FAIRY TALES AND MAGIC PORTALS
The conception of my novel, The House, arrived one day whilst reflecting on the magic portals in children’s fairytales; the looking glass, the wardrobe, trees, rabbit holes etc.
I ventured to consider these magical entrances as archetypal time travel entry points, and as I was embarking on an adult fairy tale, the inclusion of these interesting ‘escape routes’ enabled a fascinating journey of (self) discovery for my main character.
Propelling the narrative was that these gateways into parallel worlds would present themselves as a timely escape from tribulation. By conveying her on a pathway back to times that she, the idealist, had often fantasised about, set up a plot that asked the question – was she so obsessed with the past, because there was something in her that was seeking resolution from a former life?
Thematically, this book is as much about ‘past-life’ entanglements, as it is about discontentment with existing in a world that fails to meet ones expectations, whether through love, aesthetics, spirituality etc. It is about escapism, a comforting scheme that, since the beginning of the modern era and due largely to the ingenuity and creativity of humankind, has been accessible to all through books and art.
A CAST OF DISTINCTIVE CHARACTERS
When first conceiving my characters for The House, I took myself back to the many fairy tales I had read as a child, and channelled some of the creatures and folk prevalent in those classic stories. By thinking of them as archetypes, I created a beastly and dipsomaniacal Lord, an analogy to the predatory wolf, a sensitive Lady powerless to find her true calling, an essence of the damsel in distress, and a troupe of personages that one never reads about in novels written during the (regency) era my book presides in. Such as is the diverse cast that inhabit my book; transvestites, homosexuals, rent boys, courtesans, poets, and of course a time traveller, to name some of this disparate ensemble.
Menacing gargoyles, half man/beast manifestations, another borrowing from the classics, clasp the walls of the house, while in contrast, and most unexpectedly, the interior is adorned by cherubim, goddesses and friendly hard to define souls, whose animated amiable eyes follow in sympathy. Upon the face of it, the beasts ‘guarding’ the ramshackle house symbolise unknown and potentially perilous encounters within. The accidental visitor is left with very little choice for shelter however, for the forest whilst enchanting, has an impending darkness that only wolves and predators revel in.
With a narrative that takes the reader into the Georgian and Regency periods, I purposely created players that I had never met in the books of Jane Austen, nor of those of her contemporaries. While the dramatis personae in ‘The House’ have walked the well trodden path of humanity, social mores of periods past would most certainly not have approved. This was the distinction I enjoyed exploring. Despite the fact that I worked diligently to give them a voice that belonged to that particular era, the aspiration was to write a story that portrayed a familiar humanity. I have been a passionate reader of classic novels for a long while, and the stories that engage me most profoundly are those that present a psychologically complex society. Regardless of the departure from reality that this fantasy novel affords, my aim was to fashion recognisable characters that have travelled throughout time.
PAST LIVES AND SOUL CONNECTIONS
I have been fascinated by the concept of past lives and blood memory for a long while. The theory that our predilections and desires are informed by experiences we may have undergone in previous incarnations, is an enduring subject that many, particularly those drawn to the new age, ponder and even subscribe to. In my case, I am enamoured by these ideologies more for artistic procurement, than true belief. But then again how can I be really certain? Considering the many dogmas that pervade, this one is as credible as any.
Suffering chronic depression, largely due to existing in the modern era (or so she supposes), my main character is nourished on a diet of historical novels. This causes her to look back to a period which communicates more meaningfully to her soul. Is this longing due to the fact that she really did once exist in that time (blood memory), or merely escapist fancy?
Eternal love, along with the notion that we spend our entire lives searching for our “other half” is what sits at the heart of my book ‘The House’. The supposition, as originally propounded by Greek philosophers, is that life’s impulses are aroused by the search for that soul mate, that lover with whom we harmonised once upon a time, in the great celestial orchestra of the hereafter. This endearing and most comforting construct speaks of an immortal love match, and as with Nirvana, one’s evolution is not complete until it is attained.
The time traveller launches upon a journey to a foreign historical setting, where she interacts with a curious mix of characters.* A picture begins to emerge as relationships develop, but the enigmatic nature of her involvement in this mystery remains throughout the book. Could it be a genuine flight of imagination, an escape, from the disconsolation felt in her former life? Or perhaps she must atone for an unfinished affair from another incarnation?
In the end all is revealed. Is the conclusion unexpected? Maybe. Is it bizarre? Definitely.
*see ‘a cast of distinctive characters’ blog
LOST IN THE NOSTALGIC HAZE OF IDEALISM
Dancing wildly to the tempestuous bellow of nature and swooning to the dulcet strains of sirens is how the romantic floats through life. They sail in ships fashioned with goddesses at the masthead to guide and seduce. They have danced in silky full circled gowns until dawn with lithesome soldiers, and fraternised with poets and writers, getting drunk on discourse and philosophy.
Afflicted by melancholia, the romantic is soothed by idealism, an elusive lover. These fragile souls are often invisible in the harsh light of day, only visible in the shadowy night, as they wander the earth in a nostalgic haze, searching for beauty and meaning, often from distant lands and times past.
In this fast moving world where most are pressed by the urgency of accomplishment and aspiration, it is no wonder that many perceive as indulgent and purposeless, the romantic in her vestment of idealism. Upon the face of it, materially, little is produced when time is invested in the guilty pleasure of fantasizing. For the creative spirit however, reverie is what ink is to a pen.
The time traveller in The House is such a hopeless romantic, that from the outset, it is easy to suppose that her presence in this mysterious setting is due to an overactive imagination. Although her origins are not revealed, we know that prior to this unplanned journey, she exists on romancing the past. By reading classic 18th&19th century literature, she forms an emotional relationship with these rose coloured glass worlds.
This sentiment of ‘the grasser was greener then’ suddenly has cold water thrown upon it, when, one afternoon in an ancient wood, she finds herself facing a menacing looking house in the distance. The dreamer suddenly awakens, only to find herself in a nightmare.
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