Monday, March 11, 2013

Open Library--A Gothic Romance Reader's Dream!

Forgive me if you have heard of this free resource before, but I was ignorant of it until today.

Please go check it out. I am reading a novel by Monica Heath, Falconlough, (I love her work and can find so few of her novels unless I want to pay a lot or horde paperbacks) and have found many other gothic romance writers' novels on this site; I think I am going to be busy for a while! These are in e-book format, but you can also find them in a local library if they have them. I am reading mine on my computer in .pdf in short clips. The loans are two week ones.

What bliss! Let me know how you like Open Library. :)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gothic Ladies and House of Cards

Welcome friendly gal and Gothic author Juli D. Revezzo to the blog! She is going to share a bit about her historical gothic story, House of Cards and share a bit about herself, too. :)

Lisa asked me to speak with you today on my gothic story, House of Cards. When I was in college, I studied art history and when I first began, I had a mild interest in the artists of the 19th century. I adored Renoir and was particularly intrigued with the story of a somewhat forgotten French sculptress named Camille Claudel who lived around the turn of the last century. I’d caught the movie on cable that year and fell so in love I went out and bought the videotape and watched it …oh, about a billion times. I even tracked down a biography of her. In short, Camille was once the assistant to Rodin, became his lover, and poor thing, lost her marbles when he finally tossed her aside. (You can read a longer bio on her here).


I’d been writing at the time, as well, and my first finished novel was set during that time period. Was it any good? Well, I haven’t heard any complaints from the dust mites under my desk. *innocent look*

But I digress… If we jump up to just a few years ago, I found a small dark fantasy and horror zine for which I decided to attempt a tale. I guess somewhere my subconscious caught up with me because the first thing I decided to do was to set this story, what became House of Cards, in the midst of the opening days of the French Revolution. Now you might not see how that ties together, since Mademoiselle Claudel was active in the late 1800s, but believe me, it ties in for to me it’s to her that I owe this delving back into the French setting.

So, I put my main character in carriage on his way out of Dodge because his family faced the Guillotine. He doesn’t quite make it to safety, however, but finds himself facing a very different horror than the one from which he escaped. A horror built by a ghastly set of characters, most notably a mischievous “Hanged woman”, in a dark and horrid place. The woman gives him a mystery to solve if he’s to keep his head on his shoulders, and his life heading to a better place.

Maybe in a way that is a bit like Camille, poor thing, who ended up forever lost and languishing in an insane asylum. At least until the art historians found her. Add a dash of the macabre and supernatural (which, by the way we could say that’s influenced by Mary Shelley, who is also another Gothic lady I love), and a nod to Mademoiselle Claudel’s sometimes tortured clay and bronze figures (see her pieces Deep Thought, or the Beseecher)—now can you see the connection between her influence and my story House of Cards? Well, the French Gothic setting and is one I so love, I plan to revisit these characters again.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll give House of Cards a try, and the next time you see something in the paper about a gallery showing of French art, maybe you’ll think of this little known, but fantastic artist and give her a little “hail” in the Otherworld. :)

Interested to see how this story plays out? Here’s the synopsis for House of Cards:

You can't escape Fate....

A young nobleman flees the bloody Reign of Terror, France, to find himself dragged into a demonic underworld.  An evil hag tortures him during a horrific trial in which he must rely on his wits. Can he thwart his horrible fate, one far worse than the guillotine? Will his knowledge of the Occult and his familiarity with tarot help him survive this ordeal--or seal his doom?

If you’d like to try the story it’s available at in ebook format from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

More on Camille Claudel

About Juli D. Revezzo
Juli D. Revezzo is a Florida girl, with a love of fantasy, science fiction, and Arthurian legend, so much so she gained a B.A. in English and American Literature. She loves writing stories with fantastical elements whether it be a full-on fantasy, or a story set in this world–slightly askew. She has been published in short form in Eternal Haunted SummerDark Things II: Cat Crimes (a charity anthology for cat related charities), Luna Station Quarterly, The Scribing Ibis: An Anthology of Pagan Fiction in Honor of Thoth, and Twisted Dreams Magazine. She recently released her debut novel, The Artist’s Inheritance.
She also has an article and book review or two out there. But her heart lies in the storytelling. She is a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.
Should you like to learn more about this and future releases you can find Juli at:
Twitter: @julidrevezzo

Thanks for having me here today, Lisa!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Welcome Gothic Romance Writer Amber Newberry!

