Blog Hop

Several days ago, I accepted Judy Goodwin’s invitation to participate in a blog hop.

It works like this:

You announce you are going to hold a hop on a certain day and invite others to participate. On the day of the hop, you post a link back to the person who invited you, and answer some basic questions about the project you are currently writing or are trying to publish, and link forward to anyone who accepted your invitation to join in.

Judy Goodwin’s blog may be found at

Up next is my current project:

What is the working title of your book?

Camera Obscura is the working title, but I am considering using Grave Portraits.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My best ideas come from nightmares in the wee hours. I met Sarah in a nightmare, and her smile was enough to wake me up shivering. Her being a photographer who creates uncanny photos may have come from the impression Avram Davidson’s “The Montavarde Camera” made on me when I encountered it in a fantasy anthology back in the 1960’s. I don’t recall anything else in that collection, but for some reason that story stuck with me.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?

The actor who plays Beth, the protagonist, would need to present as an intelligent, no-nonsense, rather lonely woman in early middle age. Sigourney Weaver as she looked about twenty years ago would have been ideal.

The actor who plays Sarah, the antagonist and primary supernatural being in the story, would need the dramatic range to display every emotional state from normal human happiness to the madness and wrath of a King Lear who had been touched by the supernatural. Sarah presents herself in different forms: an adolescent, a young adult, and an old woman. If that weren’t challenging enough for an actor, for parts of the story, someone else is occupying her body, which adds yet another personality to display.

Briefly describe the major characters:

Sarah: a woman whom tragedy has transformed into something no longer human. Her photographs reveal the darkest secrets of her subjects’ souls, and that is merely a taste of what she can do.

Beth: obsessed the the collection of uncanny photographs Sarah, thought to be long dead, left behind.

Katie: Beth’s teenage daughter, who has learned to hide and to suppress her powerful clairvoyant gifts.

Chester: an elderly scholar who knows a lot more about Sarah than he is willing to reveal.

Nan: an emotionally damaged woman whom Sarah once used as a channel for her powers.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A researcher trying to discover what became of a legendary photographer unintentionally liberates a wrathful supernatural being who possesses a young girl.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Probably self-published, but we’ll see.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft took about a year. I mostly wrote for an hour or so a day before going to work. I let it sit for a couple of years, and about six months ago started an extensive re-write that is nearly finished.

What other books in your genre does it resemble?

If on a this-is-uncanny-and-nightmarish scale of dark fantasy/horror of zero to ten where the Twilight stories are zero (he sparkles like a six-year-old girl’s pink toy unicorn?), the Dresden Files series is about a three or four, and Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan” or H. P. Lovecraft’s “Cool Air” are tens, then overall my book is about a four, with a couple of chapters hitting eight.

On a blood-and-gore scale where Edith Wharton’s “Afterward” is zero and Clive Barker’s “The Midnight Meat Train” is ten, averaged out over the whole book my gore level is about a two, but there are a couple of chapters that hit ten and might not be appropriate for children or unusually sensitive adults.

My terrors, like some of those created by the splendid Caitlin Kiernan and the classic horror writers, are more likely to be sui generis and to lack an owner’s manual. After all, once the reader understands that the vampire is simply an annoying guy who can be dispatched with a stake or sunlight, a lot of the steam goes out of the story. Nightmares where logic has taken a permanent holiday are much more disturbing.

The plot of E. M Forster’s A Passage to India is largely driven by the consequences of a terrifying encounter with the supernatural in the Marabar caves, but Forster was far too good a writer to tidily explain it. In my book, the characters express ideas about what’s going on, but I don’t promise they are correct.

Alas, no one asked to be linked from this blog, so this branch ends here.


6 thoughts on “Blog Hop

  1. What do you normally do when you hit writer’s block to help keep you motivated? I figured you might have some tips since you’re such a great writer! I hate getting scared but lately I’ve been enthralled by it, probably due to Halloween being right around the corner. I would love to buy your book when it comes out! I would only read it in broad daylight though while hugging my ever faithful doll, Sam.

    • Well, it involves going to a crossroads at midnight with a rubber chicken and copies of the Donner Party Cookbook and H. P. Lovecraft’s Travel Guide to Old New England towns and then. . . .

      Okay, maybe not. Something I find useful when I get stuck is something Ray Bradbury talked about doing in a forward to Fahrenheit 451. He would go through library stacks, pulling books off at random, and reading a few paragraphs from each. Weirdly, if you are sensitive to language, you can get into a sort of creative high doing that.

      I also like to read samples of great writing aloud, even when the writing is in one of those grand narrative voices (the opening of James Joyce’s Ulysses, for example) that are too big for me to attempt myself.

      You must also be willing to start a chunk of writing over from scratch that isn’t working. Hemingway re-wrote the end of A Farewell to Arms a few dozen times.

      Thanks for your kind offer to buy my book! Best wishes to you, and check out the Novel writing Month project for ideas on how to keep going..

      • Haha, I always feel rubber chickens help…

        Interesting. I love the idea of getting inspired by others’ works. Sometimes, I’m afraid that if their work is fresh in my head, I’ll accidentally copy their themes or ideas. I see what you mean though by turning to various books that might lead me down the right direction.

        Thank you, I will! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s