This time of year brings out all of the scary things and creatures of the night. I especially LOVE old movies around this time of year because that’s when the gothic movies are most likely to come out and play.
For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what made gothic stories so special. Then, my mother turned me on to the movie Psycho at…well…I was very young at the time. But even then, I think I subconsciously knew what it was. It’s all about the house, baby. Or in some cases, the castle. Okay, perhaps not all about the house, but it plays an important role. And you can’t forget the characters either. After all, they’re the ones who will make or break a story.
I’m sure there’s probably more to it than that, so let’s dissect for a moment. When you have some big, spooky house in the background that elicit fear from the characters within the story, there’s a good chance that you have a sweet, suspenseful read on your hands. Most of the time the supernatural is involved and there’s one character who has power over another, tormenting their poor victim with their madness. The atmosphere is dark and oppressive with some mystery involved.
The gothic effect gets really good whenever we have a vampire, witch, or demon involved, but the house is a major character, too, and all it does is just sits there. If it’s haunted or is near a cemetery, even better. I love to read about the spiders creeping around on the webs, the shadows coming to life, and the deep halls extending like a throat into the stomach of the house. A lot of the creepiness isn’t just in the characters, but it’s in the details.
Some of my favorite gothic movies/books are novels by H.P. Lovecraft, Beauty and the Beast, Rose Red, Gaslight, Dark Shadows, Frankenstein, The House on Haunted Hill, and Rebecca. That’s a pretty wide stretch when it comes to what’s gothic, from a cartoon to mystery to horror. I guess it’s fair to say that not every gothic story has to be blood, guts, and gore, though it’s the paranormal ones that keep me on the edge of my seat.
I could be wrong, but I think gothic romance is making a comeback. It doesn’t matter so much if it’s historical or contemporary because it’s all about the thrill and the who-done-it’s. I, for one, have my fingers crossed, my popcorn ready, and the lights on. Toss in a vampire or a werewolf and I am so there.
Anything I’m missing? What does or doesn’t do it for you when it comes to all things gothic (romance, horror, suspense, etc.)?
PS. Happy Halloween!!
Fiction writers work in a realm of fantasy – as authors, we can do what we want, right? Well, there’s that little thing about believability that gets in the way…but where is the line drawn?
When I was working on the Demonica series, one of the fantastical elements I had to deal with was shapeshifter rules. I have all kinds of shifters I had to make rules for, but in this case, I was working on my demons.
See, my Seminus demons (the heroes in the series) can shift into other demon species, but it didn’t make sense that they should be able to shift into ANY species. The Sems are man-sized (okay, BIG man-sized *g*), and their purpose in life is to impregnate other species in order to populate the world with Seminus demons (there are no female Sems).
To me, it seemed logical that since the females of other species would be giving birth to babies approximately the size of human babies, the females must be able to handle it.
For example, it’s dangerous for a sheltie to give birth to puppies if the father is a German shepherd. I figured the same rules should apply to my demons. So they can’t shift into smaller species, and they can only go about twice as large (it also didn’t make sense that they could get REALLY huge, because where would the mass come from? Cells can only stretch so much, right?)
My husband just rolls his eyes. His comment? “You know, this is a fantastical world – if you want your demons to be able to shift into mouse-sized creatures, they can.”
No, they can’t. In my world, it isn’t logical. No matter how fantastical something is, there are certain realities I just have a hard time dismissing.
I remember watching The Day After Tomorrow with my husband, and there came a point in the disaster movie where some wolves broke free from the zoo and attacked some people on a ship that had frozen in the streets of New York City. I went ballistic. It made no sense! First of all, wolves don’t behave like that, second, how did they get on the ship, and third, if they were that hungry, there were freshly dead people all over the place they could have eaten.
My husband looked at me like I was a moron. “The fact that giant anti-hurricanes formed instantly and are destroying the earth on an impossible scale doesn’t bother you, but hungry wolves do?”