I'm so happy to welcome gothic romance writer Amber Newberry to the blog today! She has a wonderful post about her writing and a great giveaway. I am also in love with the cover art for Walls of Ash. Please post your entries to the contest below this post. If you have too much trouble doing that, you can post your comments on the Facebook page, too
Take it away, Amber! :)

What draws us toward the danger and mystery of a gothic romance?  We begin reading a Victoria Holt or Mary Stewart or Phyllis A. Whitney novel expecting great suspense and a love story that may very well not have a resolve until the final pages.  We go into these gothic adventures knowing that we will experience a certain amount of fear and at the same time, a flutter of our hearts when the heroine first meets a man she both loves and despises for his arrogance or one who must be saved from the depths of darkness.  We are the gothic romance readers, we choose our books based on the ‘woman running from house’ cover art and the cover blurb which usually reads something like, ‘...the secret will destroy her, or save her...’ or ‘only the bounds of love can save him...’  It is a grand and faithful tradition that we devote ourselves to for the rest of our lives.  We read our first gothic at 13 or 30 or 55 and no matter who we are, this under-appreciated genre is with us from then on.

For some of us, the obsession is a hobby and for others, a way of life.  My obsession began as a young teen, having completed too many books for my age-group too quickly, my mother suggested I started reading at a higher level.  My mother reads like it’s her day job and I remember hundreds of trips to the used book store, flea markets and thrift stores to search for our next great adventures.  We had recently stocked up on teen books for me, I was in the sixth grade and finishing a book a day and when my mom realized there was no challenge in the ‘Babysitter’s Club’ books and that I’d already swept through Avonlea and Narnia, she knew that something had to be done.  I was yearning for something new and I wanted something historical, so we went through the many shelves my mother kept around the house.  They were absolutely stuffed with books, magnificent fantasies and alternate realities and stories of space and time.  She handed me book after book that I declined or showed little interest in until she handed me a tan hard-cover book that smelled musty and had a layer of dust across the top.

The Pride of the Peacock”, I read aloud.  There was no book jacket and the letters were in an ominous dark brown font with the name ‘Victoria Holt’ below it.  My mom stopped there and said that it was the one she’d been looking for.  She gave me a brief synopsis and I stopped her at the mention of Australia and was reading for the rest of the day.  My mother was shocked that I finished it within 48 hours but then gave me another Holt book called, “The Spring of the Tiger” and by this time, I was ready to give over my life to the genre and I suppose you could say that I did.  That was when I began collecting gothics and when the creative energy began to stir within me that I needed to write my own stories of great houses with secrets so horrifying and intriguing that they spurred the main character into running out into the mist to get away from the darkness dwelling within those walls.  Sadly, it would be over a decade before I began writing novels seriously and I have only recently achieved my goal.

They say ‘don’t quit your day job’, but in a moment of either clarity or insanity I quit my job just before a trip to Ireland where I unwound and began to live my life for me again instead of the so-called ‘man’.  I kept a travel journal for the trip and when I arrived home began blogging of my experiences, but the creative release in writing was overwhelming and no poetry or short stories seemed to relieve the need.  There was an idea building in my head and I sat down one May morning and began to write ‘Walls of Ash’ a story that stretched out into a novel over the course of ten very long days.  I woke up, wrote from 7am till 2am, skipping meals and forgetting about the outside world.  I wore my pajamas all day and lived off of coffee.  I spent 10 glorious days living within the walls of Rhineholt House, oblivious to what went on around me.  My dreams were filled with the images on the pages I wrote and I had to get the story out before the inspiration left me.  When I wrote the final words on the very last page, I breathed a sigh of relief, enjoyed the achievement and began writing the next story before I even started the long editing and rewriting process that took a good six months with the help of a very dear friend.

