Talking to +Daniela Ark in the comments section of last week's Sunday Post has led to me thinking about what led me to write my short story, The Journalist (other than wanting to contribute to a Halloween anthology!) It wasn't until I started thinking about it that I realised just how many things had influenced me, so I thought I would share some of it!
The setting that I chose is a Seaside town in North Yorkshire, England, about an hour away from where I grew up. I've been visiting since I was a little girl and there's just so much about it that I love; the old cobbled streets, the ruined abbey, stunning views and Lucky Ducks included (though Lucky Ducks aren't quite relevant to this post, they are interesting and I do own 4 of them!)
But what makes Whitby the perfect setting is the combination of ghost sightings (you can even go on Ghost Tours!), pirate graves, ruins and of course the Dracula connection.
These photos were taken on a camping trip me and some of my friends took a couple of years ago.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula is one of my favourite classic novels (depending on your definition of classic of course!) and I believe one of the best Gothic work of the time. Though The Journalist isn't connected to Dracula in the sense that there are definitely no vampires in it, I can see how Dracula influenced me. Not only was the setting for my story Whitby (see above!) but I also used Newspaper articles in parts of it. For anyone who hasn't read Dracula, it is written in the epistolary format through a series of letters, diary entries and newspaper clippings written and encountered by the various characters involved. Stoker defined the modern vampire, Count Dracula, and introduced characters such as Van Helsing. The most memorable scene of Whitby for me is set in the graveyard of Whitby Abbey, a supposedly haunted site.
Now this one is a little bit of a stretch for anyone that has read The Journalist, and my inspiration from this tale didn't actually come through much (I don't think!) It actually comes back to when I was writing the original form of Awakening (which is nothing like the novella it eventually became but is included in the anthology Touched by Shadow Carressed by Light). I was torn between writing a short story about Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella, which then developed into a ghostly masquerade.
The ghostly masquerade idea stuck, even if I never wrote the story at the time. It had certainly moved on from Cinderella by this point! This idea was also influenced by the Haunted Mansion ride in Disney World Florida (though more likely it's Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris that stuck in my mind, though as far as I am aware they are very similar). The ride included a ballroom scene which is very cleverly done, and the influence of that is definitely visible in my short story!
The Journalist from the anthology Amidst the Shadows
For years people have been going missing near Ivy Manor and Maria is determined to find out why.
Certainly the story that I ended up with is nothing like my first ideas, or even my first draft for that matter, but it has been interesting for me to return to the beginning and look at my influences in writing my story!
I had a lot of fun with this one, and it was useful to have a break from writing stories related to the world of Alventia! (Though Amidst the Shadows does also contain a prequel short story to my novella Awakening called Betrayed).