Gothic Marionettes




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.


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.


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


Giveaway! A Signed Print Copy of The Lady in Yellow!

Win a Free Signed Copy of the Print Edition of The Lady in Yellow!

Just put your email adress in the box below. Winner will be announced on March 16th!




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Getting my first book inot print took a long time, mainly because of formatting issues and the painstaking task of catching and eradicating all those pesky typoes. After two more rounds of edits, and my own comb-through, the copy of this much beleaguered, yet steadily selling, book should be 100% clean!

Glad that’s over.

The Lady is a real doorstopper at around 600 pages. I had no idea it was so long! The cover, front and back looks great thanks to Joy Silesen at Indie Author Services.

For readers of The Lady in Yellow, the spin-off, backstory about Sovay is turning into a larger project than i anticipated. I ran into a bit of snag with the first draft as well, but it is in the pipleine. I will keep you all posted and, of course, will have it FREE for fans of The Lady in Yellow.



A note on the Wicked color Yellow:

“The color of The Yellow Book was an appropriate reflection of the ‘Yellow Nineties,” a decade in which Victorianism was giving way among the fashionable to Regency attitudes and French influences; For yellow was not only the decor of the notorious and dandified pre-Victorian Regency, but also of the allegedly wicked and decadent French novel” (Weintraub, 99).

The Lady in Yellow is a werewolf story inspired by the mural from Chateua Villaneuve in France  that depicts a lady with long golden hair and dressed in a Medeival gown, clutched in the jaws of an enormous wolf. The look on her face is not one of fear, but of coy sediuction. Legend has it that this lady of the chateau had been a flagrant libertine. In French lore, as we find in the fairy tales like Red Riding Hood, and even in the Lais of Marie de France, the wolf symbolizes a perpetually prowling, sexually seductive male. That this lady in the mural seems to enjoy the wolf’s poessession of her, suggests that this mural is about sexual excess. The murals on the walls around this image show devils and demons and what looks like a magician at his smoky altar. The entire series gives of the stench of sulfur, the yellow fumes of devil worship.

All of these themes have crept into The Lady in Yellow, giving this Gothic Romance, and there is a romance at the center, its creepy occult-laden underground stream.

The color yellow is not significant just because the murals were painted mostly in yellow pigments, but because, in certain contaxts, yellow has some untoward associations.

We have the yellow of sulfur, a mineral connected to the Devil, to fire and brimstone, and the sufulous fumes of Hell.

Yellow Journalism: News stories of a titiilating and scandalous nature.

Yellow is the color of gold, symbolizing wealth and corruption

In Victorian times: London’s infernal yellow fog….

The 1890s were tagged The Yellow Nineties by a London bookseller who filled his front window with French novels (scandalous!) that all had yellow covers. This isnpired the artist, Aubrey Beardsley and Ocasr Wilde to produce a magaizine called The Yellow Book.


“Holbrook Jackson, describing the impact of The Yellow Book, explained: “It was newness in excelsis: novelty naked and unashamed. People were puzzled and shocked and delighted, and yellow became the colour of the hour, the symbol of the time-spirit. It was associated with all that was bizarre and queer in art and life, with all that was outrageously modern.”

So, you see, its not all sunshine an tea roses, the color yellow. it’s actually not very nice. Diabolical. Wicked. Like the lady in my book, The Lady in Yellow.



Here we have the suggestion of Chinese influence which meant, in Vistorian England, the influence of opium. Many poets such as Baeudelaire and Coleridge were reputed to have written their works under its mind-altering spell.

If you can think of any more associations with the color yellow, feel free to comment!


Old Christmas was Darker Than you Think

Krampusz, Saturn, Father Christmas, Saint Lucy or the Christ Child:

An Eldritch Evolution of Christmas


Above: Santa Claus as a mask over the face of Krampusz!

Not to put a damper on your Christmas festivities, but this little diversion might be interesting to those who wonder about the  ancient rites associated, not with  a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but with the primal need of our ancestors to assist the sun’s rebirth from the darkness of winter and the coming of the light. As a writer of Gothic fiction, I find the lure of the darkness strong, along with the desire to throw back the curtain that hides a primordial mystery. In researching the history of Old Christmas, I found some unexpected things.

In my Dark Fantasy novel, Roses of the Moon, Christmas is celebrated in the old way of Central Europe, in this case 16-17th century Royal Hungary. Though my heroine, Lady Mara, is raised Catholic, her mother, Countess Orzsebet, still carries on the ancient pagan rite of Winter Solstice as Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. Though Roses of the Moon is a book of high fantasy, I still had to do a lot of research to capture the atmosphere of Hungary in a time parallel to Elizabethan England, and to learn about Hungarian folklore, seasonal celebrations, and fairy tales in order to back up the magic in the story.

