Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Deborah Lawrenson: The Lantern

I picked this new novel up when I read something about it being reminiscent of Rebecca. I'm actually not going to review it, but I did want to post about it since the author mentions that novel in the work and is obviously going for a contemporary, updated version... in some form.

When Eve meets the mysterious, handsome Dom, she is swept off her feet. They seclude themselves in the French countryside, but questions about his first wife's disappearance plague Eve. What really happened to his wife, and what secrets does the villa they live in hold?

I'd call The Lantern Gothic (lite), but I think it falls far short of DuMaurier territory. There are ghosts, and there is a husband who can't quite be trusted, but there is really nothing of the extreme menace and off kilter, creepy characters of Rebecca. The house is bland in many ways with not enough description for my tastes, and the prose is thick and literary. I wanted more spooky and less showy diction. But that's just me.

If you like novels set in France and high literature, I think you'll enjoy it-- and I do enjoy high literature, but I want my Gothics Gothic. I think I wasn't bowled over by it because it is a split plot (past and present) story, and it didn't have much suspense... at least not to me. Any thoughts? Have you read it? Here's more about the novel:

The Lantern

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Velda Johnston: The Hour Before Midnight

I found this gothic romance/romantic suspense novel by Velda Johnston, The Hour Before Midnight, published in 1978, at my local friends of the library. The cover is unexceptional, but when I saw it, I had to pick it up.

I like Johnston's work, but she treads a line between the two genres mentioned above, and I find her novels to be uneven in quality. This novel is not one of her best, in my opinion.

The Hour Before Midnight

Here's a list of Velda Johnston's titles with a picture of her. This page is from the literary agency that handles her estate:

Velda Johnston

In the novel, Judith Dunne, an American artist travels back to London to work on her illustrations. The murder of her fast and wild cousin the year before, Cecily Grenville, still haunts her.

Someone wants the past forgotten, and Judith is in danger.

Plot: 3/5-- I figured out whodunnit early on, though I did like the large variety of male suspects. I didn't enjoy the predictable plot twist of mental illness. A better ending would have been... well, I'll let you read it. Let me know what you think. :) Also, references to the common culture are pretty neat as are the stories of the British monarchy.

Characterization: 4/5-- I liked the hero and didn't pinpoint him as such right away. The heroine is also likeable and believable.

Atmosphere: 3/5-- A few genuinely creepy moments occur in the story when Judith finds the murder weapon--a nasty cleaver in a neat hiding place--but overall, there is nothing paranormal or really Gothic about this one other than some of the story line.

Romantic elements: 3/5-- The story in this regard was so/so.

Rating: 3+ stars

**If you like older romantic suspense, London in the 70s, or Velda Johnston's work, I recommend this one. Otherwise, you might skip it for something with a bit more Gothic atmosphere.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spotlight on Joselyn Vaughn and Her Gothic Cozy, Hauntings of the Heart

Today, the spotlight is on a fellow Astraea Press author, Joselyn Vaughn and her new release, Hauntings of the Heart. Don't you love this amazing cover? If you like Gothic cozy, I think you'll enjoy this book.

When Minnie decided to advertise the Lilac Bower as a haunted house, we both got more than we bargained for.  How were we to know that actual paranormal investigators would show up?  We both expected people who would be excited by some creaky doors and flickering lights.

So when the paranormal investigators showed up with cameras, thermometers and digital voice recorders, we knew we were in trouble.  Minnie because her advertising scheme was in trouble and me because I had no idea what the investigators do on a ghost hunt. I doubt they sit around and wait for a ghost to jump out and say Boo!

Luckily, some local investigators were making a presentation at our library and I could do some research.  They explained the tools they use and what those gadgets are supposed to detect.  It was all very interesting and exactly what I needed to learn until they started talking about places they had investigated and what they had found. Most were safely hours away from my home.  Their ghostly figures, weird shadows and hair-raising voices could stay safely in my mind's mythology.

Until the last place they talked about.  It is a mere block away from my house and I can see it from the window above my writing desk.  There wasn't anything terrifyingly haunted about the place except that Al Capone may have slept there.  The occurrences were more along the lines of the jukebox turning itself on and off and people just having an unsettled feeling while there.  They felt creepy and uncomfortable while inside. (Which would probably explain the string of businesses that opened and closed in the building since we moved to town.) I only went inside once to a consignment shop that was there briefly.  I don't remember feeling odd, but I know that I didn't buy anything.

And yet, as I walked home that night - alone and in the dark - I couldn't help but wishing I didn't have to walk so close to the building.

P.S. For anyone who likes to get the heebie-jeebies...The building is for sale.
Gordon stared at the paper. “You said Minnie?
She’s the owner?”
“Well, technically Minnie is the president of the
corporation.” Maybelle glanced over the top of her glasses, then
hefted the book and carried it toward the copy machine. “I’ll get a
copy of this for you.”
His mind was bouncing all over the place. Minnie. His heart
pounded. The memories of all his travels to see the places they’d
dreamed about. He’d always hoped he’d stumble across her in a
cantina in Buenos Aires, or disembarking from a mission plane in
the Philippines. He’d never considered finding her in his old home.
Emotions he’d long thought dead flowed to the surface.
Minnie had been his oxygen once, and losing her had been like
living in a backwards Claritin commercial. Everything had gone
from bright and clear to cloudy and bleary. After a while, he’d
gotten used to it.
If his father had told the truth, it would have been
humiliating, but Gordon would never have lost Minnie. They
would be living at the Lilac Bower together. He could rectify that
now. He could see her. She was only blocks away. His luck was
changing. He felt like skipping.
It briefly crossed his mind that getting all he wanted
couldn’t be this easy. But he’d worry about it later. Seeing Minnie
now was as important as finding water in the desert. He thanked
Maybelle as he ran out the door, almost leveling a woman who was
Maybelle called after him. “You forgot your copy.”
He dashed back and snatched the paper from Maybelle,
crumpling it and stuffing it into his pocket.
“And your hat,” the other woman said, tossing him the tan
fedora. Gordon caught it and slapped it on his head.
He couldn’t miss this chance.

When lost love shows up on your doorstep, what do you do?  Minnie Schultz slams the door in his face. She and Gordon Anderson have a history—close to ancient history, given the fifty years since their last encounter. After all that time, it might seem like water under the bridge. But the water pours from the plumbing in Minnie’s bed and breakfast, the Lilac Bower, uncovering all the secrets and heartache between them. With the help of some paranormal investigators, an Elvis impersonator and a couple of nosey friends, can Minnie and Gordon find the future they were meant to have?
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Judith Hawkes: The Heart of a Witch

I read Julian's House a few years ago and was blown away by it. It was one of those creepy, Gothic novels I never wanted to end. I searched for other works by Judith Hawkes and was disappointed to find that she has only written a few novels.

