Very pleased (thanks, Marissa!) to be pointed to this article in School Library Journal, and pleased as well to see The Blue Mirror cited in it. Phillip Charles Crawford makes some excellent points, but these two are particularly significant:
“The Gothic writer delights in exploring aspects of the human condition that polite society would like to pretend don’t exist.”
“[Q]uality gothic horror asks important philosophical questions about human nature. It can be an invaluable aesthetic tool for helping teens develop their own moral compasses.”
He’s absolutely right on both counts, and it’s invigorating to see him say so in this forum. I hope this article institutes an informed and passionate discussion between those who read, and write, goth lit, and those who find it either too lowbrow and/or morally inappropriate for teens.
My own experience is this: When straydog was just being published, some YA people told me regretfully that sometimes, work done in this field was perceived as less “important” or even looked down upon in more rarefied literary circles. And I would smile to myself, because my own novels for adults were contemporary horror novels, and there is no more sniffed-at category in mainstream publishing (except romance, but that’s a different post). So any condescension on the part of poorly-informed readers just kind of bounced off my well-developed calluses (as disgusting a phrase as that is; sorry). But it was, and remains, true, for lit snobs of all stripes: stuff for kids is less important because it’s for kids, and you know how bad their taste is; and stuff that goes bump in the night is no good/non-literary by definition because it’s, you know, icky. So there.
To which I say, sure, absolutely: if that’s your view, stay inside where it’s safe, away from the world of wild things, and high-explosive emotions, and questions of hard morality that sometimes have no answers: sometimes bad things happen to good people, and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it. I think I’ll go out walking in the dark….And when you want to go all the way out to the edge, there are few companions more suitable than teenagers, who are already feeling their way through a different kind of darkness, and hoping for firm ground on the other side.
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