Saturday, April 14, 2012

What could possibly be scary about a yellow scarf?

I feel I've been neglecting my readers lately. It hasn't been because of a lack of interest. I'm feeling full bore Gothic these days, trying to find something really great to read and review (I tried Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger, but that wasn't it). I finished another draft of my forthcoming Gothic Romance, The Haunting at Blackwood Hall, in February and wrote Black Valentines in about three weeks time, turned around and cranked out another shocker, this one called The Yellow Scarf. My early beta readers reported variously that it creeped them out, and it was really scary. I'll let you be the judge of that.

I've read interviews with Stephen King for years where people always ask him where he gets his ideas and he has some down-home comeback about getting them at the corner drugstore. I've started hearing a variation, "How do you come up with this stuff?"

The Yellow Scarf is three things that converged together. I can identify two of them. A few months ago I was reading some old Les Daniels paperbacks, one of them was No Blood Spilled, which alluded to the murderous Indian cult of the early 19th century known as Thugs. If you know anything about these followers of Kali Ma, you will understand the title reference going in.

The second source was some reviews of two Shirley Jackson novels, including The Sundial, which involves an extended family holed up in a decaying country estate waiting for the end of the world. The Yellow Scarf is not about the end of the world, but two thirds of it takes place in a decaying country mansion, a very lovely decaying country mansion if you're into that sort of thing.

Somehow (and for the life of me I can't remember how it happened) the Rolling Stones concert in Hyde Park in London in 1969 got thrown into the mix. True story. The Yellow Scarf is not. It's fiction. I hope you enjoy it, and let me know what you think. Below is the opening:

The house waited.
The rains were heavy that spring. The grounds around Hampton Close were sodden, the canopy of trees so lush and full that swollen limbs prohibited any hope of sunlight from ever reaching the floor of the forest primeval. To walk the wood surrounding Hampton Close was a hazard to the traveler. The flora had rotted into a cesspool of rank detritus leaving the ground a morass of wet leaves and rotten undergrowth. Beneath, benighted creatures roiled and squirmed, thriving on the sustenance of warm decay which enfolded them in its womb.
With the coming of summer, and the heat, the house became a breeding ground for that which thrives in darkness. Not tangible organisms with defined shape and form and measurable weight, but those things which grow just across the border of consciousness in that twilight area accessible only through dreams and precognition, creativity and madness. The house was alone with itself and in its loneliness it turned within and beheld its own living darkness.
The house smiled.

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