One of them is The Heart of a Witch. I lucked up on this novel at my Friends of the Library sale a month or so ago. At over 400 pages, I read through it pretty quickly. It just too me too long to get the review up.

Twins Kip and Shelley Davies wonder about The Arms, the elegant bed and breakfast that might as well be in another universe but that is just across the road from their house. What they find out about it changes their lives when they become members of a local coven.

Plot-- 5/5: This novel was wild. The story of Kip and Shelley grabbed me from the start. The tie ins with Wicca and evil make for a great read. I really didn't know where it was going for some time, and I like that. Hawkes is creative and is not afraid to tackle taboos and nudge them. If you want to read an exciting, mysterious, and edgy Gothic novel, this one is for you. I will warn that it does have some erotic scenes that some Gothicked readers might not enjoy.

Characterization-- 4/5: Apart from understanding Shelley's motivation or attraction to one particular love interest, the characters are well rounded and easy to sympathize with.

Atmosphere/spooky elements-- 4/5: Yes, this one had some spooky, scary, and frightening moments. The question of whether good or evil is at work comes up quite often.

Literary elements-- 4/5: The novel is well written and has the feel of a weighty work.

Romantic elements-- 4/5: Once some of you read this, you might scream at that rating. :) But the novel is full of many types of love, some of which push boundaries. I really like how Hawkes isn't afraid to go to the edge and then over it. My favorite gothic romance novel of all time, Wuthering Heights, does a great deal of that as well. With that said, I would not call this a gothic romance.

If you're interested in novels that deal with the struggle between good and evil, witchcraft, and what lies beneath the every day surface, this one is for you.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Gothic Romance Print Bundle Gothicked Giveway

Time for another Giveaway. :) Here's what I'll send out to you if you win:

1. The Laughing Ghost by Dorothy Eden (Ace Gothic edition) Here's what it looks like...
2. two other random print gothic romances

This time around, I'll be choosing a winner in one of three ways. You can do as many of these as you would like to enter for one or multiple chances to win:
1. "Like" Gothicked Blog on Facebook
2. Share Gothicked Blog on Facebook
3. Post a comment on this blog post.
4. Comment on the Gothicked Blog facebook page to enter.

I'll choose a winner by October 12th at 12:01 am CST. Hope you're enjoying your October reading! I definitely am, and I'm planning more giveaways this month. I'd love to hear from you: more e-books or more print books?

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gothicked Giveaway Two and Guest Blogger Sarah Ballance!

I am so thrilled to have a fellow Astraea Press author, Sarah Ballance, here today! Her novella, Hawthorne, has been getting tons of buzz, and it's a gothic romance. How cool is that? Just comment about why you like gothic romance or that you'd like to win below by Sept. 30th at 12 p.m. So, without further ado, here's Sarah...

Support Disaster Relief with HAWTHORNE
Sarah Ballance

Hi, Lisa! Thanks so much for this opportunity to get out the word about HAWTHORNE. It's been called everything from a paranormal romance to Southern gothic, but the bottom line is it's only $1, and 100% of those proceeds will be forwarded directly from the publisher to benefit Japan earthquake relief. I hope you will all join me in supporting the tens of thousands of people who are still suffering from the disaster which occurred on March 11, 2011. Unfortunately, the story has faded from the news, but some horrible truths remain. An August 11 update from Red Cross Japan reveals the following sober statistics:
  • As of July 14, 35,643 persons disaster refugees remain in evacuation centers and other temporary housing within the three worst affected prefectures (Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate). 4,757 people are still missing.
  • An astounding 142,109 survivors have applied for unemployment benefits as of July 29 in the three most affected prefectures alone.
  • 51,000 families still live in pre-fabricated houses, most having lost their homes and everything in them. Thousands others remain in shelters.
My Personal Challenge
I'd never written a short story before, so this was scary territory for me. I struggled a bit with coming up with a plot that was enough to keep readers' interest without being too much for novella territory. It was actually my husband who came up with the idea to make it a ghost story, and I think those were the most brilliant words to ever leave his mouth. (Well, second to asking me to marry him, LOL.) With his suggestion, the last scene of HAWTHORNE hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. I wrote that scene first, and I was so excited to get to the end to tie things together that the rest of the words just flew.
And wow, what a response! If you'd like to see what readers are saying, take a look at HAWTHORNE's GoodReads page: I'm likely a new-to-you author (because I'm new in general, LOL) but for a $1 donation to earthquake relief, I hope some of you are willing to give me a chance. If you do, and you enjoy the story, please tell a friend! (And if you hate it, you can always recommended HAWTHORNE to your frenemies, LOL).
**GIVEAWAY** It's my honor to give away a PDF copy of HAWTHORNE to an interested reader, but before I do so I'd like for everyone to know the winning copy will be paid for so the charity will receive the full donation. Thanks so much for having me here, and I hope you'll consider lending your support to this wonderful cause.
About the author: Sarah lives a charmed life as the mother of six incredible homeschooled children, all of whom are completely adorable when they're asleep. Her husband of many years (long, long years, he calls them) is the kind of guy who could teach those heroes from the books a thing or two about romance, not that he'd readily admit it. Completely supportive of her love for writing fiction, he's generously offered to help with any necessary research for "the good parts." She's never had to ask twice.
HAWTHORNE | Sarah Ballance | mystery, romance | BUY LINK | BLOG
After a terrifying encounter with the unexplained, it took ten years and the news of her grandmother’s passing for Emma Grace Hawthorne to return to her childhood home.   She sought peace in saying a proper goodbye, but what she found was an old love, a sordid family history, and a wrong only she could right.
Living in the shadow of Hawthorne Manor, Noah Garrett never forgot about Emma Grace.  In a house full of secrets, his search for missing documents revealed a truth that could cost him everything.  What he found gave Emma the freedom to walk away from the mansion, her heart free and clear, but at what price to Noah?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Let the Halloween Gothicked Blog Contests/Giveaways Begin!

The first giveaway starts tomorrow, 9/23, and these giveaways will run through 10/31 in celebration of autumn and Halloween. It's a Gothic and Gothicked time of year! Our first giveaway will be for a copy of Tammie Gibbs' gothic romance novel, Island of Secrets. It's been a bestseller in Romance>Gothic and Time Travel on Amazon US and UK for some time. It's an e-book, and I'll send it to you if you win!

Here's the rules, you can either follow the Gothicked Blog Facebook page (if you haven't already) OR you can comment here about why you like gothic romance/Southern Gothic and/or time travel genres by 8am, 9/26. That's it! Once you do, you'll be entered in a random number drawing, and one winner will be announced on 9/26. We'll have lots more contests, so stay tuned!

