Back in the day, my favorite fiction genre was gothic, and I read as many such novels as I could find. My favorite authors were Mary Stuart, Charlotte and Jane Bronte, Phyllis A. Whitney, Barbara Michaels, Elsie Lee, Dorothy Eden, Victoria Holt, Joan Aiken..the list is long. As an English major in college I read Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, and discovered Anne Radcliffe, Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone, more Poe, some of Dickens, Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Stevenson’s Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. You get the drift.
By the time I got serious about writing, the market for gothics had pretty much dried up, and I was reading mysteries. I decided to write one set in Denver, and after hundreds of years and thousands of revisions, I published two of them, the previously mentioned Finny Aletter mysteries, Scavengers and Obstacle Course (both soon to appear as e-books.)
But, in my heart of hearts, I still yearned for gothics. I wanted to tell myself a story set in an old house where odd things happened, and I wanted to create characters who began to regard each other with suspicion. Dark psychological overtones would match the shadowy corners and somewhere along the line, a scream would split the night. Good times would ensue. Thus was born Wisdom Court.
Set in Boulder, Colorado, Wisdom Court is an institute for accomplished women who have not yet achieved their professional goals. Each is invited to spend a year there (short trips home allowable, but most time is spent in Boulder), all expenses paid. Artist, scientist, writer, whomever the Board chooses, receives a year of her own.
Andrea Bellamy, the protagonist in book I, Edge of the Shadow, is a forensic artist who yearns to paint, and her invitation to Wisdom Court allows her to imagine a new career as a fine artist. Widowed some years earlier, she has seen her daughter through college and now has the opportunity to truly change her life. She takes a leave of absence from her job, rents out her house, and heads for Boulder. She is welcomed at Wisdom Court by the staff and other associates staying there. As she settles into bed that first night, her heart is filled with gratitude and her mind races with excitement. At last she will be able to focus on her artistic dreams. For at least this one year she can put herself first. And then she awakes screaming…
You’ll have to read Edge of the Shadow to find out what happens to Andrea and the other women at Wisdom Court. The book will be published online in the next few months. I’m writing about it now out of curiosity. Having written EOS as well as being two-thirds into the second Wisdom Court book, A Signal Shown, I’m wondering how many fellow gothic fans are out there. I don’t yet have throngs of blog followers, but I’m impatient enough to issue the question anyway: how many readers out there are interested in gothics? The Wisdom Court story arcs through three books, so I’m committed to at least the trilogy. Will I find readers to share in the pleasures? Let me know. I’ll keep writing.