Castle Von Udolpho Crimson Abbey of Blood (Movie Monday, gothic edition)

I have got to start seeing movies in a more timely way, either at the movie theater or when they’re first released at home. It’s not such a thing this week, when something inspires me to talk about its antecedents (⇐this is not the nerdiest the post is going to get), as say, Star Wars, when six weeks after it’s out, I’m like “Let me tell you all my feelings!” and y’all are like, yes, but I heard that in the next movie…

Well, maybe not y’all, because my readers are pretty cool.

So, anyway. Crimson Peak. This movie was like they threw all my favorite things in a cinematic gift bag:

  1. Director Guillermo del Toro
  2. Ghosts
  3. OMG the wardrobe
  4. Spooky $%*#
  5. Tom Hiddleston looking even more Byronic than usual
  6. Creepy house
  7. The most Gothic gothiciness that ever gothicked.

I mean, just look at it:


Obviously, I love the gothic novel, since I’ve written two of them. (One is even titled Texas Gothic. (link) ) And I was interested to see what someone with such as visually interesting as del Toro would come up with.

Let’s skip the history of how the Gothic novel came out of the counter-Enlightenment movement of Romanticism.  The gothic story has some very distinct elements:

  • An innocent heroine, very often an orphan or otherwise cut off.
  • An isolated setting that evokes mystery and dread. It’s gloomy, usually decaying. Extra points for secret passages or hidden staircases.
  • Supernatural beings (or what appear to be supernatural goings on)
  • Curse or prophecies. (I actually thing this, along with the idea of ghosts, has to do with the feeling of the past affecting or threatening the present events.)
  • A Byronic hero–brooding, enigmatic, slightly dissipated and untrustworthy air.
  •  Romance, or a romantic sensibility. CrimsonPeak_Hiddleston_Wasikowska.jpg

Most importantly there’s a sense of physical danger, psychological horror, and spiritual peril. 

That leaves a lot to play with, plot-wise. You can tick all the boxes (like the popular gothic romances that Jane Austen sent up in Northanger Abbey), or you can stay in the spirit, evoking the sense of heightened dread and dark tone and atmosphere. Jane Eyre and Frankenstein are both considered gothic novels (among other things).

So, back to Crimson Peak. This movie ticks all the boxes, but in a self-aware Northanger Abbey way. The movie, though, is more of an homage than a parody.

First of all, it calls itself out, right away. Austen and Brontë are mentioned right off. The heroine wants to be an author, and when a publisher dismisses her “ghost story,” she says that there are ghosts in it, but it’s not about ghosts. The ghosts represent the past. (⇑ See what I did there? Fourth bullet point.)  And obviously that’s how this story goes, too.

My interest then became less “what will happen” and more “how is that going to happen, or how will that play out.” Maybe that makes it predictable, but kind of in the same way as a Romantic Comedy or a Western is predictable. Mostly you know you’re going to end up at the opposite ends of the town’s muddy main street, drawing your guns at high noon.

So bookish Edith falls in love with charismatic but mysterious Sir Thomas Sharpe, marries him (oh, she’s rich by the way), and he takes her away to his literally falling down mansion where he lives with his crazy-eyed sister, who you know is going to be trouble. And then there are forbidden rooms and locked trunks and strange noises…

And there were these bonuses:

  • Charlie Hunnam!
  • Bobby from Supernatural!
  • Puppy! Even better? Papillon puppy!


The adorable dog was a smart touch, and I’m not just saying that because I gave the heroine of The Splendor Falls (link) one. Because of the type of story, I wasn’t too worried about Edith, but I spent a good part of that movie terrified something was going to happen to the dog.

The ghosts were also really terrifying, because they were gross. There were a couple of pretty horrific deaths, which also elevated the tension, because I didn’t want to see that grossness. Bleh. Which bears mentioning because the original gothic novels evoked dread more than the gross out, but when they did have blood and such, it took a lot less to be shocking.