Yes. Because I can suspend my disbelief for something that is totally out of the realm of possibility, but altering something REAL with no explanation just tweaks every logical bone in my body. So when I was writing my shifters, I knew it was all fiction and fantasy…but some laws I just couldn’t break – such as the size thing. (Though let me be clear – in someone else’s world, the size thing might work, but in my world, where size is an issue for breeding, it didn’t.)
Other people have other hot buttons, and some have none. Which are you? Can you pretty much suspend your disbelief for anything (providing the world is built well,) or are there certain things you just can’t look past? If the author tells you the sky on another planet is red, do you accept it, or do you want to know why it’s red?
KEIRA is the lucky winner of a signed copy of FALLEN. Keira, check your inbox for a message from me about claiming your prize.
Thanks everyone for sharing your favourite Halloween costumes!
It’s that time of year again, the time when each and every one of us gets to shift into (or dress up as) someone or something else.
According to Celtic tradition, Samhain is the night when the veil between the worlds draws thin, when it’s easier to get in touch with the dead because they’re able to be in our midst again. Pumpkins carved into frightening faces and candles in the window are supposed to keep our demons and our dead at bay, and dressing up was a means of disguising yourself from any ghouls out to get you. Samhain became All Hallows Eve, the night before All Souls Day, when the Christian monks arrived in what is now the U.K.
And we still dress up, though whether it’s to deceive the living or the dead is anyone’s guess.
Which brings me to the question of shape shifting – what will you “be” this Halloween?
If you’re not dressing up, what was your favourite Halloween costume ever?
Tell me why and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of FALLEN, as a little spooky Halloween prize.
I’ll start – my favourite costume was one that we threw together when I was about ten. I was at my friend’s family cottage the weekend before Halloween and it turned out their local community centre was having an early Halloween party. I didn’t have a costume, because I hadn’t known to bring one, so we rummaged around the cottage. I became a gypsy fortune teller – the best part of it was that my “crystal ball” was an upside down goldfish bowl. Remember the round glass ones? My friend’s mom came up with that idea, and she tied a flowing scarf around the mouth of the bowl so it wasn’t obvious what it was. We ran around chanting “eenie meenie jelly beanie” for a while, probably long enough to drive the adults nuts. It was fun.
Sorry to be so late with this – I got dragged out of town and forgot to announce the winner!
The winner of Tigress By the Tail – print version is Stacie MC!
Stacie! Send me your address to firstname.lastname@example.org so I can get this out to you. 🙂
by Lori Devoti
Did anyone see this show? It premiered Tuesday night. Here’s a video clip. (Watch the following one too. It’s longer.) Or watch the entire first show here… Check out the scene where the wolf has his jaws around her neck.
In the show British wolf expert Shaun Ellis introduces his fiancée Helen Jeffs to the wolf world. Helen has to eat and bathe, or not bathe, like a wolf. She learns to growl, bark, and bite. She even has to claim her part of a kill and vomit into the mouth of a wolf. All to be accepted as part of the pack!
I’m a big believer in using reality TV for research, and this seems like the mother lode for a wolf-shape-shifter author! In addition to all the wolf interaction there is even a romance subplot and added conflict as the two balance living like wolves with living like humans. Uh, what does that sound like?
So, who watched? Any comments? How far would you go for true love? Would you roll around and fight with a bunch of wolves? Regurgitate in their mouths? ‘Cause this isn’t a novel–this is real!
Lindsey Ekland wins a copy of Winter Kissed! Lindsey, please email Michele at email@example.com with your snail mail address.
My latest release, “A Kiss Of Frost” is a novella featured in the Nocturne duet WINTER KISSED. It’s landing bookstore shelves right now, and only sticks around for a month, so get it while it’s hot—or rather, cool.
