#Gothtober – A Tour of The Gothic

GothtoberOne of the reasons Gothic Fiction was so prolific in its time, was the escapism and wonder of writing about a place your audience has only ‘vaguely heard of’. The mystery and terror of the unknown is the genre’s bread and butter.

However –

Nowadays you can actually VISIT the places these stories are set. And if you decided to do a tour of the Gothic, these are the places I’d recommend.

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The Castle of Otranto, in Otranto Italy.

The Mysteries of Udolpho, in the Spanish/French Pyrenees.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Sleepy Hollow, New York.

Frankenstein’s Germany, maybe don’t make the Arctic trip. Spoiler Alert… they don’t make it.

Dracula’s Romania, Bran’s Castle Transylvania. (This one I’ve actually been to. Blog coming soon).

As for the English Gothic Fiction Novels, you’ll notice they invoke mystery in a different way. In the form of ACTUAL mysteries. Murder or otherwise.

So if you can’t make it across Europe for your tour of the Gothic, maybe visit my Gothic Fiction Event in Lympne, Kent. Get a taste of the Gothic first hand.

And if you haven’t entered our #GothGiveAway – Comment below with your spookiest story!

 

How are you dealing with the heat?

Short answer: I’m not. The heat is gross, and I want my ‘English Weather’ back.

Last week, my town had one day of rain; and I wrote more for my manuscript in that day than I had the entire week previous. It’s not just that I’m a lover of rain – which I am – it’s the halting sagginess to summer heat I can’t stand. Everything stops moving or slows down. People feel like they’re walking through custard. Hot custard.

We all think we’re going to be really excited for summer – and I think that’s because all the ‘fun things’ happen during summer. Bbqs, beach days, cocktails and budgie-smugglers (my dad’s term for speedos), and I always feel bad for raining on the parade. (Did you see what I did there?) But unless you don’t sweat, or have a pool, the summer is the worst.

IMG_20171217_102540_666You’ve got people suffering from heat stroke, and the animals! Think of the animals!

This morning – and this is one of the reasons this post is late, I was outside enjoying the sunshine with my dog like a massive hypocrite – I filled one of those children’s plastic toy boxes full of water (made sure it came out cold first) and watched my dog play in it. He was soaked. Drank half the bucket too. And then he curled up on our cold, tiled, kitchen floor and fell asleep. So cute.

The cats were more tentative about the box. The boy casually sniffed it, but decided the surrounding puddles were enough of a warning and walked away. The girl nearly put her face straight into it, not realising how high the water was. After sneezing the water out, she drank and curled up under a tree in our garden.

We’ve got water bowls all over the house at the moment to protect our babies from this god-awful heat.

I’ve not slept in my bed for weeks. Just perched on top of my sheets, with my pillows under my neck so that my face doesn’t touch anything! Who knew the back of your knees could sweat so much… And as for the underboob – well, I don’t want to go into it. But you could probably fry and egg under there. Just saying.

I was in London twice this week – and London in the summer is gross. On Monday I travelled by car, and was saved by minimal walking and state of the art air-conditioning. It was more difficult once I was in the building I was visiting, but with lots of dark nooks and big doors I stayed relatively cool.

Yesterday was different. I was wearing as little as possible (without being indecent) finding myself trousers of a pretty thin chiffon so that I looked like I could be wearing trousers or pajamas and no one would be able to tell the difference. The woman who sold them told me they’d ‘do me no good’ because they were black and ‘no matter the fabric, black always absorbs the heat’. Which is true. That’s one of the first things I learned in science. But Chiffon – if cut widely enough, barely touches you. It’s too busy dancing in the breeze of motion. So they worked a treat. But my face wanted to evacuate every pore. I’ve never had such a sweaty upper-lip in my life. Gross.

But I had a large bottle of water with me, that just so happened to be colour co-ordinated with my nails and trainers. Because a year ago, at work, I was given some very solid heat related advice. My boss’s husband came into the office with a pack of twelve water bottles. Just little handy ones you can chuck in a bag. He turned me and said,

37753947_10156318106650659_2347511016687927296_n‘Nat always forgets to drink water, so when you see her, point at those and tell her ‘hydrate or die’.

And then he left. And so poignant was that interaction, I’ve stuck with that advice ever since. Hydrate or die – you’ll not forget that in a hurry.

So give me rain. Pouring, dark, cold rain. Not enough to drown me, maybe 30 days instead of 40. At least then I might get my manuscript finished.

Have you ever been on an aeroplane?

I have, a few times actually.

When I was growing up – a lot of our holidays were either in Scotland, the Lake District or France. Mum’s family have family in Southern France, so we did a lot of EuroCamp and Villa Holidays. Which meant a lot of driving, no flying. Whilst we were ‘comfortable’ enough to have a holiday every year, flying out just seemed out of reach financially – especially as there was five of us (parents and two younger brothers). But also, I think my parents were worried about taking younglings on a plane. We’d either hate it, and be bratty. Or we’d love it and get overexcited. And nothing says ‘the holiday has begun’ quite like screaming children.

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But my parents had spent their honeymoon in Menorca, and wanted to spend their 10th anniversary returning there. But, because we’ve never been on time for anything, they missed it and went on their 12th anniversary – taking us kids with them. I’d have been 10, my brothers 8 and 6. Old enough to recognise the ‘look’ our parents had for when we were being bratty in public, and that we’d pay for it in private.

I remember being nervous. I was sitting in the window seat, with my dad next to me and my mum and brothers behind us. My dad didn’t take my hand, but told me it would be fun. The engine was so loud. The plane shook like an old bus and then we were shooting down the runway and into the air. People cheered and whooped, which made me giggle. And I was fine after that. The landing was a bit bumpy, but the ride between England and Menorca was just like being on a loud bus, and that analogy has stuck with me every time I’ve flown since.

Strange coincidence but for a long time, the only place I flew to began with the letter M.

Menorca. Morocco. Margarita (an Island of Venezuela). Maldives, The.

We did, as a family, branch out into other letters like R: Rome. Romania.

And my first trip without my parents was to New York – because I’m a white girl. Basic to the bone.

Of course, that was a drama all of its own. When we arrived at the airport, my friend and I were so excited about flying to New York. It’s a dream destination – everyone’s been and everyone recommends it. And it’s in all the movies and television shows and it’s full of excitement and money and WOW. So we’re sat in the gatehouse, waiting for our flight and the news is playing on a massive widescreen television. The headline? ‘American Airline Plane Catches Fire on Runway.

Who are we flying within ten minutes? American Airlines. My friend starts freaking out because the woman behind us (having seen the news) has started hyperventilating.

And I say something that could only come from my mouth because I’ve spent time with my dad. “Well. It’s unlikely to happen twice in two days.” That did not make people feel better – FYI. But we made it to NY City in one piece. No exploding planes.

Image may contain: sky, skyscraper and outdoorSince then, each trip has felt more and more like being on a conveyer belt. This could, in part, be because each time I’ve flown I’ve had the airport security grope and man-handle me like I’ve got something hidden in my shirt. Some airports want you to take off your shoes, some don’t – and people get really snarky if you’re not aware of the rules specific to the airport you’re in. And I can understand why this has to be the case. But it doesn’t stop flying feeling like a loud, shakey conveyor belt. I’m not one of those people who ‘loves traveling’ because of the travel. It’s not ‘the journey’ for me. But the experience of being there. Eating their food, walking their shores. Planes are just the awkward bit in the middle.

So, yes I’ve been on an aeroplane. Yes, I’ll fly again (once I’m less poor). And who knows to where!

Got any suggestions? I’d love to hear them! See you soon!