Gothic Houses: Exterior

I think all creators of Gothic books and films have a love affair with houses.

In one of my favorite stories, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, it is Manderly.  For Jane Eyre it is Thornfield Hall. Anne Rice begins most of her Gothic novels with lavish descriptions of Greek Revival houses in New Orleans.  We know Anne loves houses! Mysterious houses cast their turreted shadows over characters from Fall of the House of Usher, by E.A. Poe, to Miss Haversham’s mansion in Dickins’s Great Expectations, to the Museum of the Addams Family, or the ruined manse in Diane Setterfield’s Thirteenth Tale. I struggle to think of one Gothic tale from Horror to Romance and everything in between that does not feature a stately home, or a haunted house, or  a haunted stately home, as the setting for drama and suspense.Unless its a castle, but that’s another post.

jane14

In all stories, the protagonist leaves their ordinary life to either set out on an adventure, or has  an adventure visited upon them. In most Gothic stories, .it is going into a strange house. Every house, and by extension every family, especially Old Aristocratic families, are worlds unto themselves. The houses must be large with many unused rooms where mysteries dwell. There may be hidden staircases, rooms behind the fireplaces, widows walks, towers and balconies that extend the world of the house into the outside, into the garden, usually a walled garden, for these interior stories that address the soul.

This is why Gothic tales often indulge in descriptive passages designed to lure the reader into the book in the same way the heroine is lured into the house. The house may be derelict and darkly eerie, or bright and beautiful, like Manderly or Bly in Turn of the Screw by Henry James, but secrets lurk in the corners, or the attic, or in the woods.

The 1970s soap opera, Dark Shadows, drew on the classic Gothic tropes, including the house Collinwood on Widow’s Hill overlooking the sea. All of these houses are haunted either symbolically, psychologically or literally. All of them are overshadowed by death and harbingers of death.

\
tumblr_ll9mj5LboG1qhph6mo4_500

Many of my own stories were inspired by houses, many photographed by British photographer Simon Marsden. One of these was Crawford Priory falling to ruin in Scotland. But I’ll save that for  a post on ruins.

A Gallery of Gothic Houses

Stitched Panorama

I lived near this house when I lived in London Highgate.  I used to pass all the time. And yes, it is as evocative ad it looks in the photo.

d5f0f547a51483b8417b389e9b0ce5ab

Used as a location for Thornfield Hall in a recent film of Jane Eyer.

830f120641de523b35259c264d04da01

A Southern Gothic house than Anne Rice might appreciate.

Usher

We enter the Otherworld of the house through the door. Therefore are doors Gothic.

Ferdinand-Cheval-The-Palais-Ideal

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

At Last! And a Little Preview for You.

I Thought My Career was on its Deathbed, but it was Only a Bad Dream

 

DEATHBED DRAWING

I feel so bad that things have slipped so far as far as this blog and my publishing…I really thought I’d have things up and running sooner than this, but the Vampire 2016 had to eek out the last drop of my blood…

It hasn’t been all bad. I haven’t been idle.  I have six first drafts to edit and all but one should be fairly easy. Dark Reliquary needs a full second layer because of the way the characters worked out. The others won’t be hard. Its just that, while my life was so unstable, all I could write were first drafts. Those kind of poured out, and I wanted to take advantage of the energy while I had it. The second Poppy Farrell Mystery: Taller Than Our Souls, went into a cul de sac plot-wise, so I had to set it aside. for a while. The Russian Doll got longer than I’d planned as did The Vampire’s Bride. This was meant to be a novella. sequel to The Vampire’s Mirror, but it is now a full length novel.

