Mysterious Gothic Books or Books About Books

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I love the use of mysterious books in Gothic novels and films.  One of the greats is El Club Dumas by Arturo Perez Revere on which the film Ninth Gate was based.  The Book of the Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows was written by a Renaissance Mage, Aristide de Torchia, in collaboration with the devil. It is full of engraving as arcane as tarot cards, that present a cosmic riddle.  Whoever figures it out…goes to Hell. 

Be that as it may, its very intriguing, if not captivating, as any good glamour should be.

 

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Bram Stoker’s Dracula, is composed almost entirely of letters and diary entries.

Mina Harker:

24 September.–I hadn’t the heart to write last night, that terrible record of Jonathan’s upset me so. Poor dear! How he must have suffered, whether it be true or only imagination. I wonder if there is any truth in it at all. Did he get his brain fever, and then write all those terrible things, or had he some cause for it all? I suppose I shall never know, for I dare not open the subject to him. And yet that man we saw yesterday! He seemed quite certain of him, poor fellow! I suppose it was the funeral upset him and sent his mind back on some train of thought.

Jonathan Harker

26 September.–I thought never to write in this diary again, but the time has come..

Dr. Seward

26 September.–Truly there is no such thing as finality. Not a week since I said “Finis,” and yet here I am starting fresh again, or rather going on with the record….

In a sense all first person narratives are journals. We easily imagine the hero or heroine writing by firelight, with a quill or fountain pen, the story of their life as the remember it. Taking the analogy further, every author os writing a diary of their imagination. We all begin with the blank page, and inscribe our vision upon it.

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My own novel The Lady in Yellow, has a couple of strange books. The Book of UnHoly Beasts, The Grande and Petite Alberts, and the journal of the governess who taught the de Grimston twins before Veronica took the post.

My Victorian Romance

Following in the footsteps of Mina Harker and her Victorian sisters of the pen, I thought it would be fun to create a book of blank pages sparked with the magical, sensual poetry of the day, so that readers could curl up on a rainy day with a cup of coffee, and  invent their own Romantic tales. I plan to do this myself when I’m either full of ideas. or need to shake some up. You might enjoy it too!

 

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Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind…

The works of mid-Victorian artists were soaked in Romance. The Pre-Raphaelite painters and poets, the lush productions of Shakespeare’s plays, the epic poems inspired by the Arthurian Legends, the perception of women as goddesses to be adored, all coalesced to create a rich, erotic culture of torrid love stories acted out in real life. The pages of this journal are sparked with lines of Romantic poetry popular at the time, interspersed with writing prompts to inspire you to explore your own Romantic Fantasies. Remember: This is your book of secrets…

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Can you think of any Gothic novels in which books are a central theme? There are quite a few, but I am curious about what you might want to share. If you would like to explore your own Victorian Romance, I have put together a journal that is designed to inspire you. Its comes in paperback, print on demand, through Amazon’s Create Space. Here is the first. I am also putting together a  Gothic one called Dark Dreams that should be available soon.

 

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Gothic Tarot Cards

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Arcana

 

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Never was there anything more mysterious than the Tarot cards. Their air of magic tinged with the apprehension of what fate has in store, their storytelling capacity, are some of the qualities that lend themselves to our dark, dramatic themes.

I am revisiting the stories of Angela Carter these days. She was the first author I read who inspired met o get serious about writing. her use of language lavished on themes of werwolves and vampires gave me permission to compose the kind of  Gothic tales I enjoyed reading while indulging in the lush, poetic writing style we call “literary”. These were the first Gothic tales since Poe, that really moved me and took my imagination to new heights and depths.

The Visconti Tarot, shown above, is the oldest complete Tarot in existence. It red-brown and gold hues suggest royalty, spell casting and dried blood. These are the cards of the vampires.

Carter uses the Tarot cards in full force in her short story, The Lady of the House of Love.

 

Wearing an antique bridal gown, the beautiful queen of the vampires sits all alone in her dark, high house under the eyes of the portraits of her demented and atrocious ancestors. each one of whom, through her, projects a baleful, posthumous existence, she she counts out the Tarot cards, ceaselessly construing a constellation of possibilities as if the random fall of the cards on the red plush tablecloth before her, could precipitate her from her chill, shuttered room into the country of perpetual summer and obliterate the perennial sadness of a girl who is both death and maiden.

 

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Love and Death

Of course the Death card always puts in an appearance in these tales. This is the fate we all fear, especially combined with The Lovers, for who can bear the death of love?  Of course  the Grim Reaper always smiled up from her blood red tablecloth. When, at last, the Lovers appear, this is not a cause for joy.

