Of Eyes and Eras

   I’ve rallied against being pigeon-holed or stereotyped (call me a typical male and you are in for an argument). When I first embarked on this path towards being a writer/novelist, I found I could write humour and humanity, but I embraced the challenge of writing different genres. If my writing teachers said for example, ‘writing in the second person point of view is one of the hardest point of views to write’, then that is what I would try first.

   That said, I find myself drawn to the Victorian/Romantic eras. I think I always have been. I’ve always had a fascination for old houses, and I do mean old, as in turn of the century or older. Both my inner and outer eye is drawn to them. There is history there, tangible history, that I find irresistible.

   So it is no shock that Echoes, my first book, draws heavily from that fascination. In fact, looking back on it now for my critiquing session, I have unconsciously set most scenes in old houses lit predominately with the glow of candles.

   Last night we watched A Christmas Carol, albeit it was an animated version but it had a scene where a legion of ghosts stood outside Scrooge’s house in the fog, chanting that he ‘mind the chains’. That, right there, is the hook. It is no wonder a number of the well-known ghost stories originated from England during that time period.

   Ok, I realize England isn’t always foggy, but when it was, the fog took on a personality of its own. Think about it, no electricity so no well-lit houses. No central heat so heavy drapes hung at the windows and over the beds to ward off the damp and cold. No proper insulation so these drapes moved at the whim of the wind as it whistled and moaned through the gaps around the windows.

   Much of my childhood was spent travelling down east to visit family in New Brunswick and Newfoundland. There the houses were very similar to what could be found in England. The bustle of big city life had yet to reach its greedy fingers into those communities. Grand foyers, back stairways, widow’s look-outs, cavernous attics where laundry was often hung to dry and a good amount of dust in forgotten corners. Gone were the servants, only my elderly Great Aunts and Uncles rattled about within those walls. I was in my glory. I wallowed in the imagery, soaked up the atmosphere and let my mind romp through the halls filled with trappings the likes of Poe, Dickens or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

   I guess it is no wonder that in my effort not to be pigeon-holed as a ‘comedy writer’ I have tapped into a true calling. For now at least.


About Dale Long

Writing ambushed me from the shadows. At first I pushed it aside as nonsense, but luckily my wife and two girls saw the potential. Since then I have had an article published by Metroland, placed as runner-up and in the top ten in humour writing contests and various other contests. The icing on the cake was placing as runner-up in the WCDR's Wicked Words contest (130 entries) and having my entry published in the contests anthology of the same name. My entry was an exerpt from my upcoming novel, Echoes.
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3 Responses to Of Eyes and Eras

  1. Lisa Llamrei says:

    You might be on to something, Dale.

    I’ve just finished reading both ‘Dracula’ and ‘Frankenstein’ and I believe the Victorian (and Georgian) sense of melodrama also played a big part in the rise of the ghost story. Reading those classics I couldn’t help but notice that, prior to the twentieth century, that men seemed to revel in displays of emotion, whether it be undying love or abject horror. Contrast that with today’s typical male (not you, of course) that would rather take a punch than talk about ‘feelings’.

    • Dale Long says:

      I had forgotton about the emotional polarization. They were awlays mooning, or blustering or agast in horror and sometimes even laughing uproariously. Maybe it had something to do with the huge difference between the classes. They were either filthy rich, or dirt poor. I think both those saying were born out of the lack of indoor plumbing 😉
      I suppose it was the contrasts that made life interesting.
      Nice catch!
      Both those books were a hard read, weren’t they? They had a love affair with words and I think, word counts.

      • Lisa Llamrei says:

        I didn’t find either to be a difficult read. I enjoyed ‘Dracula’ much better because of the fast pace. I flagged a bit during ‘Frankenstein’ because so very much time was spent on internal reflection and backstory. The action didn’t start until Chapter 4! As much as I loved the poetic language, I guess I’m just a child of the tv generation at heart.

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