A Storytelling of Ravens began with the title.
I’d bought a new handbag with illustrated ravens on the front. When I opened the flap, I was delighted to see the words ‘A Storytelling of Ravens’ printed in quirky type. It was such a lyrical sentence and gorgeous collective noun, I decided that’s what I would call my next book.
I contemplated going all-out James Herbert’s Rats style, only with ravens. But quickly decided against it, because I wanted the horror to be more psychological than gory. A story that would be filled with characters who rub each other up the wrong way, feel increasingly claustrophobic, hide secrets, spread rumours and perhaps deceive one another. Oh, and why not stick them in a cabin in the middle of a spooky old wood that’s said to be the home of something terrible?
Yep. So far, so good.
But what about the characters? Who would they be?
Not long after buying the handbag, I went to a local restaurant one evening. Next to the table my friend and I were sharing was a strange painting on the wall. It showed a redheaded girl on a small boat surrounded by what looked like ravens – attacking her! Completely random, in a nightmarish way, it spoke to me on many levels. The palette, dark and moody, appealed to me. But there was no signature or other identifier to let me know who the artist was. So I had no way of finding out about the painting’s backstory. Which made it all the more intriguing. Because who was the small girl, and why was she alone?
Pollyanna isn’t the main character in A Storytelling of Ravens, but she’s an interesting cog in the overall workings. And from her, I quickly and easily filled the other roles in my new line-up.
What about ravens? There are ravens, right?
Yep, of course. They live in a tree right next to the cabin.
I dunno, there are too many to count. But they’re noisy as hell.
Are they evil?
That would be telling.
In horror fiction, I love the fear of the unknown. The mere suggestion of evil, no matter how subtle, is enough to make us uncomfortable, at the very least, or downright scared. Sometimes, even though we’re not really sure what it is we’re afraid of, all it takes is a hint of something not quite right for our imagination to go wild. At least mine does. And as a horror writer, the most genuine and best way I can write my stories is to play up to the uncanny things that frighten me most.
I can’t really say too much more about A Storytelling of Ravens without being spoilerish. So I won’t. I’ll leave it there and let you decide if you dare to enter Whispering Woods.
It’s still on promotion for 99c / 99p till the end of the week.