I went through an extended gothic romance novel phase in my adolescence and young adulthood. In fact, gothic romance in the Victoria Holt mold has long been one of my go-tos when I think about writing a novel.
I had a novel that started out as Dark Shadows fanfic “plot bunny” bopping around in my head for a long time. And Dark Shadows definitely is gothic romance. I mean, you have the ingenue, the creepy mansion, the secrets, the handsome men with secrets, the whole nine yards.
I guess I need to give you a basic outline for Dark Shadows. The basic introductory plot of Dark Shadows is that young ingenue Victoria Winters is hired to become the governess of incorrigible David Collins in Collinsport, Maine. Victoria was a foundling raised in an orphanage in New York City. She was found outside the gate with a note saying, “Her name is Victoria. I cannot care for her.”
Victoria looks a lot like the mistress of Collinwood, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard and also like the daughter of the butler, Hanscomb. The daughter’s name, Betty, is a nickname for Elizabeth.
In my big fanfiction universe that I was writing, it was going to turn out that Elizabeth, Betty, and Victoria all had the same father — Jamison Collins. Jamison had a childhood crush on a maid named Beth, and so he names his daughters after her. This is why Victoria’s mother took her away and specified that her name was Victoria; to save her from becoming a Liz or a Lisa or Bess or whatever.
I need to get back to that story someday.
In my novel idea, though, the Elizabeth character was the mother of the Victoria character. She sent “Victoria” away in a failed attempt to break a family curse. The curse involves the eldest daughters in an unbroken line and by sending her eldest daughter away, “Elizabeth” figured that there would be no one to serve the monster in their cellar or whatever once she died and the curse would end.
The curse somehow drew “Victoria” back to “Collinwood,” and so “Elizabeth” and “Victoria” have to actually break the curse by action rather than inaction.
I may actually write the plot but leave the romance part out of it. Is there such a thing as an “aromance novel”? I’m not aromantic, but doing a bait-and-switch where the “Victoria” character decides to reject both potential romantic interests, saying that she wants to be unattached and work on herself and actually mean it.
The perfect ending would be for “Victoria” to go back to school with a view towards becoming something befitting the heroine of a gothic romance but also a growth industry, so not a nurse practitioner or a computer programmer.
Or maybe nurse practitioner would be a good fit for “Victoria.” I mean, it’s not really gothic, but it could be a good way for the residents of “Collinwood” to reconnect with the people of “Collinsport.”
Hm. I never thought about that. In fact, maybe that’s how “Victoria” breaks the curse — with her interest in science, or medicine, or helping people.
The more I think about this, the more I like it. How do I emphasize the aromantic aspect? I guess that’ll come to me later.
I’d like to do a Germane Amazon Link, but I cannot figure out how to search my Read Books for the tag “gothic.”
Okay. Now I’ve figured it out, I cannot find anything that I’ve read that makes the list other than Mexican Gothic, so I guess that’s my link for today. Fortunately, I love that book! 💖