**I wanted to put a link here to Tammie's book but my Amazon widget isn't working. I'll try to do it later.

Island of Secrets by Tammie Clarke Gibbs 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Phyllis A. Whitney: The Quicksilver Pool

Hmm. This novel is compared on the cover blurb to Rebecca. I'm sure the editors thought that would make it a big seller in 1955, and maybe it was. But it's certainly no Rebecca. It's also not one of the early Whitney works that I've enjoyed, like Sea Jade.

The Quicksilver Pool reads more like a vague historical romance. The Gothic elements are missing, and by the time I got to page 59, I was already done. I read on a few more pages and gave up. The heroine and hero start out on a ferry, and secondary characters early on muddle up the narrative.

If you love novels set during or right after the Civil War, you might enjoy this one. I was hoping to, but I wouldn't call it a gothic romance at all.

Have you read it? What do you think? :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cornelia Tree: Child of the Night

I found this novel, Child of the Night, published in 1983, in a thrift store. I liked the author's name and picked it up. After searching to see if it's a pen name, I'm not sure. I found a bio about the author living in NYC and another couple books under her name, but no other gothic romances.

This one is a doozy, really unlike any I've read. Let's see if I can break it down.

Plot 2/5: Where to begin? Well, the heroine, Nora Harcourt, goes to Stonecroft, a school on the Hudson for disturbed children. The novel is set around 1900 from what I can tell since Panama and Teddy Roosevelt play a role in it. The interesting thing is that Nora is obviously dealing with autistic children and maybe children with some form of retardation. The novel has pages and pages of ramblings about Panama from one of the male love interests (Jean Jacques Fleury) and pages of ramblings about psychology. I like psychology-- a lot-- and this would have been good, but the pages and pages of backstory were way too much. The novel jumped through all kinds of points of view as well, using minor characters' voices. I was often flipping through trying to remember who the speakers were (some were servants, some workers at Stonecroft and so on and even the backstory of a love affair Norah's deceased mother had goes on for pages).

Then, the villain. Wow! He's a coke using madman who worked in Panama, but it was better than my assumption early in the novel that he was a pedophile. The way he was introduced, watching a child, it wasn't a far leap.

Atmosphere/spooky elements 2/5: The novel is low on these, too. The cover is lovely, but there's not much going on. A woman has disappeared, and there's a mystery surrounding it, but there is little menace or Gothic feel to it. Someone dies in an interesting way, so I give the author points for that. :)

Literary elements 3/5: The novel had potential. It is chock full of history and abnormal psychology, but in the end, it is all too much and impedes the flow of the story.

Romantic elements 3/5: I like the hero of the novel, but he and the heroine had very little real interaction for much of the book. I felt that I knew his and her motivations, though, and that was nice.

Rating: 2.5 stars

If you want something totally different, pick it up. Otherwise, skip it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Phyllis A. Whitney: Vermilion

I have missed all of you! :) We've moved in to our new place, and so far, so good. I wanted to review Whitney's Vermilion.

The cover to the left is the same one I have. The publication is 1981, and it is obviously a "later" Whitney novel. I've mentioned before that I like her earlier ones (so far anyway upon rereading), and this one proved to be no exception.

Plot: 3/5 The plot is interesting enough, but not riveting. Lindsay Phillips returns to Sedona, Arizona to find out who murdered her father, Jed Phillips. Sibling rivalry takes center stage, and her love of her sister's husband, Rick, complicates things.

Characterization: 3/5 The most interesting characters were Vermilion (an imaginary friend or maybe even a second personality that Lindsay Phillips has. As a former student of psychology, I was leaning toward MPD. The whole thing was more than a little strange, even with the calm narration.) and the dead man, Jed Phillips.

Atmosphere: 3/5 There was nothing too scary about this one. I liked the eerie drumbeats and the idea of the alien setting of red rocks, but it didn't make me shiver.

Literary: 2/5

Romantic Elements: 3/5 The whole romantic setup is a bit awkward because Lindsay and Rick are getting together as Lindsay's half sister Sybil, his wife, and he are breaking up. One unbelievable thing happens between them. I won't give it away, but any normal wife would have murdered good ole Rick for it.

Rating: 2.5+ stars

This one could be skipped if you're not a hardcore Whitney fan or a lover of Arizona...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mary Linn Roby: The White Peacock and Shadow Over Grove House

I picked up gothic romance author Mary Linn Roby's Signet Double Gothic from 1973 some time ago. I have an affinity for the doubles, and they aren't that easy to find. From what I found out about her in a search, she is now a writing and editing coach. The first novel in the double is The White Peacock. I really like the cover of the novel. It has that distinct early 70s look, and the blonde model has different features than most. The White Peacock

 I wanted to like this book, but I found the characterization thin at best. The heroine, art appraiser Irene Haverlock, (nice name) is likeable enough, but the love interest, David, is not well drawn. Consequently, the love affair is rushed and not believable. I am not sure why I kept reading other than the setting of Portugal. The villain was totally out of left field as well. I'm starting into the second one in the set,  Shadow Over Grove House. So far, it is off to a very fast start with little context, and I noticed it is only about 180 pages. I don't think I'll continue with it since there are no real Gothic elements jumping out at me. I might give Ms. Linn Roby's work another try again later. I noticed she has some great titles for her other novels. I like this one: Afraid of the Dark (Gothic) and If She Should Die, Pennies on Her Eyes, and Still As The Grave.

I know, lots of links, but some of the covers are very nice as well. Have you read a gothic romance by Mary Linn Roby? Did you enjoy it? If so, let me know in the comments so I can review it or you can. ;)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mary Stewart: The Ivy Tree

Mary Stewart's gothic romance The Ivy Tree was published in 1961. Many readers of this blog say it's their favorite novel by her. So far, I'd have to agree it's mine, too, of the ones I have read.

When Mary Grey meets Connor Winslow on the Roman Wall when she is sightseeing, he makes an offer she wants to refuse... but strangely, she is drawn to the job of impersonating Annabel Winslow, an heiress who disappeared eight years before from the family estate, Whitescar. Secrets and threats to Mary's life make the job fraught with peril. Someone wants Annabel dead for good.

Plot: 4/5  I was surprised by one major plot twist and not another. I will say that the novel drags after the first twenty pages which are riveting until around page 60. I know some won't agree, but there is one scene in particular that seemed way too drawn out (in Mary's boarding house with Lisa). Overall, though, the premise of the novel is intriguing, and the suspense and tension mounted until I didn't want to put the novel down. I was kept guessing for a while about a couple aspects of the plot.

