First of all, Storm is on heat lockdown (we do plan on getting her spayed) and thus was not allowed to use the computer unsupervised. She kept attempting to log onto Cat Tinder, and we could not have that. Seriously. I found her profile picture.
Beyond that, things are going pretty well over here. I was a bit under the weather over the weekend, but feeling much better now, and excited over the holiday season proper being right around the corner. For those of us who are stationery aficionados, that means new planner season is coming. For those of us who write fiction, it’s time to look ahead at the coming writing year. For those of us who are both, that means time to work on a writing planner.
One of those sections is creating a “stuck list,” aka books, movies, TV, other media that usually gets my idea hamster on the wheel and running like they think they are Wilma Rudolph or Usain Bolt.
For me, the book section includes romance and non-romance books. One of the non-romances, that I come back to time and again, is Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews. As a romance writer, that does give me a moment of pause. Trigger warning: incest, child abuse.
Though there is an intimate relationship between teen protagonists Cathy and Chris, who are full siblings, under extremely extenuating circumstances, this isn’t a romance. It’s a tragedy. I’ve classified it as horror, of the psychological sort, and it is that, but as I wandered down my most recent FITA rabbit hole (it happens every once in a while) I found myself thinking, as I usually do when I revisit good ol’ Foxworth Hall (sarcasm mode on for that house name) “how would this work as a historical romance?”
Not, I should note, that I would ever want to have a hero and heroine who are full, half, step, foster, etc siblings. Not my thing. The big old house with centuries of heritage behind it, though? Oh yes. The family secrets? Yep. The family dysfunction? Well, of course. The creepy-deepy atmosphere? Um, have you met me? You know this is all Anna-nip when it comes to inspiration. I do have to admit that I had some degree of shock when I saw the Lifetime TV movie adaptation of the first book (there are five in all, number five being a prequel; when I reread, I read FITA, then the prequel, then FITA again, as the prequel is the origin story of the villainess) and very seldom pay any attention to the books in between. That’s just me, though.
My other listening obsession is podcasts on romance writing/reading, of which there are delightfully a lot. Though I don’t recall the specific episode where I heard author Sarah MacLean say that she also always thinks “how would this work as a historical romance?” my brain did catch on that. Fellow author Corinna Lawson once told me, after I’d given one of my very first workshops on what is now Play in Your Own Sandbox, Keep All the Toys, that I tend to “take fantasy inspiration and file off all the fantasy.” She’s not wrong, as I first got my start writing Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic that read like historical romance with blinky things. I think the same thing might well apply to horror.
I did mention above that I have always classed FITA into horror, and with the discovery of some analyses of the Andrews books (only the actual V. C Andrews, thanks. Not the ghostwriter.) that it also fits into gothic drama, and since most of her stories take place in the south, Southern Gothic elements abound. I love that stuff. I gobble the classic gothic romances of the late sixties/early seventies when I can find them, and some authors who are on my top tier historical romance list, like Valerie Sherwood and Aola Vandergriff, also wrote in this gothic genre. Hmmmm. Hmmm. Hmmmmm.
Romance, though, particularly historical (the tone of my contemporaries with Melva Michaelian are decidedly different and equally natural) with HEAs and dating outside of the family line. Right now, I am at the phase of noting things on my stuck list and leaving them to marinate, to ponder in days to come. Maybe this will come in handy when I revise Orphans in the Storm, which may be on tap for 2022. Maybe not, but it’s always fun to examine something that gets the idea hamster on the move, and that’s a worthwhile end in its own right.
What surprising items might you put on your stuck list?