Let’s talk about shapeshifter heroes who don’t change from human shape to animal shape, but something very different. Let’s talk about my hero, Jal Frosti, who is the Frost god/faery who is also an assassin. Jal’s natural shape is frost. He is made of frost crystals that shimmer and waver through the air. His minions are frost folk that do his bidding, creating beautiful designs on windows in Northern climes, curling hoar frost across the landscape, and yes, attacking those environmental offenders targeted by Old Man Winter for elimination.
Sounds like a nasty guy, eh?
Yeah, he’s tough, but he’s also looking for love. Warmth. Desire.
Jal can take human shape while in frost form. Can you imagine? A man made entirely of frost walking toward you? Well, you wouldn’t see him, he’d blend into the snowy background. But when Jal touches warm human flesh, he is able to take on human flesh. He’s just like you and I, only a little cooler. The guy is in need of a soft warm touch—but not too long. You think he might melt if he gets too hot? If the heroine’s kisses stir him to a frenzy?
Maybe. Maybe not. You’ll have to read the story to find out. 😉
So what other kinds of shapeshifters have you read about? Those that don’t shift to animal form. I’ll draw a name from one of the commenters to win a copy of WINTER KISSED!
Blatant advertising by Teresa D’Amario
We’re taking a break from our regularly scheduled program (oops, we didn’t have anyone scheduled for today), to tell you about a few events not only in the writing world, but also the world of the awesome animals which inspire so many authors in the world of paranormal romance fiction.
First, the Australian Romance Reader’s Convention. I so wish I could join them, as reader’s conventions are the ultimate fun (and I haven’t even been to a big one yet). Are you Down Under? Have you always wanted to visit Australia? Now’s your chance:
Panels will cover all types of romance fiction from ebooks to series, erotica to the paranormal, the future of romance to where the “big” ideas come from.
Events planned include a reception and a dinner, booksignings and plenty of opportunities to meet with others who like romance just as much as you do.
Now on to our unexpected topic for the day: Wolf Awareness Week
(Yeah, I know, I didn’t want to wait till Monday, when it’s no longer wolf awareness week).
Those of us who love paranormal romance shapeshifters have a special love for the animals represented in our stories. The interesting thing is most of these predators we use in our stories are endangered, or have been on the endangered species list within the last 10-15 years. We once before talked about whether we, the authors, were helping or hurting the salvation of these animals. Most of us came to the agreement, we’re helping. We’re educating people, and equating these animals with creatures we can relate to.
So far, I have used two different animals. The Tiger and the Wolf. Each of which has spent time, or is still on the endangered species list. To help the tiger, I’m donating 40% of all my proceeds for the month of October to the Big Cat Rescue. So don’t forget to get your copy of Tigress By the Tail. But that’s not what I want to talk about. The promotion is called “Buy a Book, Save a Tiger”.
Recently I was reminded this week is Wolf Awareness Week. Rowena Cherry invited me to join her along with Diana Groe author of Viking tales as her light-hearted alter-ego Emily Bryan, author of the immensely amusing Pleasuring The Pirate. Also with us was Brynn Chapman author of the dark, and historically fascinating Bride of Blackbeard . It was an great show, and you can listen to it online at any time.
We all had an awesome time, but the most important part of the show was on wolf education. We talked about wolf behavior, misconceptions about wolves, and why their behavior works so well to merge with alpha males in paranormal romance.
While I was researching, preparing for the show, I found some information I was shocked I’d missed. For those who don’t know, I live in the state of North Carolina. So what does that have to do with wolves? I’ve discovered the RED WOLF has returned to the state of North Carolina, and not just in zoos. The Alligator River wildlife Refuge has been instrumental in saving and returning the Red Wolf to the wild. Why is this important? The Red Wolf used to run wild, thriving all along the southeastern US. As recently as the 1970’s, the Red Wolf was considered EXTINCT in the wild. Gone. No longer there. DEAD
The only remaining animals were in captivity. 17 of those wolves were considered breeding material. Can you imagine? Only 17 wolves in captivity left, able to reproduce? Everything I have learned about the wolf shows an adaptable creature who’s entire being is designed to perpetrate it’s species. The male is aggressive, but more so if his mate is threatened. The male is an awesome hunter, but doesn’t eat first. He allows his mate and her pups to eat first. The sign of a true romantic, I tell you. But he was gone. No longer able to survive in the wild. Luckily scientists found a way to save this beautiful animal and they again roam the forests of Eastern North Carolina.
