Monday, March 01, 2021

An interview with the London Monster, a guest post by Donna Scott

Today Donna Scott, author of The London Monster (Atlantic Publishing, 2020) presents a guest post as written by her lead character, Sophie Carlisle, a journalist in late 18th-century London. Disguised as a man, she seeks to tell stories about the darker, seedier side of the city at a time when a disturbing figure nicknamed the London Monster has been attacking women on the streets. These incidents (and the London Monster himself) are taken from history.  


An Interview with the London Monster
By Sophie Carlisle c1790

I was granted an interview with the elusive London Monster on several conditions:
--We would speak in a small room set up with an opaque screen between us.
--I had to enter our little room first—prior to his arrival—and leave only after his departure.
--I had to keep my back to the screen at all times, for he guarded his identity as if it were a precious stone.
-- I was not permitted to ask any personal questions which might lead to his capture.

Sophie: Thank you for agreeing to speak with me today.
My pleasure, I assure you.

Sophie: What have you done to earn the moniker ‘The London Monster’?

I don’t particularly care for that title. I am most certainly not a monster. I simply adore women. The curve of their breasts above their low necklines, their slender waists, their promising lips. I find it all quite provocative. I am pulled toward them like the tides to the moon. I might approach a woman and offer a kind word or two and then a proposition. The circumstances—whether the object of my affection sways her hips when she walks or strides forward with impatience and arrogance—will determine how I choose my words. The lady who entertains me first with the rhythmic swish of her skirts as I follow behind her, will always get the kinder introduction. Perhaps a compliment before I express my true wishes. But it is the haughty jilt who will take the brunt of it. I might whisper a vulgarity in her delicate pink ear, comment on my growing arousal or the bounce of her breasts. What brings me the most pleasure is that first gasp, the initial moment of shock which registers in her raised brow and parted lips, a sure sign I have offended. After that, it is not exactly pleasure I feel, but anger that burns my chest—a building rage. Every desire I’ve ever had spills freely from my tongue and coats her like the soot on a hearth’s bricks. She might fight to get away—most of them do—but I am stronger, faster. And it is only then that I draw my blade. I presume that is what has earned me the name.

Sophie: The papers have described you as a miscreant, wretch, and villain. Do you agree with their assessments?
You would do better to stay away from the papers, especially the Morning Chronicle and the Oracle. Both are shameful in their descriptions of me. Actually, the World is the most accurate and purports the women as the real monsters. Their histrionics have placed all men in danger, for any man could be accused of being me with one wrong look or harmless suggestion.

author Donna Scott

Sophie: How many women have you attacked? Some reports are as high as 56.

Is that so? I daresay that number is a bit high. You forget that there are imitators, charlatans, if you will, who desire my notoriety and, therefore, inflict harm upon some women in order to get it. They even work in groups or pairs, as I understand it. That is most certainly not my style. I only approach the fairest, so if a lady should return home with a scratch and torn skirts, she instantly gains in popularity and acquires the prestige of being one of my beauties. And you forget the fact some women claim being attacked simply for the celebrity it brings them. It is also a clever way of getting their husbands to pay for a new bolt of cloth to replace the ripped garments. So, you may attribute perhaps 45 or so attacks to me. I am not one to count that sort of thing.

Sophie: Are you ever afraid of getting caught?

At times, when I sit alone and wait for darkness to fall, my mind wanders into those dark places. I’ll enjoy a brandy or perhaps port and, in the quiet, that irrational fear may enter my thoughts. Will I be recognized or caught? But when I think of the wonderful possibilities of the night ahead, those thoughts flit away like a bird called by the chirp of a paramour. The truth is that I have tipped my hat to the police—Bow Street Runners—on many occasions as they search the dark for ‘the monster’. They are quite noticeable, wearing bright red waistcoats and carrying truncheons emblazoned with authoritative bronze crests, and therefore easy to avoid, if necessary. I do admit, I find the closeness of danger exhilarating.

Even as we speak, I know I am being hunted. And I know by whom. But those who pursue me are looking for a thin vulgar-looking man, or a short narrow-faced man with regular features, or a big-nosed man with curly hair. I have been said to wear all black clothing or a brown greatcoat or a blue silk coat. I wear a cocked hat with or without a cockade, my hair worn loose down my back or in a queue. Essentially, I look like everyone or no one at all. So, you ask if I think I might be caught... Never.


Both renderings represent the Monster attacking women in the streets of London.

About The London Monster by Donna Scott:

In 1788, exactly one hundred years before Jack the Ripper terrorizes the people of London, a sexual miscreant known as the London Monster roams the streets in search of his next victim… 

Thomas Hayes, having lost his mother in a vicious street assault, becomes an underground pugilist on a mission to rid the streets of violent criminals. But his vigilante actions lead to him being mistaken for the most terrifying criminal of all. 

Assistance arrives in the form of Sophie Carlisle, a young journalist with dreams of covering a big story, though she is forced to masquerade as a man to do it. Trapped in an engagement to a man she doesn’t love, Sophie yearns to break free to tell stories that matter about London’s darker side—gaming, prostitution, violence—and realizes Tom could be the one to help. Together, they come up with a plan. 

Straddling the line between his need for vengeance and the need to hide his true identity as a politician’s son becomes increasingly difficult as Tom is pressured to win more fights. The more he wins, the more notoriety he receives, and the greater the chance his identity may be exposed—a revelation that could jeopardize his father’s political aspirations and destroy his family’s reputation.

Sophie is also in danger as hysteria spreads and the attacks increase in severity and frequency. No one knows who to trust, and no one is safe—Tom included, yet he refuses to end the hunt. Little does he realize, the monster is also hunting him.

About the Author:

Donna Scott is an award-winning author of 17th and 18th century historical fiction. Before embarking on a writing career, she spent her time in the world of academia. She earned her BA in English from the University of Miami and her MS and EdD (ABD) from Florida International University. She has two sons and lives in sunny South Florida with her husband. Her first novel, Shame the Devil, received the first place Chaucer Award for historical fiction and a Best Book designation from Chanticleer International Book Reviews. Her newest novel, The London Monster, was released in November 2020. To learn about new releases and special offers, please sign up for Donna’s newsletter.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post and it's a fabulous book as well! Thank you for hosting The London Monster today!

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