Friday, 28 October 2016

Beautiful Books - All about My NaNo Novel!

November is less than a week away, so naturally I've decided to change my NaNo project.

(I'd say I was disappointed, but I saw it coming. You always change your project less than a week before November. Usually on a whim.)

I resent that last part. 

Today, we're linking up with Cait and Sky to talk about this year's totally planned, not at all last minute, NaNo.

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I like Gothic novels (you may have noticed), and I wanted to play around with some of the tropes. I came up with the idea over the summer, so I haven't had it all that long. 

Describe what your novel is about.

A grieving girl and her friend form an uneasy alliance with a pair of reapers to deal with a threat deep inside her new home.

What is your book's asthetic?

Things that go bump in the night. That feeling when you drop onto your bed like you've been levitating. Dreams that make you shoot up in bed, covered in sweat. The shadowy figure in the corner of your room. 
Since it seems to help everyone else, I decided to make a Pinterest board for it. Click here to see it.  

Introduce us to each of your characters.

Edie and Lunette are the two main characters. Edie is a human girl who withdraws from her friends when her life falls apart, and Lunette is a reaper who is technically to blame for Edie's problem...and the Black Death.

Brodie is Edie's best friend. He's a bit of a shrinking violet, but he's incredibly brave and loyal.

Keir is the reaper from the territory next door. He's like a mischevious younger brother to Lunette.    

How do you prepare to write?

There is a very sensitive balance between planning and over-planning. If I over-plan, the story dies. For Into The Bridewell -

(Working title. As in, it needs some work.) 

- I've written out a brief overview of the plot, and a couple of very brief character notes. I still need to dig out my notes on how reaper society is organised. Luckily, I live close to a Supermarket, so I don't need to stockpile chocolate. I do need to get some hot chocolate in though.

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

I have no idea how part three plays out. I know how they get there, I know who's going there, I know what they're doing, but I don't know how they're doing it. It's been ages since I've had a hole like that to fill as I go along.

List three things about your novels setting.

Creepy. Rundown. Ethereal.

What's your character's goal and who, or what, stands in the way?

Revenge. One of my heroes has already had it, and another desires it. There's a big creepy house standing in the way.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

The first half of the story breaks Edie down and isolates her from everyone who cares about her. The second half builds her back up again stronger. At the moment, I'm thinking that maybe she's always been good at hiding her sadness and self-doubt, and realising that she doesn't have to hide them from her friends makes her stronger. 

What are your book's themes? How do you want the reader to feel when it's over?

Death. Loss. Grief. Revenge. It's a cheerful story. I'm not really sure how I want people to feel yet. It's a first draft, and I'm going in much blinder than usual. It's exciting!

Are you doing NaNo? Don't forget to link me to your Beautiful Books post!   

Friday, 21 October 2016

Halloween Reads

The witches are gathering eye of newt and tongue of bat, the werewolves are preening their fur, and the vampires are sitting up in their coffins, running their teeth over their fangs and anticipating the taste of a fresh vein. Halloween is on the horizon. Here are some seriously spooky reads to get you in the mood. Charlotte by Alex Bell

Creepy dolls, an ouija board, and an old house with a mysterious past, what more do you need?  

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

It definitely has a creepy house (just look at that title), but you'll have to decide whether or not it actually has demons and dark magic.
...Try not to get too attached to any of the characters. Monk by Matthew Lewis

Castles and monasteries, ghostly nuns and deals with the devil. Not recommended for children for the usual Gothic reasons. Accident by Diane Hoh

A girl appears in the mirror. Megan is drawn to her and terrified of her at the same time. The girl has a request. Megan is going to honour it.

I wish I owned a copy of this book, just so that I could see if it's as awesome as thirteen year old me thought it was. Woman in Black by Susan Hill

I read this in a night. The pacing is perfect. The suspense is glorious. Saving by Edward Hogan

This book needs more love. It's a quick read, full of suspense. Also, the clocks go back the day before Halloween, so I couldn't not put this ghostly little read on the list. Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Okay, so it's not particuarly spooky, but it involves an angel, a demon, witches, witch-finders, and the Anti-Christ. Totally topical. 

So there you have it, seven books that are perfect to read around this time of year. 

(Coincidentally, breaking a mirror will bring you seven years of bad luck.)

And, on that cheerful note, we'll take our leave. What's the creepiest book you've ever read?

Sunday, 16 October 2016

A Brief Guide to Gothic Tropes - Theme (3/3)

On Saturday, we discussed Gothic characters. 
On Thursday, we discussed Gothic settings.
Today, we're discussing Gothic themes

Obviously, different books use use different themes, but there are a number that pop up repeatedly in Gothic fiction. For example...

The Supernatural

If there aren't any ghosts, it isn't a Gothic novel. Okay, so that's not really a rule, but ghosts do appear a lot in Gothic fiction. Also, demons, the devil, and the dark arts. This is the part you can't explain, the part that makes you wonder if there's more to the story that what we're told. It's Catherine at Lockwood's window in Wuthering Heights. It's the lingering question of who or what Matilda really was when you finish reading The Monk. It's what makes Gothic fiction so intoxicating.

The Other

Gothic literature was written during a period of great social change. Migration was increasing. Within the country, people were beginning to flock from the country to the town. There was the industrial revolution, and then, in the late 1800s, women began to fight for their rights. The Other plays on our fear of the unknown. In Wuthering Heights, it's Heathcliff, a person who comes from outside the thin strip of moorland where the other characters were born. We never find out where exactly he's from, but it doesn't matter. The important thing is that he's an outsider. Nowadays, this theme is the definition of unfortunate implications. 


If we go back fifty years, men were expected to be dominant and women were expected to be submissive. On Saturday, we saw how female characters who conformed to the rules of society were written as saintly heroines -

(Who died)

- and how women who did not were evil seductresses -

(Who died.)

Whenever gender roles are reversed in Gothic fiction, the woman is playing the role of the other. And she's almost always leading the man astray. 

(And she's probably going to die.)

Love, Lust, and Revenge

Name me a Gothic novel where none of these show up as motivations. Go on, I'll wait.

4 hours later

(Okay. Fine. I-I give up!)

About time! It's impossible. In Gothic fiction, the byronic heroes go mad with lust, whilst the Gothic heroes are driven by the pure love they feel for the innocent, soon to be dead, maiden, and everybody has been slighted by everybody else. 

Proportion does not exist in Gothic novels. You are not merely in love. You are your lover. You'll do anything for them? I hope that includes dying tragically and leaving them to marry your clone who popped up at the last second. For added awfulness, there is a good chance that the handsome hero/beautiful maiden is your long lost sibling. Oh, and remember that adoptive sibling you were an absolute monster to as a child? The one who left? Yeah...he's going to come back, take everything from you, and systematically destroy everything you know and love tolerate. 

(And he's doing it for love too.)

Gothic fiction. So romantic. 


In the end, it's all about dominance. In The Monk, Ambrosio and Matilda are constantly wrestling for the power to decide what happens next. What will Ambrosio do? In Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff wants the power that Hindley denied him as a child (though not quite as much as he wants Catherine). In Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester attempts to control Jane by buying her fancy clothes and trying to turn her into somebody she's not. Remember, this is a time of great social change, a time when balances of power, that haven't moved for centuries, are starting to shift. 

Sometimes, power is exerted through words - this is especially true of power exerted by Gothic women - but more often, violence is used to intimidate others into doing as the character says.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it does cover a number of the most common themes in Gothic literature.  
Can you name a Gothic novel in which there isn't a single character motivated by love, lust, or revenge?