2012 The Year of the Gothic.

Happy New Year to everyone at Poisoned Pen Press and all our wonderful readers. Here it is 2012. Do you remember when the year 2000 seemed soooo far away?

The Day of the Triffids enroaching on my property?

First, here’s a couple of fun pictures of things I’ve done in 2011.

Guess where?

Vicki and Daughter in Africa


2012 is the year I go Gothic (again).   I was at Left Coast Crime in Santa Fe way back in March when Barbara Peters told a panel audience that the traditional British Gothic was back in a modern form.

Who knew?

Not me.

But as it happens, I was in the midst of writing one!

Growing up, I loved the Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt books.  Traditional Gothic stories of penniless governesses, crumbling castles, brooding, handsome aristocrats.  And a dark secret in the family’s past. Always a dark secret.

When I began writing, I decided I wanted to write that sort of book.  As I don’t spend much time in the U.K. I didn’t think I could set a book in a real castle. And I didn’t particularly want to write a historical novel.  Instead I set the book in Northern Ontario in modern day. I gave it a dysfunctional family, a returning prodigal daughter, a mother trapped by social convention, and a huge skeleton in the family closet. I called the book Scare the Light Away.

Next, I went even more Gothic and introduced something moving in the woods (or is there?), a palatial family home (albeit on Ontario’s Lake Muskoka) and a brooding, handsome gardener (what you ask? This is contemporary remember). That book was titled Burden of Memory.

In April Poisoned Pen will be releasing Scare the Light Away and Burden of Memory in new editions with new covers. (They are, BTW, now available for pre-order).

Scare the Light Away

Burden of Memory

Then in September, they’ll bring out my new Gothic suspense titled More than Sorrow. Of which I will have more (much more) later. In case you’re wondering what’s happening in Trafalgar, B.C, the Smith and Winters series will be back. I just wanted to take a break from them after five books.

This year I’ve read a lot of modern Gothic and I’ve realized that Barbara was right. They are in. And as a reader as well as a writer I can say thank heavens for that.

In the afterword to her hugely successful The House at Riverton, Kate Morton describes the Gothic:  The haunting of the present by the past; the insistence of family secrets; return of the repressed; the centrality of inheritance (material, psychological and physical); haunted houses (particularly haunting of a metaphorical nature); suspicion concerning new technology and changing methods; the entrapment of women (whether physical or social) and associated claustrophobia; character doubling; the unreliability of memory and the partial nature of history; mysteries and the unseen; confessional narrative; and embedded texts. 

I have long maintained that Gothic, whether traditional or contemporary, is a woman’s art form. That all Gothic novels have to be written by women and be about women.

Turns out I was wrong. I’ve read two very excellent Gothic novels in the past couple of months by men. One was So Cold the River by Michael Kortya.  In the afterword, Kortya even calls the book a Gothic. And Peter Robinson’s new standalone (yes, Peter Robinson of Inspector Banks fame) Before the Poison is very much a Gothic. The central character is male, but unlike in Kortya’s book, the secret of the past belongs to a woman who is trapped both physically and socially.  

Will 2012 be the year of the Gothic? It will be for me, as a writer. I hope it will continue to be so as a reader also.

9 Responses to 2012 The Year of the Gothic.

  1. I haven’t read Gothic novels, unless Jane Eyre is Gothic. But Northanger Abbey is the one Jane Austen I haven’t read yet that I plan to read and I believe she pokes fun at Gothic books.

  2. I began reading Gothic novels 40+ years ago and never lost my taste for them. I am so glad to hear this and I’ve added your books as well as the books that you mention to my 2012 buying list. Thank you and best of luck.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *