Candle in the Attic Window, an anthology of Gothic horror, is the latest release from Innsmouth Free Press. We are interviewing some of the book’s contributors. Today Martha Hubbard talks about her story, “I Tarocchi dei d’Este”.
What makes your story Gothic?
Traditional Gothic stories, based on my reading, have a number of recognisable characteristics. They are irredeemably misogynistic. There must be a naïve, beautiful, rich, helpless young woman. Her function is to provide a focus for a greedy, angry, ambitious man. She has something this man wants and must pay a fearsome price for possessing it. Beyond these, there can be a rescuer or redeemer, as in “The Woman in White”, or a lover, and a king or father figure. In the old Gothic, the woman protagonist was always a passive figure, acted upon and often abused. Modern Gothic writers, like Shirley Jackson or Donna Tart, allow their woman a few more options. My story, “I Tarocchi dei d’Este”, has a different take on this. In it, (almost) everybody dies.
What was the source of inspiration for your story?
To some extent, the wholesale slaughter in my story is unavoidable, as the events of it are based on real characters from 15th-century Ferrara. When I visited, on an eerie Sunday in October 2009, an airless sunshine battered forbidding Renaissance palatsi; I knew I wanted to set a story in this milieu.
What are your favourite Gothic movies and books?
It’s hard to name a favourite Gothic novel, as I’m always so appalled by the foolishness of the female protagonists. From Shakespeare’s Othello to The Castle of Otranto and The Monk, the wilful innocence of these helpless females makes me want to scream. More recently, Henry James is less inclined to leave his heroines totally in their messes and “Portrait of a Lady” is one of my favourite books.
If you were the star of a Gothic TV show, what would your character be like? Would you be good or evil?
I have no interest in being a performer, but if I could write this modern Gothic story, I would create a series where the put-upon and abused Victorian heiress is saved weekly, or in a two-part adventure for Sweeps Week, from unscrupulous suitors by her clever, witty, unmarried, best friend or sister.
Bio: Martha Hubbard lives on an island in the North Baltic Sea. For 1000’s of years a place of strange gods, mysteries, tragedies and wonder, Saaremaa Island provides the perfect bed-rock for a writer of dark fantasy. Previously she has been a teacher, cook, stage manager & drama-turg in New York City’s Off-off Broadway community, a parking lot company book-keeper and a community development worker. Recently she put aside some of these activities to concentrate on her writing, but is still the Consulting Chef for the local Organic Farmers Union. Her story “The Good Bishop Pays the Price”, appears in Innsmouth’s anthology, Historical Lovecraft.