What inspired Witch of the Cards, my historical fantasy

My historical fantasy Witch of the cards launches in mid-March. I want to tell you about specific elements from the real world that inspired this dark fantasy. It's set in 1932 in Asbury Park, NJ, a beach town I've been going to for years. A while ago, I wandered into one of the boardwalk stores and saw old photos of a shipwreck that beached on the shores of Asbury for an entire year.

It was a party cruise boat called the Morro Castle that sailed from New York City to Cuba during prohibition, so high-rollers could drink without penalty. In my novel, the disaster at sea was caused by very different events! Peter Dune, one of the main characters in my novel sails on the Morro for a business meeting. For fun, I added cameos on the Morro of Bela Lugosi (the actor who played Dracula), Irene Ware (a 1930s movie star), the great surrealist Salvador Dali and Elsa Schiaparelli, a famous clothing designer who collaborated with Dali.

From the nucleus of a real life paranormal museum in Asbury Park, I created Peter Dune's Tarot and Seance. A salt water taffy store on the boardwalk got transformed into a magical place with a very strange speakeasy in the basement. 

The novel summary:
Fiera was born a sea witch with no inkling of her power. And now it might be too late. 

Witch of the Cards is historical, supernatural romantic suspense set in 1932 on the Jersey shore. Twenty-two year-old Fiera has recently left the Brooklyn orphanage where she was raised, and works in Manhattan as a nanny. She gets a lucky break when her boss pays for her short vacation in Asbury Park. One evening, Fiera and her new friend Dulcie wander down the boardwalk and into Peter Dune’s Tarot & Séance, where they attend a card reading. 

Fiera has always had an unsettling ability to know things before they happen and sense people’s hidden agendas. She longs to either find out the origin of her powers or else banish them because as is, they make her feel crazy. When, during the reading, her energies somehow bond with Peter Dune’s and form an undeniable ethereal force, a chain of revelations and dangerous events begin to unspool. For one, Fiera finds out she is a witch from a powerful sea clan, but that someone is out to stop her blossoming power forever. And though she is falling in love with Peter, he also has a secret side. He’s no card reader, but a private detective working to expose mediums. Despite this terrible betrayal, Fiera must make the choice to save Peter from a tragic Morro Cruise boat fire, or let him perish with his fellow investigators. Told in alternating viewpoints, we hear Fiera and Peter each struggle against their deep attraction. Secrets, lies, even murder, lace this dark fantasy.

Join the Facebook Witch of Cards launch party! Check when book links go live.

What real life elements would you love to turn into historical fantasy?


  1. This cover is SO lovely - I can't wait to read the book!

  2. Ooooh.
    Huge congratulations. This does sound intriguing.
    I would love to see a fantasy entwined with the Spanish Inquisition. It would probably be dark - but there is a LOT of scope there...

  3. Wow, I know next to nothing about the Spanish Inquisition! I'd love to know more...

  4. Sounds fascinating. Great cover too.

  5. LOVE the sound of this! And gorgeous cover. I'm a fan of the taffy, I must admit. Mix in that with the paranormal, I'm hooked!

  6. Haha, yes, Christine, this taffy is not your run-of-the-mill saltwater taffy.

  7. I love how you came up with Witch of the Cards! Congrats!

  8. This sounds like a very interesting book and I love it that you placed some famous people in your book.

  9. Birgit, yes, it was a sudden brainstorm to add the infamous creatives to the Morro scenes. I knew that Dali would make any scene into a crazy party. LOL.

  10. This sounds so good! I've been to Asbury Park and it's fun to think of this story coming to life because of a little boardwalk store. Very cool!

  11. Oh this sounds mega fun! Can't wait to read it!

  12. I'm happy Dali is in the book, and it's fun to see his photo. I never knew what he looked like and that he had a mustache like that. I have a Dali - told it might be a fake, but I prefer to believe it's not.
    Have a great week and good like with this fun adventure.

  13. thanks, all. Yes, Dali was rather good looking when he was young.

  14. Sounds excellent, Catherine! I love that era too.


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