Rowan McAllister Guest Post

Gay Book Reviews is thrilled to welcome Rowan McAllister guest posting today!

A big thanks to Gay Book Reviews for having me!

Today, I thought I might share a little moment I had while researching this novel that seems poignantly timely. Don’t worry. I have no intention of getting preachy or political or anything, but blog posts are a way for people to get to know me as well as get to know my novel, and this bit of history I stumbled upon is still resonating with me almost a year later, so I figured I’d share.

In gothic novels, the setting or atmosphere is almost as much a character as who you people it with, so I searched long and hard for just the right year, with the right amount of dreariness, to begin mine. London fogs are already world famous, something the inhabitants take a certain strange pride in, like Seattle and its rain, but I really wanted to amp the spooky up a notch from just your average London fog, and went on the hunt for a really big one. And that’s when I stumbled upon the accounts of one of the longest fogs in London’s history, and the first of it’s deadliest.

In the winter of 1880, London experienced a fog that lasted for months on end and at the end of January/beginning of February culminated in the first of its recorded “killer” fogs. Thousands of people, particularly those with asthma problems, died when the fog was at its worst. I was struck by the tragedy of the event, of course, but what has stayed with me was the tragedy or tragedies that have come since.

On the hunt for more information about that year, I came across two articles, the first by Dr. Arthur Mitchell in the Journal of the Scottish Meteorological Society (vol. 5) entitled The Influence of the Fog of November 1879 to February 1880 on the Health of London and another from Norman Lockyer’s Nature: A Weekly Illustrated Journal of Science (vol. XXIII, Nov. 1880-April 1881) that referenced Dr. Mitchell’s article among other sources. Despite being written over 130 years ago, the article from Nature struck me particularly because it showed a clear understanding of the composition and the hazards in the smoke that was pouring from dwellings and factories at the time (acids, ammonia, arsenic etc.) and expressed an urgent need for parliamentary intervention on the subject. Honestly, it could have been written yesterday. It said the same things that scientific articles have been saying for most of my life.

As it happens Parliament did finally listen, but not for another 75+ years after this article was written, and not before several other deadly fogs leading up to the big one of 1952 that took another 12,000 lives.

Other environmental bills have been passed since, all over the world, but there are still countries that burn an abundance of coal, and others that would like to burn more than they currently are. I know sometimes I look back at the bygone eras with a certain indulgent understanding. I think ‘well, they didn’t know any better.’ But they did. After almost 137 years, with all of our advances in science and tech, our scientists are still saying much the same today that they did back then. It boggles my mind.

I never know where a thread of inquiry will lead, and I’m still a curious enough creature that I will follow it even if it isn’t essential to my story. And sometimes the bits of history I come across make a lasting impression, a shift in my worldview, which is never a bad thing. This was my experience researching We Met in Dreams on many different levels.

Title: We Met In Dreams
Author: Rowan McAllister
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: February 27, 2015
Genre(s): Historical gay romance
Page Count: 280 pages
Reviewed by: Natosha, Crabbypatty and PIU

In Victorian London, during a prolonged and pernicious fog, fantasy and reality are about to collide—at least in one man’s troubled mind.

A childhood fever left Arthur Middleton, Viscount Campden, seeing and hearing things no one else does, afraid of the world outside, and unable to function as a true peer of the realm. To protect him from himself—and to protect others from him—he spends his days heavily medicated and locked in his rooms, and his nights in darkness and solitude, tormented by visions, until a stranger appears.

This apparition is different. Fox says he’s a thief and not an entirely good sort of man, yet he returns night after night to ease Arthur’s loneliness without asking for anything in return. Fox might be the key that sets Arthur free, or he might deliver the final blow to Arthur’s tenuous grasp on sanity. Either way, real or imaginary, Arthur needs him too much to care.

Fox is only one of the many secrets and specters haunting Campden House, and Arthur will have to face them all in order to live the life of his dreams.

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Author Bio

Rowan McAllister is a woman who doesn’t so much create as recreate, taking things ignored and overlooked and hopefully making them into something magical and mortal. She believes it’s all in how you look at it. In addition to a continuing love affair with words, she creates art out of fabric, metal, wood, stone, and any other interesting scraps of life she can get her hands on. Everything is simply one perspective change and a little bit of effort away from becoming a work of art that is both beautiful and functional. She lives in the woods, on the very edge of suburbia—where civilization drops off and nature takes over—sharing her home with her patient, loving, and grounded husband, her super sweet hairball of a cat, and a mythological beast masquerading as a dog. Her chosen family is made up of a madcap collection of people from many different walks of life, all of whom act as her muses in so many ways, and she would be lost without them.

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1 comment

  • Wow. Had no idea the London fogs were so bad back then. Interesting the things you find when you dig up history that most ignore. Well done on your research!


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