So, for me, the gothic romance genre has become a way of life that was shared by few around me.  I was thrilled to discover the Gothicked community where like-minded people went to bask in the joy of intrigue and mystery.  I’ve had such fun reading Lisa’s reviews and the posts.  I was excited when Lisa opened the blog up for guest-posts and she agreed to allow me to host a giveaway.  We have two print copies available for you, dear friends, to win!  With much thought on how to host the contest, I’ve decided to ask you all what your first gothic read was and why it drove you into the madness of continuing to read these stories of darkness and love.  Give the book title and the author’s name and a short reason why it made you continue reading gothics in the comment section below.  The winners will be chosen in two week’s time and notified right away.

For those of you who would like to begin reading ‘Walls of Ash’ right away, it is a great time to take the plunge as it is on sale at .99 for a limited time.  You can get it for Kindle, Nook or Kobo or for any of the aforementioned apps on your iPad or iPhone.  I have posted the synopsis and a cover photo below, as well as a link to the book on Goodreads.  The first few chapters are available to read for free in the “sample” option on Amazon.  I thank you for taking the time to read about my obsession with my favorite genre and wish you luck in the contest!

Walls of Ash, A New Gothic Romance That Echoes The Style of A Forgotten Genre

Tamsin Rhineholt is a stubborn and unconventional daughter of Rhineholt House. In a time when young women were bred to wed and follow orders, she finds herself faced with decisions that could lead her into the arms of love, or into danger. With the discovery of harrowing family secrets, Tamsin’s sweet dreams of her mother become dark, terrifying nightmares, warning her of the terrible things to come.
This homage to the gothic greats breathes new life into a forgotten genre that has been too long left in the cold.  Walls of Ash takes a refreshing look at the gothic romance.

Amber Newberry is a musician and writer who grew up in the South but later migrated to New England.   With a variety of creative interests, writing became a hobby that was generally focused toward lyrics and poetry until she recently developed an itch to write a novel.  With a flare for the macabre, Amber has made her home in Salem, MA with her very own bard and their three cats.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Happy New Year a Bit Late/Kindle E-book Giveaway

Hello, lovely people. :) It has been a while since I've posted, but I have been reading like crazy so far this year. Right now, I'm reading Susanna Kearsley's The Rose Garden and enjoying it, though I wouldn't call it gothic romance. So far, it's a solid time travel/romantic suspense novel.

I also picked up a nice handful of gothic romances at a Friends of the Library sale and am working my way through those slowly.

Expect some guest blogs and such in the coming months and some quickie reviews. Today, I thought I'd do a giveaway of a free Kindle e-book in the gothic romance/rom suspense genre (up to $7.99). :) If you win, just let me know which book you want, and I'll gift it to you. If you don't read on Kindle, we'll work out another prize.

More contests are coming your way this year as well. To enter this one, simply post here or on my Facebook page where this post is about how your year is going so far or share this on Facebook/tweet it and let me know you did. My 2013 is going pretty well with writing and life in general and, hopefully, my blogging will pick up as well. ;)

The contest for the free e-book will end Feb. 2nd at 12am.

Thanks! ~Lisa

Friday, November 9, 2012

Interview with the Man of Mystery: Tom Savage

Tom Savage joins us today at Gothicked Blog for a long anticipated interview. I am beyond thrilled to have found Tom and to have had the chance to ask him some questions about his writing. Read on to the end for a fabulous contest to win a copy of one of his books, too. Tom is the author of some of my favorite gothic romances/suspenses and thrillers. Today, his novels Valentine and Precipice are out in e-book format! The rest of his amazing backlist of books is on the way. I'm honored to have gotten a chance to talk with Tom, and I think you'll find this interview enlightening.

1. What was your path to publication?
I majored in drama in college, and I minored in English. My late mother was an actress, and I started out as an actor, which I did professionally for a while after college. But I grew frustrated with constant auditions and rejections, so I sat down with some friends and wrote a musical, which ended up on Broadway for about 5 minutes. Big flop, and sooo expensive! So I decided to write a novel, because I could do that all by myself, and if it flopped, nobody lost a million bucks, right? I wrote a detective story called DANCE OF THE MONGOOSE, set in my hometown, St. Thomas, VI, and went out to find an agent. No luck--all the agents I approached said the book wasn't "commercial" enough. By this time, I lived in NYC and worked at Murder Ink, the late mystery bookstore, so I looked around the shop to see what was selling. Romantic Gothic suspense thrillers were selling, so I sat down and wrote PRECIPICE in order to attract an agent, and it worked. I immediately found an agent for it, and he called me 2 weeks later and told me that 6 publishers wanted it! There was going to be an auction, but one of the houses made a preemptive offer of a two-book deal, and I took it. That's how I published my first novel. (PS: The success of PRECIPICE led to another publisher immediately taking that detective novel nobody wanted, so that got published, too.)

2. Tell us a bit about what inspired you to write Precipice and The Inheritance, specifically. I enjoyed Valentine as well, but many of the fans of Gothicked like the first two novels I mentioned because of their gothic romance elements.

PRECIPICE was inspired by my need to attract agents and publishers (see above). I decided to write a big Gothic-style thriller, and I read a few by authors I like: Mary Higgins Clark, Robert Goddard, Minette Walters, Thomas H. Cook, Ruth Rendell. I particularly love Rendell's "Barbara Vine" novels--A DARK-ADAPTED EYE and THE HOUSE OF STAIRS are just about the zenith of modern Gothic suspense, along with Minette Walters's THE ICE HOUSE. I also remembered writers from my youth (see below), especially Phyllis Whitney, who visited St. Thomas and wrote a book that is set there, COLUMBELLA, which was a direct inspiration for PRECIPICE (a young woman comes to St. Thomas as au pair for a rich family, and all hell breaks loose). And, of course, my all-time fave author is Daphne du Maurier. I thought about all these authors, and I came up with...


1) a girl

2) a big house

3) an exotic locale for the big house (with occasional bad weather)

4) mysterious and/or frightened relatives and servants (one of whom is usually insane)

5) an old family secret (OFS)

6) an elderly relative/servant who tells the girl about the OFS (and then usually dies)

7) a new murder plot that is directly related to the OFS

8) ominous documents (wills, letters, newspapers, diaries) pertaining to the OFS

9) one precocious child with a cute pet (usually a dog)

10) two sexy men (one good/one bad), or one sexy man who is both (The JANE EYRE/REBECCA Syndrome)

I used that list for both novels, with very different results. I actually had a longer list at first, but I pruned it--I left out ancient curses and secret passageways, among other things.

THE INHERITANCE was directly inspired by another classic novel, THE IVY TREE by Mary Stewart. I read that when I was about 16, and I was totally blown away by the (justifiably famous) surprise ending. I immediately read the book again, just to see how the heck Mary Stewart did it. After PRECIPICE and VALENTINE, I decided it was time to fulfill my secret fantasy--to write The Gothic To End All Gothics. (One lovely critic actually called it that in his review.) I hubristically decided that I was going to top THE IVY TREE, and I knew just how to do it. I don't want to give anything away to people who haven't read it yet, so I'll only say I thought up an ending for a romantic suspense mystery that I, personally, had never seen. Then it became a writing exercise--could I actually do what I wanted to do? Would I get away with it, or would the whole thing fall apart before I finished? Well, the result was published, for better or worse. It's no IVY TREE (what is?), but I'm very proud of it.

3. Were you impacted in your writing or craft by any authors in the Gothic or gothic romance genres?

Absolutely. I always liked reading, but I was 15 when I really first heard the call. I got a bad case of flu, laid up in bed for 2 weeks. I couldn't go to school (Yay!), but I had to read this book for English class, GREAT EXPECTATIONS (Boo!). So, out of sheer boredom, I started reading it, and pow! I absolutely fell into that book. That old house, and the crazy old lady in her wedding gown, and the hero's lifelong love for the girl who treated him so badly, and that creepy convict who ended up being his benefactor. Loved it. I didn't want it to end, but it did, and I asked my sister what I should read next. She handed me REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier. By the time I got out of that sickbed, I knew I wanted to write someday, and it was those two books that did it.

