Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Modern Gothic Novel

As followers of this blog (thanks!) know, I’m taking a break from the Constable Molly Smith series to write a new standalone novel for Poisoned Pen Press.

My first two books for PPP were standalones, Scare the Light Away and Burden of Memory. I wrote the type of books I like to read, specifically the traditional British gothic, full of family secrets.

Who knew (not me!) that the gothic is back and as popular as ever, now in modern dress. Rather than poverty-stricken (yet well-bred) governesses banished to bleak Scottish castles, we might have Australian women travelling to English villages to discover the truth of their past (Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden) or a new teacher at an private school in New York fearing that something is moving in the woods (Carol Goodman’s Arcadia Falls).

In the afterword to The House at Riverton, Kate Morton describes the Gothic: The haunting of the present by the past; the insistence of family secrets; return of the repressed; the centrality of inheritance (material, psychological and physical); haunted houses (particularly haunting of a metaphorical nature; suspicion concerning new technology and changing methods; the entrapment of women (whether physical or social) and associated claustrophobia; character doubling; the unreliability of memory and the partial nature of history; mysteries and the unseen; confessional narrative; and embedded texts.

Burden of Memory and Scare the Light Away follow the gothic tradition of family secrets, haunted houses (in one case physical in one just metaphorical), entrapment of women into assumed roles, partial nature of history, and most certainly embedded texts. Burden of Memory, perhapss the most truly gothic of the two, concerns an elderly woman who hires a biographer to help her write her memories of her time as a Nursing Sister in the Army in WWII. The biographer arrives at the old family cottage (i.e. Estate) on Lake Muskoka to find a tough old lady who’d fought her father’s expectations in order to lead her life her way, a large extended family full of secrets, and something moving in the woods (or is there?).

In Scare the Light Away, also set in in the Near-North of Ontario, the protagonist comes home for the first time in thirty years for her mother's funeral and discovers her mother’s diaries and the secrets therein. In both novels, of course, there is a modern mystery as well.

The new book, More than Sorrow (release date Sept. 2011) is with my critique friends now. I’ll be telling you more about it later, but in the meantime here are some links if you’d like to find out more about Burden of Memory and Scare the Light Away. Both are available on Kindle, Sony e-reader, and Nook as well as still in print.

Kindle: Scare the Light Away. Burden of Memory.

Nook: Burden of Memory, Scare the Light Away

Sony e-reader: Scare the Light Away , Burden of Memory.

If you pefer to buy from your local independent bookstore, many still have the books in stock (try Posioned Pen, Mystery Lovers, Aunt Agatha's, Books and Company or Novel Idea) or can order them for you.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


One of my favourite mystery writers, Jan Burke, has created a great new web page called Spoilerville. It's simply a place where people can gather to discuss a book with other readers and the author. Four of my books are up, two from the Constable Molly Smityh series, one from the Klondike Gold Rush, and one of the standalones. Pop over and say Hi, and lets talk books. You'll find many of your other favourite mystery writers there too.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Poisoned Pen Press Authors Blog

Because I don't have enough to do, I decided it was time for a blog strictly for Poisoned Pen Press authors. We're a varied bunch in terms not only of personalities and locations but in the type of books we write. And I figured that people who like one Poisoned Pen author might find another worth looking into. So, a blog looked like the way to go. The Press was happy to have a blog as part of their web page, I put out the call for volunteers and presto - we're off to the races. We had more people wanting to participate than we could accomodate in our monthly rotation, so even have a waiting list. The authors have a set day of the month in which to post, so there will be something new every day of the month. My day is the first. Here's a link to my blog which ran on Friday on When Life Immitates Art. And here's the link to the blog page. (Note that to leave a comment or to read comments you have to click on the post itself and open it in a new page - somewhat awkward.)