Oct 11, 2017

Guest Author Mike Garzillo on Gothic romances

Gothic romances have a long history of popularity followed by dismissal. Every October, ghost stories haunt theaters but only because of Halloween. Meanwhile, the paperback Gothics of the 1960s and 1970s remain known for their retro covers more than their stories. Gothic romances have an enviable history and deserve more respect. That’s why October should be Gothic romance month. 

They have every element that makes romances great plus supernatural peril, mysterious attractions, brooding heroes and the empowered heroines that define the genre. Not the modern version of paranormals, shape shifters or dragons; I mean humans interacting with ghosts in a Gothic mansion. The sex is puritan by today’s standards, and the hero always finds the heroine. It’s all he’s usually good for. 

Strong women drive the pacing of Gothic romances and maintain the willing suspension of disbelief because beautiful, smart young women can be invincible. Anything is possible. Romance readers who have said they don’t like Gothics blame the simplicity. That wouldn’t be true if they read The Picture of Dorian Gray or Wuthering Heights.

My editor believes stories are rarely criticized for being too much. They disappoint when they’re too little. Gothic romances showcase grand perils including the conflict between good and evil, especially among doomed couples. The setting is a powerful character in Gothics because it’s usually good and evil. For example, I lived in San Francisco for fifteen years. It’s a great setting for Gothic romances because it’s believable, which is the opportunity for heightened drama. Faint voices in dark alleys and whispers in the fog are Gothic dialog.
October celebrates ghost stories. Maybe it should be Write A Gothic Romance Month, especially if you live in, near, or love San Francisco. It’s an inspiring setting for any story but perfect for Gothics. First, buy a used 1960s or 1970s Gothic romance paperback and read it in public. It will remind you of why you fell in love with romances and may inspire you to write a Gothic romance set in San Francisco.     

Mike Garzillo secretly read Gothic romances in junior high, the way his friends stashed Playboy. He still reads Gothic romance paperbacks in public more than anyone he knows.

Visit his website at www.sfgothicromance.com for more information on Emerald Eyes, releasing Fall 2018

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