I’m happy to announce that I’m going to be dropping into the amazing (and free!) Romancing the Gothic literature course as a guest speaker next Thursday April 30th at 7pm London time!
Dr. Sam is an amazing wellspring of spooky book knowledge and I’m so excited to chat about queering fairytales, writing ROBBERGIRL, and the modern gothic movement with her class. There will also be a Q&A for me at the end, so bring any burning questions or meandering musings.
Virtual events have been such a wonderful way to connect with readers since my in-person events have been cancelled for the year. All are welcome in the class; it’s a very low-pressure supportive environment. Looking forward to meeting you!
I’m so thrilled to announce the publication of this amazing anthology of spooky, swoony, and spine-tingling stories, collected by the wonderful Celine Frohn of Nyx Publishing.
“Unspeakable contains eighteen Gothic tales with uncanny twists and characters that creep under your skin. Its stories feature sapphic ghosts, terrifying creatures of the sea, and haunted houses concealing their own secrets. Whether you’re looking for your non-binary knight in shining armour or a poly family to murder with, Unspeakable showcases the best contemporary Gothic queer short fiction.”
My contribution is a tri-narrated, historical Dracula’s Brides retelling about running away to join an immortal poly murderfamily. It sprung directly from my love for B-rate action fantasy movies like Van Helsing and Dracula Untold, and my burning desire to make them gayer, more sapphic, more trans inclusive, and of course, sexier. I talked about why I identify with vampires and how to write a great short fiction piece over on The Gothic Bookworm’s blog, which you should definitely check out!
It’s a pleasure to be featured among so many talented writers, and to be edited by someone who is so enthusiastic about broadening access to queer literature (if you know of any schools who may want a copy, get in touch!). In a characteristically generous gesture, Celine is offering FREE copies of the ebook through the Nyx shop with the code BOOKY100. A lot of people are feeling the financial pinch or stuck in quarantine right now, so let us hook you up with some free queer short fiction! A review on Goodreads or Amazon is a wonderful thank you, if you feel so inclined. There are also paperbacks and hardcovers for sale on Nyx’s website for those who prefer physical copies.
Feel free to pass the deal on to your friends, and happy reading! Stay spooky out there.
MEXICAN GOTHIC has my heart racing and my mind reeling, and I was absolutely spoiled to get an arc for review from author Silvia Moreno-Garcia at Boskone this year. It was one of my most anticipated books of 2020, and it did not disappoint.
Think Crimson Peak meets Get Out in the 1950’s Mexican countryside and you’re coming close to what makes this book so special. This book both loves and subverts classical Gothic tropes, infusing the familiar crumbling English manor home and looming handsome predator and whispers of family curses with a strong tonic of post-colonialist sensibilities. The writing is heady and lyrical, but the taut plot doesn’t get lost in the lovely, gloomy atmosphere.
This book will weave mystery and malice around you before you even know you’re in dancer, and the dark enchantment of manor High Place will get in your blood and never let you go. I loved heroine Noemi terribly, from her will to survive to her couture gowns to her double-edged wit. There’s a romance in here to root for as well, and women wrenching agency away from horrible men with bloody hands. The book won’t be widely available until June 30th, but you can pre-order right this second. So what are you waiting for?
CW: There’s a pervasive threat of sexual violence and attempted sexual assaults in this book, but they’re handled with an appropriate amount of both rage and grace, and I found the heroine and the ending to be a really satisfying kick in the teeth of patriarchy and sexual violence. But if it’s a delicate topic for you, proceed with discretion!
Growing up as a girl in a conservative religious community is challenging, especially when you’re the bastard child of a snake-handling Pentecostal preacher and a Catholic waitress. Considered unclean by the congregation and her grandfather, the fearsome Reverend, because of her affinity for the church’s’ venomous snakes, eight-year-old Callie Ann spends most of her time feeding crickets and mice to her only friends.
But as the Reverend’s sinister hold on his rapt flock grows, so does Callie’s connection to her dead mother, and a dark prophecy begins to take shape.
What People Are Saying
“Revival finds that old time religion venomously snaking its way back, to the peril of those who would dare to dance with vipers and tempt Fate itself.”
“Gibson’s Revival was like THE BAD SEED set to a religious hymn (that’s a good thing)”
Gothic genres are squarely situated in their geographic locations, so the best way to get a feel for a Gothic genre is to get a feel for the land. If taking a trip to the bayou or Piedmont is prohibitive, read the greats. I recommend Flannery O’Connor’s entire body of work, the Anne Rice novels set in New Orleans, and Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”. You can also check out My Blood on the Scrarecrow Southen Gothic inspo tag.
As far as craft advice goes, avoid dialect. Dialect is phonetically rendering words the way they may sound in an accent (nuthin’, wassat, sho’nuf) and it tends to be distracting to the reader and insulting to the speakers of the accent you are invoking. You can invoke an accent through word choice and placement instead (see my use of vernacular terms like “best believe” in the prompts below) and the best way to learn these turns-of-phrase is to listen to native speakers
Similarly, steer clear of tropes that have now crossed the threshold into hurtful stereotype such as the ignorant redneck, “magical negro”, Jezebel, mammy, or in-bred mountain family, unless you have a very good reason. Odds are, unless its intelligent subversion, your reason is not good enough.
I still feel like my Southern Gothic writing is bit of a caricature in many ways, because the first breath I took wasn’t muggy and magnolia-sweet, but after a decade of my formative years spent in the mountains of western North Carolina, I’ve got an inkling. Here are some jumping off points for you:
If you don’t leave this town by nineteen years old, you won’t leave at all. If you try, you’ll find all roads lead back to your now-abandoned high school.
You can do all the brutalizing, cheating, and bloodletting you want inside this house, but God help you if the neighbors hear about it.
The forest takes a couple of human sacrifices a year, lost hikers or fresh graduates who had a little bit too much to drink at the homecoming party. It’s simply the way of things.
The cicadas do the screaming for every neglected child, battered wife, and dispossessed son who can’t shout for themselves.
Everyone sees the sinful things their neighbors drag across their backyards in the middle of the night. They just have the good sense not to go around letting on that they know about it.
Heredity is horrifying. You wouldn’t believe the kinds of things you can inherit.
You’d better not break the heart of the wrong local girl, because there’s a good chance she’s got a granny witch living up in one of the hollers who’ll stick your name in a mason jar with some piss and pins and make your life a living hell.
If you cut the magnolia trees, they’ll bleed red as you or me.
It’s not a matter of if the preacher man has seen the devil, it’s a question of whether or not he greeted him as an old friend.
When you finally meet Jesus, you best believe he’s going to be carrying a list of crimes for you to answer for.