The bride is also a powerful Gothic persona, for marriage is a kind of death for woman. In the days of arranged marriages, when love had nothing to do with it, when a girl could be sold to the wealthy old man, or the cruel aristocrat, when she never knew how the beast would treat her, appearing in ghostly white veils was the most resonant attire. She grips the cards, desperate to know: is she safe, or not? Is this love, or not?

Her great Aunt is Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, a figure who seems to haunt us all. How many actresses have played the role? This lost bride, this ghost, sitting alone in the dark, high house with the long table gone to rot, is a kind of vampire who feeds on her ward,  Isabelle,draining the girl’s emotions, killing her love, cosigning her to s symbiotic death in life.

I don;t think most people think of Charles Dickins as a Gothic author, but he’s one of the best. Like Shakespeare.

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Stories with Tarot

When I found the Angela Carter book, Tarot Readers were few. I was one, so I was drawn in to this story of the lady in the House of Love. I also have incorporated the cards into stories.

Now there are many authors employing the Arcana!

Here is a Goodreads list of novels that use Tarot as a theme. As you can see, they all have a dark, Gothic feel to them.

Out of 530 books, I am sure you will find something to enjoy.

http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/5230.Stories_Where_Tarot_Reading_Plays_A_Role

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Mark of the Beast Anthology

A bit of news!

 

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I sold my short story, Thirteen,  to an editor in 2012. Its a Red Riding Hood inspired werewolf story that I have since published on my Gothic Faery Tales blog.

http://gothicfaerytales.com/2013/02/16/thirteen-a-gothic-re-telling-of-red-riding-hood/

I was supposed to be paid, but it didn’t seem to be happening, so I wrote it off. Well, lo and behold! I got a check in the mail for $77!!! The anthology came out in 2015. It takes a while for creative projects to come together.

If you like werewolf stories, (and obviously the editor,Scott David Aniolowski, has great taste) then check this out:

http://www.chaosium.com/mark-of-the-beast/

 

MARK OF THE BEAST

A COLLECTION OF WEREWOLF STORIES

Every civilization has some story or legend of creatures half man and half beast. Indigenous native peoples around the world held beliefs about shamans and witch doctors who could transform themselves into animals. The ancient Egyptians worshiped a whole pantheon of animal-headed gods. The superstitious folk of medieval Europe believed that a witch or a gypsy could curse a man to become a werewolf by night. Pacific islanders told tales of men changing into sharks. Certain African peoples feared leopard men.

Coming from all over the world and from every culture, werebeast legends naturally vary. Among the ways said to become a werewolf include being bitten by a werewolf, being bitten by a normal wolf, a potion or curse from a gypsy or a witch, a family curse, a genetic disorder, drinking rainwater from the paw print of a wolf, wearing an enchanted pelt made from wolfskin, through a pact with Satan or a demon, through the act of cannibalism, etc. Some werewolves have no memory or control over their change while others do. Some change only by the light of a full moon while others can change at any time. Some werewolves look like normal wolves, some look like giant wolves, and still others are mutant man-beasts. Some are solitary and some live and hunt in packs or clans.

Herein are gathered a number of tales portraying the glorious and bestial nature of the werewolf. There are horror, sci-fi, Gothic, cyber, fairy tale and fantasy stories and poems that embrace the essence of the beast, told by an assortment of scribes with diverse styles and voices.

Now the Full Harvest Moon is rising and the soft wail of the autumnal wind begins…

Edited by Scott David Aniolowski

288 pages Trade Paperback.

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I owe you guys a proper blog post, but life has been getting in the way of writing these days, even to the blog. I do have plans though. Once things settle down I’ll be back on it. In the meantime, I will be doing the mundane tasks of formatting my novels, The Shadows, The Haunted Garden, and Roses of the Moon for print.

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Gothic Marionettes

 

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Cheers!

First I want to wish you all a Happy New Year! I know I’m not alone being glad to see the backside of 2015. As the little kid said, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”

Chip off the old block, I’m sure….

I have been getting back to work on the pending books. A great help has been The Nine Day Novel by Steve Windsor. I figured I owed my readers at least an attempt to get a book done in nine days. Alas, life kept intervening. As it does. But I do have two very solid and detailed outlines to work from now, and that is half the battle won! These tales should be out in the Spring if not earlier.

i have three other first drafts, so I’m in good shape. Still behind on the 5 Year Plan, but that can happen to anyone, right?

Thank you for your patience….