I discovered Krampusz. For those of us brought up on Nativity scenes and eight tiny reindeer, this is a scary figure indeed. Not only does he have all the attributes of the Devil with his horns and his long tongue, but he steals children. In Roses of the Moon, Countess Orzsebet, a Bathoryesque evil queen who bathes in the blood of young girls, he was an apt sidekick and a wonderful disguise for the true driver of the tale, the Demon Prince, Lucifer.


The attributes of Saturn are all over this figure. Astrologically, Saturn rules the sign of Capricorn, the goat, and is the traditional ruler of Aquarius, the Water Bearer. Krampusz is certainly goat-like with his horns and hoofs, he is black like the darkest night of Winter Solstice, as harsh as the cold, cutting wind and pretty hungry. Image after image of Krampusz shows him carrying off terrified children. The color of Saturn is black, and his appetite for children is legendary.


The image above combines Capricorn, the goat, with Aquarius, the Water Bearer, or perhaps, Bearer of the Punch Bowl. This Santa Clause, or Father Christmas, has a lean and hungry look. What will he fatten up on, if he is Saturn?

This is pretty creepy stuff, and its truth has long been buried. Krampusz has come out into the light for all of us to see and wonder at, especially in countries like America where these archetypal figures had been left behind and replaced by the safe but relatively empty glitz of mass merchandising.

There are lots of pictures of Krampusz online. They expose a dark side to Old Christmas that most civilized people would like to believe has been left in the Dark Ages.


Blatant child stealing in the image above. Does mere naughtiness deserve such cruelty? Or is something more going on?


Father Christmas and Krampusz in Salzburg, Germany. Could these be Santa’s elves? And why does Father Christmas look like a Bishop or a Pope, and why is he leading them out of Hell?


The Father Christmas, or Santa Clause, we all know and love. But what really is in that bag of his? And what is in his belly? The church is like a toy beside this powerful figure who comes out of the darkness bearing the promise of new, and everlasting life. The power of nature seems to dwarf the house of God.

Though their purposes may seem the same, I don’t think of Father Christmas as a Christ figure.  But the figure of Saint Lucy, or Santa Lucia, bearer of the light in the darkness, has also been called the Christ Child.


Above: The Christ Child by Hans Trapp

This image is worth an entire blog post. It suggests a meaning for Christmas in Old Europe that has nothing in common with the holiday we celebrate today—-unless your name is  Jon Benet Ramsey!

Clearly this Christ Child is female. She is Saint Lucy, Santa Lucia, whose festival is most famously celebrated in Sweden. She comes from the north, her head crowned with flames , bearing gifts for the good little children who seem uncertain whether to accept these baubles, while a brother and sister cower in the corner. The mother clearly wants to protect her naughty children from the creature who has just leapt in through the window: Krampusz, looking goatier and more sinister than ever. His body  is charged with sexuality, his willow switch is raised; he leers at the children. And what that is on his head, only the artist must know for sure. His entire aspect is predatory.

One must wonder what kind of Christmas celebration this is.

Lucy means Light and is often shorthand for Lucifer, the Angel of Light synonymous with the Devil. Krampusz is clearly the Devil. The word Christ means Anointed One, and can be applied to other beings besides Jesus. Folklore has it that Lucifer sits on the left hand of God, brother to Jesus Christ, and that he, too, claims to be a Christ.

Was Old Christmas a wicked old holiday? Or does the brightness of the light and the happiness of the Divine Birth simply cast a deeper shadow all around? Winter for our ancestors must have been a fearsome time when warmth and illumination came only by fire, wolves prowled the lanes looking for food, iron cold stole the breath from small children, and food stores ran low.

May the power of the Holy Birth bring peace and salvation to the world. May the devils of our fears cease to rule us.  Joy to the world, the Lord has come!


The Book of UnHoly Beasts

In The Lady in Yellow, Rafe gives Veronica an ancient, Medieval tome,

The Book of Unholy Beasts.


The book is a compendium of mythical creatures… including the one special to the de Grimstons…along with descriptions of them and their legends.  I was thinking of approaching an artist friend of mine to make this book and have it available to fans of The Lady in Yellow. It may happen someday, but in the meantime, I thought it would be fun to share some of these antique images from actual Medieval illuminated manuscripts.


Various UnGodly Creatures including a Wildman



Strange Unnatural Creatures, Dragon, Unicorn, Oliphant and Foreigners



Domestic Cats


Wolves and Wolfman


Manticore: Head of a Man, body of a Lion










Side Story: The Wolf of Chazes who was tried in a French court for murder. Thus are legends made.


Our ancestors really belived this stuff. Its possible that some of these weird creatures were real, created in the labratories of lost Atlantis. Who knows for sure?