also to become a thriving theatrical community, with many actors and music hall characters buying up disused railway carriages which were then converted as dwellings and placed along the shore. Those dwellings are known as Bungalow Town today, and I ended up being inspired to feature one in the story of Leda Grey - both in the past and the present day.

I also discovered that, in Brighton, there had been a taxidermist’s shop - and this is something else that I then wove into the story’s narrative. It provided a wonderful gothic theme for some of the darker elements.

Finally, the house I imagined Leda and her family living in in Brighton is almost identical to the Brighton Regency Town House; a living museum open to the public today ... although I had not idea of this when I was writing the novel. It was therefore a wonderful surprise when the first event I spoke at for the novel’s publication happened to be in that very venue. It felt like coming home!

What was the development of The Last Days of Leda Grey like? How did you flesh out the initial idea into a full blown story? Did you brainstorm, use plotting techniques like arranging note cards, or did it develop through the research and writing of it, or through some other way?

The first seed from which the novel grew was when I visited Brighton one day and stood outside a junk shop window staring at the black-and-white photograph of an alluring star of the silent screen. This star was the American Theda Bara, in her role as Cleopatra - a film released in 1917 which is all but lost to us today. But, that look, and that exotic theme soon formed the centre of Leda Grey, with Leda’s final film also being very strongly related to the story of She by H Rider Haggard, with its themes of beauty, power ... and also of eternity.

From that point of initial inspiration I began to look at old images of silent films. I’m a very ‘visual’ writer, in that pictures often strike a chord that lead to an entire book. I don’t plan ahead, but I usually know where the book will start and where it will end - after which I begin to write and follow wherever the story leads me: which is sometimes down blind alleys from where I must then retrace my steps, unravel the threads and re-embark on the journey all over again. But once I’m a few chapters in - by which time I know more of the characters - I’m usually well away.

A lot of authors’ and artists’ work “says something.” Would you say your books say something and if so what is The Last Days of Leda Grey saying?

Leda Grey is about aging and dying - about the loss of youth and beauty, and also the dreams we might once have had. It’s about losing those we love, and how our memories can distort the truth of events that occurred in the distant past.

This novel made me think a lot about reality and illusion; how we tend to believe the things we ‘see’, whether or not they hold the truth. So, a withered weak old woman who had once been lovely and desired sits in a dark and crumbling house where she’s been a recluse for fifty years and shows a young male stranger the films in which she starred when young. As the images captured on celluloid flicker through the shadows, she gains a sort of ‘eternity’, forever young and glamorous, whatever her present state may be. And, while she reminisces and pines for all that has been lost, how does her visitor react - sitting beside a decrepit old woman, but seeing her as she was when young, finding himself to be entranced by her luminous beauty on the screen?

Did you have a muse, something you focused on, like an image or idea, while writing The Last Days of Leda Grey?

Yes, definitely the picture of Theda Bara that I mentioned above - and all the stills from the film Cleopatra. So exotic and alluring. I also had a picture of Theda as my computer screen saver during the time I spent writing the novel.

Questions About Authorship & Publishing

Your first book came out in 2011 and this will be the fourth. That’s about one book a year. How do you produce new work so quickly?

Well, I started quite late in life, but I’ve always been an avid reader, and even worked in publishing when I first left university. Since then, I’ve had a long career in graphic design and illustration - and I also had a family. But the need to write was always there, my mind constantly filled with stories - until the day I simply woke and knew I’d better get on with it before - like much character Leda Grey - I was old and it was all too late.

Perhaps that’s why I wrote my first four novels rather quickly. However, I must confess that I’ll probably be taking longer over whatever I decide to work on next. A little more time with my friends and family, and for reading other people’s books. I firmly believe that reading good books is the best thing to inspire and feed the mind of any writer; at whatever stage in their career.

Since 2011, your career as an author has skyrocketed, starting with your debut novel The Somnambulist, which was shortlisted for the UK National Book Awards and optioned for TV/Film by Hat Trick Productions. What do you think you have done (in addition to writing amazing books) that has helped your career blast off?

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve done anything but write ... and then hope!

I think I had a sprinkling of luck, mixed with a shedload of hard work. But the main thing about writing is to keep on, to be true to yourself and your story, and not to be dispirited by seeing other people’s success when you feel yourself a failure. You’re not. But this can be a long, long game, a process during which you must be true to yourself and not try and write for ‘the market’. What is successful this year will probably have worn itself out by the time you’ve written and published your own book. Write from the heart and with integrity. An editor can always pick up on that sense of authentic originality.

How do you craft beautiful prose? Which writers would say have inspired your style and voice?

