One of the joys of writing historical fiction with my Victorian horror and adventure series, ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’, is being released from some of the limitations that modern technology can place on crime writing–it’s hard planning crimes when science and DNA can do so much of the detective work! Also, the limitations of modern communication for creating tension is no longer an issue–my characters can’t suddenly pass on information to each other, and can’t call for help so easily. It frees me up from convoluted ways of disconnecting my characters in the increasingly connected world of modern horror fiction.
It can have it’s issues though, one is being mindful of what doesn’t exist yet… And as I have found in my latest project–long distance communication. My story is an origin story of sorts, set in 1851–about 25 years earlier than normal for the series, and sees Darkwood’s parents separated through her father, Edward, being in India steering the family teasing business and her mother, Anne, left to run the Darkwood estates. Communication through letter would take weeks each way, creating a big disconnect between their back and forth–which has been a problem for me as both will experience shared events through Anne coming into possession of the guide stone which is so important to the series.
This 5 part limited Netflix documentary explores how a secretive Christian cult is set upon a world of Christian leaders. The members court politicians, bring them in, and they act as missionaries to other countries, where it’s quite clear that Jesus–and Christian beliefs–are all that matter. ‘Dictator with appalling human rights records? Hey, that’s ok, we both love Jesus, right? Let’s be friends’. Meanwhile someone I know mentions they voted Brexit and I want to cut them out of my life… A Christian world enmeshed in politics and the ruling class frighten me. We might think something like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ won’t happen, well, it could–maybe not as extreme–but social freedoms could so easily be dialled back with an increase in the religious right, appealing to the populist fears and prejudices. It showed the Romanian referendum on changing their marriage definition from spouses to being between a man and a woman, and the Family not promoting it but commending the government for promoting family values. As if gays are the world’s problem. It doesn’t feel so far fetched to think that here in the UK that same sex marriage could be rolled back, and suddenly my relationship won’t have the acceptance and protections of other committed relationships. Especially when parties like UKIP have their surges in popularity with their views on same-sex marriage, and our current prime minister is also quoted with his own questionable opinions.
An Origin Story
With my current project, I’ve made it to the end of the next run of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’. And it’s a short story, so shouldn’t take too long. The only difference this time is the importance of the story. One of the central mysteries of The Darkwood Mysteries is what Darkwood’s mother and father did with the guide-stone they left her as inheritance, and this story will explore the beginning of the Darkwood relationship with the stone. Peeling back the curtain on a central mystery is daunting. An info dump is not satisfying, but with my trying to keep each story in the series as standalone as possible and through their not really being in chronological order it’s equally difficult to sprinkle in clues and red-herrings which build to a climactic reveal. So, I have set upon having one or two stories per run deconstructing the central mystery.
It’s been a tough week. We’re only in a short chain in our property move, but it’s dragging on. We’re all done our end, but we’re just waiting for our buyers to catch up, and for a moment it seemed a bit touch and go as to whether we still had buyers–which was depressing as we would likely lose the place we like while waiting for another buyer. We missed out on another home last year because we couldn’t find a buyer. Hopefully we’re back on track now.
On top of that uncertainty, Dean cat stopped eating last weekend. We’ve lost two cats and stopping eating was a symptom of the illnesses they had. So, naturally my head went to the worst case scenario. Ugh, me and that cat, honestly, he’s my baby. Follows me everywhere, always next to me or on me. Thankfully he only missed a couple of days, but it was a worry. Hate it when the cats are ill–that whole not knowing what’s going on for them and how long to leave it before we do something for them.
I’m entering the last writing sessions for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (16): The Rise of the Dragon’. It’s all been going smoothly. The joys of being a plotter! I have each character figured out, and each chapter planned out, and pretty much each week I manage to get through a chapter in a writing session.
The writing regime of a minimum of 3000 words a week is pretty easy to hit. I get up at 6:00, and I’m normally at the keyboard by 06:30, and I’m often at the 2000 word stage by 08:00. Some of my writing time is revisiting the last section from the week before and tweaking it for anything stand-out bad. I tend to be done by about 11:30 and then it’s lunch and whatever I want to do for the rest of the day.
The Haunted House We Nearly Bought
In the midst of buying our next property the survey threw up some issues we thought might cause us to change our minds. Thankfully it all worked out. But, had this fallen through we were worried about the limited choices of properties on the market at the time, and the risk of our buyers getting impatient waiting for us to find something else–it’s taken us a while to get buyers. One of the only other houses which ticked a lot of boxes for us was a large three bed house.
Now, I used to be really into the paranormal as a kid and was a pretty big ‘spooky Mulder believer’, but as an adult I’ve become a doubting ‘raised eyebrow Scully’. Saying that, there was something decidedly ‘off’ about this potential second choice property… If a house could be haunted this would be it. I had a weird feeling about the house, and my husband–who is even more firmly rooted in the sceptic–agreed. It got me thinking about that weird sense you can have about a place. I remember going to see a property with my mum one of the times she was looking, and we both came out of it citing a bad vibe, and then as we talked we realised we had both felt it in one room–the dining room. It just felt unwelcoming. It was similar with this house.