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In Chapter 2, Poppy arrives at Blight’s Academy:

The scarlet letters of Blight’s Academy were framed in fancy curlicues along the top of the gate. A great square lock in the center, where the two wings of the gate joined in the middle, was bound with a chain.
Poppy peered through the bars at a long, long drive.
She moaned with weariness. Though she’d arrived at Blight’s, her destination still seemed so far away.
She shook the gate. Of course no one was here to let her in. It was after 9 o’clock.
Poppy took out her phone and opened it. The light was out. Dead. Her phone was dead. But how could it be? Temper flaring, she almost threw it on the ground.
The cold was beginning to penetrate. She wrapped her arms around herself and jumped up and down to get her circulation going. What was she to do?
There was a caretaker’s cottage under a clump of trees just inside the gate. A large bell hung from the gatepost with a long rope attached. Poppy gave up feeling guilty about the lateness of the hour, and pulled the rope.
Clang… clang…. clang echoed loudly in the darkness.
Out of the cottage, into the chill and damp, came an old man carrying a lantern. He held the light up and squinted into Poppy’s face.
“Well?” he said.
“My train was late. I missed the shuttle. I’m a new student here.”
“I suppose you expect me to believe that. I suppose you expect me to let you in.”
“Please do, sir. It’s very miserable out here. I’ve come such a long way.”
Poppy held her satchel with its badge of Blight’s Academy under the old ma’s light.
The old man squinted and set his lantern down. He made a great show of producing a key ring, looking through his keys, and fiddling with them before he undid the chain and pulled it through the bars. Then, with a long, black key, he stabbed the great lock, turned it with a squeal of iron, and pulled the gate open.
“I suppose you’re all right,” he muttered, moving aside to let Poppy in.
“Thank you, sir.”
“We’ll see how much you’ll be thanking me a week from now.”
“What do you mean?”
The gatekeeper ignored Poppy, looping his arm through the key ring and picking up his lamp.
This stonewalling made Poppy more nervous than she already was. “What do you mean, sir?”
“You run along now. Don’t pay me no mind. Just scurry along.”
Poppy felt depressed. The long drive went between rows of trees and intervals of lawn, lit only by misty globes of light. The school building must be very far away because she couldn’t see it. The girl’s voice played in her head. Don’t go! Don’t go to Blight’s Academy! Turn back!
Thunder rolled like a great wind in the sky. Lightning flashed.
What if the girl on the platform was right? What if Poppy were making a terrible mistake to continue toward Blight’s?
Still, she’d come so far. She had no choice but to move on. She grabbed the handle of her suitcase and her satchel and started up the drive.
“Pretty red hair you’ve got there,” the gatekeeper called out. “Take my advice and mind your Ps and Qs.”
Poppy felt a wave of apprehension. Minding her Ps and Qs was not her strong suit.
As she watched the old man limp back to his house, a rustling sound drew her attention to the clump of trees behind it.
The old man waved his lantern toward the sound. “Get off you two. I won’t have you playing your tricks around here.”
Poppy stared woodenly at the dark hollows of the trees, wondering who was there. The thud of the cottage door closing, told her to get moving. It was late.
Hefting the now leaden satchel onto her shoulder, Poppy trudged warily toward the school. Her feet dragged uncertainly. Glancing at a mist-filled holly tree standing alone on the lawn, she couldn’t help thinking how ghostly it looked in the moonlight.
Goosebumps traveled up her arms. Maybe she should go home.
There was movement, the whisper of feet over grass. Peering into the gloom, she saw the shadows of two small boys running to hide behind the holly tree. She stopped and waited to see if they would come out and speak to her. When they didn’t, she left her bags and went to look behind the tree.
There was no one there, only a length of red worsted yarn woven like a cat’s cradle over the holly leaves.
What strange little boys. Was this one of their tricks?
Unsettled, Poppy backed away and returned to her bags on the drive.
There was a slight dip in the drive, then a rise and finally, there, up ahead, was the vast, Neo-Gothic facade of Blight’s Academy. It’s gables, turrets and chimney pots, battlements, tall, dark windows and grand entrance gave Blight’s the dual air of a stately home and a prison for the insane.

