Blog Tour: The Haunting of Charity Delafield by Ian Beck

Today we are the first stop on the Ian Beck Blog Tour for his new book, The Haunting of Charity Delafield. Ian has stopped by with a wonderful guest post but first here is a little about the book.
The Haunting of Charity Delafield by Ian Beck

Flame-haired Charity Delafield leads a lonely existence.
Growing up in a vast, isolated mansion with her fiercely strict father, she is forbidden from exploring the house, from speaking to strangers, from stepping a foot beyond the tall, iron gates - even from reading fairy tales. Told that she suffers from a mysterious 'condition', Charity must never do a thing to over-excite herself - or her imagination. But Charity has a secret. All her life, she has been visited by the same dream - a dream of a dark corridor, and a locked door, hidden somewhere within the house. One snowy day, she stumbles across the door - and with the help of chimney sweep, Silas, and a very unusual diary, Charity begins to unravel the strange, magical story of her family's past. What was the inspiration behind the book The Haunting of Charity Delafield and is the main character actually based on a real person?
Now that you have read a little about the book, Here is the fantastic post Ian has did for us today!

What was the inspiration behind the book The Haunting of Charity Delafield and is the main character actually based on a real person?

It is always difficult to pinpoint an exact moment of actual inspiration. It is rarely straightforward. In the case of The Haunting of Charity Delafield there were several moments, thoughts, little threads of ideas which in the end bound themselves together and seemed to end up saying, ‘go on you can write about this’.
First I had the idea that these little strands might form a picture book, (his was many years ago now), so I drew some rough images and one of them was of a girl in a red coat out in the snow with a black cat. I wrote a very stylised and deliberately mannered description of her having her fine tangled gold hair brushed by her maid. The maid was called Charity and the little girl was called Rose, later they were switched. In the end I decided it was not picture book material at all really and I reluctantly put it away in a bottom drawer in case.

I have learned however over the years never to just discard something entirely. My editor at Random House, Annie Eaton, always liked the thought of the book about the little girl with the red gold hair and would mention her to me wistfully from time to time. I was still mainly illustrating then and had yet to tackle a text of novel length, although I was ambitious to do so. Eventually in 2004 / 5 I wrote The Secret History of Tom Trueheart Boy Adventurer. It was the first time I had actually properly finished a more ambitious text in terms of length. The book seemed to be liked and certainly foreign publishers showed a lot of interest, and Tom T quickly went into several languages. . My agent, Hilary Delamere, who had encouraged my shift into writing longer fiction suggested that I might try and work up the story of the little girl with the red gold hair and the bright red coat into something of novel length. It was then that I realised that this girl might indeed turn out to be the heroine of a longer, novel length story instead of a picture book.

There was one other main source of inspiration; a real house  I have a good friend who lives in a very old house, and the section of the house he lives in is a little like the Marie Celeste. It is a whole Victorian wing attached to a much earlier building. Every  corridor, every drawer, every cupboard, every surface in every room is crammed full of Victorian things left over from when his great grandparents lived there. It is just like a living museum or perhaps more accurately a real haunted house. There are slightly spooky Victorian sentimental plaster casts for instance of baby’s and adult’s hands and feet on show in one of the corridors. Staying there and often walking the long corridor to bed at night I imagined what a scary and worrying place it would be seen through the eyes of a child. Scenes set in those same corridors began to appear in the story as it took shape.  

I wrote a first draft, in around six months and this was quickly followed by a longer, more ambitious, indeed over ambitious revised second draft much influenced by the films of Jean Cocteau. That in turn was rewritten and revised again with the excellent help and editorial encouragement of both Annie Eaton and Natalie Doherty at Random House, and also from my agent Hilary Delamere. 

With this book I really allowed my imagination full rein. I trusted myself and went with the flow and in the end pushed the story in a direction which I hadn’t entirely expected but which surprised me and I hope might surprise the reader too.

Coming from a design background the look of any book is vital to me and I must say I am very pleased with the way the book has turned out physically. It is satisfying to hold and touch and has been very well designed and laid out. The attention to detail during the production stage has been admirable. I have been very lucky in all the excellent design and editorial support I have had from Random House. The extra nice thing is that I have worked with Annie Eaton on various picture book projects since 1988, and it’s been wonderful to make a fresh start, a new beginning with a fiction title, and hopefully it will not be the last. As to whether Charity is based on a real person, in a way she is. My niece by marriage, Daisy Howarth (nee Gili), who I have known since she was three and who is now in her late thirties, has Charity’s hair, and I would like to think that Charity has some of Daisy’s spirit as well. Daisy was married earlier this year and I was able to dedicate the book to her and her husband Laurence as a wedding present.

What a fantastic post if you want to find more about the author check out his website

Tomorrow's stop: Wondrous Reads


  1. Thanks for the post. I love how your friend has a house that helps you write.

  2. Sounds like a great read. I will be adding this to my to read list. I love the whole Victorian house bit too, I've always wanted one. :)


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