I love the work of so many authors. I think I’ve been most influenced by Sarah Waters, Angela Carter, and Wilkie Collins for my Victorian novels. But I also absolutely adore the work of Kate Atkinson, Helen Dunmore, and Maggie O’Farrell. Beautiful prose. Wonderful books. Stories told from the heart.

How much of your marketing comes from you and how much comes from your publisher?

This is a tricky one. It varies from book to book. However, I will say that that in general things have changed quite a lot in the UK market of late where debuts seem to be the books generating most interest and excitement in the world of publishing. If you are a brand new author you have more chance of being selected as a lead title, with the benefit of a marketing plan and budget to promote your work. If not, the whole thing may well be left to the more random ‘word of mouth’ - which means an increasing onus on writers to promote themselves and their work as much as they spend time writing. It’s not an easy balancing act. I do know several people who’ve given up.

How do you balance your writing life with the marketing, blogging and business aspects of writing? And how do you balance all of that with the rest of your life?

I try to do what I enjoy, and then it doesn’t feel like work. I love blogging and hope to connect the readers of my blogs with my books, even though the features are often on quite different historical subjects. But that feeds my need to learn as well - and often leads to a whole new book!

I also really like the performance aspect of speaking to a live audience - though I get very nervous beforehand. The literary events I’ve enjoyed the most have been mixed affairs with authors and also musicians - with our contributions complimenting shared themes or calendar events. So inspiring and great fun, and something I could never have imagined doing before I began to write. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s really happening.

Don't forget to enter the Giveaway!!!

To enter the giveaway (11/16/17-11/26/17) - please follow BOTH Essie Fox & Stephanie Carroll on Facebook OR share this interview & tag BOTH @EssieFoxAuthor & @CarrollBooks on Facebook. Also, consider (we won't force you) signing up for our blogs/newsletters, which is the best way to get insider tid-bits on our work and news about new books and giveaways like this one.

Sign up today to become a VIP & Join My Journey Today! Stephanie Carroll's quarterly newsletter.

Follow Essie Fox's blog The Virtual Victorian!

How I'm Researching the Haunted Chillingham Castle for My WIP

For my October 2017 quarterly update, I'd like to not only tell you about what I'm working on, but also give you some insight into how I go about doing said work.

If you are following my newsletter (hint, hint), then you know my current WIP (Work in Progress) is loosely based on the history of Chillingham Castle in Northumberland, England, so I'm going to tell you all about the tools and resources I'm using to build this novel so far. 

If you are like, hey what about The Binding of Saint Barbara? Don't worry, my new agent Cate Hart of Corvisiero Literary is preparing to submit it to publishers, but it's a long process so for now all we can do is wait and prepare the next book. Don't worry, I'll keep you updated. ;)

 Tools & Resources

Google Maps
If you are an author, this is one of the most amazing and least utilized tools out there. Google maps used to require you to download software, but now adays, you use this tech on your phone when you are getting directions! 

I use it to get an idea of my historical setting when it's not possible for me to visit in-person because, sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but authors are totally starving artists - especially those at the beginning of their careers, i.e., me. 

Anywho, Google maps does a couple of things that is incredibly useful:

1. Bird's Eye View
This can help you get an idea of the setting's surroundings, orientation and other little things. For example, if you know a room is on a certain part of the castle and let's say you want your character to stand in there and look at the sunset, well how do you know that part of the castle faces in the right direction for the sunset? Awwwww, now you're gettin' it.

For me, it helped me figure out that the wall fortifying Chillingham doesn't go all the way around the castle. Clearly, they were only expecting raids from one direction - Scotland.

2. In-Person or Street Views
There is a little yellow guy in Google Maps that you can grab (with your mouse) and place at a location in map where you want to see the In-Person or Street View, which basically lets you look at the location as if you were standing there yourself. It makes a big difference. 
This helped me get a feel for what it's like right outside the castle's front door. And it helped me figure out that the front door doesn't lead into the castle but into the castle courtyard. The awesome stairwell inside the courtyard leads into the castle. That's a really important fact for when I describe my heroine walking inside and I could have really easily missed it.

3. Inside Views
Okay, it's not a walking tour, but you can click on different areas of some locations to see pictures people took there. This is new tech, so right now, I can tell the locations showing up on the map with these pictures are not accurate to where the rooms are located within the castle, but someday they will perfect this, and it will be freaking glorious!

Check out Chillingham Castle via Satellite for yourself.

Classic Literature 

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Cover or 1921 Le Fantome de l’Opera
 by Gaston Leroux, 
Did you even know this started as a book? Actually, before that it was published as a serial in France from 1909-1910. I'm using this because my story has a phantom stalker probably something that comes from this story, which I explain further under "plays."

This is a classic haunted house and suspense novel written by Shirley Jackson in the 1960's, and people have compared my novel A White Room to it, so I figured it would be a good one to read in preparation for this book.