 

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The Shadows: A Paranormal Thriller Avaliable for Pre-Order!

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Read the first chapter here! This is a work in progress.

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The Shadows

1

1

Poppy Farrell knew she should have turned back at the start. One delay followed another, but having settled into a window seat on the third late train, she felt she had no choice but to continue on. The train was taking her toward Surrey, to one of the most prestigious all girls’ boarding schools in England, Blight’s Academy. At Poppy’s old school, one of the boys had set fire to the rubbish bins, catching a puddle of petrol alight. That was enough to send Mum on a campaign to get her into Blight’s.

Traveling into the countryside, woods grew close against the tracks. Poppy could see them through the windows on both sides of the train, trunks close together, branches arching over like a tunnel. Poppy didn’t like woods. She was a city girl, a London girl. She didn’t trust trees.

She had to change trains again at East Grinstead. She’d hoped it was a proper town. Instead, she was left alone on an isolated platform. Behind her was a station house as grey and closed and empty as if it hadn’t been serviced in a hundred years. And encroaching all around, leaves rustling in the wind, were the woods.

For some reason, a boy setting the school on fire wasn’t half as frightening as being out here alone. Why did the trees seem to be watching? Perhaps the bits of sky looking through the leaves gave her this impression. She was just being silly.

A gust of wind rushed up her back. She shivered with a sudden chill.

It was already twilight. The air was heavy, as if it was going to rain. If she hadn’t missed her connections, she would have gotten to Blight’s in time for supper. She let go the handle of her suitcase, set down her satchel, with its Blight’s Academy logo of a school building inside a ring of black thorns on the flap, and checked the time on her mobile phone. The light flashed up like a signal. It was almost 7:00!

Where had the time gone?

“Ridiculous!” she mumbled, annoyed at how long this trip was taking.

She put the phone back into the pocket of her brown corduroy jacket, pulled her long, layered auburn hair off her neck, and pulled the collar up. Her feet in their little tan cowboy boots, skinny jeans tucked in, felt firm, planted, the rest of her at sea.

There was a bench under the eaves of the station house, but Poppy felt too uneasy to sit down. Besides, she was reluctant to step back from the sight of the tracks and their promise of the next train. Across the tracks, and a little further down, was another deserted platform, and more woods.

It was so quiet. Poppy wasn’t used to quiet. As if by magic, a single light came on under the eaves of the station house, lighting up a schedule posted by the shuttered window. Taking out her phone again to check the time, Poppy strolled over to look at it.

“Next train… 7:45… It’s so late!”

The trees across the tracks went still, and seemed to stare. Poppy scanned the area for signs of human life, then worried about who might show up. She was all alone out here. What if some gang-bangers came along? Or…

If Poppy allowed it, her imagination would get the better of her. She’d read too many mysteries and crime novels. Watched too many horror films. Her mum never understood how such a young girl could be interested in all that morbid stuff. But for Poppy it wasn’t morbid. She just liked to puzzle things out, solve things, such as how to get to her first day at a new boarding school on her own. She didn’t know the train would drop her off in the woods, and she’d have to wait for ages by herself. It reminded her of that old film, The Blair Witch Project.

Now she wished she’d let Mum drive her.

You’re always so headstrong, Poppy…

Mum’s constant litany.

What am I going to do with you?

Her younger sister Daisy, chiming in: You always have to have your own way!

But she was fourteen. It was time to be independent. She was an Aries, after all.

She needed to talk to her mother, so punched in her phone number at home. Mum would probably throw a wobbly knowing Poppy was out here alone in the wilderness, but what could she do? The phone rang and rang. The answer phone came on.

You’ve reached the Farrell residence. Please leave a message.

“Not!” Poppy fumed and hung up.

From somewhere came a screech. Heart hammering, Poppy hoped it was a train coming. She looked up and down the tracks both ways, but saw no light. Another screech came, this time she could tell it was coming from behind her, in the woods at the back of the station house.

It must have been an animal.

A high, shrill cry echoed up through the trees. Ah! Ah! Ah!

Perhaps it was an owl. They had owls in London. In the back garden,

A splat of rain hit her face.

Thunder rolled, long and loud, then fading off.

Poppy buttoned the top button of her jacket, tugged her collar close again, and headed for the awning of the station house. The bench was coated with a thin layer of moss. Looking for a bare patch of whitewashed board so as not to ruin her jeans, she sat down.

Eeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

Where was that train?

Sounds of breaking branches and strange noises coming from the woods sent her rocketing to her feet. Shaking with raw panic, she inched her way out to the platform, into the rain, and stared at the darkness between the trunks of the trees.

The single light from the station house shone on something white coming through the woods. Two hands appeared, pushing the branches apart. The scratched face of a girl came through, and then her whole body followed.

Her long blonde hair hung in hanks; her dress was torn. She was shaking as bad as Poppy was who just stood there, gobsmacked.

“Who are you?” Poppy shouted over the thunder that crashed. A sheen of lighting blanched all color from the frightened girl’s face.

The girl’s eyes slid from Poppy to the satchel still sitting on the platform. The girl opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out.

“What? What’s the matter?” Poppy grabbed her suitcase and satchel and took them under the awning. “Are you all right?”

The girl jumped, then looked back at the woods, the leaves now pattering in the rain. She stretched her hand out toward Poppy, pointing her finger at the satchel.

“Don’t go there,” she said. “Don’t go to Blight’s Academy.”

“What?” Poppy couldn’t believe her ears. Blight’s was a highly regarded boarding school. Mum said so.

“Don’t go there. Please, don’t go to Blight’s Academy! Go back! Go home!”

“But, why?”

The wind blew the girl’s long, straight hair over her face and seemed to blow her words away, for though her mouth was moving, Poppy heard nothing.

A loud whistle and a beam of light on the tracks heralded the train. It was going in Poppy’s direction.

“The train’s coming,” Poppy cried over the din, running to get her suitcase and satchel.

“Don’t go!” the girl shouted. “Please, listen to me!”

The train pulled up with a loud screech. Poppy opened a door in the last car and shoved her bags inside. She had one foot on the steps when thunder banged like a china cabinet falling over. The girl’s face went livid white, her eyes so black, and her lips so red, she looked ghastly.

“What are you going to do?” Poppy shouted. “I’m leaving.” She shut the door.

The train jerked and squealed and began to go. Poppy grabbed a seat and watched the girl through the window. She was running around on the platform, waving her arms around, when a dazzling streak of lightning came down. The train was too far down the track to see what happened next, but Poppy thought she heard a horrible, gut-wrenching scream.

“Oh my God,” Poppy murmured. She put her hands over her heart to stop it hammering. How awful for that girl. It was like she was mad or something.

Poppy got up to stash her suitcase in the luggage rack, and realized her legs felt like overcooked pasta. She just got it stowed, and was slipping into a seat with her satchel, when the door at the end of the car slid open.

A tall, burly fare collector came in, hand out for her ticket. He had a little ticket- selling box hanging on the front of his blue uniform making Poppy think of a toy wind-up monkey.

“Got your ticket, miss?” he asked.

“Yes.” Poppy pulled the ticket she’d bought at Victoria Station out of her jacket pocket, and handed it to him.

“Where you getting off?” he asked.

“Blight’s Academy,” she said. A moment ago, she’d have been proud to say those words, but that girl coming out of the woods and acting crazy had shaken her confidence.

The fare collector frowned and nodded. “Of course. It won’t be long now.”

“Sir, did something bad happen there? I mean—-I met a girl on the platform—-”

“I don’t know,” the fare collector said, lifting his nose as if to avoid a bad smell. “I haven’t heard a thing.”

Poppy studied the man as he slid back out through the door from whence he came. He’d say that to anyone. Even of he had heard something bad, he wouldn’t say what it was.

