Happy Saturday, everyone! First, a few tidbits: As Megan said yesterday, she and I are on Twitter (thanks to Keira’s urging, and my own never-ending quest to find ways to waste time online). Come and “follow” us, though most of my updates consist of “drinking tea and looking at stuff on Etsy while meant to be working.”

For the last, er, year or more, I have done no updates to my own blog, but am going to start doing at least a few, if only to keep myself up-to-date on what’s going on in my book world! Book releases, vacations, maybe what I’m reading that day. Visit me here!

MAC cosmetics is coming out with a genius new line of Hello Kitty goodies! I have a pink lipgloss called “Nice Kitty” on order…

And, most important, I have a new alter ego! Her name is Laurel McKee (Laurel being my middle name, McKee a random Irish name I liked), and she will be writing my “Daughters of Ireland” series with Grand Central Publishing! She’s hoping to have her new website unveiled St. Patrick’s Day, with the first book out February 2010. It’s going to be fun having a split personality!

And author Ann Radcliffe died on this date in 1823. She could be called “Queen of the Gothic novel,” as many of the standard elements of her plots can still be found in novels today, such as innocent heroines, dark, mysterious heroes, dramatic settings, and wicked villains. (And she was the most popular writer of her own day, influencing Keats and Scott among others, and forming the centerpiece of Catherine Morland’s literary obsessions in Northanger Abbey).

She was born in London in 1764, the only child of William and Anna Ward, and married William Radcliffe at age 22. (Radcliffe was a lawyer, and later editor and owner of The English Chronicle). Ann was said to be shy and reclusive, so not much was known about her private life, which gave rise to many rumors. (She had gone mad as a result of her terrible imagination and been sent to an asylum! She had been captured as a spy in Paris! She ate rare pork chops before bed to stimulate nightmares for her novels!)

J.M.S. Tompkins writes that in all Radcliffe’s novels “a beautiful and solitary girl is persecuted in picturesque surroundings, and, after many fluctuations of fortune, during which she seems again and again on the point of reaching safety, only to be thrust back again into the midst of perils, is restored to her friends and marries the man of her choice.” Sounds like the Victoria Holt stories I was addicted to as a teenager!

Her best known works include A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Romance of the Forest (1791), The Italian (1796), and of course The Mysteries of Udolpho. She also wrote a travelogue, A Journey Through Holland and the Western Frontier of Germany (1795) and various poems, which were published by her husband after her death along with the historical romance Gaston de Blondville.

More information can be found (mostly on the books, since the details of her life are still obscure–though I doubt the pork thing) in Deborah Rogers’ Ann Radcliffe: A Biography-Bibliography (1996).Have you ever read any of Radcliffe’s works? Have any favorite modern Gothic authors?? I’m thinking a Mysteries of Udolpho-theme Halloween party would be lots of fun…

Have you ever read any of Radcliffe’s books? Have any favorite modern Gothic authors? And what might you wear to my Halloween party???