Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Life does tend to be stranger than fiction at the best of times, but even I think it’s deeply ironic that the week SpecFicNZ has a blogging week, I receive in the post the comp copies of my very first ever official publication.
This happened yesterday, when I finally managed to gather my stuff together in order to go for a walk first to Hammersmith, and then to South Kensington as I’d decided I really needed another trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The last time I was in the UK I never went to this particular museum, even though I’d made the effort to go to the Natural History Museum which is more or less right next door. And I seem to remember going to a Modest Mouse concert at the Royal Albert Hall. With that said, London is a very large city that seems to change its face every day, so there you go. Still, I mention it because the first time I went to the V&A shortly after arriving in London last month, I was very taken by a statue there. And it really makes me think of my story, Tea For Two. Observe:
Lovely, isn’t it? And very, very sad. I like to think that’s what the reader would ultimately take away from my story: the sense of sadness, and of loss. But I would hope they would also find a lingering beauty there, too. I mean, I’m fairly certain that this story was chosen for the collection because of the atmosphere I tried to generate. Love, and loss – the lust was something of a side-story. With that said, it’s probably all rather hilarious as the ultimate influence for the piece was Lovecraftian in nature. And if you’re unsure as to who that man is, well, this might serve as an explanation:
The story’s not horror, not exactly – it’s paranormal erotica, but with that said I went for a quiet creeping horror underlain with a very fierce love. And I do hope that I succeeded. I’m still not sure that I did, but whatever happens I’ve now picked up a book and seen my name and my words in print. And that’s an amazing feeling. I am planning to do a proper entry on the book itself, but I haven’t yet had a proper chance to read it through (I’ve been distracted today by my sister, whose house I am staying at, requiring dinner and baking from me not to mention I am having a fit over plans for Egypt next week and The Song of Achilles is as much a distraction as writing my own novel). Still, I have read two stories and one of them basically punched through my chest and stole my heart clean away: Janine Ashbless’s Cover Him With Darkness is absolutely superb, and if you’re at all curious you can see an extract from the story here. I recommend reading it. Oh, boy, I recommend reading it.
In the meantime, I’ll post an extract of my own piece for posterity. Hilariously this all coincides with the fact that I managed to finally finish the game Amnesia: The Dark Descent yesterday. It’s relevant in that this game is very Lovecraftian in nature but unlike my short story is terrifying as hell. I think I lost twenty years off my lifespan playing the damn thing. But thanks to some terrible .gifs, whenever I think of my story in relation to the atmosphere and plot of Amnesia the words what is love? pop up in my head. And then, unfortunately and inevitably, this comes with it.
And yet, I am still terrified. Now that’s atmosphere. I can but hope I’m capable of achieving even a little of that in my own writing. Maybe I really ought to go back to my childhood love of fullblown horror after all. Hmm…
She left the room and its whispering, wailing memories to descend again to the ground floor. She would go outside, she decided. She would look at the trees and the flowers, then the weeds and the waste, and plan how she would make the garden bloom again. She could not grow proper tea here. But there was always jasmine, mint, other herbs. Perhaps with them her tea would be better, when she had drunk the promised elixir of her husband’s labours.
Yet as she looked at the dead and dying garden, she wondered at his promise, at the unspoken cost. The early days of her pregnancy had also cost her; from the beginning Anastasia had suffered for the gift, the second life within her own taking so much from the first. So much of her time had been spent on the daybed in the morning room, or on the seat upon the porch, unmoving as the seasons changed all about her. But she had not begrudged the child its needs, and neither had Gregory – then.
She laid her hands over her abdomen to find it flat, empty of life. Just another memory, half-faded in the web in which it had become entangled. A strange desire to see the skin welled up within her. Lifting the dress, the slip, she found only white skin beneath. Unmarred by scars, ignorant of all memory, it was as if those days had never been. She pressed her palm hard against it. Had any classical sculptor ever brought to life the form of a mother and child, while the infant still slumbered within? Or would that be too much life in something with none?