The Loaded Pen: Occultism in Gothic Fiction

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I thought for a long time about whether to write this blog post because it comes in response to a fan of Gothic Romance who seems to have been put off of ME because of the occult themes in The Lady in Yellow. My intention is not to have a go at her—-she’s entitled to her response—but to address a larger issue that is very pressing and important in this Social Media world. Nor is this post addressed to her or about her.

Many people these days seem unable to tell the difference between fantasy and reality.

This is understandable considering the lies and proaganda that permeate the media and how many chidren are stuck in front of the TV set before they have the ability to understand what they are actually watching.

The internet is an author’s dream as far as speeding up the process of reaserch for a novel. The trick is to ba able to tell the difference between good information and misguided, if not diliberately falsified information. The exceeding immaturity of many commentors on the internet makes it a minefield on many levels. It is this group who will grab onto the smallest detail and twist it into a validation for whatever their obsessions or issues are with no regard for the CONTEXT in which the information was presented.

The areas most rife with these trolls are conspiracy research and the occult.

I’m very new to the internet, by the way. I didn’t get on until 2009. So I know what a mine field it is because I had to learn fast and had many coaches….

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A prime example of this immature view, especially as applied to the arts, is the perception that because the ACTRESS Mia Farrow played the devil’s mother in Rosemary’s Baby, it must follow that she’s a Satanist in real life.  Does it follow then that if I play Lady Macbeth in a play that I go around conspiring to murder people? This whole mind set is ludicrous, yet some people will put these allegations on the web as fact!!!!

Oddly, the fact that Rosemary  in the film was FIGHTING  and RESISTING the Dark Occultists is never mentioned. Nor are Mia’s other film roles ever brought into the conversation because they have nothing to do with devil worship! Only The Omen gets a mention (as if she only made two films to express her love of evil) because this kind of cherry-picking backs up tabloid-infused so-called thinking of the childish.

I thought Bearing False Witness was condemned by the Ten Commandments.

Research into the Occult Does not Make it a Way of Life

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The Lady in Yellow is set in Victorian England. It involves a werewolf curse. It is Romantic Suspense with a dose of Horror, ie: Gothic!

Historically, Victorian England was a hotbed of Spiritualism. Table rapping, trance mediums, ectoplasm manifestations, conjuring the dead (necromancy) and various other psychical experiments were all the rage. Thus, it is true to the historical period to have evidence of these practices in my novel The Lady in Yellow. Does it mean I sit around playing with Ouija Boards all day? I wouldn’t touch a Ouija Board with a ten foot pole! I know how dangereous they are. This very trickiness makes them great for buidling suspense in a novel.

It is right to ascribe the Werewolf phemenon to Satanism because, as I learned on the internet, as well from the folklore I’ve studied all of my life, that Werewolves, and all shape shifters, are Initiates into advanced Satanic practices based on Dark Shamanism. Does it follow that I worship the devil and go to evil rituals because I describe, in a story-telling way, the true origin of the Werewolf?

Maybe I am a Werewolf. Oooo! That’s scary!

I am interested in origins, in the primal. I go deep into any subject I study looking for the root source.

 

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The spark for The Lady in Yellow was this mural on the wall of a chateau in the Auvergn in France.This is not the only sinister mural in that castle. There are Hell Mouths and all kinds of ritualistic images. This chateau was photographed by Simon Marsden because it was known to be haunted.

This Lady in Yellow in the mural became the character of Sovay in my novel, while the house became the root of the Werewolf Curse in my story.

As you develop a novel, many facets of your imagination engage and almost everything you ever experienced, or even picked up subliminally, may coalesce  around images, symbols and themes to create the story. I am often amazed at what comes up in the plot, things I never knew I knew. Characters I think will be minor, may take center stage. Others will show sides I did not expect and think things I never thought before. This is why a novel can take so long to write because you have to stage manage all these elements.

As in Rosemary’s Baby, the Fan of Gothic Fiction seemed to miss the whole point of The Lady in Yellow. Victorian England was not only awash in Spiritualism, but was a powerfully Christian.  My heroine, Veronica Everly, was raised in a Catholic orphanage by nuns. She is profoundly Christian. Setting her up against the Dark Occult forces at Belden House provides an opportunity to create fantastic tensions and conflicts, with a moral battle between good and evil in which love fueled by selflessness and courage wins. In fact I wondered, at one point, if I couldn’t sell this book to Christians.

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So I have been quite shocked to have been personally dismissed because the Reader assumed wrongly that I must be promoting Satanism because I used it in the novel. To set the record straight: I hate Satanism. I hate evil and destruction. I am against all abuse. I am actually quite strongly Christian, and that is a deep subject. I hate the fact that I feel a need to write this post, but this is not the first time this has happened to me.

