|COVER IS NOT FINAL!|
Last week I finally finished the first draft of Spellbound, the Prequel to 2015’s Goth N’ Lovely romance Spinsterella. And this was one of the toughest novels I ever had to write.
What made Spellbound a challenge to write were the three elements I was working with. First, the book was a historical novel set during 1989. So I had to do a LOT of research to make sure that many of the historical details were correct. Even though I was 16 in 1989, I couldn’t go on my just my memory alone. In order for the reader to get a clear picture of what life was like during that time I had to make sure that I confirmed everything from movie releases to comic book releases with dates.
To write most of the story I had to get my mind in a “1989” mode. During that time there were no smartphones, laptops, or tablets. Heck, there was no internet as we know it. Most People read paperback books, used corded phones, listened to music on cassettes they played in walkmans. They watched movies on videotapes they rented at the video store, and most homes only had one color TV and VCR in the living room which EVERYONE watched.
And the family structure was completely different too. Most families at that time ate together and spent time together in the mornings and the evenings. Work wasn’t a 14-16 hour day back then. Parents worked maybe 8-10 hours back then and were home to spend time with their children. So there were actual meals at the dinner table and discussions around it.
It was a different world than many growing up today would even know about.
Second, I was exploring African-American culture. African-American culture was also very different back then as well. With the crack epidemic ravaging Black neighborhoods and dividing Black families, most Black people were living in fear of dope dealers, crackheads, and the cops.
Most clean-cut Black kids like Matilda who went to public school lived in fear of dope dealers who prowled the halls. And girls like Matilda lived in fear of the hood chicks who stood at their sides. With teachers and administrators being apathetic and school security not giving a shit, these urban terrorists bullied everyone into conforming to their cultural standard. Those who dared to be themselves had to deal with violence and threats of violence.
Thanks to these forces many brothers and sisters grew up believing there was only one way to be “Black”. And that anyone who wanted to do things like read comics, be into computers or subcultures like Goth were weird or “acting white”. Some even believed that Black people who were into these things were sellouts looking to betray their race. Black folks talked a lot about diversity, but there was no diversity promoted within the Black community. Most Black people wanted to fit into a standard of “Blackness” that was acceptable to White people.
That’s the spell I believe many are under. And the dark magic that keeps Black culture in a dysfunctional state.
Third I was exploring the Goth Subculture. And that was also totally different then than it was now. Back in 1989 Hot Topic was just a small shop in Los Angeles. And there were no Goth fashion designers like Killstar, Dark & Love, and Jawbreaker to make clothes specifically for Goth tastes. Heck, you couldn’t even get a corset anywhere at retail but Fredrick’s of Hollywood!
Moreover, there were no Goth shops like Queen of Darkness, or Goth makeup brands like Kat Von D or Jeffree Star that created products specifically for Goths. There was no Pinky Paradise or Sclera who made vampy contacts, or Demonia or New Rock to manufacture Goth boots. All that stuff became available in the 1990’s and the 21st Century.
Goths back in 1989 New York had to buy their clothes at thrift stores and vintage shops in places like The Village and Union Square, and their fashion staples like fishnet stockings and tops in places like Chinatown and Alphabet City. There was no eBay and there was no amazon.com. Again, there was no internets to buy Goth gear!
People had to make their own Goth looks up by buying vintage clothes and customizing them to their tastes. A sewing machine was a staple for many Goths who could afford it, or really good skills with scissors, needles and thread.
For makeup a Goth had to use what everyone else used. If you were lucky you could find a Black lipstick or a dark red at the counter at the department store or in the drugstore. So people had to be creative because Sephora didn’t exist!
And if you wanted stuff spiked collars and studded collars and cuffs you had to go to the pet store. That was the only place you could buy them.
And you just couldn’t walk into a Wiz and buy some Goth music like Sisters of Mercy and Siouxsie and the Banshees. All they stocked was top 40. No, to get you Siouxsie tapes or your Sisters of Mercy, you had to go to a record shop like Colony in Times Square or a record shop in The Village and pray they had it in stock. Yep, Death Rock or Goth Rock was that obscure and THAT hard to find. If you were lucky you could catch a music video of your favorite Goth band on U68 or MTV. They popped up now and again in between the Paula Abduls, Michael Jacksons, Janet Jacksons and top 40 acts.
Ah, MTV in 1989. A time when that channel actually played music videos 99 percent of the time. These poor kids don’t know what they’re missing.
And while there was no Nightmare before Christmas for Goths to make their staple movie, this was the golden age of horror movies. There was practically one being released every week in 1989. And if you could find a nice rundown theater like the Kent in the South Bronx you could really sit back and enjoy them for a Saturday Matinee. The soon to be Goth CLASSIC Beetlejuice was on VHS and the blockbuster Batman was the most popular film of the year.
The dark period of New York with crackheads, rundown buildings, abandoned lots and over 2,000 murders is a setting that contrasts the dark and spooky world of the Goth Subculture Matilda is about to enter. I wanted to show how the real horrors around her in Black culture were more terrifying than her journey into the darkness in the Goth subculture.
With the first draft of Spellbound done, I’m starting work on edits. I’m shooting for a 2017 release. For the meantime, pick up a copy of Spinsterella on Amazon, Smashwords, iBookstore, and Nook!