Writing from the Subconscious Mind

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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Fabulously done by Dorota Goreka

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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?

 

 

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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!

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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.

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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!

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