I’ve always been inclined towards the Gothic, veering to the darker and more tumultuous side of both books and film when it comes to romance.
Gothic fiction combines the elements of both supernatural horror and romance, with suspense and mystery added to the mix. A damsel in distress in an unfamiliar and frightening environment, pursued by a sinister being (usually male or otherworldly) is a recurrent theme. The settings are invariably dark and atmospheric, the buildings often representing the decay of human creations and, especially in present-day Suburban Gothic, can reflect social issues of the time.
Gothic stories are primarily based on fear and desire, contain both physical and psychological terror, and often delve into the dark and twisted psyche of the main characters. The focus and intensity of the aforementioned varies but, in essence, these are the fundamental elements associated with the genre.
Amongst my favourite books in classic Gothic literature are Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Dracula. Within Modern Gothic, it’s Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I first read Wuthering Heights when I was seventeen and was instantly enthralled not just by the book, but the author who so bravely wrote a dark and tortured hero into a romantic role. My encounter with Heathcliff no doubt had an impact on my view of romantic heroes or, as I should put it, romantic anti-heroes.
Anyone who has read Wuthering Heights will know Heathcliff’s not exactly the most pleasant of characters, at times tyrannical and cruel even. In fact, he’d probably get quite the slating on contemporary romance reviews for what can be deemed as abhorrent actions throughout most of the book. Although his behaviour can’t be excused, what Emily Bronte achieved was to enable the reader to understand him and, more importantly, empathise with his plight. Add into the mix Catherine Earnshaw (the heroine), who has many non-redeeming features of her own, and what developed was a passionate and subsequently damaging relationship.
For me, the beauty of Wuthering Heights was Emily Bronte willingness to push aside what is deemed appropriate and right as to how heroes and heroines should behave and interact on the page to, instead, focusing on enabling the rawness and power of the romance to take centre stage above social conventions. The reader is left knowing that Heathcliff loved Catherine and Catherine loved Heathcliff – a love that survived beyond the end. Albeit dark and tumultuous and destructive, ultimately their love was meant to be.
Although there were numerous influences on my Blackthorn series, I have no doubt my passion for such books played a part in what it became.
It was twenty years ago this month that I first came up with the idea of Blackthorn. After walking home one night only to get lost in a very isolated and run-down part of the city I’d just moved to, I’d decided to keep calm by creating a story. My setting became an urban, gritty backdrop of social unrest where the ‘third species’ (vampires, lycans etc), as I named them, brushed shoulders with humans. They weren’t evil, they weren’t cursed, and they certainly weren’t the undead – just physiologically different, defined primarily by their shadows in place of souls. Because of this, humans were calling the shots in this dystopian world shrouded by segregation, prejudice and the fear of difference. In the wake of it, my anti-heroes emerged as being as dark, dangerous and unpredictable as the Blackthorn district itself.
Over the years, Blackthorn became about how these characters, having been forced into this melting pot of injustice, were going to overcome it. It was a concept that became the ideal backdrop for the intense forbidden romances that would become the catalyst for the revolution their oppressive world needs.
With my seventh book in the overarching plot of my series out today, it won’t be long before my readers find out if that change will be achieved.
Thank you so much for hosting me, Kelly. 🙂
Lindsay J. Pryor is the author of seven novels in her Amazon bestselling BLACKTHORN series. Her complex, dark and gritty urban PNR has achieved numerous Gothic and PNR Amazon number ones both in the UK and the US, thousands of 5 star reviews, and more than thirty blog nominations and awards. Blood Shadows – Lindsay’s debut novel – was optioned by US film giants Relativity Media.
Lindsay has been creating stories since she was nine years old, having quickly decided that fantasy was more interesting than reality. More than thirty years later, writing remains her passion.
Lindsay is a qualified Psychology lecturer and English teacher. Before becoming a full-time author, she taught for eighteen years, primarily to improve literacy for children with special needs. She was born and grew up in Wales but now lives in England with her husband, their rescue bunny and a plethora of wild woodland creatures.
To find out more about Lindsay or her books, please visit www.lindsayjpryor.com or visit her Facebook page where she regularly chats to her readers.
