Being a Gothic Romance Author

Thursdays Bite

a paranormal blog


It’s early but I’m focused on fall and my mind is turning to Halloween. Ghosts and witches and haunted houses. It helps that I have a new Gothic romance out, Ghosts of Christmas PastWhat makes a Gothic romance author? What makes Gothic different from other types of paranormal romance? I blogged about Gothics and Gothic Romance a few months ago (you can check it out HERE and HERE), but today I’m thinking of the suspense element that all Gothic romance authors need in their books.

Gothic is suspense.  There might be a missing wife, a rumor of the hero being a murderer, or a smuggler. The most famous Gothic romance is Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier.

rebecca by daphne du maurier“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again… I came upon it suddenly; the approach masked by the unnatural growth of a vast shrub that spread in all directions… There was Manderley, our Manderley, secretive and silent as it had always been, the gray stone shining in the moonlight of my dream, the mullioned windows reflecting the green lawns and terrace. Time could not wreck the perfect symmetry of those walls, nor the site itself, a jewel in the hollow of a hand.”

Rebecca opens slowly, but you know from the very beginning, that something dark is approaching. Look at all the words in this paragraph that hint of the dark story to come. First of all we are in a dream state, where anything can happen. Then Du Maurier uses “unnatural growth” to remind us of the danger of untamed nature. And, when we are talking about Gothics, nature implies natural desires—sex. Here, she subtly lets us know that Manderly has gone wild and the dangers of seduction are rampant. To even dream of Manderley is to take a risk.

She moves on to “secretive and silent”. There is nothing more dangerous than a secret, and of course all secrets must be kept silent. We are already anticipating, wondering what is the secret that this place holds. Why shouldn’t we visit it, even in a dream? And how dangerous can it be?

Then she backs off the dangerous sensuality of the estate, recalling it as a lovely place, a jewel with perfect symmetry. But even at the end she let’s us know by using the word “hollow” that while it is lovely, it still has a darkness about it.

If you haven’t read much Gothic, then Rebecca is the place to start. It isn’t fast paced, like my modern Gothic romance, Ghosts of Christmas Past. Nor will you find the intensity of a modern romance. The attraction between the heroine and her husband is implied. His control over her is suspect. He is rich and older and has secrets that they don’t talk about. Rebecca has a dark suspense that is reminiscent of the Victorian Era. And, even though it’s set in the 20th century we are drawn back to a past where huge estates held ghosts and darkness.

Have you read Rebecca? Or any of Daphne Du Maurier’s works? Did you know there is a contest named after her held by the Kiss of Death Mystery and Suspense chapter of Romance Writer’s of America? The Daphne Du Maurier award is a prestigious and difficult to win award for the best in mystery and suspense romance. What do you think is the best thing about the opening to Rebecca? Does it make you want to read the book?
Okay, it’s still summer, but here in Colorado it’s been cool and rainy this week. School has started, and fall flowers are out in the grocery store, so I’m thinking fall. I’m also scheduling my guests for September through November on my new Whimsical Wednesdays Guest feature (check the calendar HERE), and working on scheduling my fall events. This October I’ll be celebrating The Dark Huntsman’s birthday in October, so look for all kinds of fun then, and I’ll be guest posting all over the internet, so check back here to keep informed. Check out my NEWS page for the calendar of events and what’s coming up this season as well as updates on my progress on Broken Mirror.

Author Bio:

jessica aspen, authorJessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more information and read about Jessica’s paranormal romances at

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Filed under Ghosts of Christmas Past, Gothic Romance, Paranormal Book Review, Thursdays Bite

2 responses to “Being a Gothic Romance Author

  1. Carole St-Laurent

    Great analysis of this Rebecca’s passage. Do I detect a bit of Margie Lawson’s teachings in there? 🙂 She did help me analyze writing and foreboding.

    I’ve never read Daphne Du Maurier, but I’ve always liked stories where I’m not sure if the hero really is one. My favorite childhood story is Beauty and the Beast. 🙂

    • Not really Margie’s influence. I majored in English at college, so I spent a few years analyzing literature in this way. Rebecca wasn’t one we read in my Gothic Literature class as we studied the advent of early Gothics in the 1800’s, but I love it as a modern classic. Bet Margie loves it too! I think Beauty and the Beast is an excellent one for a Gothic twist, mmm, definitely got me thinking!

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