Poppy slouched down in her seat. Occasionally she looked out the dark, rain-spattered window, back toward the platform where that poor girl had been raving and hopping around, wondering what had sent her ’round the twist. Hopefully, someone at the school would tell her what was going on. Perhaps the girl had been expelled, or something.

The lights flicked on overhead. Poppy sat up and looked around. She was the only passenger in the car. The dark zipped past the windows, and once in a while, a patch of clear, moonlit sky whizzed past.

She opened her satchel and took out a book she’d bought on the internet with her allowance money: The Biggest Secret by David Icke. This was her biggest secret: Poppy adored conspiracy theories. These were the best mysteries of all. They made her think.

As she closed the satchel, the logo of Blight’s Academy stared up at her: a ring of black thorns around a red-brown school building that looked like a castle. For the first time she noticed, just above the door, a tiny five-pointed star.

The logo was a bit scary, she supposed, with the thorns and the star. But weren’t most hedgerows full of thorns? Hadn’t she heard they were meant to keep intruders out?

That girl back there was off her rocker. That was all.

There was a theory at the back of Poppy’s mind, about the Web of Wyrd. She’d heard about it in a film and then looked it up on the Internet. It suggested that all events in the world were connected, especially evil ones; that certain people were thrown together along the strands of the web, and tragic events played out. Poppy hoped she hadn’t been caught on the same strand as that girl back there.

David Icke had a theory that the royals practiced black magic and had done so for thousands of years, that maybe, they’d created the Web of Wyrd to run the world their way. Was that a conspiracy theory, or what?

She sighed. How her friends would laugh if they knew what went on in her head! There were no conspiracies, really, but the coincidences were amazing.

The woods were pressing against the train on her side of the car, branches sliding against the windows. Poppy flinched away. Why did the woods frighten her so much, but not horror films, or these conspiracy things? It was only nature. It wasn’t like the woods really were full of witches or something.

When were they going to get to Blight’s? Would she find her way in the dark? Would the shuttle be waiting at the next station to pick her up? She checked her mobile phone for the time.

8:20.

God, she was late! Would they even let her in?

She thought back to the first delay in London: some drunk hurling themselves off the platform in front of a train at Camden Town tube station had held everything up. Why would anyone leap in front of a train? It had to be painful as hell, and besides, if someone wanted to kill their self it seemed damned rude to cause everyone to be late.

Then there was that girl on the platform back there.

What happened to her?

Was it a coincidence that, on a single journey, two people had fallen off the platform? Or was it the Web of Wyrd?

Whistle blaring, the train lurched around a bend, knocking Poppy over on her seat.

Oh my God!

Poppy covered her ears at the memory of the girl’s scream. She wondered if the girl had been struck by lightning, and was lying dead on the tracks. Hopefully, she’d made it across to get the train going the other way.

Poppy groaned. She was sick worrying about it.

The train blasted its whistle again, and slowed.

A bell was ringing.

“Blighton-Moss Station! Alight here for Blight’s Academy shuttle service.”

Poppy stuffed her book back into her satchel, then hurried to retrieve her suitcase. She was waiting at the door when the train screeched to a halt.

 

 

 

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Caught Between Good and Evil: Occultism in Gothic Fiction

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I thought for a long time about whether to write this blog post because it comes in response to a fan of Gothic Romance who seems to have been put off of ME because of the occult themes in The Lady in Yellow. My intention is not to have a go at her—-she’s entitled to her response—but to address a larger issue that is very pressing and important in this Social Media world. Nor is this post addressed to her or about her.

Many people these days seem unable to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, or understand the difference between an artist and their creations.

This is understandable considering how many chidren are stuck in front of the TV set before they have the ability to understand what they are actually watching.

The internet is an author’s dream as far as speeding up the process of reaserch for a novel. The trick is to ba able to tell the difference between good information and misguided, if not diliberately falsified information. The exceeding immaturity of many commentors on the internet makes it a minefield on many levels. It is this group who will grab onto the smallest detail and twist it into a validation for whatever their obsessions or issues are with no regard for the CONTEXT in which the information is presented.