So, final verdict? Would you enjoy Crimson Peak? Well, the costuming is gorgeous, the set is amazing, and the acting is really good. There’s enough danger during the story to keep the tension up. Obviously she doesn’t trust the sister, but can she trust Thomas? That was the big question throughout. (And Hiddleston really does well at keeping you guessing. Also, there’s a love scene, so if Hiddleston is your thing…)

You know, it occurs to me—and this is not a spoiler, and it’s not about the plot, just what floats my boat—I think I was less invested because I wanted Edith to stay in Boston with Charlie Hunnam’s character.

But then it wouldn’t have been a gothic story.

So, have any of you seen this?  What’s your favorite gothic novel or movie, or movie of a novel? I could use recommendations.


I don’t care if you’re dead. Throw my ball, dammit.

Blog o Rama

Two blog posts in one week. OMG. Who is this writer?

I’m not the most prolific poster HERE lately, so you might want to know about the places where I’m a little more scheduled.

If you read and love YA, you should definitely check out YA Outside the Lines. Oh my gosh, so many YA authors! With so many in one place, it’s a great way to find an author you may not have heard of before, as well as catch up with some of your favorites (like me.)

If nothing else, you should go to my post from last week. (This month’s topic is “Outside the Lines” and it’s kind of fun to see how 20+ authors interpret that differently.) Along with revealing that I’ve ALWAYS been… um, particular about the way I like things, this is also the first place I’ve publicly posted the Paperback cover of The Splendor Falls.

I also post every Friday on the Genreality blog, which is a very cool writing related blog with authors of all different genres. (Urban Fantasy, Romance, Thriller, Young Adult and more.) It’s kind of cool to see how, no matter what you write, some of the same things apply.

And I’ll try and post here more regularly. I went straight from all that travel to dealing with my very sick puppy, but I’m trying to get back into a routine (ha!) for December. (What a great month to pick for that, huh? Holiday craziness!)

I saved the Lizzie update for last, because not EVERYONE is obsessed with my dog as I am: Whatever is messing up Lizzie’s nasal cavity, it’s not cancer. (Yay!) Unfortunately, they don’t know WHAT it is. Right now getting antibiotic shots to try and clear up her sinus infection. Daily! Poor wee puppy! And poor me, because I’ve been giving them to her, which isn’t difficult, except that it makes her yelp and cry.😦

Poor Lizzie. We’ve been calling her Snuffleuffagus because of all the snot. She’s like a toddler with a terrible cold. But now that it’s getting a little better, she’s perking up considerably! If we can get this infection cleared up at least we’ll get back to some status quo.

Here are Lizzie (on the right) and Penny (left) hanging out with me in my office. (Lizzie always looks this serious in pictures. She was actually feeling decent this day. Note the lack of snot bubbles.)


Following/Friend policy

This seems like as good a place as any to park this policy while I’m thinking about it.  I mean, I know I need to start a FAQ page, and about eleventy other things. (Which doesn’t even count the personal stuff, like take my dogs to the groomer and do something about my hair.)

Following and Friending: Okay, this isn’t so much a policy as the way it seems to be shaking out due to my general distraction. (I’m not an absent minded person, I just have a LOT to try and keep track of.)

Twitter:  I don’t automatically follow back, but I do generally answer mentions (with an @ so I’ll see it). And if you reply to or mention me, the chances go up I’ll follow you.  I usually follow readers, other writers, book bloggers/reviewers, librarians and other book people. And also @russellcrowe and @nathanfillion.

But let’s face it, if you compliment my books and don’t try and sell me something or get me to visit your site to see your sexxxy pictures, chances are, I’ll follow you back. I’m easy that way. (But not any other way.)

Facebook: If I’m pretty sure you are a reader (or a book person as mentioned above), I’ll friend people on my FB page until I run out of spots. If you’re not obviously my audience (i.e., young adult and generally female) it helps if you drop me a message along with the friend request telling me you’re a reader, or that we met at a writer’s conference, or we’re in YARWA together. But make sure you “like” my writer page, too. One, because I need people to like me to bolster my self image. And two, that’s where I (try to) post updates about signings, appearances, new book news, etc.

Now I have to think about what else to put on a FAQ page. Other than: “Will there be a Splendo(u)r Falls sequel?”

