What is a modern Gothic romance? Good question. When I finished writing THE PRINCE IN THE TOWER, I wondered how to describe it. To me, it was a romantic comedy-drama with a Christian “true-love-waits” theme. I didn’t want to call it a Christian romance because I wanted to reach a broader audience.
Years ago, when I started writing the story, I sent a few chapters to a Christian publisher. The publisher responded with a set of guidelines that went something like this: “no short skirts, no bad (immoral) preachers, no alcohol, no dancing,” and so forth. Well, I thought, even the Bible can’t meet that criteria! In fact, the Bible is far more graphic than my book. Consider the “Song of Solomon,” Lot and his daughters, or the graphic description of Hebrew women lusting after Assyrian men (a metaphor for idolatry). Think of King David (the peeping Tom) standing on the rooftop eying Bathsheba in the buff, not to mention impregnating her, and planning her husband’s demise. Compare this to my book, which is somewhere in between ANNE OF GREEN GABLES and SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE. .
When I finished writing the novel, I had a new dilemma. I wanted to write a query letter to a publisher to interest him or her in publishing the book. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not simple if you don’t know the book’s genre. I needed help; so I asked a teacher who taught high school literature to read the book and categorize it.
“It’s a modern Gothic romance,” she replied. No doubt the look on my face told her that I was clueless. She listed the elements in a modern Gothic romance and summed it up with one word, REBECCA. I don’t recall reading Daphne du Maurier‘s book, but I saw the film adaptation several times and loved it.
Despite its tongue-in-cheek humor, THE PRINCE IN THE TOWER, resembles REBECCA in several ways: a big mansion; a brooding, Byronic figure with lots of money and something to hide; and a room that is off-limits. I don’t think of my novel as “scary,” but a friend, who had a copy, told me that she read it during the daytime because she was too frightened to read it at night. So, the subtitle “A Modern Gothic Romance” fits.
My book resembles another “genre” that was popular in the early 1960s. These paperbacks were lovingly–and laughingly–referred to as “young women running away from big houses.” If you’re old enough to remember these–and liked them, you can’t go wrong with THE PRINCE IN THE TOWER.
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