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.