Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bring Back the Gothic

If you like your romance with a dash of horror and you enjoy a creepily ever after ending, then chances are that, like me, you’re a fan of the Gothic genre. But what is that exactly?

I write in a variety of genre, including paranormal, historical and Gothic romance and I'm sometimes asked the following questions about Gothic romance:

Is it a ghost story?
Is it a paranormal romance?
Is it erotic?

There are no 'yes' or 'no' answers to those questions. The ‘new’ Gothics have elements of the supernatural or unexplained, but do not fit neatly into the category of paranormal romance. They have high levels of sensuality, but are not necessarily erotic romances. Nevertheless, there are elements that can be applied to all good Gothics.

This is the key to the Gothic. Poetic, gloomy language sets the scene. The atmosphere must be lush, decadent, beautiful, yet horrifying. Contrasting light and shade are key elements. The shadows are stronger, but the light is allowed to filter through.
The setting becomes another character in a Gothic. It is often a remote building, possibly of medieval origin, for example a castle, abbey or crumbling manor house.
Think wild mysterious landscapes, bleak moors, hard to reach islands or deep, inaccessible valleys. Enclosed or claustrophobic spaces are also symbolic in Gothic writing. Crypts, passageways, caves, dungeons, secret rooms, dark towers, cloisters...
The Male Protagonist
Ah, our hero. Or anti-hero, in the case of the Gothics (think Rochester in Jane Eyre). He may have inherited powers or status, so he might be titled or talented. He is likely to be solitary or egocentric. His personality will be deeply flawed and he could well be obsessive. We may get a sense of duality, or even that there is a doppleganger or evil twin. He may attract yet repulse our heroine, and the sensual elements he brings to the story can be overt or implied.
The Female Protagonist
Our heroine has grown up since the days of Jane Eyre and Rebecca! Traditionally, she was a trembling victim, frail, passive and naïve, who was subjected to grotesque acts by a superior will. Now, however, she is likely to be strong and feisty. She may well have many of the same characteristics as the male protagonist. And she will fight back!
Dark Secrets
Secrets are the lynchpin of most Gothic novels. Generally, they are so dark and insurmountable that they spell doom for the main characters and make their lives unbearably difficult and complex.
Death and violence
This can be explicit or implied. Often it is the threat of something horrific rather than the reality of it which gives the Gothic its unique atmosphere. Think clanking chains or ghostly footsteps rather than axe-wielding serial killers.
Forbidden Love
That which is taboo elsewhere, is commonplace in the Gothic. Incest is a familiar theme in these novels and adds to the tortured, twisted secrets that must remain forever hidden. If that's a step too far for you, the love should be forbidden for another reason. Perhaps a family feud or one of those dark, Gothic secrets.
Houses, belongings, animals, toys. All of these can be subject to demonic possession. You name it, if it can be haunted it will be and should be at some point in Gothic literature. Reincarnation is also a popular theme.
We all know it kills cats and it’s likely to kill our protagonists too if they're not careful. Picture our heroine in her flimsy gown, nervous but determined as she enters the forbidden abandoned wing, or tiptoes down the stairs to the dungeons, climbs the ladder to the attic full of cobwebs and moth-eaten furnishings, running from the house in terror toward the clifftop… We’ve all seen those scenes in horror films. We’ve all shouted at the screen “Don’t go into the attic!” and shivered with a combination of pleasure and terror when our heroine ignores us. Bless her.
Ignorance (is bliss)
Knowledge is power, that much is true. But Jane Eyre would not have worked well as a story if Mr Rochester had said at the outset, “There’s something I need to tell you about my first wife…” (that statement applies equally well to Maxim de Winter in Rebecca and so many other Gothic heroes).
The castle is always on an isolated clifftop, the mansion at the end of a long, winding drive, the island inaccessible unless by the weekly cargo plane.
Omens and portents
Symbols and signs steer our characters--and, of course, us as readers--along a specific path. But are we being deliberately misled?
Desire, lust hatred, revenge, family. Any or all of the above may lead to an obsessive character who is ripe for a role in a Gothic story.
Mental illness
Madness was a popular theme in the traditional Gothics. If you are writing a modern Gothic your treatment of these issues will be very different to those of writers of historical Gothics. We tend (hopefully) to be slightly more sympathetic these days.
Finally, let’s talk about sex. In the traditional Gothics, it was implied. These characters misbehaved in more ways than one, but they tended to do it behind closed doors. In the ‘new Gothics’ the sensuality that was hinted at in the past is more explicit. Readers will get an erotic shiver down their spine as well as a spooky one!

Now, obviously, if you sat down tomorrow and wrote a novel which included all of the above elements things you would:
a) end up tearing your own hair out as you tried to keep track of your plot
b) use up all of your best ideas in one burst of wild Gothic energy and never write another word
c) re-write The castle of Otranto by Hugh Walpole

The popularity of the Gothic had been waning in recent years. I have always loved the darker side of romance novels and missed the Gothics. So, what do you do as an author if you want to see more of a particular genre? Get writing, of course!

