As Pride Month draws to a close, I wanted to write a post highlighting a few of the queer writers in the Gothic canon. Gothic literature has been closely associated with taboo sexuality since its inception, and we can see this legacy clearly today in the queerness of modern horror (and in the unexpected adoption of the Babadook as the unofficial mascot of Pride this year). Not all of the LGBTQ representation in Gothic fiction has been particularly positive, as these works often play to society’s anxieties around sexual taboo. But the Gothic was also a place where many queer writers found a home. As is often the case with historical figures, it can be difficult to speak with certainty about the sexualities of authors long dead, especially since most of them lived during a time when “sodomy” was punishable by exile, arrest, and even death. Almost every writer of early Gothic fiction has been accused by enemies or claimed by critics to be part of the LGBTQ community, with varying amounts of evidence. In this post, I will highlight three of the most notorious gay or bisexual writers whose personal and romantic lives have contributed to their fame almost as much as their works have. Continue reading The Gay and Bisexual Men of Gothic Fiction
The re-release of Leanna Renee Hieber’s Strangely Beautiful Saga continues! Last year, Leanna revived her out-of-print debut series with the launch of Strangely Beautiful, published by Tor. This new, author-preferred edition contains her first two books, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, in a single volume with some new scenes and edits. You can see my review of Strangely Beautiful here. Now she’s back at it with the relaunch of the series’ prequel, Perilous Prophecy, coming out tomorrow, June 20. Formerly called The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess, the book had only been out a short time before the original publisher went under, so you may have missed it the first time around. But now you’ve got a second chance! If you’re in New York, join me next week for the launch party at the Morris-Jumel Mansion. If you can’t make it out, you can pick up a copy of the book at your local independent bookstore, or buy it online using the IndieBound link at the bottom of this post. Continue reading Review of Perilous Prophecy—A Poignant Prequel
Valentine Wolfe is a gothic metal band that I first encountered at the final Wicked Faire last year. Since then, I’ve been able to catch snippets of their performances at various Jeff Mach Events over the past year, but finally got to listen and dance to a full set of theirs—at a Harry Potter convention of all places—during the goth night at MISTI-Con 2017. The band is based out of North Carolina and consists of Sarah Black, whose soprano vocals give their music its ethereal quality, and Braxton Ballew, who rocks out on the electric upright bass. Their music is particularly popular in both the goth and steampunk scenes, and they perform at a number of conventions up and down the east coast. To get an idea of what their music is like, check out the video of their rendition of “Annabel Lee” below and read on for my interview with Sarah and Braxton:
Death—It’s at the center of both Gothic literature (as one of the primal fears driving the atmosphere of dread) and the gothic subculture (as inspiration for its music, art, fashion, and overall aesthetic). But outside of the goth world, death can be a difficult topic to broach. Death and dying are taboo, especially in American society, and no one seems to want to talk about the one fate that awaits us all. That’s why Kimberly Mead created the game Morbid Curiosity to get everyone talking about death.
In my continued quest to branch out into new genres, I found a book so different from what I normally read that I hardly know how to describe it. Lara Elena Donnelley’s debut novel, Amberlough, is a fantasy political thriller with a noir aesthetic. I attended the launch party back in February and was immediately intrigued by the chapter Lara read to the crowd. Unusual and intriguing characters, a twisting and unpredictable plot, and a world so different and yet poignantly similar to our own—Amberlough is not to be missed if you’re looking for something new and unique to read! Continue reading Review of Amberlough–A Blend of Grit and Decadence
Last year, I wrote up a list of five death- and graveyard-themed poems to ponder as you enjoy a solitary stroll through someone’s final resting place. Now that graveyard picnic season has come once again, I figured it was time to add to this list. When researching for my previous post, I discovered that the tradition of graveyard poetry was far more robust than I had previously realized, and I kept finding more poems that I wanted to share. As before, my collection contains works by a few of the pre-Romantic “Graveyard Poets,” as well as a couple of poems by later Romantic poets. Enjoy!
Last weekend, I went to one of the largest steampunk events in the world, Jeff Mach’s Steampunk World’s Fair. For those who are unfamiliar, steampunk is an alternative fashion/music/literature scene, which can essentially be summed up as Victorian futurism—imagine a world where, on the cusp of the industrial revolution, technology advanced through steam power and gears instead of electricity and computers. The fashion blends corsets and top hats with brass and goggles, while the literature tends to feature dirigibles, automatons, and mad scientists. And the first weekend in May is when hundreds of steampunks from around the country take over two hotels in the middle of Piscataway, New Jersey. I’ve been attending Steampunk World’s Fair for many years, and two weeks ago I gave you a preview of what I was looking forward to at this year’s convention in particular. Read on to see how last weekend lived up to my expectations. Continue reading Steampunk World’s Fair 2017: Where Goth and Steampunk Meet
Time to delve back into a long-loved genre! I used to read a lot of adult mystery/suspense novels in middle school and early high school before I fell too deeply into my young adult sci-fi and fantasy reading hole. I remember especially loving the prolific Queen of Suspense, Mary Higgins Clark. So last week while browsing through audiobooks available from the library, I decided to start my foray back into the genre with one of my old favorites. I picked one of her more recent novels, As Time Goes By, which is part of her Alvirah and Willy mystery series. Continue reading Review of As Time Goes By–A Mary Higgins Clark Mystery
The biggest steampunk event of the year is just around the corner! Steampunk World’s Fair is one of Jeff Mach’s most popular events and the largest steampunk convention in the world. Earlier this year, I attended and wrote about my experience at two of Jeff Mach’s brand new conventions: the fairy-themed Glimmerdark and the three-day goth party that was Dark Side of the Con. Now it’s time to return to one of my old favorites. I have been attending Steampunk World’s Fair for about five years, and it never fails to impress. The convention takes over two hotels in Piscataway, New Jersey, and will be taking place next weekend, May 5–7.
While I was thrilled to attend two events this year with a more overtly dark aesthetic, I always feel at home at Jeff Mach’s steampunk events, despite not quite ascribing to that subculture myself. Goth and steampunk have much in common, which I’ve written about at length for the Steampunk Tourist blog. In short, though, I can always rely on a steampunk convention to bring me together with other people who enjoy literature, Victorian fashion, and tea. Below, I’ll share with you a few things that I’m looking forward to at this year’s SPWF in particular: Continue reading Preview of Steampunk World’s Fair 2017
Yesterday, April 23, was Shakespeare’s birthday—and also his death day! In honor of the Bard, I figured I would take this opportunity to discuss his connection with the Gothic tradition. William Shakespeare was writing his plays and poems two centuries before the advent of the Gothic novel. However, his influence on the genre has been much attested, and proto-Gothic elements can be seen in a number of his plays. In this post, I will highlight these aspects in three of his darkest plays: