It was a weird week. @Dicksnensian was running the @WetheHumanities Twitter Rotation-Curation account and re-tweeted this image from the Cole Museum of Zoology, at Reading University; that same week saw the death of Sir Terry Pratchett who was, without a doubt, my favourite living author.
I was advised that the zombies, as I called them, would be more correctly referred to as lemures (from the Roman mythological term.) I woke up, thinking about the image, and how animate the characters appeared. Wheels started to turn in my head leading, a couple of days later, to a spate of frantic keyboard-bashing, as a piece of weird fiction began to emerge.
What more fitting way to honour Pratchett, and his works, than to write? I am not a good writer, and I am not a frequent writer; one takes practice, the other takes dedication. I have, however, been a voracious reader, ever since I acquired the ability to do so. My current piece of work, The Lemure (what else?) finds influences in the Twitter conversations of that week (thanks to @organicperson for an important idea, and to @Dicksnensian and @IJColeZoology for the initial inspiration,) H. P. Lovecraft, Mary Shelley, Ksenia Anske, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Cherie Priest, Bram Stoker, and Terry Pratchett’s words on reading broadly for inspiration.
25 BCE: Roman army surgeon in occupied Egypt is fascinated by the tradition of mummification, and wonders whether it would possible to change the process to confer genuine immortality. Jump forward over 2,000 years, to a young couple renovating a cottage in the Cotswolds. They discover a Thing in the back of a bricked-up wardrobe, which possesses one of them, and much fun and games ensues.
I spent a day agonising over whether I was going to integrate this work into the legacy of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, but decided this will not happen. Probably.
To envisage plots, I have to believe in my characters, so they have to be real people; my character notes go into vast detail – backstories include history of parents, siblings, education, musical tastes, and much more. In a way, the characters ARE all real, in that they are composites of persons living, deceased, or fictional. One character from The Lemure, for instance is an unholy fusion of Prof. J. R. R. Tolkien, and Stoker’s Van Helsing, whereas another bears a certain resemblance to my dentist. (I actually got that little gem of inspiration whilst she was descaling my teeth.)
I am not going to impose ridiculous, and artificial deadlines on myself; this exercise is part pleasure, part therapy, and part personal development in use of language. (I believe that writing fiction will make me a better writer of software – and vice-versa.)
So, no “I will be publishing on the nth of Xuary,” but I will be seeing this work to the bitter end, and, after an initial draft/edit cycle, will release as a beta version in whatever electronic formats my writing software, Scrivener, permits.
There. Now I have told even more people about it, it is incumbent on me to knuckle down and get the job done.
To those who have offered ideas, and encouragement, my most grateful thanks.
Adelaide Central Bus Station, 28th March, 2015.