So what can readers expect from a Jane Godman Gothic?
1. The setting is dark, gloomy and atmospheric.
2. A feisty heroine who pushes the boundaries.
3. A villain you who compels you.
4. A hero you fall in love with.
5. Dark secrets, the past comes back to haunt the present.
6. Some surprises along the way.

I hope that you'll join me on my quest to ‘bring back the Gothic’ and enjoy this darkly wonderful genre as much as I do!

For more Gothic chat, you can find me on Twitter @JaneGodman or on my website Jane Godman Author 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Paranormal Love Wednesdays Blog Hop Sign Up for April 29th

get the InLinkz code


How cool is this?

I stumbled upon this holiday a few weeks ago while Googling paranormal topics for one of my books.

On May 3rd each year, people in this country and around the world, gather on FB, in groups, at parties to talk about and tell each other their paranormal experiences.

The word Paranormal came to be in use, circa 1915-1920.
The dictionary defines it as: (noun) - not scientifically explainable.

No matter your paranormal preference, ghosts, witches, aliens, UFO's, vampires or shifters, there is a group for you!

I hope to write a more detailed post on the Love Features Blog on
Sunday, May 3rd.

Do you have a story to share?

Debbie Christiana writes paranormal romance, dark romantic fiction and short dark fiction.

You can find her at:
Twitter: @DebChristiana
FB: Debbie Christiana, Author

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Paranormal Love Wednesdays Blog Hop Sign Up for April 22nd

get the InLinkz code

I grew up in a large Sicilian family (my grandparents/family arrived through Ellis Island in 1920). Sunday dinners were filled with delicious food, homemade wine, and a bit of small talk about the local Stregas (Italian witches) that resided in most small villages of the Mediterranean Island.

Italy has a history of tolerance for their 'wise women' more than other European countries, especially during the Inquisition. They were respected members of the community known for their knowledge of nature, herbs and curatives.

The unique thing about Stregas is that they have their own liquore, the recipe known only to their kind, made in Benevento, Italy (City of Witches). Legend tells us there is a sacred walnut tree that keeps it's leaves all year long and the place Stregas would gather every full moon for a ritual.  

Until 622 AD.

That's when Duke Arechi II of Benvento was said to willingly and happily partake in the monthly revelry among the witches. His angry wife told the local priest, who immediately cut down the tree and built a church on it's site, and made the Duke convert to Christianity. Although it's believed the Stregas tricked the priest and the true Walnut tree still stands well hidden in the Benevento forest. 

If you look closely at the label you'll see the Stregas dancing under the tree.

That brings us to the Alberti family. One day Gisueppe Alberti and his brothers were foraging the woods of Benevento for herbs when they saved the life of a witch from a falling tree. In appreciation she gifted the brothers with the secret recipe. To this day the Alberti family is the only producer of Liquore Strega, the recipe is kept under lock and key and only a few family members are privy to its ingredients.  The only known ingredient for sure is the Saffron that gives it its brilliant yellow hue.

But beware! Liquore Strega is a love potion that has the power to bewitch. Remember, "whomever you share a glass with you shall be forever united with."

A scary proposition, depending on who you are sipping the Strega with and the basis of a short story of mine, Choose Wisely.

Debbie Christiana writes paranormal romance, dark romantic fiction and short dark stories.
FB: Debbie Christiana, author
Twitter: @DebChristiana

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Paranormal Love Wednesdays Blog Hop Sign Up for April 15th

get the InLinkz code

Why aren't there paranormal insect love interests?

Author: ckaras License: Public Domain Dedication

Yeah, I know, a large shapeshifter horseshoe crab isn't very appealing and probably neither is a large preying mantis. But consider these facts before you completely rule out the possibility of an alpha insect.

Photo by SweetCrisis. Published on 18 July 2011
Stock photo - Image ID: 10050169 

1. Bugs outnumber humans on planet earth by about 1,000,000,000 to 1. That's quite a lot. If you're looking for a shifter army, you're gonna have more soldiers in the insect world hands down. If there was ever an insect/human war, I'd pick the larger -- way larger -- team for sure.

2. Bugs are stronger. Okay, they make shapeshifting humans tougher by giving them lots of muscle and strong bones, but they still can't be run over by a car and survive. Yet there are beetles you can step on who won't get hurt at all! Plus, insects can lift hundreds of times their own weight, putting humans to shame. Bugs aren't just tough, they're super tough.

3. Insects can fly! Well, not all of them, but unless it's a vampire we're talking about, most of the paranormal lovers out there don't, even when shifted. They tend to stick to the ground dwelling beasts such as bears, wolves, coyotes, etc. When they aren't shifted, they take planes.

4. Wolves have extra sharp noses, but insects have tricky eyes! Their compound eyes allow them to see in all directions at once. How cool is that?