So in honor of the Wolf Awareness Week, I thought I would bring you some information regarding the Red wolf. The following information is taken from Alligator River Website, one of the more informative sites in regards to the salvation of these wonderful animals.
The red wolf is one of the most endangered animals in the world. It is a shy species that once roamed throughout the Southeast as a top predator. Aggressive predator control programs and clearing of forested habitat combined to cause impacts that brought the red wolf to the brink of extinction. By 1970, the entire population of red wolves was believed to be less than 100 animals confined to a small area of coastal Texas and Louisiana.
To save the species from extinction, the Service captured as many as possible of the few remaining animals from 1974 through 1980. Only 17 captured animals met the criteria established to define the species and stood between its existence and extinction. Out of the 17 captured wolves, 14 were able to successfully reproduce. These animals formed the nucleus of a captive-breeding program established at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington, with the final goal of reestablishing the species in portions of its original southeastern range. Thirty-eight zoos and nature centers in 23 states now cooperate in a national breeding program and are valuable partners in efforts to restore red wolves.
The red wolf is now back in the wild, hunting, rearing young, and communicating by its characteristic howl, in a portion of in its original southeastern habitat. Since 1987, red wolves have been released into northeastern North Carolina and now roam over more than 1.5 million acres that includes three national wildlife refuges, a U.S. Air Force bombing range, and several hundred thousand acres of private land.
So the next time you’re on vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, take a small diversion, drive through the Alligatore River refuge. Maybe, just maybe, that howl you hear will be one of these awesome animals. Then again, perhaps it’s one of one of those elusive, shapeshifting alpha males!
One lucky responder will receive a print copy of Tigress By the Tail!
I’m going to Calgary later this week–so I can give a couple of Saturday workshops to Calgary Romance Writers of America. So I had to do the manuscript right away so I could get it back to Berkley before the deadline.
As I was working, I thought about my writing habits. The parts I like least are the first draft and the galleys. I hate facing a blank page. So I write my first draft as fast as I can. Once I get that draft, I can edit it within an inch of its life. Every book I write goes through four or five edits. One on the screen and then three or four on paper, because everything changes, and I see the manuscript differently when it’s on paper.
That’s just the way I work. I can’t get the story and the characters all at once. I have to layer my way into a good story. And doing those layers is incredibly satisfying to me.
Then–-months later–I get the copyedited manuscript. I always cringe as I wonder what questions the copy editor will ask me. I look down the right side of the pages to see how many yellow Post-It notes I see–because they have the questions I’m going to have to answer.
But I also think of the copyedited manuscript as an opportunity. I haven’t seen the book in a long time. Now I can read it with fresh eyes. This is my last chance to catch places where I’ve used the same word five times in a row. Or where I forgot the name of the bad guy’s imaginary daughter. (Yeah, I did that. And I caught it, not the copy editor.)
But I also get some wonderful opportunities to make the book as good as it can be. Do the emotions of the characters shine through? Are the love scenes hot? Is there anything awkward about them? Are the danger scenes frightening? Is the pace of the novel working? Do I need to take out any sentences? Did I give the reader enough gratification at the end?
Since I haven’t seen this manuscript in a long time, I can react to it the way you would. The good news is that I enjoyed reading ETERNAL MOON. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, and I had that usual experience with galleys–“I wrote that?”
If you’re a writer, what do you like best about the process? And what do you like least?
If you’re a reader, what do you want to see in a book? What don’t you want to see?
To be brutally honest, the best part for me is when I’ve sold a book–and I don’t have to start writing it yet! <g>