…yes you wait ages for a post and then another pops in just as you had moved on to something really exciting. OK, I know you weren’t waiting and am just making myself feel a bit better.
This book I have maybe almost finished, or almost got ready to bin – did not have a title when I wrote the first draft of this post. It does now. The ones supplied by my intrepid readers somehow didn’t fit, or not fit in the right, Trainspotting, kind of way and I had to wait till one popped into my head. From there it needed to work its way onto the tip of my tongue, and then – shazam! This is my post, and I’ll say this if I want to say it – it is sure to be greeted by wild cheering throngs mounting tickertape parades as an astonished planet reels from…OK, enough.
Someone I have a high regard for read one of my earlier books and termed it “weird”. Well, it is. My books are both like and unlike the thriller genre they have till now flitted around in and as they buzz near the edges of definition and desirability, they reveal that they are, truly, a bit strange – unlike their peers while (still my post, OK?) meeting the requirements of the genre. That is part of my “schtick”, to be the same and not the same. So far, it hasn’t worked for me, even a little bit. I don’t write that way – it is how things turn out as I work them out, and write them. This writing lark is a mystery to its practitioners, or it is to me. But even if by design, the crowds in the earlier paragraph have turned up only to turn up their noses and buzz off home.
This one however while moseying along contentedly in thriller country, somehow roamed a bit farther into very dark forests of the imagination to come out in new territory for me, and the crowds might turn up to take a second sniff. It is – depending on how you like to define things – a ghost story, paranormal, and/or ridiculous. It really is weird, even to me. I thought so as I was working it out, thought it while I was writing it, and I think so now. All the same, I think its weirdness is not at all bad.
The idea of writing a ghost story came from something almost unrelated that happened to me in Scotland last year. Then before I ever thought of a plot, I read a number of books and stories featuring ghosts, including one by Thorne Smith (his first Topper book; I had already read the second, and Night Life of the Gods, my fave), and a Douglas Adams special with a ghost who had something of the quality I think is natural. I watched films with aliens and ghosts. I read and/or reread stuff about metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls, and reincarnation…and the religions and philosophies surrounding these fascinating ideas. And while I was thinking about these things, I was also reading and thinking about the Romans, the Huns, the Goths, Edward Gibbon, Attila for it was he, the Holocaust and the “war in the East”, and my favourite writers – Euripides! Yes! Alcestis*…if you haven’t read the Ted Hughes version of this you really should…but also Medea…! And Shakespeare…Hamlet! Ghost dad tells the kid he’s not making it…and finally, and really importantly, Dostoevsky. As I have written, “Bobok”, a short story, was in my head…but along with that the appearance of the Devil in Brothers Karamazov. Wow!
Wait! There’s more! Celine’s last trilogy gets its impetus from a whole boatload of ghosts, in the first part, Castle to Castle! Charon’s boat, the one who ferries the dead across to their place…the passengers have to go get money before they are allowed to board** but when they do, that Charon whacks them with an oar, splits their heads in two when he doesn’t just mash them up into gruesome glop! Celine knows some of the crew…and has a chat…it’s all fine…kind of…
So you see, even if I go into the serious literature part of the universe, where I actually fear to tread as a writer at least until now***, ghosts abound…evil creatures with them too…deceptive Devil in old clothes and no teeth…and my ghosts? Are they informed by this pantheon of greatness and frivolity? Yes, they are. Do they measure up? Aw…so far, I don’t think so. But I haven’t finished, quite yet.
And the title? Here it is! Attila’s angels…it worked its way from my brain, jumped onto my tongue, and then flew out onto the page! No need to write! Ghosts!
Must get out on the balcony to watch the parade^…have to fix a bit of the book but the title works for me, so I hope it works for you…
Thanks for reading.
*Hughes’ version of this is amazing and when you consider his life, it is even more amazing.
**The old Greeks put a coin, known as an obol on the tongue of the departed to pay for their passage…Celine was riffing on this.
*** Next time, I’m thinking…
^Don’t have a balcony, but there is a deck…