Plays and Movies Too

For me, discovering The Phantom of the Opera was a journey, and it has always stuck with me like my own little theme music. The first time I heard the music from Frank Loyd Wright's adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera for the stage was a magical moment for me as a child and as an artist. The first time was when a teacher played it in my first-grade class for reason's I do not recall, but I remember thinking it was the most beautiful music I had ever heard. However, as a child I didn't have the wherewithal to remember a title or anything to find it later. It disappeared like like smoke in the breeze. 

But then later when I was maybe between 10-12 years old, my best friend and soul-sister played it for me, explaining that her mother had played it to her. I was so excited to have rediscovered the music, I remember jumping for joy.

Shortly thereafter, her mother played the entire soundtrack for us in the car and explained the amazing story while she drove us to the mall 45 minutes away in Santa Clarita.

To finish this all off with a nice nummy cherry, a few years later, our mothers took us both to see the actual play in Los Angeles. We got to wear fancy dresses and go to a nice restaurant before heading to the theater. I remember watching that play sitting forward with wide eyes. And the seeds for a future novel were planted.

And the journey of discovering The Phantom of the Opera continues as I mentioned that I only recently learned it started as a novel.

Well I mean of course I saw the movie! Didn't you read the above, I'm practically stalking this story through space and time.

The Secret Garden
Specifically the 1993 movie version of Frances Hogdsen Burnett's The Secret Garden has been an inspiring factor in my work for a long time. This was another piece of art I first experienced as a child and it left it's mark on my creative soul. 

A lot of people don't realize it, but this is a Gothic story, even though it's not scary. The scene when Mary is sneaking through the house through secret doors and discovering parts of the house that have been closed off and consumed by nature - yeah, you might notice some similarities in my WIP.

Interestingly enough this is not a part of the story taken from Burnett's original work. This part is original to the 1993 movie directed by Agnieszka Holland. I remember this moment of the movie conjuring up such fanciful imagery in my mind of exploring an abandoned great house like that. Yeah, it's stuck with me. I just hope I have enough writing chops to recreate that sense of mystery and wonder.

Crimson Peak 
I really enjoyed this movie, and it was great to watch in preparation for this WIP. Actually, what I realized from watching it wasn't what I should do but what I shouldn't. Nothing against Guillermo del Toro's work because it's great, but it helped me realize that Gothic's have so many tropes you got to find a way to embody the genre without giving people the same exact thing again and again.

del Toro of course did a great job reinventing these cliches. The reason I came to this realization is that I saw a lot of the ideas I had for my book already happening in his movie (similar ideas at least). My point is that if you want to stand out the Gothic genre you have to dance on a very thin line between working with the genre and also being new and intriguing. Again, I hope I've got the chops. 

That's why I read a little Kelly Link too because she does dark stuff in unique and crazy ways you would never expect. Another big inspiration for me.

Gothic Novelist Leanna Renee Hieber's book Twisted Tragedy
I spoke on a panel with Leanna a couple months ago at the Historical Novel Society Conference and she writes the perfect kind of books for getting yourself into the Gothic mood!

Previous Failed Manuscripts - LOL!
You may remember last year or the year before, I tried to write a Gothic novella in one month, and I succeeded, but it was the kind of garbage that is so bad you don't even want to try to fix it. You might say this WIP is me taking another crack at it. I'm taking some of my favorite scenes from the failed MS and building off of those for certain scenes in my WIP. It's mostly the beginning stuff. The end is when everything went to the crows!

Google Books
What would I do without Google Books? Google Books is great for out-of-print, old and reference type stuff that is hard to find elsewhere. Also, sometimes new stuff too. Here are a few of the books that I found useful for research:

In-Person Research

Check out my recent visits to some creepy awesome Gothic locations like a real-world Necropolis and The Winchester Mystery House.

Official Websites
This might seem like the easiest thing, but what can I say, these were great resources for information, official history (which is important when dealing with a famous hunted house), and detailed images of my historical setting.

A unique thing, I hope to work into the story, is that Chillingham has been home to an ancient breed of white cattle for some centuries now. These wild cattle managed to escape human interference and eventually came under the protection of past castle inhabitants and today a preservation society.

Google Images
Goodness, Google should be paying for all this endorsement ;) I wish. Seriously though, another fantastic resource for description purposes.

Chillingham Courtyard

Youtube is another incredible resource for research that I don't think a lot of people consider. I used it for listening to related music, just to get that vibe, but more importantly for getting a feel for the setting inside and out. Plus, I also used it for getting a feel for the accent and dialect of Northumberland.

