It seemed funny, at the time, to see the world land in my yard, roll forward and squash Marin.
Sue, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know where to send your DVD. A huge thanks to everyone for tossing the ideas out there. Never underestimate how huge that is. Since I was twiddling my thumbs wanting to comment on each, you’ll find my gush on each one in the previous post.
After a weekend of gorging myself of all four episodes on Heavy: The Story of Metal (
Gothic romance novels (like Metal, actually) never really go away. At times, editors may laugh in the face of anyone trying to sell one, but in the past decade, Dorchester has taken a chance on them with their Candleglow line authors Christine Feehan, Evelyn Rogers and Colleen Shannon in 2001; and, more recently with debut author Leanna Renee Hilber’s The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. With recent word St. Martin intends to repackage and rerelease Victoria Holt’s 1960’s classics, I smell a trend resurgence. That stale odor of the paranormal vampire and shapeshifter romance, masked by the yet-to-be-explored gothic sub-sub genre with a modern take.
To understand the modern prediction, I had to lay out the ingredients of the former. Against a backdrop of the true gothics-Rebecca, Jane Eyre, even Poe and Jane Austin’s mockery of the gothic, Northanger Abbey, I dove into the mid-twentieth century version. Here’s the recipie: Two parts angst to one part suspense/mystery. Add a castle-sized medieval stone, handfuls of eccentric secondary characters tied to the house, a smattering of charming, mysterious, brooding men, secrets and curses, and stir with spirits, real or imagined. The reader maintains an element of distrust toward the brooding hero—everyone, actually—which makes first person heroine narrative essential. The heroines are by no means waifs, but confined by their station in life, which naturally gravitates the setting to historical.
Therein lies a built in audience for readers of historical romance. But how to freshen and appeal to women who read contemporary paranormal? Here’s my theory:
Modern romance readers are sophisticated. They dabble in mainstream suspense, watch James Bond movies and can dissect LOST mythology far beyond how Sawyer’s chest hair (or lack thereof) plays into it. They crave the hero’s POV to draw them closer to his inner conflict and magnify the intimate relationship. They no longer want him storming home from “business”, leaving a frightening wake in the castle upon their arrival. The modern gothic romance hero is the darkest of all tortured heroes, but this time, the reader’s distrust of him comes from the horrors within. He is the supreme challenge to love, leaving the modern, strong heroine the only one to reach him. She must be as formidable in character and courage as he is dark in his, manifesting her strength through either occupation or insurmountable odds. She must have a damn good reason for investing herself in the chaos surrounding her; her motivation becomes the touch point to the entire plot.
The heat level, understandably, must go from a slow, simmering kettle to what modern romance readers expect. While a kiss to the hand has its charms, no NY romance publisher will take a chance on selling propriety.
The setting, while essential to a modern gothic romance, must be tight. Gone are the dense, undigestable passages of portraits and curtains and tableware. The writing must be fiercely economical to bring the classical heroine out of her musings and smack-across-the-face internalizations and into the action-meat of the story. Quirky secondary characters are still welcome.
What’s your take on gothic? Did I get it right?