While living in London I was in a play, Babalon, in which I played Marjorie Cameron and the demon, Babalon. I took the role because I hadn’t done any acting for a long time and it seemed like it would be  fun. I didn’t initially want to do it because I didn’t want to engage in anything to do with Aleister Crowley.  But I did accept in the end… who knows why. It sent a wrecking ball through my life.

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Because of this part I played one night on the stage at RADA, some people assumed I was into Cameron and Babalon and Crowley. No one asked me. But the truth is, I had no idea who Jack Parsons was, or Cameron, or Babalon. In 2005, I didn’t even know how to do a google search to look them up. The others involved in the play showed me pictures and things, but aside from the script, I had no idea what I was involved with. Yet people assumed, like Mia Farrow and Rosemary, that this character was somehow an expression of who I am and how I live my life. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, having learned more about these characters from Pasadena, California I have been horrifed to have been involved in glamorizing them on any level.

I have another blog, Winterspells.com, in which I explore the occult as an intellectual interest and as a way to try to understand why I have been drawn to magic and occult subjects all my life. I have been psychic and clairvoyant from birth, but had never been particularly dark, and never evil. I tried to find evidence of witchcraft in my family tree,  to no avail. I looked into my home town in Massachusetts. Perhaps.

I do pick things up in the ethers.

Did Somebody Say TV?

After years of soul searching for the very root cause of my resonance with White Magic, and the Shadows it casts, I have recently come to the conclusion that its source was television.

There are on youtube lots of the old TV shows I grew up watching: Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond, Thriller... In watching a few of them again, I experienced very deep emotional reactions like fascination, attraction, repulsion, dread, the sense that I have been haunted by some of these black and white 1960s American images, and that they disturbed something in me. Our TV time was strictly limited in those days, but those small doses were profound.

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I’m not trying to bow out like a coward about my exploration of dark subjects. Just setting the record straight, something I’ve needed to do for a long time.

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13 Books that Made Me Want to Write

The urge to tell stories began in childhood for me. My father was a great reader of classic novels and he passed this interest on to me. I was thinking about the books I’ve read throughout my life and the ones that inspired me to say “I want to do that!” So I made a list.

Some books that inspired me are long out of print and long gone. As my reading skills developed, I discovered a taste for mysteries like Secret of the Haunted Pool and things like that. I made up a story based on that at one time.

These books are not necessarily my favorites, but they were the ones that excited the Muse in me. They sparked my imagination in a way that said not only: “I want to do that!” but “I have to.”

Stories build up in your subconscious, you see, over time, then start agitating to get out. These books were the seeds, many planted deep in my consciousness as soon as I could read. Images attract me, and all of these authors have the ability to create iconic images in their stories that resonate for a long time.

What books inspired you to write?

Childhood Reads:

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Filled with drama and magic and mystery, I think these were the Harry Potter of our time. Disney helped, I suppose, but these stories were my constant companions as a child.

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There were never enough faiy tales. I still read them. The illustrations were inspiring as well and I did a lot of drawing most of my life. My first dream was to become an illustrator of fiary tale books.

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I wanted to be Jo. How many women writers have felt the same?  Or is this just a New England thing? I used to sit in the big oak tree eating apples and writing in my notebook.  Somewhere deep inside, I still want to be Jo.

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The dark moody atmosphere of Oliver Twist, and the strange characters worked their magic on me early. On my first visit to London in 1997, these were the streets I explored. The characters were so varied and so real. I wanted to write a story like this.

 

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I was haunted by the 1960s movie The Haunting and wanted badly to read the book. My tiny local library didn’t have it, but, by hook or by crook, I found this book instead. For some reason it reminded me of Alice Through the Looking Glass, but was more inspiring because the voice of Merrycat as she tells this murky little tale is so human. Only in recent years did I finally read The Haunting of Hill House. But I feel We Have Always in the Castle in the better book.

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Sometime during my adolescence I challenged myself to read very book in our tiny Leicester Library. That was where I found this little gem filled with stories by Algernon Blackwood. MR James, Wilkie Collins, Bram Stoker–all under one creepy cover. Short stories have been great Muse pokers for me. From fairy tales to scary tales, it was a straight line.

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A little later in life, I found this book by Dickins to be a highly motivating. I loved the characters and wanted to create some of my own. Of curse, Miss Havisham is the Gothic Queen of cobwebby darkness. I love all the film versions of this book.

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I knew I would never be able to write like the Bard, but I acted in many of his plays. I got to say those words, to be or not to be  some of those characters. They filled me with story. Shakespeare’s influence is huge in my work because, while acting in his plays, his stories entered my blood.

 

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Speaking of blood–its gets grimmer from here on. When I was first in college in Massachusetts, I had a frustrated  poetry professor. He ran a lively class and encouraged me a lot. One day he complained to us that his best friend had just gotten a movie deal off one his books, Salem’s Lot, and he was jealous as hell. At the time I had no idea who that best friend was. Then I got the book. I loved the idea of a vampire moving into a small town. It reminded of the black house one of my friends had been to. Apparently the lady who lived there was a witch. They had tea. As my friend was sitting on the couch, she realized that the cat she was petting was dead. Taxidermied! Perhaps a mummy…

I wrote a book based on these elements, but it is long gone.

 

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In a period when I was  doing plays and reading mostly non-fiction, Dracula stands out. I read it every winter for years. It was my winter by the fire book. The gloom is filled with golden light, the mysteries are deep, like fairy tales and Shakespeare rolled into one. The first time I read it, I was surpirised at how good it was. I will say that after this time, I went back to university to finish my English degree and none of the books I was assigned to read, much as I liked many of them, made me want to write.

 

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The dormant desire to write fiction was ignited to a painful degree when I found this book on the shelves of the University Bookstore.  Carter’s use of language is equal to Shakespeare, but she uses it to tell fairy tales. Talk about things coming together for a perfect storm! I was writing a lot of poetry, quite successfully at the time, and it hurt me that I had no stories inside me. I thought I was doomed to a plotless existence. Taking a Creative Writing class didn’t help because the professor didn’t reach us anything. I carried this thing around like a talisman, as if I could absorb Angela Carter’s muses by will.

 

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I was living in England when I discoverd Tanith Lee. The title story of this collection, Red as Blood, supercharged my desire to write. Tanith Lee was another Angela Carter, If she could do it. maybe I could. I’d been a prize-winning published poet after all, and these authors had such a remarkable fluidity with language. I also found, living in London, that my imagination was flooded with stories.  I realzed how important place was to me. I could write stories in Massachusetts and in London, but Seattle left me cold.

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This book, a fusion of fairy tale, romance and thriller is highly inspirational to me. It is the benchmark of the type of book I would like to write, a book that is high quality Gothic, and that excites readers’ imaginations worldwide. I’ve read it many times.

There could be more, but these were the sparks that set my Kindle career alight. I’d love to know yours. Leave a comment and share your inspirations with us.

In case you’re interested:

 

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Metaphor of the Spiral Staircase

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No Gothic novel would be complete without a spiral staircase. To me it is almost the symbol of the genre. The ever-tightening spiral illustrtaes the very structure of suspense: Begin wide, draw the characters and readers in, and as they descend, tighten, tighten, tighten. Don’t let them off until they reach the bottom, then let them run free.

Just looking down a spiral stairwell can give one the willies….

Going up can be frightening, especially of it begins to come away from the wall….

There is a large spiral stairway in my current novel in progress, The Shadows. It goes right down through the core of Blight’s Academy, a residential school for girls in the beautiful English countryside. In order to see more clearly in my mind how it is built so that my use of this device will be most effective, I have to look at pictures. I found some really cool ones, so thought it would be fun to share them with you!

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An ancient castle stairway…

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Chateau de Chambord external spiral stairway…

 

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Close up! I love anything Medieval.

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Wow!

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Fashion statement on stairs…

 

Compagne de Jesus Spirals in spirals…

 

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Spiral with chandelier….How do they change the lightbulbs?

 

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Like Blight’s…

 

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A most famously haunted spiral stair…

 

 

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Gothic Romance: The Dark Allure at Gothic Romance Reviews

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Miss Stacy at Gothic Romance Reviews invited me to write

a blog post on the Gothic Romance genre.

Find it here:

http://gothicromancereviews.blogspot.com/

 

I will have an interview with Stacy on her blog at the end of July about my writing with a focus on The Lady in Yellow. 

I’ll post the link here when its up there.

Meanwhile go to Stacy’s great blog and read my post: Gothic Romance: The Dark Allure.

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Dark Reliquary Series: Roses of the Moon New Cover!

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Since I am moving forward on completing this series, I decided I needed covers that go together. Like DUH! It took years for a model who looks like Lady Mara to come up. Now she has. Now Mara can look at you. She even has a fringe to cover the light that shines from her brow—an inheritance from her Dragon Queen lineage.

Book Two will be The Lucifer Tree which refers not only to the mysterious tree inside the wall-without-a-door in the heart of Castle Szepasszony where Lady Mara lives in the ruins and myst flee for her life.

Book Three—I am not sure if the title will be Queen of the Hidden Sun, or The Hidden One. I’ll have to finish it to be sure. In this one Mara has fled to the Romanian castle of Princess Borbala. There she meets, not only the half mad Princess, but Bela who has become a powerful Alchemist. Here, Mara diecovers the deepest magical secrets of her family and her true identity.

Book Four will be The Moonstone. It takes place in the contemporary times. Anna, a Hungarian girl in the London Goth scene meets a young antiques dealer, Sebastian, who has come into possession of a moonstone of great value. This find leads her back home to the Mountain of the Moon where she confronts her ancient vampyric ancestors.

Here is the Prequel cover—Dark Reliquary: Prelude to Roses of the Moon that gives some backstory to Mara’s arcane world.

Custom Book Cover Alyne Official Ebook

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