I know there are no excuse,s so I hope to make this up by publishing a lot of things fairly quickly as all these get finished. I hate to let my readers down, but my life has been a roller coaster forever… But—that’s why I have so many stories to tell. I also had a species of writer’s block. It wasn’t for lack of ideas, but lack of words. I couldn’t think in words! Terrible thing for a writer!

fuselinightmare

Little Preview

In 2007, I outlined a novel based on some harrowing supernatural events that I experienced in London. I think of the plot as Dan Brown meets Anne Rice: an Occult Thriller. It involves a family curse and how the protagonist, Madeleine Dashwood, deals with her legacy.  It takes place in London, Ireland, New York and finally Salem Massachusetts. I have been in all of those places, but one pivotal scene happens in Toledo, Spain and I haven’t been there. I was waiting and hoping to have the money to take that trip, but haven’t gotten it yet. I also filled up several notebooks trying to find a way to begin this book, how to structure the plot ( it began as a screenplay with a flashback) and whether to focus more on the Thriller elements or the Dark Fantasy. Finally the solution arrived and it merges both very well, and runs in a  chronological fashion. People like that best, I hear. I also found Madeleine wanted to tell the story in her own voice, therefore First Person.

The story is very scary and I think that was another reason I put it off. The things I have to tune into and immerse myself in, are dangerously dark. But the plot is exciting and has great twists and turns. Madeleine is a sympathetic character and her struggle is intense. I think people will enjoy the strangeness and mystery of Madeleine’s quest to understand her nature and find her stolen soul.

I early January, I had a dream of how to start The Demon Lover and it began pouring out of me. So again, I am writing a first draft. What I want to share is the Prologue to this book. It will give you a foretaste, a teaser.Though the Prologue is satirical, the rest of the book is serious. I hope you enjoy this!

I will get these books  done—all 6 novels,plus a few short pieces, by 2018.

I am aware that the title, The Demon Lover, has been used many times before, for centuries in fact, but it is the perfect title for this story. If you think of something better, please suggest away!

 

DASHWOOD

 The Demon Lover

Churchyard Bottom Wood, London

1760

Sir Francis Dashwood, Grand Master of the Order of the Friars of Saint Francis of Wycombe, better known as the Hellfire Club, raised his forked staff to the night winds of the north. He raised his staff to the forest, to the high oaks, copper beeches and mountain ash, to the owls and gathering crows. A ring of tall cathedral candles flared round the circumference of the clearing, while within its orbit, twelve hooded men stood with raised staffs, intoning the incantation in sacred mimicry of their Grand Master.

Though outsiders viewed the Order with skepticism, thinking it a mere front for secret debaucheries and drunken revels, the inner circle quested after more profound mysteries. On this thirty-first day of October, 1760, Sir Francis and his men had slipped away to the Borough of Haringey, marched in procession through the vast oak groves of the Forest of Middlesex, to the secluded glen of Churchyard Bottom Wood to commence their most solemn and nefarious Rite.

They’d performed this ritual many times before with, (they in their besotted minds believed), no result. Still the demonic spirits were said to take notice of them. Drawn to the theatricality of satin robes and gilded staffs shining like jewels in the midst of the wildwood, they waited for greater enticements to manifestation. Barring that, certain alignments of a moon and stars would enable them to step through the curtain of the night and astonish their devotees.

Sir Francis would have liked to perform a blood sacrifice, but could find no volunteers. So pointing his staff at the earth, at the dark depression in the ground that was known as a plague pit because skeletons had been discovered there, he passed a dagger across his palm and let his blood flow freely to the earth. He called upon the infernal powers, by the issuance of blood and terror, to rise. His merry men intoned in unison, the responses to his cry.

The crows circled lower; winds tore through the trees scattering leaves like motes of fire. The etheric flames that marked the Circle of Art sprang up, bright blue in the dusk. Sir Francis marveled at the distant echo of a hunting horn. The trees rustled, and the ground split open, emitting smoke as from the fiery pit of Hell, into the woods.

Every living thing grew still and silent.

The hunting horn echoed again.

Sir Francis fell back, for he saw a sight he never thought to see. Out of the trees, tall and smoky, with eyes shining yellow in the night, stepped a shaggy, naked god. Rising from his head were the horns of a stag; rising from his loins was an enormous cock.

