Happy Women in Horror Month! by Catherine Jordan
February is also Women in Horror Month.
I’m a woman. I like romance. And I like horror. Sounds like an oxymoron. Can the two genres go hand in hand?
Consider this; Saint Valentine was a priest sentenced to a three part execution—beating, stoning, and decapitation. Legends vary on how his name became associated with love. One account states Valentine performed marriages for soldiers against the wishes of the Roman emperor. Another states he was a persecuted Christian, and had written a farewell letter to his jailer’s daughter, signing it, “Your Valentine”.
As to how February became known as Valentine’s? Some say he was executed on February 14th. Some say Pope Gelasius wanted to put an end to the pagan love festival of Lupercalia—a drunken orgy where animals were sacrificed and the women were whipped—and replaced the festival with the feast day of Valentine. I thank you, Pope Gelasius. I’d much rather receive a box of chocolates than a whipping. And the orgy doesn’t appeal to me, either.
But, for some reason, people find romantic horror appealing. No, you say. Not you. Mmm, I’ll bet there isn’t an avid reader out there who hasn’t read at least one.
Let’s begin with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Dracula believes Mina is his reincarnated wife, the woman for whom he has forsaken his God and his soul. When Mina marries Jonathan Harker, Dracula becomes enraged. The men do not partake in a gentlemanly fist fight or chivalrous duel. These guys fight dirty; one bites and the other comes armed with a stake. That’s horror. Is there romance? Well, there are the letters exchanged between Jonathan and Mina filled with tenderness and loyalty. Love? Definitely.
V.C. Andrews Flowers in the Attic features a beautiful mother, Corrine, who forsakes her four children for the love of money. Corrine, in debt after the death of her husband, decides to go home to her wealthy family. But in order to inherit anything, she must fool her heartless father into thinking no children came from the incestuous marriage to her half-uncle. So, she does what any mother would do—she locks them in the mansion’s attic. Her two older children, abandoned and alone with their pubescent feelings, fall in love. Incest, irony, and betrayal; oh my. Here’s a gruesome fact for you—the story is supposedly based on reality.
Stephenie Meyer’s The Twilight Saga is understated erotica at its finest. The love triangle between a human, werewolf and vampire poses as horror, but it’s clearly romance. And look what it blossomed into. I’m referring to E. L. James fanfiction and novel, 50 Shades of Grey. Yeah, she went there with it. I guess Bella prefers the whipping to the chocolates.
The Taker Trilogy by Alma Katsu is by far my favorite. Alma’s story opens with the main character, Lenore, injured. Lenore arrives at the ER and retells her past events to a doctor; how she had fallen madly in love with a young man named Jonathan, and was sent to Boston by her family to give birth to their illegitimate child. Her child died, and she almost did too, until she was given an elixir of immortality by Count Adair, an Alchemist. The Count loved Lenore, but since his love went unrequited, he plotted to assume Jonathan’s life. When Lenore realized the Count’s plot, she acted quickly to keep the evil Adair away from her Jonathan. The ER doctor finds her story incredible, yet believable. He aids Lenore, and falls in love with her.
My newest novel, The Bookseller’s Secret, also taps into love and horror. Mason, an American reporter, has risked his life writing and whistle blowing. He catches a blurb on the deep web about a magic book written by the anti-Christ—a woman living in South Africa. Readers claimed the author’s words have compelled them to murder and suicide. Mason heads to Llandudno, a wealthy suburb of Cape Town, to find the book, and expose the author as a charlatan. He never expected to fall in love—with her book.
So, there you have it. Horror in the name of love. Gotta love it!
Catherine Jordan is the author of the horror novels, Seeking Samiel, and The Bookseller’s Secret. She edits and writes in different genres and has been featured in a variety of anthologies and on-line publications. Catherine has been a judge for the Bram Stoker Award and for the ITW Young Adult Award. She also facilitates writing courses and critique groups. Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and five children. Her books are available at www.sunburypress.com , www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com and through her website, http://www.catherinejordan.com. Like Catherine on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @CatherineBooks.
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