5. They've got more legs. Does that mean they have more hands? Ah, the better to handle you with my dear!

Well, there's just a few thoughts on why we should have a bug shifter series. I mean, wow, there's so many to choose from we'd never run out of options.

Plus, they're kind of cute, don't you think?

Find out more about my whacky mental adventures by joining my mailing list:


Author Bio and Contact:

Eva Lefoy writes and reads all kinds of romance, and is a die-hard Trekkie. She’s also terribly addicted to chocolate, tea, and hiking. One of these days, she’ll figure out the meaning of life, quit her job, and go travel the galaxy. Until then, she’s writing down all her dirty thoughts for the sake of future explorers.

New: Website

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Paranormal Love Wednesdays Sign Up for April 8th

get the InLinkz code

Facts About Time Travel by JoAnne Myers

Photo by Victor Habbick. Published on 17 February 2012
Stock photo - Image ID: 10073322

Time travel may be theoretically possible, but is beyond our current technological capabilities, say most scientists. Time travel, is defined as moving between different points in time. It has been and probably will be a popular topic for science fiction for decades. Franchises ranging from "Star Trek" and my favorites, "Outlander” and “The time Machine” starring Rod Taylor have seen humans enter a vehicle of some sort and arrive in the past or future, ready to take on new adventures.

Photo by Victor Habbick. Published on 03 September 2012
Stock photo - Image ID: 100100657

The reality, however, is more muddled. Not all scientists believe that time travel is possible. Some even say that traveling nearly the speed of light would be lethal. Dying from experimenting with time travel was also a possibility for my hero Doctor Alex Anderson, from my short story, “For the Love of Ginnie.” This lovesick character, invented time serum, for the sole purpose of returning to the Civil War, and rescuing Ginnie, who according to history books, died from a snipers bullet.

While most people think of time as a constant, physicist Albert Einstein showed that time is an illusion; it is relative it can vary for different observers depending on your speed through space. Einstein called time the "fourth dimension," which provides direction which only travels forward.

Scientists describe space as a three-dimensional arena, which provides a traveler with length, width and height showing location.

Photo by Victor Habbick. Published on 17 February 2012
Stock photo - Image ID: 10073471

Approaching the speed of light, a person inside a spaceship would age much slower than his twin at home. In addition, under Einstein's theory of general relativity, gravity can bend time.
According to NASA, general relativity provides scenarios that could allow travelers to go back in time.

One possibility could be to go faster than light. (As in “beam me up Scotty”.)
Another theory would be to create “wormholes” between points in space-time. Most scientists though, believe wormholes would collapse very quickly and would only be suitable for very small particles.

Photo by Victor Habbick. Published on 24 November 2013
Stock photo - Image ID: 100220022

Then there’s “Infinite Cylinder”, which is a mechanism where one would take matter that is 10 times the sun's mass, and roll it into a very long but very dense cylinder.

According to the Anderson Institute, after spinning this up a few billion revolutions per minute, a spaceship following a very precise spiral around this cylinder could get itself on a "closed, time-like curve". There are limitations with this method, however, including the fact that the cylinder needs to be infinitely long for this to work.

Another possibility would be to move a ship rapidly around a “black hole” that traveled around the speed of light, or too artificially create that condition with a huge, rotating structure.

Photo by Dr Joseph Valks. Published on 22 September 2014
Stock photo - Image ID: 100289636

Another theory for potential time travelers involves “cosmic strings”. Narrow tubes of energy stretched across the entire length of the universe. These thin regions, left over from the early cosmos, are predicted to contain huge amounts of mass and therefore could warp the space-time around them. Cosmic strings are either infinite or they are in loops, with no ends, scientists say. The approach of two such strings parallel to each other would bend space-time so vigorously and in such a particular configuration that might make time travel possible, in theory.

Also, it is generally understood that traveling forward or back in time would require a device a time machine to take you there.

To accomplish this, time machines are believed to need an exotic form of matter with so-called “negative energy density”. Such exotic matter has bizarre properties, including moving in the opposite direction of normal matter when pushed. Such matter could theoretically exist, but if it did, it might be present only in quantities too small for the construction of a time machine.

My curiosity for time travel led me to write “For the Love of Ginnie.” One story in my fantasy anthology, “Loves, Myths, and Monsters.” My hero Dr. Alex Anderson, from the 30th Century, did not let time keep him from returning to the Civil War to find his ladylove, Ginnie Wade. When love is present, anything is possible. Happy Reading.

About JoAnne Myers: 

JoAnne is a cross genre author of 7 books and canvas paints. She believes in family values and following your dreams.

Contact JoAnne:


Amazon Author Page:

Facebook Author Page:

Main Website: Books and Paintings by JoAnne:

Jo Anne’s Blogs:

Books and Paintings by JoAnne Blog:

Jo Anne’s WordPress Blog:

Jo Anne’s Postings:

Jo Anne’s Blog:

Website link for “Loves, Myths, And Monsters: