Writing from the Subconscious Mind

52a3a2ebaf9b8229e32a75cd3d6e3792

Writing the first draft of a story or novel is the time when the subconscious mind seems most active. Though I write a loose outline, just a little treasure map to see where I’m going, it is when I am deep in the story that surprises erupt and I find threads coming together in a way could not have consciously planned. If you love to explore the deep mind, perhaps tapping into ancestral memories, past lives, or spiritual dimensions, family secrets, and occult mysteries, the Gothic tale provides the keys to many doors. Gothic tales have always been melodramatic, emotionally fraught dramatizations of haunted and suppressed psychological states. What cannot be spoken of plainly, in the light of day, may be expressed through a language of symbols.

The Gothic genre benefited greatly from the Freudian analysis that brought us the works of Angela Carter and Tanith Lee, my tow mentors, whose use of language is dark, poetic yet uncannily real. Freud gave life to the symbols that surround us, suggesting they are signs from the deep self, showing us what we fear to speak.

332ff996f2e3f6a408290bfc8e392409

The novel I am wrestling with now is one I have been wrestling with for 10 years.  The working title, as some of you may know, is The Demon Lover. Its an overused title, but that’s what it’s about. Its based on real supernatural experiences that I have had, and I’ve had many, couched in the plot of a classic Gothic Romance. Not a modern Formula Romance, but the style developed by the Brontes and Daphne DuMaurier, in the age before we were addicted to the screen,  when we were in love with words and images that opened up our own imaginations.

In The Demon Lover, There are two female characters, one, Madeleine Dashwood, 27, the other Eavan Bertrand, 13, both mysterious ladies whose lives have been shaped by their psychic abilities. This is a story where water plays a powerful role as pool, as rain, a river, then finally the ocean, as bringer of transformation and death. The water imagery invoked the enigmatic figure of Ophelia who then attached herself to both of these characters. I didn’t plan this—-I’d originally though of Eavan as the Ophelia figure—- but it fits so well as a link between the two, sending a resonance throughout the story that I could not have contrived.

b3acf4bfccc72678206b83ad2ba20623

Her clothes spread wide and Mermaid-like a while they bore her up….

As you can see, the character of Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, continues to inspire artists.  She was indeed a creature native and indued Unto that element….

Water symbolizes the subconscious, for what we see on the reflective surface of a lake, or in the waves of the sea, is less than a fraction of what lives below. Entire worlds exist in darkness, completely invisible to us unless we submerge ourselves into their depths. For characters like Ophelia and in my novel, Eavan, who are not of this world, it is natural to associate their leaving of it with water.

 

Millais Ophelia

A disturbing re-interpretation of Millaiss famous Pre-Raphaelite Ophelia

 

dorota-gorecka-02

Fabulously done by Dorota Goreka

256c751cf05d576581169804dce83856

The idea of feminine passivity, the dream state, and even madness are evoked on the character of Ophelia. These states are also traditionally symbolized by water. Ophelia embodies the mermaid, the morgan and the water spirits that drag men down under the waves. All of these beings drawn on  the power of emotion to throw over the human will, or swamp the conscious mind with illusions, delusions, and desires.

But are they illusions? Or are they the forces of nature, full of life and death energies and endless creation?

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

The New Gothic Revival

The New Gothic Revival

I grew up an organic time, close to nature. Mothers stayed home to take care of the children. We played outside, ran through the woods, played games in the streets, stayed out until twilight when we were called in for supper. Television only came in black and white. I remember my grandparents on my father’s side, rather medieval French Canadians who took my brother and I to a cathedral to attend High Mass sung in Latin — well they had the first color TV I’d ever seen. At Christmas we gathered around it to watch the Wizard of Oz waiting in breathless anticipation for the moment when Dorothy opened the door to Oz, seen in full technicolor for the first time.

I’m not sure about other kids, but I was a voracious reader. My father encouraged me, giving me all the classics as well as the new phenomenon The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I spent my whole 10th summer reading it. For me that book paled in comparison to Titus Groan and the much more Gothic Gormenghast Trilogy. I loved fairy tales especially and not only read them, but began making up my own, writing them in pencil on lined paper while sitting in the shade of our mock orange tree. Like Jo in Little Women, II dreamed of writing books. There was a large field behind my best friend’s house with an enormous oak tree. There I would sprawl on a large branch with a book and bag of apples and spend hours reading and munching away.

When I got older, I would spend my whole allowance on books. There was a drug store in my very small town with a rack full of pocket paper backs, including collections of weird tales. They were a bit adult and disturbing for me, but I was quickly addicted. In our small local library — I might have read every book working my around the shelves — I found interesting collections of fairy tales re-tellings, and ghost stories  like The Haunted Looking Glass, including stories by Wilkie Collins, Algernon Blackwood, M.R.James, Robert Louise Stevenson, all illustrated by Edward Gorey. I never forgot the tale of The Monkey’s Paw with its warning to careful what you wish for.

Then came the years of Jane Eyre and Wuthering heights, Great Expectations, Edgar Allen Poe, and all of Shakespeare’s tragedies, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson… always the dark overcast, the ancient ruins, stately tombs, castles and inbred aristocratic families. There were the wild and fated romances of the Brontes and Daphne DuMaurier’s haunting Rebecca. I read Dracula every winter for years.

When I finally completed my BA degree, it was in English Literature/ Creative Writing. I was publishing poetry and won a couple of prizes for my weird creations, full of witchery and earth magic. I wanted to write fiction, but my professors taught us to be snobs and I had no desire to write mainstream fiction about failed relationships, addicts, disease and death, or being crushed by society. I began to dread expressing the ‘mood’ I was always accused of filling my poetry with. (Now I know that’s ‘atmosphere’.)

I had to move to London to find my stories. Because of my love of the British Gothic Mystery and Romance stories, I suppose it was a kind of coming home.  Living in the land of Shakespeare and Charles Dickens, I was amazed to discover that they weren’t making that stuff up!

Anne Rice revived the Gothic Tradition in the 1970s with her classic Interview with a Vampire. Her books had a huge following and a powerful impact on popular culture. Lately we have had Twilight, but though Stefani Myers uses Gothic monsters like vampires and werewolves, I’m not sure her books are Gothic. What do you think?

In the 1980s I found a copy of The Bloody Chamber in a bookshop and was electrified. I wanted to write like her. In England I found Tanith Lee’s Red as Blood and I wanted to write like her. I have done so and all of the short stories I wrote under the influence of these modern Gothic authors have been published. I am unknown, so those Gothic Faery Tales are yet to be collected under one cover. Someday… Brides of Darkness shall be brought out to my dedicated fans… 🙂

Now I am releasing the novels I have been working on over the past 13 years. I aim to reignite the old Gothic style of atmosphere and suggestion, dark shadows (I used to RUN home from school to watch that!) lurking menace, doomed love and sorcery.

I do not wish to glamorize the darkness, but rather peer behind the spangled veil. What one finds there, is the essence of the Gothic thrill that has such sway in some of our imaginations.

Angela Carter werewolf image found at www.bluebeany.com

Get my novel The Roses of the Moon I: Mara on Amazon Kindle Books

The Roses of the Moon I – Mara

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Themes in my Fiction

This post was pulled from my other blog, Gothic Faery Tales. It talks about the continuing themes on my work. Roses, Briars and Blood was created at Gothic Faery Tales and I have developed it further since.

 

What is the Difference Between Gothic Faery Tales and Traditional Fairy Tales?

Now that she is awake, Briar Rose returns to the palace and the Evil Queen. What else can she do now that she is Undead?

Gothic Faery Tales are reworkings of traditional Grimm’s Fairy Tales, or are based on their themes.

The Gothic Faery Tale writer is interested in the dark, disturbing elements of Faeryland. Whereas most contemporary re-tellings focus on sweetness, simplistic portrayals of good vs evil, and happily ever after endings, Gothic Faery Tales dive deep into the fears, anxieties, and superstitions of the subconscious.

The familiar fairy tales have been ‘Disneyfied’, or cleaned up, for children. Gothic Faery Tales evoke the primal, erotic, and blur the lines between god and evil. They are written for adults.

Vampires, werewolves, changelings, sorceresses, black magicians, dragons, all belong to the Gothic Faery Tale. It is possible that these figures of fright have always been part of the folklore fairy tales come from, or perhaps they crept in over time, leaving the pages of novels and the stage to inhabit the fairy tale realm and spice it up a bit. Of course the evil Queens and witches have always been part of Tradition and most likely held the door open for these others.

What is Our Attraction to the Dark?

Because the greatest mysteries have been forced into hiding; the most powerful truths are sequestered in the dark. To find the core, we must have the courage of a knight or a fool to enter the kingdom of shadows. To know ourselves deeply, as individuals, and as part of the whole, means to discover the vision of the light that lives within the blackest night.

Many great writers have used traditional fairy tales as a basis for their work.

The poet Anne Sexton  was one of the first writers to explore her inner conflicts through the use of fairy tales. Her book, Transformations, explores the limitations of being a woman in the 1950′s, and the dark psychological issues that kept her constantly on the brink of suicide.

It should come as no surprise that Gothic writers have a fascination with death. But isn’t death in its final form, for it is always transcended. The character who dies, or like Briar Rose and Snow White, fall into a 100 year sleep, are always brought back to life. Just as the Vampire is.  Faeries also inhabit the betwitx and between, the boundary between life and death.

There is an interest in transformation. Death is the ultimate transformer and shape-changer. The magnetism of the dead coming back to life mirrors the cycle of the seasons, mirrors the natural progression of living forms on Earth. This is primal. We cannot escape the cycles of seasons: birth, growth, decay, and death. Of all of these death is the most powerful. Yet, Gothic Tales suggest it is possible to live inside of death, to move, to relate, and to haunt. Gothic artists and writers reveal that to accept the facts is to transform them into something glamorous and fraught with desire.  Sometimes the dead become the living in the same gesture by which the living become the dead. It is the mirror realm of reversals where we walk head downwards like images reflected in a still pane of water.

Decadence

Simply put, the favored seasons for Goths are Autumn and Winter. Seasons of decay and death, silence, and a strange quality of light.

The decadence of fringe societies is like the golden decay of Autumn, a time when approaching death produces a gaudy display of glory. Winter covers the coffin under a snowy blanket, making the grave a place of hibernation with the potential to incubate new life. Gothic Faery Tales often take place in dim, ornate, quiet rooms with high ceilings and vast sweeping stairs. Places that are haunted and haunt one with feelings of dread and revelation.

Some Gothic tales seem to have been written by authors immobilized at the threshold between childhood and adulthood, and unable to cross over because of some deep fear of the adult reality. Welcome to the nightmare, the adults seem to say. Here is the true darkness of corruption and loss.

This is the border from which the Gothic Faery Tale beckons with its darkling wonders.

Come across the threshold. The dark is painful and at the same time so achingly beautiful. Of course you are curious. We embody the mystery you seek.”

Here we shall tell secrets.

The parts we are not supposed to talk about. The hidden things. The secrets that give the fairy tale its power penetrating over us.

To set the tone, here is a short piece from  1979′s The Bloody Chamber by the legendary Angela Carter. Based on Snow White, it is entitled:

The Snow Child

by Angela Carter

Midwinter — invincible, immaculate. The Count and his wife go riding, he on a grey mare, she on a black one, she wrapped in the glittering pelts of black foxes; and she wore high, black, shining bots, with scarlet heels and spurs. Fresh snow fell on snow already fallen; when it ceased, the whole world was white. “I wish I had a girl as white as snow,” says the Count. They ride on. They come to a hole in the snow; this hole is filled with blood. He says: “I wish I had a girl as red as blood.” So they ride on again; here is a raven, perched on a bare bough. “I wish I had a girl as black as that bird’s feathers.”

As soon as he completed her description, there she stood, beside ther road, white skin, red mouth, black hair and stark naked; she was the child of his desire and the Countess hated her. the Count lifted her up and sat her in front of him on his saddle, but the Countess had only one thought: how shall I be rid of her?

The Countess dropped her glove in the snow and told the girl to get down to look for it; she meant to gallop off and leave her there but the Count said,” I’ll buy you new gloves.” At that, the furs sprang off the Countess’s shoulders and twined around the naked girl. then the Countess threw her diamond brooch through the ice of a frozen pond. ‘Dive in and fetch it for me,” she said; she thought the girl would drown. But the Count said,” is she a fish to swim in such cold weather?” Then her boots leapt off the Countess’s feet, and onto the girl’s legs. Now the Countess was as bare as a bone and the girl furred and booted; the Count felt sorry for his wife.  they came to a bush of roses, all in flower. “Pick me one,” said the Countess to the girl. “I can’t deny you that,” said the Count.

So the girl picks a rose; pricks her finger on the thorn; bleeds, screams, falls.

Weeping, the Count got off his horse, unfastened his breeches and thrust his virile member into the dead girl. the Countess reined in her stamping mare and watched him narrowly; he was soon finished.

Then the girl began to melt. Soon there was nothing left of her but a feather a bird might have dropped,a blood stain, like the trace of a foxes kill on the snow, and the rose she had pulled off the bush. Now the Countess had all her clothes on again. With her long hand, she stroked her furs. the Count picked up the rose, bowed and handed it to his wife; when she touched it, she dropped it,

“It bites!” she said.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin