My second book, The Book of Thoth, is inspired by the classic genre of the Gothic novel. Before I started, I printed a few documents listing the characteristics needed for a story to classify for the "Gothic novel" tag.
I've regularly had a look at the list of conventions pinned onto my noticeboard as I planned and wrote TBOT. Let's count, shall we?
OK, so here they are:
--wild landscapes (Kind of, does the Somerset countryside count?)
--remote or exotic locales (Does Somerset qualify? Oh, hang on, I mention Egypt. Is that ok?)
--dimly lit, gloomy settings (There's plenty of those in TBOT!)
--ruins or isolated crumbling castles or mansions (later cities and houses) (Yes, yes, and yes)
--crypts, tombs (Oh, yes! An Egyptian-style mausoleum and a sarcophagus)
--dungeons, torture chambers (Well, there's a tower. No torture, though...)
--dark towers, hidden rooms (Tower? Check. Hidden rooms? Dozens...)
--secret corridors/passageways (Loads)
--dream states or nightmares (YES!)
--found manuscripts or artifacts (CHECK!)
--ancestral curses (Yes, a terrifying Ancient Egyptian one!)
--family secrets (Indeed)
--damsels in distress (Two. Hang on, one is a flapper, so not in distress at all!)
--marvellous or mysterious creatures, monsters, spirits, or strangers (Of course!)
--enigmatic figures with supernatural powers (YES! Several ones!)
--scientific tone (fantastic events observed empirically) (TICK. A rational character, and a scientist and scholar, although the latter is also an alchemist)
--specific reference to noon, midnight, twilight (the witching hours) (All the time!)
--use of traditionally "magical" numbers such as 3, 7, 13 (NO! oops!)
--unnatural acts of nature (blood-red moon, sudden fierce wind, etc.) (YES, quite a few!)
OK, so only one convention that doesn't appear in my novel. Not bad, eh?
But maybe I should double-check... The Guardian Books has just posted a fun little guide to the Gothic Novel.
So if you'll excuse me, I am off to check whether The Book of Thoth definitively fits the genre!
Tomorrow, I am off to the Whitstable Literary festival to attend their event "British Gothic: a macabre evening with Christopher Fowler and Barry Forshaw".
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