Hello New Zealand

So, The Splendor (Splendour) Falls comes out in New Zealand tomorrow. I didn’t make a big deal about the UK release date because it happened in the middle of my grandmother’s car accident/heart attack/rehab. So UK people, don’t be offended. I mean, I’ve actually VISITED your country. Countries, I mean.
Now, one of the coolest things about being a published writer is getting mail from readers on the other side of the globe. My books have been read all over (waving to Hong Kong and the Philippines). But it’s really neat to have international versions. I guess it makes me feel like a citizen of the world.

Plus it’s New Zealand. Middle Earth! (You know they must love that, right?) But I’ve always had this obsession with NZ because it is so gorgeous. I mean, just look:

Also, I might have mentioned, I have sort of a thing for this guy:
Ah, Russell Crowe. I admit that half the reason I’m looking forward to Clash of the Titans is that Maximus gave me a permanent love for men in short leather skirts.
And then there’s my first New Zealand crush:
That’s Sam Neill (next to Jonathan Rhys-Myers just because… Jonathan Rhys-Myers is hotter than Henry VIII should be.) Slightly cheating because Sam Neill was born in Northern Ireland then raised in NZ. But… makes the list because he held is own with Meryl Streep and also Velociraptors. And also Henry VIII.
And just so I don’t look completely sexist and shallow, I must include…
Lucy Lawless. Hot as a Warrior Princess, and as a Cylon.
So, yay New Zealand. I think you’re pretty cool. Hope you don’t hate my book.
ETA: OMG. I almost forgot one!
That would have been a shame.
Did I miss anyone else?

Fun Stuff Friday

Fun stuff today.

First off, I’m blogging at Fresh Fiction today: Warning: this book may be hazardous to your diet. Comment and win prizes. Whoot!

And just because I haven’t been obnoxious about it in a day or two, just a reminder that I have a book signing tomorrow (Saturday, September 12th) from 2 – 4 pm at the Hurst Barnes and Noble (near North East Mall). Even if you hate me and you don’t want to buy my book, you should come, because the first booksigning is always full of my author friends. It’s a great time to meet other local writers.

The official B&N Site about the event is here.

And my page with the details and a map to the location is here.

On the rest of the country front: People are telling me that some of their stores are already sold out of The Splendor Falls! If you go to your local bookstore and they don’t have it on the shelf, be sure and ask for it. They may have copies in the back, and they can always order it for you.

My readers rock!

In a completely unrelated to books note: I’ve been saving this link for ages. I don’t know why I think it’s so funny, but I do. And since there are a lot of contemplative posts today, with it being September 11th and all, I thought maybe it was time for a funny one. What Stormtroopers do on their day off.

Book Birthday Party!

The Splendor Falls comes out today! 

I hope Amazon delivers your pre-orders and bookstores are obligingly stocked with copies!  I haven’t been out to make the rounds yet, because I LOST A DAY this weekend. Seriously, I got up thinking it was Monday, went to check my mail and couldn’t figure out why I had an inbox full of congrats on my release. Because it’s TODAY not TOMORROW.

Not only that, but if you are cheap like me, and haven’t picked up your own copy of the award winning book HELL WEEK, you’re in luck.

Hell Week comes out in paperback today!

That’s two books!  It’s like having twins.

I know that most of you want to RUN out to your bookstore to either buy your copy while they still have some, or harangue (nicely!) the bookseller for not having it in stock. But if you’re in the DFW area, you might want to wait for Saturday, because I’m having a…

Book Release Party
Hurst (Texas) Barnes and Noble
(at North East Mall)
Saturday, September 12th
2 – 4 PM

Can’t make it that day?  Here are some other events I have coming up:

FenCon — September 18-20
Booksigning at the B&N at the Parks Mall — October 10
Buns ‘n Roses Literacy Fundraiser — October 11
Booksigning in Little Rock, AK with many other spooky book authors — October 24
Texas Book Festival — October 31

I’m also doing a bunch of guest blogs, interviews and giveaways in the next few weeks, so I’ll keep you posted!