What readers are saying about Lindsay J. Pryor…
‘I don’t think I have read such a finely executed dark PNR world before…This series truly surprised me. I didn’t think I would love it that much or be intrigued by it. I couldn’t stop thinking about these books once I was done with them… The world-building is spectacular. The characters are enthralling and addicting… Plain fabulousness.’ Gaga Over Books
‘I am completely enthralled with this paranormal series. You get so wrapped up in the story and characters that you lose track of time… This is one of my favorite series so far this year!’ Paranormal Book Club
‘This is a paranormal universe like none you have encountered before… There are stories that are so powerful, so intense that I do not believe anyone should warn you about what is to come… I truly do feel that if you love the Paranormal genre and have not yet discovered Lindsay J. Pryor or these novels then you need to read them, experience them firsthand.’ Keeper Bookshelf
‘I am officially addicted to this series. Why, you ask? Because Lindsay Pryor is my kind of fearless author. She isn’t afraid to “go there”, to create characters and situations that challenge me as a reader.’ The Demon Librarian
‘Not only are Pryor’s characters and fathomlessly dark love stories fabulous, but her continual world building of Blackthorn blows me away.’ Gravetells.com
‘If you’re looking for a new PNR series that has a dark world and complicated characters, then you’ll want to grab a copy of this. I can’t wait to read the next book.’ FictionVixen.com
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Lindsay J. Pryor
Author of the BLACKTHORN series
Today on CR’s we are lucky enough to be joined by the fabulous Zara Stoneley as part of the Happy Harper Xmas. Today Zara is sharing with us What makes Christmas… Christmas?
For me, what makes Christmas a special day are the traditions; not just any traditions but our own family ones which are in the main good old English country ones. I wouldn’t want to change a thing, no new-fangled ideas required. So here are my top six;
Mulled wine – this links in with another family tradition. My father used to play in a brass band, and every year, the Sunday before Christmas, they took part in a Christmas service at a village church near us. We still all attend, even though he no longer plays, and then everybody heads back to our house for homemade sausage rolls and good old mulled wine. It really is Christmas in a glass, and the smell of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and fruit fills the whole house. That service, and the wine, marks the beginning of Christmas for me.
Log fire – one of the first things I did when I bought my cottage was to remove the gas fire so that we could have a proper one! We don’t light it that often, the central heating keeps us warm, but there is nothing better when it’s cold outside than sitting in front of a pile of burning logs, toasting marshmallows and cooking chestnuts. And it doesn’t matter how mild it is on Christmas Day – the fire will be lit!
Horse riding – I’ve always loved escaping with the horses for an hour. The turkey goes in the oven and I’m off before breakfast, sharing warm cuddles and hitting the traffic free roads. It’s a lovely time of day, very quiet and it’s great to share some quality time with the animals before the chaos of the day takes over. And if the roads are too slippery to ride on I’ll still be there doling out dates and carrots. The smell of sweet hay, and the sight of horses munching in a warm stable is magic!
Christmas dinner –for me it has to be traditional with a good dry-plucked turkey and old-fashioned homemade chestnut stuffing. Which is why I tasked Lottie, in ‘A Very Country Christmas’ with making the exact same stuffing! I do have to admit as well, that part of the inspiration for the story came from past disasters – like the time my oven stopped working when the turkey was only half-cooked and I was expecting eight for dinner! Oh, and there has to be cranberry sauce, roast parsnips, and sprouts.
Snowballs – no not the cold sort that get lobbed. One lasting memory from when I was young was helping Mum make the snowballs. We covered balloons with paper mache, and once it was set we stuck cotton wool all over, then the balloons were popped and balls cut into halves. Mum then put a small gift in each one, put the two halves together and tied them up with ribbon. The snowballs were put on the dinner table and we each had one to open at the end of dinner. Me and my sisters have all carried on the tradition with our own families.
Dog walking – an after dinner (well after the Queen’s speech)tradition. I love getting out in the cold crisp air (hopefully it is cold and not raining!) and stretching my legs. The dogs love it, especially if there is snow on the ground, and it’s also a lovely time to chat with whoever wants to come along. And by the time we get back we’ve made room for a mince pie and another drink…
And of course, the most important tradition of all is spending Christmas with family and friends, sitting around a table together and sharing time as well as food and drink.
What makes Christmas special for you?
Zara Stoneley grew up in small village in Staffordshire. After completing a degree, working as an IT consultant, and then combining running a dog grooming business with family life Zara returned to her love of writing.
In 2012 she secured her first publishing contract with Xcite Books, the erotic imprint of Accent Press, and a year later signed a deal with HarperCollins.
Zara now writes fun, romantic romps set in the British countryside that she loves so much.
She splits her time between a country cottage in a Cheshire village, surrounded by family, friends and assorted animals, and an apartment in Barcelona.
Love is in the air in Tippermere as Lottie dreams of a white Christmas with no trimmings – other than her hot and hunky eventer, Rory. But things are never quite that simple on the Tipping House Estate.
Festive fervour takes over and it isn’t all seasonal peace and goodwill as expectations rise and it soon escalates from cosy dinner for two, to all the trimmings for ten!
With missing turkeys, loose horses, troublesome terriers and randy huntsmen, Lottie is hard pushed to find time for a kiss under the mistletoe, let alone find the opportunity to woo Rory with her sexy Santa costume.