Sir Francis trembled. Gripping his sweaty staff he looked around to see all of his men lying face down on the ground, hiding from the horror of their deity.

The god stared. Its eyes flashed as if lightning crossed them. Its antlers rose up like trees. Though sprouting from the head of a man, they were not incongruous, but magnificent. Primal. Terrifying.

What do you want? the voice growled from the shadow of the god’s head.

The god was outside of the circle of blue fire, manifest in the red-flamed Triangle of Arte, therefore under complete control of the Magus. Watching the creature’s cloven hoof inch toward the very edge of the mystic line, Sir Francis raised his staff.

“Give me power, oh Master. Power and riches and long life. Nay! Grant me the secret of immortality!”

The god seemed to seethe, to grow taller, to loom.

What will you give in exchange for such treasures?

Sir Francis hadn’t thought to wage a bargain. The Rite had never worked before. He didn’t want to give anything up, for everything he owned was precious to him. He had to think fast.

“Money! I’ll leave seven guineas on the altar for you.”

The god roared.

Do not mock me!

“Oh… You don’t want money? What could you possibly need? Being a spirit.”

The god leaned toward Sir Francis, its head transgressing into the protective barrier of blue flames. Its whisper was like a serpent’s hiss.

Souls… I need souls…

Though shaken and humbled, Sir Francis wasn’t about to give his soul to this demon. He thought of something distant, so far away as to render it meaningless.

“A soul you shall have. One of my descendants. Seven generations from now. Does that suffice, Master?”

The god stood up. How tall it was! A veritable giant. Its eyes glowed brighter in its shadowy face and it seemed to smile.

Sir Francis’s head spun. He stabbed his staff into the ground and leaned on it as the entire forest swirled around like a carousel. He tried to focus his eyes on the antlered god, but it had melted into the night-blown shadows of the woods.

“Aaaahhhh!” Sir Francis cried from he knew not where. Utterly bewildered, he doubled over, clutching at his chest. The emptiness was horrible, as if his very guts had been burned out.

hellfirecaves

London

Highgate

1978

And round about his home, the glory

That blushed and bloomed

Is but a dim-remembered story

Of the old time entombed.

                                                        —-E.A. Poe

 

The previous pages are from a novel about an infamous ancestor of mine, Sir Francis Dashwood. The minute I read them I knew, deep in my soul, that I was the seventh.

I did not own the book. It was in my father’s abandoned library hidden amongst stacks of genealogies, history books, and various notebooks filled with my father’s feverish handwriting. The book was a dog-eared paperback with a lurid cover of a half naked woman inside a red pentagram on a black background. Hellfire! was scrawled across the top. The author’s name escapes me. Though the book looked as if it been read many times over by my poor, tormented  father, the importance of these particular pages was signified by both a ribbon marker, and a turned down corner.  Though I was taught never to deface a book, I tore them out. I tore them out because they belong to me, and I can’t tear them out of myself.

The sins of the fathers shall be visited on the daughters.

So, somewhat, the Bible says. I know the Bible through and through. It is tattooed on my brain, and shackled to my wrists as tightly as these pages from my father’s penny dreadful, Hellfire!

a16194cdaf44d16deef30b8446eac788

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

The Russian Doll


Its time to get back to work. Soooo…

I am working on a short story to get myself back in the game. I wonder if my writing has changed after all this time. I know I have.

IMG_1474


The Russian Doll

This story, The Russian Doll, was conceived as part of a larger work called Vampires on the Orient Express. But I decided to focus on it as a short story or novella. I find these Russian nesting dolls intriguing. We all think we now what is inside—and that’s just the point. What if the doll was used to to hide, or mask something else? Something illicit or fearful, or otherworldly?

