Are you writing something a little bit disturbing?
Do you want to improve your descriptive writing or to think about setting and atmosphere?
Several years ago I read John Connolly’s The Reapers and was held captive by his uneasy ability to marry the steady processes of detection with looming gothic horror.
His style reminds me of that simultaneous mixture of pleasure and revulsion you experience as a huge spider crawls steadily up your arm!
The supernatural insinuates itself creepily between the lines of Connolly’s elegaic prose and has the power to disturb his readers deep into the night!
Connolly bravely refuses to discredit the possibilities of the supernatural and in his next novel The Lovers, all hell does literally and metaphysically break loose. The seductive idea of the soul mate gets a radical new make over in this novel.
Connolly makes central the possibilities of the ‘uncanny’ and it is this centrality of what many would find literally incredible or ‘other’ , which makes his writing so distinctive.
Soul mates in The Lovers are time travelling killers, fatefully ‘meeting’and ‘mating’ in order to destroy. Love is defined as nemesis perhaps?
So yesterday I picked up The Burning Soul along with my Morrisons shopping and started it today.
Students seeking inspiration for descriptive writing and wishing to create a compelling setting could do far worse than reading Connolly’s opening chapters, though he is sometimes very disturbing, and certainly not for those who have nightmares or below 18.
That said, he is superb at creating a pointedly uneasy background for his narratives: sometimes the narratives feel like waiting for judgement day!
Animals are harbingers of doom, very often leaking messages humans are too distracted or egotistical to decode.
Here Connolly makes us watch ravens first, thus anticipating the secretive horrors to come:
”They were perched deep among the branches of an ancient oak, an organism approaching the end of its days, its leaves falling earlier each year, so that by the end of every September it was already bare, a charred thing amid the flames, as though an all consuming fire had already had its way with it, leaving behind only the smoke smudges of long abandoned nests. ”
Look at the accumulative effects of the description. Nature is old and degenerating into barely recognisable forms. The tree is mutating almost into something that looks like brutalised debris; a left over from some conflict.
The waiting ravens seem to have a purpose and this purpose is supported by the veiling properties of the ‘ancient oak’. Visbility is impaired and this allows the ravens a haven from which they can wait and then destroy.
We readers anticipate the malignant mirroring between the bird world and the human!
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