Candle in the Attic Window, an anthology of Gothic horror, is the latest release from Innsmouth Free Press. We are interviewing some of the book’s contributors. Today writer Josh Reynolds talks about his story “Elizabeth on the Island”.
What makes your story Gothic?
Well, seeing as it’s a riff on one of the original capital ‘G’ Gothic novels, I’d say, “Guilt by association.” But that sounds a bit cute, so I’ll be serious and say that I think the trappings I used for “Elizabeth on the Island” are what make it Gothic – the isolated heroine, the sense of malevolent invasion that pervades her world, as the mundane is thrown topsy-turvy by the appearance of a stranger, and her resolution to investigate (or confront) the mystery that afflicts her. Pretty basic stuff, but you’ve got to have some version of it to call your story “Gothic”. The isolation, the claustrophobia, the mysterious figure in the distance, etc., it’s all got to be there if you want to write that sort of story, I think.
Man, I make writing a story sound like building a car engine, don’t I? I am the most boring author ever.
What was the source of inspiration for your story?
Well, that’d be giving away the ending a bit, but I will say that I was unsatisfied with the resolution to my heroine’s sub-plot, in the work in question. And the movie, while a classic, didn’t do much to correct that. So, I decided to do it. And I was determined to do it in such a way as to allow me to do another, if I’m so inclined, because, frankly, I’m sort of attached to her now. I want to her to do other stuff, to have adventures and go places and…yeah. See? Attached.
What are your favourite Gothic movies and books?
Ooh, tough one. I like Vathek and Melmoth the Wanderer, both of which, I just now realized, do not, in any way, conform to my definition of the Gothic above, so, you know what? Forget that. Pretend I said something else. Something witty. Anyway, yes, Vathek. Its got Djinn in it and that makes it awesome.
If you were the star of a Gothic TV show, what would your character be like? Would you be good or evil?
With my luck, I’d be the guy who gets crushed by the giant, ghostly helmet in the opening episode. Or the gardener who opens the vampire’s casket, looking for treasure, and who gets subsequently mind-whammied. I would have three lines of dialogue and provide a necessary function. If I had a choice, mind, I’d be the sinister butler with the glass eye and the mark of the gallows on his neck. The one with the unpleasantly big hands and the job of feeding whatever it is that the 4th Earl sealed up in the East Tower. Because who wouldn’t want to be that guy? Bet he gets medical AND dental, the lucky jerk.