The areas most rife with these trolls are conspiracy research and the occult.

I’m very new to the internet, by the way. I didn’t get on until 2009. So I know what a mine field it is because I had to learn fast and had many coaches….

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A prime example of this immature view, especially as applied to the arts, is the perception that because the ACTRESS Mia Farrow played the devil’s mother in Rosemary’s Baby, it must follow that she’s a Satanist in real life.  Does it follow then that if I play Lady Macbeth in a play that I go around conspiring to murder people? This whole mind set is ludicrous, yet some people will put these allegations on the web as fact!!!!

Oddly, the fact that Rosemary  in the film was FIGHTING  and RESISTING the Dark Occultists is never mentioned. Nor are Mia’s other film roles ever brought into the conversation because they have nothing to do with devil worship! Only The Omen gets a mention (as if she only made two films to express her love of evil) because this kind of cherry-picking backs up tabloid-infused so-called thinking of the childish.

I thought Bearing False Witness was condemned by the Ten Commandments.

Research into the Occult Does not Make it a Way of Life

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The Lady in Yellow is set in Victorian England. It involves a werewolf curse. It is Romantic Suspense with a dose of Horror, ie: Gothic!

Historically, Victorian England was a hotbed of Spiritualism. Table rapping, trance mediums, ectoplasm manifestations, conjuring the dead (necromancy) and various other psychical experiments were all the rage. Thus, it is true to the historical period to have evidence of these practices in my novel The Lady in Yellow. Does it mean I sit around playing with Ouija Boards all day? I wouldn’t touch a Ouija Board with a ten foot pole! I know how dangereous they are. This very trickiness makes them great for buidling suspense in a novel.

It is right to ascribe the Werewolf phemenon to Satanism because, as I learned on the internet, as well from the folklore I’ve studied all of my life, that Werewolves, and all shape shifters, are Initiates into advanced Satanic practices based on Dark Shamanism. Does it follow that I worship the devil and go to evil rituals because I describe, in a story-telling way, the true origin of the Werewolf?

Maybe I am a Werewolf. Oooo! That’s scary!

I am interested in origins, in the primal. I go deep into any subject I study looking for the root source.

 

Chateau Villaneuve-Lembroon

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The spark for The Lady in Yellow was this mural on the wall of a chateau in the Auvergn in France.This is not the only sinister mural in that castle. There are Hell Mouths and all kinds of ritualistic images. This chateau was photographed by Simon Marsden because it was known to be haunted.

This Lady in Yellow in the mural became the character of Sovay in my novel, while the house became the root of the Werewolf Curse in my story.

As you develop a novel, many facets of your imagination engage and almost everything you ever experienced, or even picked up subliminally, may coalesce  around images, symbols and themes to create the story. I am often amazed at what comes up in the plot, things I never knew I knew. Characters I think will be minor, may take center stage. Others will show sides I did not expect and think things I never thought before. This is why a novel can take so long to write because you have to stage manage all these elements.

As in Rosemary’s Baby, the Fan of Gothic Fiction seemed to miss the whole point of The Lady in Yellow. Victorian England was not only awash in Spiritualism, but was a powerfully Christian.  My heroine, Veronica Everly, was raised in a Catholic orphanage by nuns. She is profoundly Christian. Setting her up against the Dark Occult forces at Belden House provides an opportunity to create fantastic tensions and conflicts, with a moral battle between good and evil in which love fueled by selflessness and courage wins. In fact I wondered, at one point, if I couldn’t sell this book to Christians.

Babalon

So I have been quite shocked to have been personally dismissed because the Reader assumed wrongly that I must be promoting Satanism because I used it in the novel. To set the record straight: I hate Satanism. I hate evil and destruction. I am against all abuse. I am actually quite strongly Christian, and that is a deep subject. I hate the fact that I feel a need to write this post, but this is not the first time this has happened to me.

While living in London I was in a play, Babalon, in which I played Marjorie Cameron and the demon, Babalon. I took the role because I hadn’t done any acting for a long time and it seemed like it would be  fun. I didn’t initially want to do it because I didn’t want to engage in anything to do with Aleister Crowley.  But I did accept in the end… who knows why. It sent a wrecking ball through my life.