Gothic Theme of the Month: Puppets

At the top of this post you see fireworks. These are not only part of the New Year celebrations, they also evoke the work of one of my favorite authors, Angela Carter. Her book of short stories, The Bloody Chamber, is one that inspired me to want to write fiction, ages ago! It took living in London to find my stories, though. One of her short story collections is called Fireworks and there is a story in there called :The Loves of Lady Purple about a very erotic and sinister marionette. She also wrote an award winning novelThe Magic Toyshop, which is extremely weird and deals with this puppet theme. I found a filmed version on youtube which I post for you below, in case you are not quite ready to give up the gloom.

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Something about London seems to bring out this murk of the soul. My other inspirational author, Tanith Lee, was also British and wrote in this poetic and macabre vein. In my case, I was sent toward these Gothic themes for the sake of what Carl Jung used to call: Shadow Work.

This Shadow Work began for me in the early 2000’s when my imagination was invaded by the ghosts and demons that lurk in the London ethers. As you know, my books are dark, dealing with themes of good vs evil and the moral struggles of the protagonists. I do believe that our moral choices can make or break our character, and that good and evil are absolute.

Now that I know these things to be true, the black veil has lifted and I feel redeemed…. I will continue the current projects until they are complete I will probably write Romance on the side–to vary the metal/ emotional diet as it were…. That’s how I feel now as the light at the end of the tunnel washes over me.

I also want to share this old movie from 1944. It ties together Angela Carter with the Bluebeard theme, and has some wonderful marionettes. Its called Bluebeard and has a very nice plot and a very young John Carradine who looks pretty striking.

My own Bluebeard story, The Keys, has not marionettes, but automatons, which are their kissing cousins. This tale was directly inspired by Angela carter’s Bluebeard re-telling, The Bloody Chamber.

If somebody wants to make a film out of The Keys, let me know and I will add it to the Gothic Library. It has zombies….

I like this puppet theme. Ever since I was a child i loved puppets and dolls. But not all children love them. I did a brief stint as a puppeteer in a marionette house. We had to make the marionettes ourselves, so we really bonded with them. There was always a part of the show where we took the marionettes into the audience, to meet the patrons. Some of the children left screaming….

I think their instincts were actually pretty good.

And what are all these puppets and marionettes, you may ask? Masks, perhaps. Or animated beings without souls, certainly.

My automatons were a bit like Stepford wives…women reduced to robots, a kind of living dead. What makes them Gothic is the relationship to the subconscious, our fears, perhaps, of what we might be if there were no God.

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Looks like poor Angela Carter ended her days in a wax museum…

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2016 Must Start Early!

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Some of you may know I was slowed down in 2015 by a need for Rehab, and a day job search that began to take over my life. That’s how hard it is to find a job in Seattle these days!

These things, and a few other special, secret influences, slowly made it extremely difficult to enter the altered states of consciousness from whence the stories flow. Its a miracle Morna: A Celtic Tale of the Selkies made it out into the world when it did. I hope you have all gotten your copies for 99 cents. Please leave a review! The price increases to $2.99 on December 1st.

Astrology

Some of you may also know that I have been a professional Astrologer and Psychic for many years. The celestial influences have not been kind to me. The first half of the year was great in many ways, but Mercury went retrograde in Libra mid-September, triggering all sorts of distasters in my Venus ruled chart. It has been Dance with Death. How many things can you lose at once and still be on the planet?

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2016

One thing I know needs to change in this blog. I feel my entries on here are quite boring. Too businesslike and not really me. That is because all my creative energy goes into writing the novels and I don’t have much left over for the blog. My Winterspells: Life on the Magical Path, Legacy of the Witchblood blog was quite another story, but I wasn’t writing fiction when I was working on it. Go here: http://www/houseofwinterspells.com. Its also in the tab under Magic. All that stuff is woven into the novels now. The posts are really good though, if I do say so myself.

This blog was gaining great popularity when I bailed on it. Silly me! I didn’t see how it could turn into a writing blog at the time. Now I do.

I’d like to do a podcast in 2016. This is a matter of getting the technology together so there is no fan hiss.

Novels

I also need to return to the novels I had planned for 2015. I may get The Vampire’s Bride finished by New Year. Its a novella, sequel to The Vampire’s Mirror. That one took me two weeks to write. This one could make it through!

Then I have the first draft of Dark Reliquary. Its a big project, but it goes well.

Sovay: Prelude to The Lady in Yellow, is in first draft as well. These two books could get finished early next year.

The second Poppy Farrell book, Taller Than Our Souls has been a bear. It got stuck in the middle and I haven’t been able to unravel it. This was actually demoralizing for me. I’d never had writer’s block before.

So these are the plans I can stick to so far. If I got these books out, it would feel great and there would be three series with more than one book in them. Lol!

Please pray for me to stay motivated and you’ll have more to read from me. Let me know what you would like to see for 2016 from me, as well.

Here’s a good winter read!

Click for The Vampire’s Mirror

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