Calling All Fans of the Macabre and Supernatural…

 

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Are you tempted by terror, hungry for hauntings and scintillated by the supernatural? Are you a surveyor of cemeteries, giddy for ghosts, enticed by the eerie?

If you are a regular reader of this blog, I suspect you have a penchant for the Dark Side.  As such, I have an offer for you! (Okay, a shameless plug. But you will like it, I promise!)

A while back, bestselling author and WordPress blogger Dan Alatorre  requested submissions for an anthology of scary stories he was putting together, to be available around Halloween.  Naturally, the minute I heard ‘scary’ and ‘Halloween’, I was IN!!

I submitted a story about Jack the Ripper.  (Teaser HERE)  To my delight, Dan accepted it!

Our anthology, called The Box Under The Bed contains a collection of twenty spine tingling stories. Expect psychotic killers, psychological horror and recreations  of Yesteryear, as well as friendly ghosts and a plethora of  all things weird, wild and wonderful.   Contributors include bestselling authors Allison Maruska  and Jenifer Ruff.    The anthology is due for release on October 1.

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Now here’s the best part! You can pre-order a Kindle download for only 99 cents!  Pre-orders will also include a bonus story written by Dan Alatorre which will not be included after the release date.  Paperbacks will be available later.

If interested please click HERE.  Hours of thrilling enchantment await, as we prepare for Halloween…

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Celebrating All Things Goth

 

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Okay Goths and Goth lovers, it is time to descend into the Underworld to celebrate your dark, sinister and delicious selves! Today, May 22nd is… (drumroll) …  World Goth Day!

Chances are you may have never heard of this very unique holiday. (In the U.S. they would not want word to get out, trust me.)  I learned about it from my friend, the awesome Australian blogger V Something Speaks.  Check out her Goth Day post  for some great info and recipes to help celebrate!

Because the term Goth is complicated and comes from many origins, I thought it would be fun to explore a bit of our twisted Gothic history.  Who exactly were the first Goths, what does the term mean and how did it get associated with horror movies and punk rock?

The first Goths were ancient Germanic barbarian tribes, also called Visigoths and Ostrogoths. The term comes from the Latin ‘Gothicus’ and the Greek ‘Gothoi’, later synonymous with ‘vandal’.   The Goth tribes resided in what now is Eastern Europe, and were known to be pretty bad-ass, especially under their first organizer, King Alaric.

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The Goth tribes apparently got fed up with Rome running the world and, after several failed attempts, finally, under Alaric’s leadership, effectively brought down the Roman empire. This occurred sometime in the 5th century. They then scattered to various places around the world, including remote corners of Europe and Asia Minor. The last of the Gothic tribes were still living in areas near the Baltic Sea as late as the 18th century. One of their languages, known as ‘Crimean Gothic’, was reportedly spoken up until around 1945.

But the Goths were not just warriors. ‘Gothic art’ was a term used to describe a Medieval art movement that developed in France around the 12th century. It included unconventional forms of sculpture, fresco, stained glass, and architecture.  Its characteristics were a hodge-podge of different elements (spires, spirals, arches, gargoyles and figurines). Because it broke with classical art forms, critics eventually called it ‘Gothic’ as they thought the new styles were somewhat barbaric and crude.

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(I know! It is hard to imagine Notre Dame cathedral as ‘crude’. )

Fast forward to the 18th century when English authors re-used the name Gothic once again to describe literature. Gothic fiction centered around themes of terror and mystery, hauntings, vampires and death. Gothic romance featured dangerous, sensual, forbidden love affairs with overtones of bondage — both physical and psychological. Horace Walpole is credited with the first Gothic novel, ‘The Castle of Otranto’, published in 1764.  Gothic fiction carried into the 19th and 20th centuries.  More popular writers include Mary Shelly, Bram Stoker, Anne Radcliffe, Emily Bronte and Edgar Allan Poe.

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Do you see a pattern here? Goth has always been about stepping outside the accepted norms of society and overthrowing the status quo.

Our current Goth subculture probably grew out of these unconventional, shocking and romantic ideas. It perhaps became most prominent in the 1980’s underground music scene with bands such as The Cure,  Bauhaus, Joy Division and The Damned. Enter MTV, the internet, and the beginnings of a new revolution.

Of course, many other things gave influence to post- modern Goth – for example, the art of Edward Gorey, movies like ‘The Hunger’ and ‘Edward Scissorhands’, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Holly Black’s urban faerie tales —  as well as a variety of spiritual and political ideas.

And then there is the fashion! You know it when you see it.

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Present day Goth is the natural evolution of its original barbaric/ rebellious/ mysterious and romantic roots, coupled with a great love for the color black.

At any rate, World Goth Day is a great time to don some sexy clothes, fly the freak flag, read Poe, eat Black Forest cupcakes and (broodingly) let your dark side shine.

(Even a blonde sun worshipper like me goes Goth from time to time…)

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And finally, a video to make your day 🙂

 

 

 

 

The Raven

 

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At the height of my fame I was known as the master of macabre, Poe the poet. But you, gentle reader may call me Edgar.  It is with much displeasure I look upon your current world. The nightmares you  now face are far more devastating than any I have poured from my pen.  In hopes of diverting your attention  I will tell you a bit about my own life.

Yes, in my day we had atrocities as well.  Disease and tuberculosis.  The enslavement of human beings for profit, great plantations built upon sweat of those who never saw a farthing for their labor. As for myself, I was orphaned at a young age, separated from my siblings and raised by a man called Allan. He hated me.

First, I will speak of the raven for  I hear he is  still an obsession of many.  It was my wife,  my sweet Virginia, who inspired that poem. “Edgar,” she told me, “choose a bird!  One of dark and eerie countenance.  Only such will move the minds of your readers, for they long to be frightened out of their wits!”

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She then giggled her girlish laugh and I knew she was right. The  poem I created sold by the hundreds, enabling me to begin my travels on what you in your modern world would call a ‘book tour’.

Virginia was my muse, my inspiration. She spoke of dark things;  human beings buried   alive,  black cats and black death, the stench of coffins and great stone mansions that crumbled in the quaking earth. Many a night she would entertain me with her wild imaginings, all of which found a true place when I put pen to paper.  Yet her dark fantasies worried me. Her behavior was peculiar, not like that of most women.  Often in the night I found her perched on the balcony as if she meant to take flight.

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Oh, she was a nubile creature!  Our marriage was quite unconventional.  When I wedded her she was but thirteen years old, a budding beauty, hair of silk and skin of peach.  And I, in my lustful maturity (for I was  then twenty seven) could not resist her coquettish charms.

What’s that you say? Pedophilia? The word was not in my vocabulary!   Before you jump to any vile conclusions be assured; my love for Virginia was pure.  She was family,  my first cousin.  We shared the very same blood!   As such, I think I saw in her a bit of myself —  my own reflection.  I could not resist the charm of her lovemaking, the exquisite pinnacles we achieved, for who does not secretly desire  carnal knowledge of one’s own self?

What’s that you say?  Incest?  Risk  of birth defects?  We knew nothing of your modern genetics!  Even if we had, I certainly would not have stopped the union, for I adored Virginia with a passion that was sublime, a passion very few humans will achieve.  Alas, she was to bear no children, a thing I have always regretted.

My true  nightmare  began when Virginia took ill with tuberculosis. In the stifled, slow moving days and the gloomy nights I watched as her  body atrophied. She became a walking cadaver, a blood spewing entity, standing in the path of the reaper, doomed for the bed of death.

When Virginia passed from this world I was devastated. In my loneliness I even tried to replace her.  I courted several ladies. I had affairs with the beautiful Nan Richmond and the illustrious Sarah Whitman. I even called upon the widow Elmira Shelton who  had once been my fiance (before I met Virginia.)  Yet my efforts were for naught.  None could rival  my true love.  Though she was gone I still burned with passion for her.

I then traveled to Baltimore, on a speaking tour. It was there that the spirit of Virginia began to haunt me relentlessly.  She came to me in dreams, visions and visitations. She was pale as chalk, thin as bone, with red stains of tainted  blood still trickling from her lips.  Yet to me she was lovely.

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These visions lasted four nights and it became clear to me; if I wished to reunite with Virginia I must pass through the dark realm myself. I must enter the red masque, step beyond the veil and know the silencing of my own telltale heart.

And so it was outside a public house, on the streets of Baltimore that I drew my last breath.

The night was wet and blustery, chill of the early  October winds setting in. I had been drawn from my chamber, beckoned by a bird. Yes, a raven. Of courses a raven!  What else?  I stood on the pavement  in bare feet and a nightshirt.  I was then encompassed in what I can only describe as a thick fog, soft to the touch of my skin, rich, relaxing and delicious. In that fog  I could feel Virginia’s presence. Finally I saw her, nubile and fresh as she was on our wedding day. In that moment I was  no longer tied to this earth. I joined Virginia in that place of  enthralling darkness, to return nevermore.

Try as they might, doctors  could report no discernible cause for my death.

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This post is in response to the Daily Prompt Nightmare

 

 

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