Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Guest Blogger Carole Gill
The writing bug bit when Carole was 8 years old and she penned her first story about Martians taking all of earth’s children back with them to Mars. It was a promising start but then life got in the way.
There were after all two universities, nursing school and acting school to drop out of.
Former executive secretary and frustrated writer, Carole Gill is a New Yorker who lives in Yorkshire. In 2000 she was selected by North West Playwrights of England for further development. It was an enriching experience, but she found she preferred short story and novel-writing.
When her angelic husband suggested she try her hand at writing full-time, she did. Within a year she was published in a few sci-fi and horror anthologies.
She has penned a crime novel and a romance novel—but nothing in the horror genre which she prefers. Currently, she is finishing up her work in progress: a dark gothic novel she describes as ‘Jane Eyre with vampires.’
She writes monthly stories for Vamplit’s free online horror magazine, Blood Read, most of which are based on one of her characters, fallen angel spawn and vampire, Monsieur Louis Darton.
Hello! What follows is the conversation I had with one of the characters, Darton, in my novel, The House on Blackstone Moor.
It happened suddenly at the end of a writing day. I had just finished a chapter and was about to take a break when I heard a voice say:
“I’m sorry I’m taking over the narrative now.”
“What? You can’t. I didn’t intend for it to be that way. It’s told in the heroine’s voice and it’s going to be like that all the way through!”
“Oh come on now, Carole! You’re a ‘seat of the pantser,’ you don’t plan anything!”
“True, but this is different!”
“I don’t know. It just is!”
“Sorry, I am firm about this! I take over the narrative now and that’s the end of the discussion!”
Now, this somewhat schizoid scene is based on a real incident. Yes, ladies and gentlemen! Here I was, writing my novel. It’s in the first person, told by the young lady of the tale, Rose Baines, a damaged young woman, the only survivor of her family’s carnage who finds a position as governess at a mysterious and accursed house on the desolate Yorkshire Moors.
Now the narrative was going great. Really humming along, until another character, Monsieur Louis Darton began to make himself understood. After he saw how thoroughly thrown I was by what he said about taking over the narrative, he had me sit down and we discussed the matter calmly over coffee.
“It isn’t that I wish to be domineering, Carole,” he said. “But by writing monthly stories for Blood Read you have gotten to know me so well that you have to show my point of view! I think also the readers of those stories would demand, if you’ll forgive me for saying so, that I have some chapters to narrate myself, in my own voice. I mean I can’t just stay in the back ground and be described only by Rose. Do you see what I mean?”
“Yes,” I answered as I did. “Let me think about it.”
Louis, ever the gentleman, was kind enough to let me mull this one over. As I began to think about switching narratives, I realized that there was a perfect point wherein Louis might take control.
It comes at a crucial time in the novel when Rose has received one horrific shock after another about her employers and her two charges. And if that isn’t enough, there is a hideous discovery she makes in the cellar which quite throws her into a state.
As I was thinking this, Louis began once again:
“Pardon me for just interjecting here. But the thing you have to avoid is paralyzing the action, stopping it dead in its tracks so to speak when the narrative is changed.”
“I know that!” I snapped rather defensively. “You’re a character in my novel. I’m the writer, you know!”
“I do apologize. Of course. But truly, you have created me, I am like your child, surely you should listen to your child.”
He did have a point. I urged him to continue because it was a very good one.
“Think of various crises that may occur, awful things going on that I can describe while still giving constant updates on the condition of the heroine, that’s how I would do it if I were you!”
“Yes! Yes,” I cried! “That’s it! That’s how I will do it!”
“There’s just one thing, what about the ten chapters that lead to the rather surprising climax?”
“I have that already figured out! Rose will take over those last ten chapters to wind it all up!”
“That is excellent! Carole, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!”
“Thank you, Louis! I’m sure you’re right!”
You know what? We often have coffee and discuss the novel and I find that I am open to any reasonable suggestion.
There is a moral here: always listen to your characters because, they know a lot, after all—they take after you, don’t they?
Thanks so much for blogging with us today, Carole! I usually write the intro and say how I met the person and mention their works - but yours was so clever and well done I left it in. Great advice on listening to the inner voices - and I wish you much success penning the rest of the story.