Phantom of the Opera Music

Chillingham Youtube Videos

Most Haunted: Chillingham Castle

Chillingham Part 1 and Chillingham Part II

Around Chillingham Castle

Northumberland Accent Youtube Videos
Accents and dialects are one of the hardest things to research for me, but Youtube is a huge help. I first did some internet research that determined the name of the accent in Alnwick, Northumberland is called Geordie. Once I had that, I could search for all kinds of things to help me get ideas for expressing this accent through my characters.

Geordie Dictionary
This video is helpful and adorable.

What resources do you use to research your work?

The Darkest Victorian History for Halloween!

Every Halloween I like to write some especially dark and creepy posts on Victorian history so here are my best posts on the topic!

Photo by Stephanie Carroll

10 Creepy Facts About a Real World Necropolis

All photos in this post were taken by Stephanie Carroll unless otherwise specified.

Colma, California is a city of more people dead than alive. It is where most of San Francisco buries their dead, and it’s the setting of my short story “Forget Me Not” (read an excerpt) originally published in Legacy:An Anthology. So how did the city come to be? Just in time for Halloween, here’s 10 Creepy Facts About this Real World City of the Dead plus a ton of pictures from my visit:

1. The History:

According to the Colma Historical Association, on March 26, 1900, the city and county of San Francisco passed an ordinance prohibiting any further burials in the city. By the 1880's San Francisco already had 26 cemeteries all of which were filling up fast. There was a fear that they would run out of room because the 1849 gold rush brought thousands out west along with disease and a high death rate.

Then on January 14, 1914, San Francisco sent out eviction notices to everyone with deceased relatives buried in city limits. Many of the these graves were relocated to Colma, which is just south of San Francisco. Colma was a popular choice because it had easy access by rail, road and street car. For those who could not afford the $10 reburial fee, their relatives were reburied in mass unmarked graves.


2. Colma was founded as a Necropolis in 1924 for fear of future evictions of the deceased.

3. Colma has at least 17 cemeteries.

4. According to a New York Times article, as of 2016, Colma had about 1,600 living residents and about 1.5 million dead ones.

5. Funereal Processions cause the worst traffic jams in Colma, so town residents receive phone blast messages to warn them when to expect delays due to the number of expected mourners.

6. Famous inhabitants include but are not limited to:
  • William Randolph Hearst - his family's Greek-inspired mausoleum is surrounded by 16 ionic columns but is oddly unmarked.
  • Wyatt Earp - often has American flags surrounding his tombstone.
  • Levi Strauss - you know like Levi Jeans.
Possibly William Randolph Hurst's???
  • Joe DiMaggio - visitors often leave bats leaned up against the headstone.
  • Abigail Folger - you know like the coffee, oh, and the Manson victim.
  • Phineas Gage - a man who in 1848 had a tamping iron blow through his skull and brain after an explosion and lived to tell the tale. His body is in Colma, but his head, along with the tamping iron, are at Harvard Medical School, according to the Smithsonian website. 
  • Tina Turner's DOG - wrapped in her fur coat. This brings me too ... 
7. Yes. There is a pet cemetery. According to another New York Times article "Colma, California, a Town of 2.2 Square Miles, Most of it 6 Feet Deep," plots at the Pets Rest Cemetery and Crematory are in high demand, ranging from $550 to $850. Those on a budget opt for cremation, starting at $130.

Not the pet cemetery.

8. The city is often called "The City of the Silent" or "The City of Souls."

9. Residents, although few, have embraced their "death heritage" and have a lighthearted approach to death. Most businesses in the town are funeral related. Wedding pictures and even ceremonies sometimes take place at some of the cemetery lawns or within their chapels. 

10. This lightheartedness is ever present in their town motto: "It's Great to Be Alive in Colma!"

11. Colma has multiple cemeteries that are for specific religions and nationalities including Chinese, Jewish and Italian.


12. The Angel of Grief:

The Angel of Grief is a common funerary statue replicated from the original carved by the American sculptor William Wetmore Story, which serves as his and his wife's headstone in a Protestant Church in Rome. The statue in Colma's Cypress Lawn Memorial Park is for Jennie Roosevelt Pool, Theodore Roosevelt's cousin.

I absolutely adore this statue and really wanted to see it, but the cemetery was so big (with a major street running through it) that it took my husband and I over an hour to find it. Really, it just took us over an hour to realize that the cemetery continued on other side of the like 6 or 8-laned street.

The statue is gorgeous but sadly missing several of its fingers and surprisingly quaint in comparison to the giant statues, pyramids, mausoleums, columned sculptures and headstones throughout.

You can see her fingers are broken off the dangling hand.

Me checking out the monument while holding the
Legacy: An Anthology book which has my story set in Colma, California.

I expected to be able to see her from afar but truth be told, she is one of the smaller monuments in this particular necropolis.
Any interesting facts about Colma you can add to the list?