Characterization: 5/5 Each character was well drawn. I could see Connor Winslow played by someone I can't quite grasp. He is that much his own character to me. Adam Forrest, the other love interest in the novel, is also compelling. I am not sure that any author does a love scene bathed in moonlight better than Stewart, and there are at least two in this novel that the heroine shares with both men in a parallel fashion. Some of the characters' names are also enviable in the novel. Stewart infuses them with symbolism and meaning.

Spooky elements/atmosphere: 5/5  For the sheer beauty of Stewart's description, I have to give this a 5. Mary Grey's walks in the moonlight took my breath away as did the world that exists in the novel. Stewart's prose is lush.

Literary elements: 4/5  Stewart has a snippet of a poem, often a ballad at the start of each chapter. In general, too, the writing is just intelligent.

Romantic elements: 5/5  This one is hopelessly heady and romantic. If you are a fan of studying how fate, choice, and chance intersect and the impossible love story comes to fruition, you will enjoy this one. I admire the way Stewart leaves doors open and explores nuances of feeling in each character. She focuses on the gray of emotions and relationships as well as the tension. One of my favorite set of lines in the novel is this, and I won't spoil any plot details by tagging them. The dark romance of these lines ranks up there for me with Wuthering Heights and some of the dialogue between Cathy and Heathcliff. From The Ivy Tree:

"Life does go on, and you change, and you can't go back. You have to live it the way it comes. You know that."

"Yes, of course. But it would be very much easier to be dead."

Rating: 4+ stars  ****+

If you want to know why Mary Stewart is so loved, this novel can help... :) "Time was. Time is... time is to come."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Barbara Michaels: Be Buried in the Rain

It's no secret to regular readers of the blog that I love Barbara Michaels' gothic romance novels. I hadn't read Be Buried in the Rain, published in 1985, for years, so I decided to take it along on my trip to Barbara Mertz's (yes, Michaels is a pen name) near stomping grounds of Maryland.

The novel is set in Virginia, so it was close enough. ;)

Julie Newcomb, a first year medical student, is summoned back to Maidenwood, the dark Carr house where she lived during childhood. Her grandmother, Martha Carr, is a force to be reckoned with, and Julie's trip back stirs up ghosts from the past as well as skeletons in the present. Someone wants to keep the past buried and prevent Julie and her old flame archaeologist Alan Petranek from uncovering it.

Plot: 3/5 The novel drags a bit. I love the feel of Michaels' books. I get lost in them, and she has a gift of making the book seem as if it is really happening or as if it could happen. I can easily practice the willing suspension of disbelief as I read. Daily life goes on, and strange things break in that her characters must deal with. Living in her novels isn't tough. With that said, the novel has too much filler and not enough plot for my liking. I was still sad when I finished it, though.

Characterization: 5/5 Michaels shines here as she often does. Each character is memorable long after the novel is done. The hero is unconventional and intelligent, rather than a hunky cop or the like (not that there's anything wrong with that, I just get enough Navy Seals, cops, and others in more modern novels, and I think that's one reason I always come back to old gothic romances where the heroes span a universe of careers and types). Old Martha Carr is also well drawn and hard to forget. Even minor characters come alive with Michaels' writing.

Atmosphere/spooky elements: 3/5 The mist curls around the house, the family graveyard is fenced and locked, harrowing scenes from Julie's past are sprinkled throughout, and skeletons abound. This novel is not one of Michaels' scarier ones, though. As I mentioned, there is too much lag time and not enough thrills and chills.

Romance: 3/5 I like the hero, but there isn't a whole lot of romance. As is Michaels' forte, hero and heroine spar and match wits through much of the novel before falling into bed together as we knew they would.

Literary elements: 5/5 Yes. If you like poetry and literature, as usual Michaels uses it to a haunting degree. The Edna St. Vincent Millay poem she focuses on and that is used in part in the title will send a shiver up your spine.

Rating: 3.5+ stars ***.5

I recommend this one. It is not one of my favorites by Michaels, but it has its charms.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Victoria Holt: The Shivering Sands

I really tried to read this book again. I know I read it years ago when I was in high school. Maybe I even enjoyed it. As a friend of mine and of the blog said, it has little or no atmosphere, and that makes it tough to get into. The beginning had a very lengthy section of back story, too, that drove me nuts. I picked the novel up and put it down many times and made it to about page 60 or so when it was all said and done. My motto is that if a book can't grab my attention by page 30, I need to put it down. I give some books more pages than that. The Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt was one of them.

I'm not going to do a full review here. Instead, if you have thoughts on the novel, post them. Tell me why you love it. I need more atmosphere and movement in a novel than I got in this one, but I'd love to know what you think...

I suspect I'm just not much of a Victoria Holt fan after all. Perhaps I just haven't found the right novel of hers to go gaga over yet. Suggestions? :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jana DeLeon: The Secret of Cypriere Bayou

I made a foray this weekend into Kindle for PC and into a new romance novel brand I've never read that I remember: Harlequin Intrigue. I picked DeLeon's The Secret of Cypriere Bayou because I was curious about how these are written, and she had dubbed it "Gothic lite," citing Barbara Michaels as an inspiration. I was also psyched to find out there are a few of these "Shivers" in the Intrigue line. They are short and sweet. Another now popular gothic thriller author, Amanda Stevens, also wrote for this line until just a few years ago.

Olivia Markham goes to LaMalediction, an old haunted house in Louisiana, to spend time writing. The caretaker, John Landry, is hunky and has secrets of his own. Strange noises and happenings in the house escalate into danger. Will Olivia and John figure out the secrets of the house and find love?

I enjoyed some of the thrills and chills in the novel. Secret tunnels, old letters, and atmosphere were spooky elements. Overall, I give it 4 stars for a category romance with Gothic atmosphere and trappings.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Harriet Esmond: The Eye Stones

I've finally finished The Eye Stones. It's no real fault of the novel. I've just been busy.

Harriet Esmond is a lovely pen name for husband and wife writing team John and Jean Burke. John Burke's wonderful website is here:

Tales of Unease

Take a look at that horse in the foreground as well as the gorgeous yellow gown. The house has a lighted window, and the colors are dark blues and greens. Very nice.

Plot: 4/5 The novel starts out a bit slowly, but I noticed the narrator describes characters' clothes, etc. immediately with waistcoats and such. So many gothic romance novelists who write historicals don't include such things, and it's annoying to me. Anyway, Deborah Ritchie travels to a remote part of Eastern England after her father's death. She plans to spend time with her half-sister and is shocked to learn her sister Beatrice and husband died in a mysterious fire. A mystery unfolds that includes Satanic rituals, decaying families, sadomasochism and more.

Characterization: 4/5 Nicely done. All the characters are well drawn and memorable, and Deborah is a strong heroine with brains. The tortured hero is yummy as well.