4. Do you have any comments on the future or present state of the Gothic or gothic romance genres?

My favorite recent Gothics are actually psychological suspense novels with Gothic elements: Minette Walters, Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, Morag Joss, Laura Lippman, and a wonderful detective novel by S. J. Rozan called THE SHANGHAI MOON, which was partly inspired by THE MOONSTONE (the "Shanghai Moon" is a fabulous, cursed jewel that brings death to all who try to possess it). I also loved THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield, THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON by Kate Morton, IN THE WOODS by Tana French, and THE POISON TREE by Erin Kelly. And I'll read anything by the marvelous husband/wife team that writes under the name Nicci French. I'll tell you what I don't like: there are a lot of recent so-called "fem-jep" suspense novels that are basically serial killer books. The "fem" is often a professional detective or cop or medical examiner or whatever, and there's way too much sex and violence and language and general nastiness. I've had my fill of all that. I'm no prude (I'm the guy who wrote VALENTINE and SCAVENGER, after all), but enough already! I also have no use for paranormal romance, but that's just me. I haven't read any of these series with sexy vampires and sexy werewolves and something called a shape shifter, so I can't comment, but I suppose they're Gothic, too. I leave them to the people who enjoy them.

The future of the Gothic romance genre might depend on more writers going back to the basics that first made the genre popular, and studying the enduring authors of the form: Poe, Hawthorne, Dickens, Wilkie Collins, the Bront√ęs, du Maurier, Stewart, Whitney, Clark, Elizabeth Peters. And let's not forget Margaret Millar, Victoria Holt, Charlotte Armstrong, Anya Seton, Joy Fielding, Linda Howard, Jayne Ann Krentz. I don't remember any of those authors giving us a jaded rich guy playing tie-me-up-and-spank-me with a shy--and apparently mentally challenged--co-ed. And yet the current #1 bestseller I'm referring to has been described by critics as a "Gothic romance novel." I sincerely hope that is not the future of Gothic romance.

5. How did your birth and years in the Virgin Islands inform your writing?

I wasn't born there; I was 9 when I arrived there. I was born in New York. I grew up in a reading home. My mom and my older sister, Suzy, were voracious readers of mystery and suspense novels. Because we were on a small tropical island, the only books that got all the way down from the mainland USA to the local bookshop were the big--I mean BIG--New York Times bestsellers. At that time (1960s and '70s) the biggest mystery and suspense writers were Agatha Christie, John D. MacDonald, Ross MacDonald, Helen MacInnes, Erle Stanley Gardner, Mary Stewart, Alistair MacLean, Phyllis Whitney, Robert Ludlum, and Daphne du Maurier. My family read them, so when I started seriously reading (after the flu episode), that's what I found in the house. I minored in English in college, and I've read all the "usual" important authors and classics, but mystery was always my genre. When I started writing, that's what I wrote. And the Virgin Islands were the place I knew best, so I've put them in several of my novels.

6. How did working at Murder Ink, the New York City bookstore you mentioned in previous interviews, play into your role as a writer?

I was working there when I started writing, and I made many friends and contacts there--agents, publishers, but mostly authors. They all came in for readings and signings, and I got to know many of them. Then I joined the Mystery Writers of America and the International Association of Crime Writers. To this day, many of my writing inspirations are mystery writers I first met at Murder Ink.

7. What is the most difficult thing for you about writing/plotting a novel? You have been praised for the plot twists in your work. I'm thinking of Precipice, in particular. Are these twists hard to formulate?
The most difficult thing about writing is writing. I'm not being facetious--there's nothing tougher than getting "the seat of the pants in the seat of the chair." Computers help a lot. I wrote my first 2 novels in longhand on yellow legal pads, which I then had to transfer to a Smith-Corona portable electric typewriter (remember those?), so the Computer Age did not arrive a moment too soon for me.

I imagine a person, then I put that person in a situation. After that, the rest of the story usually follows. The "twists," as you call them, are my starting point. I love all kinds of mysteries, but my all-time faves are the ones with surprise endings. With my first 2 novels, DANCE OF THE MONGOOSE and PRECIPICE, I started with the central character (a troubled detective in one, a troubled young woman in the other), and St. Thomas (the only place I knew well enough to write about), and a surprise (the identity of the murderer in MONGOOSE and the identity of the young woman in PRECIPICE). The twists weren't hard to formulate, but getting to those twists was a bitch. I mean, the plot that gets us from page 1 to that surprise ending. For me, that's the hard part.

