Memento Mori: Haunted by the Black Death
In 2004, I was living in London in Highgate. I was working on my second novel, a werewolf story called Rosewolf ( due out this year) and was struggling to master the craft of writing. The first novel about a Changeling called Dark Night, Lily Bright, had been written organically, ie:without and outline, and gotten way out of hand. At about 200,000 words of convoluted plot, I realized I had a lot to learn.
I took a course in how to write YA books. One of he exercises was to go onto Wikipedia and find a subject to inspire a story. The instructor had several and among them was the history of the Eyam Plague. I’d never heard of the Eyam Plague, but ever since I studied the art of the Black Death in a Medieval Art History class in college, I was interested in the powerful expressions that came in its aftermath in Europe. It was in that class that I had learned, so long ago, about the memento mori as form of potraiture, showing the person as they are in life and after death on the same canvas.
Put the two together and voi-la! Art History meets Writing prompt, add my love the old English song, The Lyke Wyke Dirge, and this ghost story about the haunted village of Whynnesmere was born. In 2004 it was mere outline. It took these many years, between so many other writing projects, to find its root: not just the possession of an artist by his ghostly muse, but about the very nature of the souls’ longing for God.
Eyam Plague Village, Derbyshire
Here is the short description of Memento Mori
“In 1666, the Black Death swept through a tiny English village and killed all of its inhabitants. In 1966, art student Simon Beaumont,is hiking in the mountains. Lured by a mysterious call, he wanders into the haunted village of Whynnesmere. where the beautiful witch, Lara, takes him into the past to unravel the mystery of a ghostly bride,and her strange wedding gift: the Memento Mori”
This history also comes into play in the novella as Simon tries to puzzle out the strange experiences he had in Whynnesmere. Imagery of the plague ravaged streets of London, the fire, the Plague doctors or Beaks feature strongly.
History of the London Plague, the Great Fire of 1666, the infection being carried to Eyam in a bolt of cloth, all wrap around the tragedy of a young girl, Suzanne de Montmorency who journeys from France to Whynnesmere to be married and finds herself being blamed for carrying the plague. When all of her relatives flee the village, she stays on to wait for her betrothed. Three-hundred years later, her ghost is still waiting…
This novella is currently available for all e-readers at no charge Smashwordshttps: Memento Mori at Smashwords
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Kindle: Memento Mori
This story goes very deep and ghostly. I hope you enjoy it and, good or bad, leave a review!