Literary elements: 4/5 The novelists did their research, and it's obvious with Victorian words like mere and others sprinkled throughout the novel. Mentions of other period events also lends credibility to the novel.

Atmosphere/spooky elements: 4/5 There isn't any real ghostly activity going on, but the shocking nature of what the villain and others get up to with the young ladies of the village lends a dark tone to the novel.

Romantic elements: 3/5 The romance isn't hot and heavy in this one, but I rooted for hero and heroine, though I knew early on which man was the one. I prefer to wonder for a while.

Rating: 4 stars ****

If you find a copy of this one, grab it! It is original and interesting.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Joe R. Lansdale: Devil Red

It's been a while, and I'm still looking for guest reviewers/bloggers! If you have a favorite novel you'd like to review or just write about, send me an email or message on Facebook. If you're a gothic romance writer or gothic novelist, let's set up an interview or a guest post. :)

Now, on to the review of Joe R. Lansdale's Devil Red.

Let me begin by saying I love Hap and Leonard. I feel like I know them and can picture them both in my mind easily, though I've never met a guy quite like Leonard. Hap-- actually, I've probably met a few since I'm from Alabama, and these are good ole Texas boys.

With that said, I have a feeling this series is reaching its end. The first 3/4 of the novel was bland. Hap and Leonard have been hired to find the killer who marks his victims with a red devil. The other novels in the series, Mucho Mojo, for example made me laugh so hard I thought I would die. This one had a few laughs, but it was lacking in those as well as snappy dialogue. The girlfriend, Brett, is bland. I miss Florida Grange, and the whole thing seemed to coast for a long time. Hap's angst over killing folks felt contrived and drawn out where it had felt visceral in past novels.

Then suddenly, bam! There is the climax of the novel. It came as a surprise and felt uneven since things had been very flat line to that point. I teared up a bit in that section, and I was glad to see the resolution, but I didn't feel the suspense I usually do in these novels or the catharsis. I knew what was going to happen, and I thought "meh." Some of these Hap and Leonard novels have left me in tears, feeling woebegone and in existential crisis.

In short, this one lacks the magic of the series. I'm thinking perhaps it's near the end. It's been a good run if so. Have you read it? What do you think?

I look forward to future novels by Lansdale. Maybe it's just time for another series or some good stand alones.

I give Devil Red 3 stars. It's good enough to read, but it's not the best in the series.

Rating: *** Stars

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Phyllis A. Whitney: Woman Without a Past

I love the hard cover design of this novel. It looks like the Old South to me and is mysterious and wistful.

This novel was published in 1991 and is one of Whitney's later works. As I've mentioned before, I prefer her earlier gothic romance novels. Woman Without a Past didn't change my mind on that.

The novel moves slowly to its conclusion, and the most appealing character was Honoria Phelps.

Characterization 3/5: Twins are part of the central story here, and Whitney handles them well at first, but there is little tension after the first third of the novel. Honoria Phelps is spritely and easy to picture. I do like some of the names in the novel: Amelia Mountfort and Cecelia Mountfort-- very pretty.

Plot 3/5: The plot moved too slowly for me, and the abduction mystery just left me feeling "meh." I picked the novel up and put it back down many times. Also, Molly's meeting with Charles Landry was so contrived/annoying from the outset that it colored the rest of the novel for me.

Atmosphere/spooky elements 2/5: Very few. The twin thing and birthmarks, etc. was interesting, but there was little suspense or spookiness to the novel and that was with a "ghost," a pyschic, and more.

Literary elements 3/5: The history of Charleston, South Carolina is interesting. If you like Southern settings, you might check this one out. I'm not sure Whitney fully captured it, but she did a nice job with some of the details.

Romantic elements 3/5: I like the red herrings Whitney threw in early in the novel, but overall, this book wasn't terribly romantic. It's one that I would have liked a different ending/choice of lovers for.

Rating: almost 3 stars--  **+

I recommend this if you're a big fan of Southern settings (maybe) or a diehard Whitney fan.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Gothic Romance Novel Theme Song :)

I hope you enjoy this live performance of Gordon Lightfoot singing his song, "If you Could Read My Mind." It evokes images of gothic novels for me, and it was written in the heyday of the era. Here are the lyrics from the song (1969).

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
'Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong,
With chains upon my feet.
You know that ghost is me.
And I will never be set free
As long as I'm a ghost that you can't see. 
If I could read your mind, love,
What a tale your thoughts could tell.
Just like a paperback novel,
The kind the drugstores sell.
Then you reached the part where the heartaches come,
The hero would be me.
But heroes often fail,
And you won't read that book again
Because the ending's just too hard to take!
I'd walk away like a movie star
Who gets burned in a three way script.
Enter number two:
A movie queen to play the scene
Of bringing all the good things out in me.
But for now, love, let's be real;
I never thought I could  feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it.
I don't know where we went wrong,
But the feeling's gone
And I just can't get it back. 
If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
'Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong.
With chains upon my feet.
But stories always end,
And if you read between the lines,
You'd know that I'm just tryin' to understand
The feelin's that you lack.
I never thought I could feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it.
I don't know where we went wrong,
But the feelin's gone
And I just can't get it back!

Do you have a gothic romance theme song? :) 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stephen King: Full Dark, No Stars

With King's work, a novella or a novel either gets me or it doesn't. I have long admired him as a writer because he speaks plainly about his success and is down to earth. Favorites by him include Pet Sematary and The Long Walk. I know others' favorites will be different. I also enjoy a majority of his short stories.

I enjoyed Full Dark, No Stars. It's a hit because I'm still thinking about it, and that's one of my main criteria for good writing.

Each novella in this collection presents the dark side of human nature. Man or woman makes choices, and consequences follow. There aren't too many ghosts or ghouls to blame things on, and even when there are, the person making a choice didn't have to be persuaded much to do the bad thing. I like the angle of the collection because I think there's a lot of truth in it.

1922, the first story in the collection, presents life in the heart land in hard times. The protagonist makes his choices between land and his wife. This one has plenty of gore in it as well as rats and things to make one shiver, but it dragged a bit for me. It was the most Gothic of the set, though, with a ghost and murder.

Big Driver kept me on the edge of my seat, and I like that the heroine was an author. If you enjoy a good revenge story, this is it.

Fair Extension explores the consequences when a man makes a deal with the devil. Who pays? It feels grim and real in a way. I like King's understanding and fleshing out of the concept that one person's pleasure is another person's pain. If that is true, then it explains a lot of what happens in the world, and I think that's what King is getting at.

A Good Marriage is my favorite of the novellas. What happens when a woman in a long, good marriage finds out a horrific secret about her husband? I think this one is "real" in the sense that the choices wouldn't be as easy as they are often portrayed as being in movies, etc.

If you enjoy shorter works and suspense that makes you think, this collection is worth picking up. It's nice to be able to read a novella in a couple nights, too.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just a check-in post mainly...

I'm still here. I've just been really busy. So, if you have guest book reviews, author interviews, movie reviews, or other Gothicked type stuff you want to do, please let me know! :)

I'm still reading Stephen King's Full Dark, No Stars, and it's grim indeed. I'm enjoying the second novella in it, Big Driver. I hope to have a review of the book up in a few days.

If I owe you books, I'll be mailing them this week, too.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Best Gothic Romance Titles!

A Facebook friend posted a title of a romance novel that was full of win today, and it got me thinking about gothic romance titles. Let's see. Post the best gothic romance title(s) if you want and about why you like them. Opinions will vary wildly, and that's fine. I just thought this would be fun.

Then, post the funniest ones. I'll post a few for starters. The person(s) who post the best ones wins some gothic romance novels with great or zany titles! I'll keep this up for a few days. Have fun with it! :)

Greygallows-- by Barbara Michaels (I like the alliteration and the connotations of the title).

The Dark on the Other Side (also Michaels and because it's from a quote by Plato)

Dragonwyck-- by Anya Seton

Nine Coaches Waiting-- by Mary Stewart

The Ivy Tree-- by Mary Stewart (I just love it).

Rebecca-- by Daphne DuMaurier

Wuthering Heights-- by Emily Bronte

Holy Terror-- by Josephine Boyle

House of the Dancing Dead-- by Aola Vandergriff

                             The Shivering Sands-- by Victoria Holt
                             The Winter Bride-- Carola Salisbury

                             The Winter People-- Phyllis A. Whitney
                             Wait for What Will Come-- by Barbara Michaels

                             Vermillion-- by Phyllis A. Whitney

                             Damnation Reef-- by Jill Tattersall

                             Winterwood-- by Dorothy Eden

                             The Voice of the Dolls-- by Dorothy Eden

                             The Silver Leopard-- by Zoe Cass

                             Prince of Darkness-- by Barbara Michaels

                             Mistress of Mellyn-- by Victoria Holt

                             Dig a Narrow Grave-- by Mary Linn Roby  

                             The Shrouded Walls-- by Susan Howatch


House of the Strange Woman-- by Monica Heath

The House is Dark-- by Rebecca James

Jack O'Lantern-- by Kathleen A. Shoesmith

Satan's Coast-- by Elsie Lee

Mansion of Golden Windows-- by Elsie Lee ( Love it! This author knew how to name gothic romances).

Mystery Castle-- Elsie Lee

                            Dark Moon, Lost Lady-- Elsie Lee (I got on a roll once I looked hers up!)

                            Sleep in the Woods-- by Dorothy Eden

                            The Frightened Lady-- by Marilyn Ross


Monday, March 7, 2011

Nancy Thayer: website and spooky story

I was browsing Netflix and found this movie today:

I immediately put it in my instant queue because I love Thayer's novel by the same name, Spirit Lost. This novel looks like the only one she has written in the gothic romance genre, but I really enjoyed it a few years ago. It's a spooky ghost story with a memorable heroine and an amorous spirit who haunts an old Nantucket house.

Then I browsed for an author page, and I found one along with a short ghost story. I started reading it and thought some of you might like it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Zoe Cass: The Silver Leopard

I'd never read a gothic by Cass before. I really like the mustard yellow, orange, and blue in this cover as well as the archway and castle behind the woman.

This one was published in 1976. Nice title and unique cover, I thought, so I picked it up a while back in the used book store. The Silver Leopard

The hardcover edition sells for a nice sum now.

I made it through twenty pages of this novel. It was nearly all telling, rather than showing. It just didn't hold my attention or have much atmosphere, so I'll put it in the unfinished pile.

How about you? Has anyone read any Zoe Cass that you enjoyed?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My novel-- Magnolian, Thank You, and Beta Reading

I have some exciting news-- to me anyway-- and it's wrapped up in this blog.

My debut gothic romance novel, Magnolian, is available for pre-order in e-book format from the publisher's site at a 10% discount this week only before its release on March 8th.

It will be available soon on Amazon and other book sellers' sites. The print version will go on sale in September.

If you want to read more about it or pre-order the novel, click here. I wrote it in the tradition of the gothic romance novelists I admire. It's a sweet romance/mainstream romance that you, your teenage daughter or son, or your grandmother/grandfather could read. Thanks for checking it out! In the future, I will make most posts about my writing from my author site:

I want readers of this blog to know Gothicked was the inspiration and launching pad for the writing I'm doing now. I love the gothic romance genre, and writing about it and talking about it with you all spurred me on to write my own novels. I appreciate each one of you and your feedback, comments, and love of the genre. Special thanks to beta readers (Barrymore, Hannah, Juliette, Kristi and others) who helped me out with Magnolian and another novel I'm submitting now for publication. Your feedback challenges me and helps make the books stronger. Your time and consideration of my work means more than you know.

If any readers are interested in beta reading a gothic romance novel in the future, please send me a message or let me know. I welcome the feedback.

If you want to keep up with my books and what I'm doing with writing, just follow my website or find me here:

Facebook: Lisa Greer Author

Facebook: Magnolian

or on Twitter: Gothicked

Thanks for checking it out and for being the inspiration! If you read Magnolian and like it (or even if you don't!), please review the novel at your favorite place to post reviews.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kate Morton: The Distant Hours

I've finished reading this massive tome of a novel-- Kate Morton's 'The Distant Hours,' published in November 2010. This novel has to be one of the most current ones I've reviewed on the blog. I would call it women's fiction/gothic romance.

Characterization-- 5/5: Morton shines here. Each of the Blythe sisters-- Juniper, Saffy, and Percy as well as the love interests and Edie have distinct personalities. The father and author, Raymond Blythe, is a powerful presence in the novel though we never meet him as readers or only in a brief few pages do we "hear" from him. Most of the characters are likeable despite some pretty interesting behavior and quirks. Morton makes them sympathetic.

Plot-- 4/5: This novel twists and turns. Mystery upon mystery rises up and unfolds in the last few chapters of the novel. The prologue is one of the best and scariest I've ever read in a novel. In fact, it was so good that the rest of the novel couldn't possibly compete with it, though it was a strong effort. I admire the intricacy of the plot, but this novel bogged down in the middle like many do. I think it could have been cut 75+ pages. Now, considering it's a 500+ page novel, Morton does a pretty nice job of holding my attention. The sections in the middle just felt very "women's fictionish" to me. And that's fine... just not my cup of tea often. I wanted more Gothic there and got more story of women's struggles. The plot is layered as is the castle, folding in on itself. It's quite a feat.

Atmosphere/spooky elements-- 5/5: I dare you to read the prologue without shivering and going Wow! Wow! Wow! Morton can write! She knocks it out of the park with her very spooky character and story there. It made me want a straight Gothic from her with less of the filler I thought intruded later in the novel. But that's probably just me. If I had to name best prologue ever, this would be it. I know I repeated myself. Believe me, it's that good! Also, there is a castle that provides much of the setting in the novel-- a mouldering castle called Middlehurst with strange passageways, a moat that plays a huge role, and closed rooms. Yes, there's some spooky chills in this one.

Romantic elements-- 4/5: The love stories were all unique and compelling. I will say that I teared up near the end of the novel due to what happened to the hero of the story and at all the misunderstandings. The novel deals in secrets and how one choice or action begets dozens more. My only complaint might be that there is one love story I felt was lacking in the novel. I won't say which one because I don't want to give anything away.

Literary elements-- 5/5: Yes, I envy this novel its literary voice from the prologue to the information about WWI and II and on and on.

Rating: 4.5+ stars

**I recommend this one.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gothic Romance Give Away and Stuff...

Wow! The time really got past me this month. I haven't done a book give away in a while. So, I'm giving away a grab bag of three Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney novels to someone who replies to this post within 72 hours or by Monday, 2/28 at 11pm EST. Just make a comment about anything, really, related to gothic romance. I'll use the Random Number Generator to make the choice of a winner.

It's slow going with writing, work, editing, and midterms this week, but I hope to have a review up in a few days. Anyone reading anything good?

Also, the blog is still open to guest reviewers (you can review a gothic novel and promote your website, etc. if you'd like) and to authors in the genre. Just send me a message or comment here if you're interested.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day, Readers! :)

I just wanted to post a quick Happy Valentine's Day to everyone. Along those lines, what are you reading lately and enjoying? Any gothic romances in the mix?

I'm reading The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. I'm generally a fan of prologues, and it has one of the most shiver inducing prologues I've ever read. I can't wait to review the novel. I'll leave you with a snippet:

"It is moonless.
It is moonless when the Mud Man comes. The night has slipped on a pair of fine, leather gloves, shaken a black sheet across the land: a ruse, a disguise, a sleeping spell, so that all beneath it slumbers sweet" (Morton 1).

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Movie Recommendations: Session 9 and Endless Night

I'm still reading two lengthy but enjoyable Gothics that I'll be reviewing in the next weeks. Today, I thought I'd recommend two movies I've watched recently from the Gothic genre.

The first is Session 9. It's set in an abandoned mental institution. Some workers led by a troubled man named Gordon have committed to cleaning it up in a week. Little do they know that the past isn't all past. This one is atmospheric and creepy as well as layered. I don't recommend watching it alone unless you're good with that sort of thing. It has some real thrills and chills and some violence as well. What I like about it is that it also explores themes of corporate America, small businesses, and the tensions that go with such enterprises. Also, the horror creeps up on one. The usual gimmicks are not part of this one.

The other gem I ran across is Endless Night, a movie from 1972 based upon an Agatha Christie novel. Hayley Mills stars, and she is gorgeous in the film. The camera work is lovely, and if you like architecture, this is a movie you will truly enjoy. It has gorgeous landscapes, a compelling romance, a creepy woman with "the sight," major lesbian subtexts, spooky goings on, a creepy cat statue, and other pluses. The ending is also worth the whole movie.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Give away: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

I was reading The Gargoyle, and I quit it around 200 pages in. I have a nice, shiny paperback copy. The cover art is quite lovely.

I just couldn't do the other 300+. The premise is wonderful-- a burn victim finds his true love who tells him he is reincarnated and was burned in another life.

I just couldn't stick with the novel because it seemed to really ebb and flow too much among other things. I'm not going to write a full review since I don't think it counts as a gothic romance, truly. If you comment and want it, it's yours to the first poster.

The more I write and struggle with the craft myself, the more I'm convinced that a novel or novella or any work should hold your attention and make you want to complete it. If it doesn't, the novel needs more work, perhaps. It's okay to work for the pay off of the book a little as a reader, but the reader should not have to struggle on and on to make it through a work that is promised to be "great."  Reading is meant for an escape after all to most.

What do you think, dear readers? Do you like to struggle through novels, or do you prefer to relish every page and not want to put the book down?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Victoria Holt: The Time of the Hunter's Moon

This novel makes for the second in a reread of the Holt novels I devoured half a lifetime ago. I figure I need to review several of her works since she is a widely loved gothic romance author. I was not a huge fan of hers, but I like the genre. I read most of the novels I could find by her all those years ago. I wanted to see if my opinion from then holds up.

Published in 1983, The Time of the Hunter's Moon is a gothic romance or romantic suspense novel and a later offering in Holt's (Eleanor Hibbert's) prolific career. I classify it as possibly romantic suspense because it is something of a murder mystery with very little Gothic atmosphere.

Characterization: 3/5 [ Cordelia Grant is a bit complex, and I like that. Jason Verringer makes an appealing love interest as well, though a troublesome one. Edward Compton is also an intriguing character. One complaint I have with the characters in this novel is that I could only picture a few of them-- Cordelia, Violet, Aunt Patty, and Theresa. Holt provides a dearth of physical description, and I happen to think physical description is important for gothic romance novels. The most well rounded, loveable character in the novel is Aunt Patty, rather than the heroine, interestingly enough.]

Plot: 3/5 [Holt excels in this area-- the twisted plot. I knew what was going to happen some 100 pages in. I remembered from all those years ago, but this novel is quite ingenious. One issue with the plot: Holt comes close to a forced seduction scene with bad consequences for the heroine. Her choices later in the novel regarding the great romance of the book are interesting as well. I have to say I was not happy with the heroine's romantic decisions ultimately.]

Atmsophere/spooky elements: 2/5 [I like the idea of an abbey and of the hunter's moon legend, and this novel is probably actually one of Holt's more atmospheric, but it still falls a bit flat. It does have some spooky images called forth by the thought of long dead monks. I think Holt could have really exploited Verringer's ancestral home in terms of atmosphere. She didn't, and that is a huge downfall of the novel.]

Literary heft: 2/5 [This one is really just fun.]

Romantic elements: 2/5 [I was dissatisfied with this one. The forced seduction (or almost scene) left a bad taste in my mouth as did other events in the novel. It made the heroine's decisions unbelievable. You can read it for yourself, though, and let me know what you think. I like a Heathcliff type as much as the next girl, but I don't think it works as written.]

Rating: 2.5 + stars

** I am on the fence about this one. With all the great classic gothic romances out there, you might skip it. If you've read it, please let me know what you think in the comments! :)

I do love the cover art on this one. It's unique. Some of the newer covers are gorgeous as well.

The Time of the Hunter's Moon

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Barrymore Tebbs: An Author Interview

Barrymore Tebbs is an up and coming novelist. He and I have done beta reading together, and I am pleased to have him as the guest on the blog today!

1. What genre(s) do you most enjoy writing in and why?

Currently I am working in the gothic horror genre. Between Night of the Pentagram and The Haunting at Blackwood Hall there is a lot of supernatural and occult activity. There are so many possibilities to explore from werewolves to Ouija boards. My work is heavily influenced by the Gothic soap opera from the 1960s, Dark Shadows. I was in grade school at the time it originally aired and throughout my life I have tried to emulate its storylines in my writing in one form or another. Horror in general is not as popular today as it was in the 80s and Gothic is certainly in remission, so part of the reason I enjoy writing in this genre is that the market is not oversaturated with either style at the moment.

2. What has most influenced your writing over the years? I am thinking novels, movies, television, etc.

Dark Shadows, of course, and the classic horror films from Hammer Films and Universal Studios are strong story and visual influences. As a teenager I was very influenced by the American Gothic novelist Barbara Michaels. In my late teens I read a lot of Joyce Carol Oates who frequently dips into the Gothic pool. Bellefleur has been a lasting influence on me. The late Southern Gothic novelist Michael McDowell is another big influence. His stories are weird, fun, Gothic, scary, peopled with incredible characters, and highly entertaining. Thomas Tryon’s The Other, Judith Hawkes’ Julian’s House, and Douglas Clegg’s The Hour Before Dark are the kind of stories that I aspire to write.

3. When did you complete your first novel, and what are your next steps as a writer?

I finished the “polished” first draft of Night of the Pentagram this past October and immediately started outlining plots and characters for my current work in progress. I’ve received some encouragement and constructive feedback from beta readers for Night of the Pentagram. Once the first draft of my current work in progress is complete I will make revisions to Night of the Pentagram and start submitting it to potential agents and publishers.

My current work in progress is tentatively titled The Haunting at Blackwood Hall. It is an old fashioned Victorian Gothic ghost story set in “Baskerville Country”. This one is more overtly supernatural than Night of the Pentagram and is peopled with a handful of wretched and miserable characters as well as an arch bad guy whom I have nicknamed “Mr. Sandman”.

4. What are your main strengths as a writer?

I think my main strength is in creating visuals for the readers. Most of the feedback on Night of the Pentagram to date has been of the “I can totally picture this” variety. I also like to create larger than life characters and as a writer I am learning every day that it’s okay to let go and let these people be mean, ugly, abusive, what have you, and then show a side of them that reveals that they do have a human heart after all. I read a lot of psychological thrillers, James Lee Burke and John Connolly and the like, and this is a common trait in their writing in the way they draw characters in their novels. Hopefully this is something that comes across in my writing. Also, my work is liberally sprinkled with a wicked sense of humor and people seem to like that. I think horror works best when it is carefully punctuated with humor.

5. What other artistic pursuits do you enjoy?

I am a huge music fan, mostly as a participant, although I have played guitar in the past. Cincinnati, where I currently live, has a vibrant independent rock music scene. There are many great bands producing and performing here, really something for everyone’s taste. Some weekends there are too many options, but I love going to see my favorite acts as often as possible. I like opera and theatre. Incidentally, the first opera I ever saw was Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw! I am an avid amateur photographer and am fairly well skilled in Adobe Photoshop. I created the inverted star graphic that accompanies this interview as a potential book cover for Night of the Pentagram.

6. What is your writing process (in brief)? For example, are you just a person who gets it all on paper and revises later, or do you carefully plan and outline each novel?

I wrote off and on for years without being able to complete anything. I think this shortcoming was because I would get a concept and jump right in and start writing without any consideration for character depth or plotting. Once I realized that my best process would be to create character biographies and a plot outline/synopsis before I began writing I was able to finish my first book in a relatively short amount of time and then turned around and plunged right into a second one. I have read both pros and cons of this method, but if there is a magic formula for writing long form fiction, this seems to be the one for me.

7. Ghosts, werewolves, vampires, or something else?

Yes please! And why not? They are all “children of the night” and I would be quite happy to continue working in the genre and creating tales centered around these classic supernatural creatures. I have a half finished manuscript involving werewolves in the Louisiana Bayous which I hope to get back to in the near future.

8. Which living or non-living writers do you admire and why?

Several years ago I fell in love with the Dave Robicheaux detective novels by James Lee Burke. I admire Burke’s poetic simplicity and complexity of characters. Legion Guidry in Jolie Blon’s Bounce is one of the most evil characters of all time and yet Burke was able to show very human and sympathetic sides to this villain. Burke is a Southern writer first and foremost, so even though he is writing detective thrillers, his work frequently verges on Southern Gothic.

Shirley Jackson has been a long time favorite, as well as the aforementioned Barbara Michaels. I recently reread Michaels’ occult trilogy, Ammie Come Home, Prince of Darkness, and Dark on the Other Side and was highly impressed by the way she was able to impart so much information on everything from spiritual possession to contemporary witchcraft in compact little Gothic suspense novels. Like Shirley Jackson, Barbara Michaels never has to raise her voice.

Of course I am a long time admirer of Stephen King, though I no longer follow his career. I would have to name Douglas Clegg as one of my favorite writers in the genre. I have a love hate relationship with Anne Rice’s books. I found the Vampire series difficult to read and find the Mayfair Witches downright silly at times, but I admire her output and the way she single handedly revived a rather baroque style of Gothic storytelling and rode it to the top of the best sellers lists.

Outside of thrillers and contemporary fiction, I am a big fan of Charles Dickens. Look at how many fun and memorable characters he created, and some of his plot twist would put today’s writers to shame.

9. Tell us a little bit about one of your books.

Night of the Pentagram is set in Hollywood in 1968, a time of mini-skirts, ironing board straightened hair, and a flourishing interest in astrology and the occult. It was also a time of race riots, the Viet Nam War, and the Mansion Family murders. Elizabeth York is a young actress suffering from unexplained blackouts after her husband, film director Sven Lindstrom, was murdered by satanic cultists. In order to keep her contract on her current film project, Elizabeth agrees to be committed to the Abernathy Clinic, an experimental sanitarium which caters exclusively to Hollywood and other high profile celebrities. Elizabeth soon finds herself caught up in a tangled web of pot smoking, séances, unexpected romance, experimental drugs, and mystery as one by one the lives of the other patients at the clinic come to bloody and horrifying ends.

If you want to stay current on Barrymore's writing projects, find his fan page on Facebook: Barrymore Tebbs
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