I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about Gothic literature. I’ve always been a fan of the genre but lately its become a bit of an obsession. From Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto via Dracula to The Vampire Diaries, I can’t seem to get enough of it. So, going away to stay in a Victorian country house, deep in the heart of the New Forest, was always going to kick start something.
We’d been out walking all day and, over time, the group had separated and was strung out along the last mile or so of the path. In need of a break I decided to stop and wait for the real stragglers to catch up and I found myself looking at a swampy body of water. Immediate imagination overload and no notebook, so all I could do was take a photo on my phone and hope to capture something of the atmosphere when I could get my hands on pen and paper. As I stood there, with both the sun and the temperature rapidly going down, it seemed as if I had been caught in a bubble of silence that cut me off from the rest of the world. It was easy to see how both the swamp and the hotel had huge, gothic, potential. They were a ready-made backdrop for a tale of terror; for some sinister goings on at midnight among the hunched and twisted trees, wrapped in their shrouds of silver and green lichen.
My eyes were constantly drawn, however, by the stillness of the water, which made me feel twitchy and uncomfortable. As I stared into it I realised it reminded me of an antique mirror with edges that were spotted and brown with age. The type in which the heroine sees the monster standing right behind her.
I had just begun to consider my MC when the stragglers caught up and the spell was broken. The seed had, however, taken root.
So, having thoroughly spooked myself, I suppose it’s about time I got organised and attempted to write that gothic novel, or, at least, a gothic-themed short story. Now I just have to come up with the unique twist.