8. What are you working on now?

I have a manuscript making the rounds of publishers, and I'm writing a new novel. They're both romantic suspense thrillers with surprise endings. I also write short stories occasionally--I just had one in the March/April 2012 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

9. I understand you have a pen name. If you don't mind, could you share a bit about that?

I wrote 2 detective novels, DANCE OF THE MONGOOSE and its sequel, WOMAN IN THE DARK. My first publisher had just put out PRECIPICE and VALENTINE, and they asked me to put a pseudonym on the detective stories for my second publisher so there wouldn't be confusion in the marketplace. I initialized my first and middle names (Thomas Joseph) and added my actual birth surname (Savage is my mother's maiden name--looong story). That's how I became "T. J. Phillips," but it was only for those 2 books.

10. You are something of an enigma to your fans. Many thought you had "dropped off the map" when they tried to find out more about what you were writing these days. They've missed you, and that led to this interview. If you don't mind my asking, were you still actively writing during the last few years, or did other pursuits take up your time?
I'm glad people have missed me, I'm very grateful for that. Yes, I've been writing, but no, I wasn't publishing. I had a string of misfortunes that led me to retire from the world for a few years. I lost my mom in 2003 (old age), then my sister Suzy a year later (breast cancer). Meanwhile, Murder Ink, where I'd been working for almost 20 years, was struggling to survive against a B&N superstore that moved in down the street and a landlord who kept raising the rent. We lost the battle in 2006, closing our doors forever, so I was out of a day job. Then my original agent and I parted ways after 15 years. And that's all in addition to some personal stuff I'd rather not talk about, except to sing a rousing chorus of "I'll Never Fall In Love Again." So for a while, I sat around my apartment in a bathrobe, writing but not publishing. Then some writer friends here in NYC dragged me out of my house and forced me to join their writing group.They wouldn't take no for an answer, and I found that I liked the company. But if I wanted to hang out with them, I had to read something to them, which meant I had to write something. So, I wrote some more. I now have 5 novels (all Gothic suspense thrillers) sitting in my computer, and I have a new agent.

11. What's next for you?

Getting those 5 new novels out of my computer and into print. That's the plan, anyway. It's a very tough market out there right now, but my new agent is doing her best, and I live in hope. And I'm preparing my backlist titles for their e-book debuts, so PRECIPICE, VALENTINE, THE INHERITANCE, and SCAVENGER should soon be available as downloads.

12. When you're not plotting your next mystery/suspense, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

My writing group, my Friday Night Club (a gang that gets together every week for dinner and Trivial Pursuit), reading mysteries (I'm currently in the middle of STAY CLOSE by my friend Harlan Coben, and I just reread THE SNARE OF THE HUNTER by Helen MacInnes), and my big passion, collecting DVDs of my favorite films (I now own the complete works of Alfred Hitchcock).

13. How can fans contact you?

A Facebook page is forthcoming, too.

Tom's books on Amazon (they are also at other retailers):

**If you'd like to win an e-book copy of either Precipice or Valentine, leave a comment in the post or share it on Twitter or Facebook and let me know you did! I'll enter you once for each comment or share. The contest ends November 20th at 11:59 PM CST.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quickie Review: Broken Harbor by Tana French

It's been way too long since I've posted a review. I recently read Broken Harbor by Tana French. The Kindle edition is pretty steep, but I was lucky enough to find the hardcover in my library.

This book is a mix of Gothic atmosphere and police procedural, so that's my disclaimer. It's not a gothic romance, but boy, did it creep me out more than once. A spooky house by the sea, a stalker, an animal roaming the house (or is it?) and a murdered family/double suicide (I won't tell) are just some of the elements that made me look over my shoulder after reading a chapter. As with French's other books, I finished this one in just a few days. So, set aside some reading time if you pick it up and find you like it after the first chapter or so.

French is known for going deep with characterization and for adding a twist to the plot. She got me with this one. I didn't see the ending coming. Let me know how you like it if you pick it up. :) If you enjoy it, may I suggest The Likeness, too? It is gothic romance and police procedural, and I adore it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Contest Winner

Tara won the free kindle books! :) Thanks to everyone who entered here and on Facebook. I'll have another contest later this month.
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