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Because of this part I played one night on the stage at RADA, some people assumed I was into Cameron and Babalon and Crowley. No one asked me. But the truth is, I had no idea who Jack Parsons was, or Cameron, or Babalon. In 2005, I didn’t even know how to do a google search to look them up. The others involved in the play showed me pictures and things, but aside from the script, I had no idea what I was involved with. Yet people assumed, like Mia Farrow and Rosemary, that this character was somehow an expression of who I am and how I live my life. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, having learned more about these characters from Pasadena, California I have been horrifed to have been involved in glamorizing them on any level.

I have another blog, Winterspells.com, in which I explore the occult as an intellectual interest and as a way to try to understand why I have been drawn to magic and occult subjects all my life. I have been psychic and clairvoyant from birth, but had never been particularly dark, and never evil. I tried to find evidence of witchcraft in my family tree,  to no avail. I looked into my home town in Massachusetts. Perhaps.

I do pick things up in the ethers.

Did Somebody Say TV?

After years of soul searching for the very root cause of my resonance with White Magic, and the Shadows it casts, I have recently come to the conclusion that its source was television.

There are on youtube lots of the old TV shows I grew up watching: Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond, Thriller... In watching a few of them again, I experienced very deep emotional reactions like fascination, attraction, repulsion, dread, the sense that I have been haunted by some of these black and white 1960s American images, and that they disturbed something in me. Our TV time was strictly limited in those days, but those small doses were profound.

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I’m not trying to bow out like a coward about my exploration of dark subjects. Just setting the record straight, something I’ve needed to do for a long time.

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13 Books that Made Me Want to Write

The urge to tell stories began in childhood for me. My father was a great reader of classic novels and he passed this interest on to me. I was thinking about the books I’ve read throughout my life and the ones that inspired me to say “I want to do that!” So I made a list.

Some books that inspired me are long out of print and long gone. As my reading skills developed, I discovered a taste for mysteries like Secret of the Haunted Pool and things like that. I made up a story based on that at one time.

These books are not necessarily my favorites, but they were the ones that excited the Muse in me. They sparked my imagination in a way that said not only: “I want to do that!” but “I have to.”

Stories build up in your subconscious, you see, over time, then start agitating to get out. These books were the seeds, many planted deep in my consciousness as soon as I could read. Images attract me, and all of these authors have the ability to create iconic images in their stories that resonate for a long time.

What books inspired you to write?

Childhood Reads:

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Filled with drama and magic and mystery, I think these were the Harry Potter of our time. Disney helped, I suppose, but these stories were my constant companions as a child.

8. fairy tales cover,

There were never enough faiy tales. I still read them. The illustrations were inspiring as well and I did a lot of drawing most of my life. My first dream was to become an illustrator of fiary tale books.

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I wanted to be Jo. How many women writers have felt the same?  Or is this just a New England thing? I used to sit in the big oak tree eating apples and writing in my notebook.  Somewhere deep inside, I still want to be Jo.

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The dark moody atmosphere of Oliver Twist, and the strange characters worked their magic on me early. On my first visit to London in 1997, these were the streets I explored. The characters were so varied and so real. I wanted to write a story like this.

 

WeHaveAlwaysLivedInTheCastle

 

I was haunted by the 1960s movie The Haunting and wanted badly to read the book. My tiny local library didn’t have it, but, by hook or by crook, I found this book instead. For some reason it reminded me of Alice Through the Looking Glass, but was more inspiring because the voice of Merrycat as she tells this murky little tale is so human. Only in recent years did I finally read The Haunting of Hill House. But I feel We Have Always in the Castle in the better book.

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Sometime during my adolescence I challenged myself to read very book in our tiny Leicester Library. That was where I found this little gem filled with stories by Algernon Blackwood. MR James, Wilkie Collins, Bram Stoker–all under one creepy cover. Short stories have been great Muse pokers for me. From fairy tales to scary tales, it was a straight line.

