Not long ago, I gave release details for my upcoming novel, The Hallowed, to prepare for publishing later this year. After reading the Gothic horror novel for the first time in a long while, one thing that I decided quickly was that it needed a bit more detail in the timeline and setting.
In my past writings, I’ve always been very vague about the setting, always seeking something fictional and fairytale-like; a hint of ‘once upon a time, in a land far away’. I’ve always been content with that, but recently I’ve felt a need to assign a time period to my stories, at least so that the reader will know that it’s a historical piece going in. Otherwise, how are they to know for certain?
It was not too difficult to decide on this for The Hallowed. I chose the Pyrenees Mountains of France, late 1700s, during the French Revolution. Though this information will play a small part in the story overall, it gives a hint of realism and an acknowledgement of the outside world beyond the story.
This got me thinking. When writing a Gothic horror piece, atmosphere is important. Which brings focus to one of the most important elements of all: the house.
I daresay that the house (or castle, or whatever the setting might be) is as important as any character. The creepiness of the house, the secrets it offers, cannot be overlooked. These places must be precisely mapped, so that the reader feels that they, too, are wandering the hallways at the character’s back.
In The Hallowed, the house is an old chateau in the mountains, built along treacherous terrain. Despite the size of the house, the family is small and there are few servants in the place, creating a dark and quiet setting for the characters to wander about in. It creates a creepy, lonely, afraid-of-the-dark vibe. And of course, there are plenty of hidden secrets.
Perhaps it would have been nice to release The Hallowed before Halloween, in this month that everyone seems happy to focus on the creepy side of things (even those who don’t really like it), but I say that it’s fun to read scary stories all year! In fact, some of us would rather have that in a book.
While all of my fairy tales have a dark twist, I have a select few that are definitely more on the horror/gothic/weird side, which capture the essence of loneliness, despair, and terror — usually in a creepy house setting.
I like spooky houses. What can I say?
Here are a few of my books that go along with the Halloween vibe:
The People in the Rickety House — Did I ever tell you that this book was inspired by a house that one of my childhood friends lived in? It was this big historical house and seemed so open and endless to me — just old and cold and empty sometimes — but I always loved it. Sometimes it seemed like we were the only people in that house, but other times… This book is about a girl and her sister, who lose both of their parents and are sent to live with their aunt in a rickety house in the sticks. At first, Leah’s only concern is her sadness, boredom, and neglect. But then she discovers the ghost in the attic.
The Needle’s Eye — This one is about a secluded island castle instead of a house, but the idea applies. A creepy childhood story, an ominous fog, and a decaying castle (evil spirits included). Three sisters are cursed by three dead princes, and are destined to spend a night on a hidden island, snared by an old story that they are forced to relive. This one is…not for the faint of heart, but it’s mysterious and intriguing all the same. Keep the lights on.
Roses and Black Glass: A Dark Cinderella Tale — Most of my fairy tale retellings are dark fantasy, but this one leans more on the gothic horror side. In early America, our Cinderella works in a morgue. If that’s not enough, her prince is also pretty intrigued by dead bodies. A perfect match, some might say. Throw in a “fairy godmother” who might be a witch, and a prophecy that promises a body count, and you’re in for a ride that gives you everything you’d expect from a Cinderella story (evil step-family, a ball, a beautiful dress, and a glass shoe) plus a few elements that you never would have expected in this bloody good love story.
The Hallowed — Now, I know this one isn’t released yet, but you can get a head-start to reading it over on Wattpad, where I have the first few chapters posted (updated to match the published version). This one is definitely a love story, but not as you might expect. It’s about a man and woman who both have amnesia, and find themselves in a strange house with an odd family. The only link they have is to each other — and they must use that to discover who they are, what brought them to the house, and why they cannot seem to leave…until certain things happen, which may lead a reader to wonder: can they even trust each other? Also, it can be preordered on Amazon. November 7!!
(I didn’t include The Nutcracker Bleeds, because I’ll be revamping that one soon, as I mentioned in my last post, but it is also very horrific, and focuses on a house. And I love it!)
What’s your favorite scary moment in my books? (But without too many plot spoilers please!)
I’ve decided that in the midst of reading (proofing) my own works, I also needed to read something spooky for Halloween, so I’ve chosen a book called Elizabeth.
It was originally written in 1972, and recently republished. It’s about a fourteen year old girl who might be a witch (or is at least a sociopath). I really enjoy this type of psychological story where you don’t quite know if the narrator is reliable or not. It reminds me of We Have Always Lived in the Castle, another of my favorite books. I’m enjoying it!
So not long ago, I said I would try to read/promote more indie books, and it occurs to me that I already have one to talk about! Especially for this spooky time. A while I ago, I read a book called Ripper by Nikolai Watson. I wrote a review for it over on Goodreads.
As you might guess, it’s a re-imagining of the Jack the Ripper legend. Along with Elizabeth, this one is also a psychological horror, and the best thing about this book is the voice of the narrator as you witness him slipping further into madness and after a while, aren’t even sure whether to trust him.
It’s definitely for horror-lovers, and there are a few cringe-worthy moments, but I really enjoyed reading it! Check it out and show some support for the indie community! We’re not all bad. :p
This week, I finalized The Hallowed and began reading The Nutcracker Bleeds for my second edition edit. That’s going well, but I truly hope to have the first read complete by Tuesday so that I can prepare myself for NaNo. I have a lot of notes for my new book, but I really need to sort through them and get a clear idea for what I’ll be doing when NaNo officially begins on Wednesday! My intention is to go above and beyond with this one — maybe double the word count each day and actually manage to finish this book by the end of the month. I’m not sure if that’s going to happen, but that’s my goal.
Oh hey! There is a Goodreads Giveaway listed for The Hallowed! US only. Check it out!!
And the new Nevermor covers have been updated for the print edition!