Sunday, December 4, 2011

What the Hell is Southern Gothic? WARNING... SOME NAUGHTY CONTENT

According to wikipedia, "Southern Gothic is a subgenre of Gothic fiction unique to American literature that takes place exclusively in the American South."  Most people think of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles or Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series.  Though it's actually a much older genre than that.  Anne Rice and indeed the creators of "True Blood," wouldn't exist without folks like Thomas Wolfe and William Faulkner.  They knew way back then one inalienable truth-- the South is fuckin' creepy.  Like any other place in the world, lots of times we only see the stuff that's appropriate for postcards.  Outsiders are rarely exposed to the grimy underbelly.  And down here-- underbelly is good eatin'.  A history of slavery, pirates, serial killers, voodoo, hoodoo and religious fanaticism combined with a general spooky atmosphere make the American South a breeding ground for evil goings-on.  And that is a most delectable treat for a writer.  I don't have to look any further than my own family picture album to find artistic inspiration. 

My stories are almost always set in the South.  It's what I know.  I understand the people and places and it's just easier.  My next release from Rebel Ink Press, "Masquerade," is set in a stone house out in the middle of nowhere.  I never reveal what city they're in, it doesn't matter.  Anyone who has ever been to the South knows that every small town has a dirty little secret everyone is in on but no one will acknowledge.  The mansion in "Masquerade" is actually based on a house in a neighboring town that was rumored to be the home of key parties, orgies and even Satanic worship in its heyday.  It was set way back in the woods, but you could see the driveway from the street.  I remember driving by it and asking my mother about it.  She'd always say something like "That was Mr. So and So's house" and quickly change the subject.  I always suspected there was something interesting going on there, but it wasn't until I was older that I heard all the rumors of deviance.  Do I believe them?  I'm still not sure, but it makes for a Hell of a story...
And now, that excerpt I promised...

Now that she was alone, her apprehension grew exponentially. When they’d started out, some light had still been left by the setting sun, but now night had settled in casting an inky blue cowl over the trees. She really was in the middle of nowhere, but surely Will wouldn’t have taken her someplace unsafe. He may be angry, but she believed him when he said he loved her. Wiping the tears that still clung to her cheeks, Blythe approached the gate.

The ironwork was impressive, though a bit too Edgar Alan Poe for her taste. Twisting spires ended in mean-looking points that were meant to deter unwanted visitors. The stone walls were covered in ivy and continued as far as she could see in both directions.

"Where the hell am I?" she said, pushing at the gate. It was surprisingly heavy and at first wouldn’t budge, but after a few more tries the gate swung open with an earsplitting creak. "Follow the path up to the door," she repeated, looking around in the dark for the so-called path. As if in answer to her prayers, the moon came out from behind the clouds, lighting up a narrow stone path that snaked through the trees. Her heart pounded in her chest almost painfully, but she took a deep breath and started to walk.

The path wound through the forest for a quarter of a mile before she came to a break in the trees. Opening up before her was a vast courtyard surrounding a hulking mansion built of rough stone. Blythe paused, looking up at the place with its intimidating darkness. She’d lived in this town nearly her whole life and had never seen a place like this, or even heard of one. Lights were on inside and as she got closer she could hear people talking, their words traveling on the breeze softly so that she couldn’t make out what they were saying. The path led her around the courtyard and through a garden to a side door where the scent of jasmine and rose

hung thick in the air. She wondered why she wasn’t supposed to go to the front door like everyone else.

She stood there for a long time, wondering if she should just wait or knock on the door. What if this was all some sadistic joke, perpetrated by her husband for the purpose of humiliating her in retaliation. But Will wasn’t like that. They had been together for far too long for him to rear an emotionally abusive head. Blythe trusted him implicitly. She’d just gotten the courage to knock lightly when the door swung open. A woman in a long, black medieval style gown stared out at her, looking expectant.

"Oh. Hello there. My name is"

"We don’t use names here," the woman replied curtly. "You’re expected."

Aaah... nothing like a creepy old housekeeper to really set the mood, huh?  If you're intrigued, don't forget to leave a comment along with an email address, as I will be choosing one lucky commentor to win a free copy of "Masquerade" when it comes out on December 17th!  Also, please join me over at my blog, "The Southern Belle from Hell," to keep the party going!


Debby said...

Intriguing excerpt. Left me with a lot of questions.

Lexxx said...

hehehe... good!

mnjcarter said...

I guess I never realized there was such a thing a Southern Gothic, but it does make sense. I think most of the stories I read with some sort of creepy aspect take place in the south. Great little teaser! HAWT cover! Checked out your blogsite site, The Southern Belle From Hell, I love it!!

Lexxx said...

I'm so glad you liked the post and my blog! And yeah... that cover makes me very happy.... rawwrr..

shadow_kohler said...

Boy!, am i intrigued! I want more! lol This sounds great! Thanks for sharing!

Maria D. said...

I'm definitely intrigued! I do love Southern Gothic books!