Gallery: A Castle For Rowena

 RELEASE DATE: Oct. 1, 2021

click all images for a closer look

My first long novella for Grotesqueries (formerly labeled Ghost Stories until I decided to expand topics) was primarily a celebration of classic Victorian ghost story tropes. I also wanted to fall back to what got me so inspired writing Banshee several years ago, which was traditional ghost fiction or haunted house fiction. It's a genre that's somewhat fallen out of favor nowadays in light of other newer and (YMMV) more interesting sub-genres of horror fiction and entertainment, but it's never been kicked off its top perch in my heart. 

Ghost stories and gothic horror are my perfect blend for any gay fiction or gay romance I write. I grew up watching those old Hammer Films and other great horror / supernatural anthology shows on TV back in the 1970s. When I got into college, my appreciation for the genre enjoyed a resurgence as well as an expansion after I reacquainted myself with Poe's works while adding to my enjoyment with deep, deep forays into the ghost fiction of M.R. James, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Edith Wharton, Henry James, etc. 

So A Castle for Rowena is by far my most literary or literature-inspired work. It also solidified my preference for ghosts that aren't explained away, usually through an unsettled mind. To me, ghosts ought to be left unexplained, the mystery of their presence never resolved so that their haunting persists beyond the final pages of the book. The universe isn't rational, and what we know about reality is minuscule at best, and I'm actually good with that. I love that unsettling little things here and there can't be methodically parsed with logic and facts and neatly explained away.

I especially love that such an idea is unpalatable to many people, including myself at times, but I've learned to welcome it. That's the world we live in, whether we like it or not. Rowena's bizarre relationship with Edgar, for instance, wouldn't stand scrutiny in the real world, but the extreme isolation of her house (a gothic horror trope) helps buffer that, which also feeds the macabre situation the unfortunate Edgar finds himself in.

From M.R. James (top left corner image in the moodboard) and Edgar Allan Poe, I worked on the building of atmosphere and a creeping sort of dread. My ghost, though, is not a dangerous one or a vengeful entity. It seeks companionship and solace given the history of the house. It's also a vehicle through which I wanted to skewer the greed, selfishness, and cruelty of the rich and their enablers. 

One of the short stories I also went back to repeatedly to feed the muse was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Copper Beeches (bottom left corner image of the moodboard). It's one of my favorite Holmes mysteries even though the mystery and the events surrounding the mystery are pretty out there. The whole idea of a stand-in, to the point where Violet Hunter is forced to cut her hair and wear a very specific dress, gives me the chills, and I had to mine the eeriness of the situation to breathe life into Edgar's predicament. 

It also adds to the creeping unease and the build up of atmosphere and tension. Honestly, there wasn't a musical source of inspiration in this case, so I'll share the video of the Granada adaptation of the story with the amazing Jeremy Brett as Holmes. 

A Castle for Rowena is available in both e-book for 99 cents and print for $9.00. Go to the book page over here to purchase a copy from different online stores. And if you read it, thank you so much, and I hope you enjoy it!