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A little later in life, I found this book by Dickins to be a highly motivating. I loved the characters and wanted to create some of my own. Of curse, Miss Havisham is the Gothic Queen of cobwebby darkness. I love all the film versions of this book.

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I knew I would never be able to write like the Bard, but I acted in many of his plays. I got to say those words, to be or not to be  some of those characters. They filled me with story. Shakespeare’s influence is huge in my work because, while acting in his plays, his stories entered my blood.

 

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Speaking of blood–its gets grimmer from here on. When I was first in college in Massachusetts, I had a frustrated  poetry professor. He ran a lively class and encouraged me a lot. One day he complained to us that his best friend had just gotten a movie deal off one his books, Salem’s Lot, and he was jealous as hell. At the time I had no idea who that best friend was. Then I got the book. I loved the idea of a vampire moving into a small town. It reminded of the black house one of my friends had been to. Apparently the lady who lived there was a witch. They had tea. As my friend was sitting on the couch, she realized that the cat she was petting was dead. Taxidermied! Perhaps a mummy…

I wrote a book based on these elements, but it is long gone.

 

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In a period when I was  doing plays and reading mostly non-fiction, Dracula stands out. I read it every winter for years. It was my winter by the fire book. The gloom is filled with golden light, the mysteries are deep, like fairy tales and Shakespeare rolled into one. The first time I read it, I was surpirised at how good it was. I will say that after this time, I went back to university to finish my English degree and none of the books I was assigned to read, much as I liked many of them, made me want to write.

 

TheBloodyChamber

 

 

The dormant desire to write fiction was ignited to a painful degree when I found this book on the shelves of the University Bookstore.  Carter’s use of language is equal to Shakespeare, but she uses it to tell fairy tales. Talk about things coming together for a perfect storm! I was writing a lot of poetry, quite successfully at the time, and it hurt me that I had no stories inside me. I thought I was doomed to a plotless existence. Taking a Creative Writing class didn’t help because the professor didn’t reach us anything. I carried this thing around like a talisman, as if I could absorb Angela Carter’s muses by will.

 

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I was living in England when I discoverd Tanith Lee. The title story of this collection, Red as Blood, supercharged my desire to write. Tanith Lee was another Angela Carter, If she could do it. maybe I could. I’d been a prize-winning published poet after all, and these authors had such a remarkable fluidity with language. I also found, living in London, that my imagination was flooded with stories.  I realzed how important place was to me. I could write stories in Massachusetts and in London, but Seattle left me cold.

rebecca

This book, a fusion of fairy tale, romance and thriller is highly inspirational to me. It is the benchmark of the type of book I would like to write, a book that is high quality Gothic, and that excites readers’ imaginations worldwide. I’ve read it many times.

There could be more, but these were the sparks that set my Kindle career alight. I’d love to know yours. Leave a comment and share your inspirations with us.

In case you’re interested:

 

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Metaphor of the Spiral Staircase

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No Gothic novel would be complete without a spiral staircase. To me it is almost the symbol of the genre. The ever-tightening spiral illustrtaes the very structure of suspense: Begin wide, draw the characters and readers in, and as they descend, tighten, tighten, tighten. Don’t let them off until they reach the bottom, then let them run free.

Just looking down a spiral stairwell can give one the willies….

Going up can be frightening, especially of it begins to come away from the wall….

There is a large spiral stairway in my current novel in progress, The Shadows. It goes right down through the core of Blight’s Academy, a residential school for girls in the beautiful English countryside. In order to see more clearly in my mind how it is built so that my use of this device will be most effective, I have to look at pictures. I found some really cool ones, so thought it would be fun to share them with you!

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An ancient castle stairway…

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Chateau de Chambord external spiral stairway…

 

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Close up! I love anything Medieval.

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Wow!

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Fashion statement on stairs…

 

Compagne de Jesus Spirals in spirals…

 

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Spiral with chandelier….How do they change the lightbulbs?

 

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Like Blight’s…

 

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A most famously haunted spiral stair…

 

 

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