I found in my research that there were all sorts of nesting dolls. The Babushka, or mother type, the Fairy Tales type, but there are also religious icons and perhaps other things…

Put together: bram Stoker’s friend, a, English newsman on the Orient Express going into part mysterious and unknown, a strange bookshop and a group of Russian dolls, Not far away, in the middle of a lake, is an island monastery called Snagov, that holds the grave of Vlad Tepes.

nd02285a03

My protagonist, Alex, is a reporter for the London Illustrated News  and good friend of Bran Stoker whose novel Dracula., has just take the world by a storm. Stoker has confided in Alex that his evil hero, Count Dracula, was not based on the actor Henry Irving, Stoker’s employer at the Lyceum Theatre in London and spitting image of Vlad, but in a actual prince of Wallachia. He sets out on the Orient Express into the wilds of central Europe, to find out the true story of Dracula and bring it back to London and the news.

He gets no leads until he arrives in Bucharest and finds an antiquarian bookshop that sells much more than books.



952e47a36120e011f9689b5e51e4f446

I’d spoil the story if I said any more about it. research hasn’t been too heavy or difficult. But i always learn interesting things along the way. Enjoy these postcard images on Bucharest in the 1890’s..

Herculane

 

 

Remote and mysterious…

Peles-Castle-Sinaia Pelles Castle

 

 

matryoshka-637x477


Babushkas

 

I hope you will like this spooky story. I’m hoping it will finished quickly and well.

Fangs to all of you!

Alyne

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Morna: A Novel of Ideas

Morna-1

 

Click the name: MORNA: A Celtic Tale of the Selkies

 

One of my fans wrote a review for MORNA saying she liked the book, but not the characters. This gave me food for thought because I like the characters in this book, though they are not the warm and fuzzy kind. They are what I call Elemental. At the mercy of their environment, swept up in the forces of nature so powerful, they may be driven mad, these characters transcend the human and become mythical.

Sometimes a story, though character driven, is not about them being lovable, but about testing their personalities to the limit.

Like many of my stories, MORNA was inspired by a combination of faery tales and folk ballads. There is an English folk song called House Carpenter that tells the story of a woman lured by the promise of material wealth to leave her good but poor husband and join a seductive ship captain that turns out to be the devil. Lady Rowan’s character is based on this ballad while the Selkie seems neither good not evil, but a creature of the elemental sea.

This is my favorite version by Pentangle:

Compelled by this mysterious and  foreboding ballad, I thought it would be fun to take a wealthy, powerful, rather spoiled woman, have her lose everything, and see what she would do. In my mind’s eye, I saw a medieval lady with long auburn hair standing at a tower window looking out to sea. This was Lady Rowan come to visit me and have me tell the story of why she was in the tower looking out, waiting for the ship with the broad red sail. I knew by the energy of the sea and the land that this was Scotland. I knew the ship’s captain was an otherworldly being. But how did a great lady, an aristocrat, end up in a ruined tower at the far edge of the world? Kidnapping was one way she might be there, prisoner of of some thwarted and  jealous  lover. War was another way. I felt this plot was more in keeping with what I wanted Lady Rowan to go through. She must be made to lose, not only her material wealth, her pride, and vanity, but also her dearly loved husband to the ravages of war.

Like the untamed power of the sea that carries the Selkie to her on a dream, or a hallucination, or a fantasy, war is the arena in which Hugh encounters his demons. Rowan is engaged in a struggle against the forces of nature, Hugh against his fellow man.

The children are pawns, as are the two old servants. The young guards, though removed from the fields of battle, nevertheless suffer the onslaught of powers stronger than themselves. Then there come the wizards, the Macloeds, wielding their dark and ruthless magic…

>

aac7cb0788cd982da2518c6604d5ec4d

>

How much can one woman take before she loses her mind? Or, had she already lost it when she looked out to sea and  saw the Selkie’s ship? So isolated is she, that she has no way of knowing if she is mad or not, because there’s no one to compare herself to.

Was her pride humbled, or not? And Morna…daughter of the sea and two fathers, how does she tilt the scales into the waiting hands of Fate? And what is Fate? How do you know when Reality butts up against the Unseen, and the walls of normalcy give way, what, or whom, could possibly have orchestrated such a descent into darkness? Or why…

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin