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Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Special: The Strange Pleasures of Obsessive Dread By Catherine Stine


The Strange Pleasures of Obsessive Dread
Victorian and Contemporary Horror
By Catherine Stine

Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley and Christina Rossetti—these were some of the greatest Victorian masters of horror. They wrote during a time of extreme suppression of the passions. Ironically, this repressive mood inspired a huge outpouring of dark, gritty, evocative literature. Passions manage to burst out of people no matter how buried!

In 1818, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, the quintessential misunderstood antihero. He was hideous and committed murderous acts, yet he had a human, breakable heart and sadly, understood how hideous he was. Shelley is credited with being the very first science-fiction author. Quite impressive for the time period when women were trussed in girdles and long, cumbersome skirts, and rarely had jobs much less illustrious careers.

Edgar Allen Poe is another master of mounting dread, with his ticking clocks, ghastly secrets, and moldering corpses in walled up sections of cellars. In his short stories The House of Usher and The Black Cat Poe wrote of an alcoholic’s nightmarish visions that might make even sane men murder cats and move crusty houses to snap to life.

Christina Rossetti’s brilliant poem The Goblin Market is my favorite dark Victorian gem. At first the plump little goblins selling fruits seem spunky and cute, but later, when the young women turn down their offers of treats, they become quite nasty. 

Many determine that the goblins’ aggressive behavior was a Victorian caution to women against considering sex with strange men! Here are some lines. See what you think:

No longer wagging, purring, but visibly demurring,
Grunting and snarling. One call’d her proud,
Cross-grain’d, uncivil; their tones wax’d loud,
Their looks were evil.
Lashing their tails, they trod and hustled her,
Elbow’d and jostled her, claw’d with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soil’d her stocking,
Twitch’d her hair out by the roots,
Stamp’d upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeez’d their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat.

So, in Victorian times, people shared a dread of lurid, passionate sex, alcoholic-fueled visions, and creeping lunacy. In my young adult horror, Dorianna, I examine a very contemporary anxiety that emerged from social media: the dread of never having enough followers, enough Likes on Facebook, enough people Friending and following your Instagrams and Pinterest boards. It is also the hollow feeling that comes with sensing that the real problem lies way underneath—a psychological horror of alienation, loneliness, being left out of the party. 

With Dorianna, the problem also lies in what happens when she actually gets followers—a ton of them—but those rampaging followers have a very different agenda than she ever imagined. Here’s a snippet from Dorianna where she’s talking about her next party, organized online:

I spoon in a hunk of chocolate and let it slide luxuriously down my throat. Lately, I’m so famished. For food, for clothes, for fans. Nothing ever seems to fill me up.

“Can’t wait to hear.” Bailey licks whipped cream off her spoon. “How many RSVPs do we have now?” she asks. The evite went out a week ago.
“This morning we had three hundred sixty-two yeses.”
“Holy Moly!” Bailey’s jaw drops. I study the oozy chocolate blobs floating on her tongue. “How will we cram all those people in my loft?”
“It’s a good problem, right?”
“Uh, yeah, if we had a stadium. Seriously, Mom will freak, and she’s normally very mellow. Where are they all coming from?”
“Mostly from a friend who goes to a school in Fort Greene.”
“Dorianna, we need to shut this thing down—take it offline.”
“We can’t do that.” Five thousand fan page followers and three hundred sixty-two attendees is not enough. No way. I can’t wait until the third event, where I’m going to bust it wide open.



As Simon Cowell of American Idol judge fame said: The ratings come in, you’re happy for five minutes, then the insecure madness comes.

Dorianna
Catherine Stine

Genre: YA paranormal/horror

Publisher: Evernight Teen

Date of Publication: October 24, 2014

Word Count: 91K

Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs

Book Description:

Internet followers, beauty, power. It all sounded good.

Until it transformed into a terrifying reality Dorianna couldn’t stop

Dorianna is a dark twist for the Internet generation on A Picture of Dorian Gray.

When her father is jailed, her mother ships lonely, plain Dorianna to her aunt’s. There, Dorianna yearns to build a new identity, but the popular Lacey bullies her—mostly for getting attention from her ex, Ander.

Ander takes Dorianna to Coney Island where Wilson, a videographer, creates a stunning compilation of her. She dreams of being an online sensation, as she’s never even had a birthday party, and vows she’d give anything to go viral. Wilson claims he’s the Prince of Darkness and warns her the pledge has downsides.

Dorianna thinks he’s joking. She has no idea of how dire the consequences might be.

Short Teaser Excerpt:
Though my pulse is racing, I continue to take my sweet time passing the table. Artfully, I fling off my jacket to reveal my new black pencil skirt. After Lord & Taylor, I stopped into a Brooklyn Heights boutique. With the rest of the monthly check Mom always sends me, I totally splurged on the pencil skirt. It shows off my curves and legs even more explicitly than the tight yellow dress. I have no intention of being called “out of touch” by Lacey or Ava again. At the last minute, I impulsively lean over to Charlie. “You’re Charlie, right? I know your brother, Wilson.”
Charlie looks up, startled, his square jaw slack. “Um, who are you?”

“The new girl,” Lacey says, as if that explains everything. As if I was the only new girl in the whole school. “Apparently, New Girl got a face-lift over the weekend. Cut-rate deal?”

About the Author:

Catherine Stine’s novels span the range from science fiction to paranormal to contemporary. Her futuristic thriller, Fireseed One won finalist spots in YA and Sci-Fi in the 2013 USA News International Book Awards and an Indie Reader Approved notable seal. Its companion novel, Ruby’s Fire was a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Awards. Her paranormal YA, Dorianna launches with Evernight Teen in October. She also writes new adult fiction as Kitsy Clare. Her new adult Art of Love series includes Model Position and Private Internship. She loves all things spooky, exotic and edgy, including travel to unusual locations. She also loves hearing from readers.







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1 comment:

Catherine Stine said...

Thanks, Winona! Following your blog now. Catherine