But there is only one thing Lottie really wants for Christmas, and only one man can deliver it…
Today on Compelling Reads we are joined by Howard Kaplan, author of The Damascus Cover (The Jerusalem Spy Series Book 1
When I was in my early twenties backpacking through Europe, a friend and I flewon a lark to Lebanon. In Beirut, we learned a shared taxi service—nine seat diesel Mercedes Benzes—ran regularly between Beirut and Damascus and Syria routinely issued visas at the border. Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city on early, an oasis surrounded by apricot orchards as underground rivers from Lebanon come up there. So we went. Later, I wanted to set a suspense novel there with rich details, sights, sounds and smells of this marvelous city. What I didn’t know then was that so much devastation was on the far horizon, and that the novel would end up, as an artifact of what Damascus was like pre civil war.
Michael Wallace of 60 Minutes had done several programs about the Jewish community in Damascus, 5,000 people preventing from emigrating by President Hafez al-Assad, the current president’s father, living in the Jewish quarter as bargaining chips for future negotiations with Israel. We went to the quarter but soon realized we were being followed by a man we’d seen in the Great Omayyad Mosque and we immediately left the area. I began doing research on the city and learned that a sizeable contingent of former Nazis had been welcomed by Syria as military advisers and were living comfortably in Damascus. Only a few years ago the BBC Reported the Alois Brunner, Hitler’s assistant, had died in Damascus. Wonderfully, we have the great German actor, Jurgen Prochnow, star of Das Boot and who appeared in The DaVinci Codeas the main ex-SS man in the film adaptation of the novel. Jonathan Rhys Meyers heads The Damascus Cover cast and Sir John Hurt plays the head of the Israeli Secret Service, who is the puppet master behind the plot.
I set out with a goal that receded through the writing, and gratefully so. I wanted to expose the plight of the Jewish community in Damascus. So the plot’s surface mission is to smuggle out a group of children from the ghetto there. But I realized I was writing suspense not polemics and the whole issue of Jews in Syria receded in importance and the novel became about both the ruthlessness of secret services, including the Mossad, and how they will use their own people to achieve a greater good. The reason that the book was filmed, is it is about how secret services and the military—both in Syria and Israel—can circumvent the politicians and clandestinely work together to really achieve that greater good.So in its secret depths it’s a story of reconciliation. On the romantic front too and a relationship is central to the story.
When I was at it full bore, about two-thirds of the way through, I suddenly realized—one of my few life’s epiphanies–that I could create a significant twist at the end of the story. Most people tell me they don’t see it coming, maybe because I didn’t either.
We haven’t hosted a giveaway for a while here at CR’s so we thought we would give our readers a treat. Up for grabs is an adult colouring book with pens, a £5 amazon gift card, 2 x book marks and a mystery book which will be chosen by us. Good Luck!
Earlier this year I was delighted to read and review this incredible book. Whilst not my usual cup of tea, The Chosen Queen grabbed me and had me hooked from start to finish. And today it is released in paperback so be sure to order your copy if you haven’t already read this amazing book.
But if you need further proof this is a book to read, then check out my review of The Chosen Queen now.
The Chosen Queen
Queens of the Conquest 1
Pan; Main Market Ed
The Queens of the Conquest trilogy
1066. Three Queens. One Crown.
As a young woman in England's royal court, Edyth, granddaughter of Lady Godiva, dreams of marrying for love. But political matches are rife while King Edward is still without an heir and the future of England is uncertain.
When Edyth's family are exiled to the wild Welsh court, she falls in love with the charismatic King of Wales - but their romance comes at a price and she is catapulted onto the opposing side of a bitter feud with England. Edyth's only allies are Earl Harold Godwinson and his handfasted wife, Lady Svana.
As the years pass, Edyth finds herself elevated to a position beyond even her greatest expectations. She enjoys both power and wealth but as her star rises the lines of love and duty become more blurred than she could ever have imagined. As 1066 dawns, Edyth is asked to make an impossible choice. Her decision is one that has the power to change the future of England forever . . .
The Chosen Queen by Joanna Courtney is the perfect blend of history, fast-paced plot and sweeping romance with a cast of strong female characters - an unforgettable read. Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Chadwick and Philippa Gregory.
As some of you may have noticed, us Compelling Reads ladies have been much quieter recently. It has been a busy few months. I started a new job last month, which I love, but has been pretty time consuming with the amount I am having to learn and the exam I had to prepare for. I am certainly in for a busy couple of years as there are a number of post graduate courses I need to undertake. But hey, it’s all exciting and I am certainly looking forward to the challeneg.
But enough about me……
In other news, the other half of the Compelling Reads duo, Amy finally got hitched on Saturday. It’s been a long time coming and I can honestly say it was the most incredible wedding. Amy looked absolutely stunning, the groom scrubbed up pretty well and then there was the most glorious weather and the stunning venue (which even had a small library). I was honoured to be able to be a part of your special day and to have my minions as your page boy and flower girl.
So once again Amy congratulations and best wishes to you for your future married life!!!!! Enjoy your honeymoon!!