If there was ever an auspicious day, today is that day

Well, I have finally done it! I have checked and proof-read my book for the umpteenth time and I really hope there is nothing either I or the publisher has missed! I am very happy with it and so I being the journey toward the publication of my first book of short stories, The Camera Obscure. To be fair, some of them are not that short.

In the very first story, The Rented Room, I mention stories to ‘delight and horrify.’ My purpose with my stories was to bring back a sense of the past, with strong individual characters, even in the modern set ones. I have consciously, quite deliberately, tried to evoke stories that lend their style inspiration to Poe, Stevenson, Wilde, LP Hartley, James with my own stamp of individuality. I use long and mending sentences, and often archaic language to suit the age or the character. I wanted to bring back a golden age of stories. It might not be some people’s cup of tea, although I hope that there will be a story for everyone. I have even, a la Dickens or Conan-Doyle, ended on a cliffhanger of sorts, and there will certainly be a sequel to the last story, the Crack in the Lens (an homage to a quotation from Sherlock Holmes) as I have the back story all worked out! I want to release the stories gradually for these characters, as they did in my favourite era of nostalgia, The Victorian era. I have also nearly completed the sequel to The Bog Man, to tie this up nicely. Or not nicely… Wait and see. I by no means romanticise the idea of being a Victorian in real life by the way, and few of the characters are actually in this era. I would not wish to be a woman in this time certainly, only a man! But I do respect that during this time of duality, with such moral codes but seedy underbellies of society, in this in many ways era so ill-advanced by today’s standards, it was so very advanced in so many ways. I would have loved to have seen the ‘firsts’ – the great discoveries, the inventions, the change – the ‘newness.’ I also love the language.

You may notice that some characters from one story may slip into another story. I like this idea, that they exist outside the stories themselves. I am certainly happy that I read it a number of times and I still like my own stories, so I hope other people will too.

It is a bit like giving birth – a huge responsibility and task, you don’t really want to let go, but you also know it’s time to launch it into the big wide world, and if it’s not perfect, so be it!

They are weird stories. At first I was calling it, Camera Obscure, as it thought of some omniscient being observing all theses little beings on earth going about their business. It’s very gothic and fantastic, but also the themes are realistic and certain motifs, like dysfunctional people and families – NOT a reference to my own I must add- run through it. There is addiction, abuse, ghosts, psychological drama, suspense, magical realism, narcissism, murder, psychopathy…Then I realised a few things – although my original title meant ‘dark chamber’, The poet, Simon Armitage for one has a poem with that title. I wanted to be unique. I also considered it now suggests hidden chambers, my own odd creative mind, that of the worlds I have created, and something ‘obscured’ or out of reach. And each story is also a snapshot, hence another meaning of ‘camera’. It’s like a wander through a dark attic – my brain – who knows what you might find in this immersive experience? I also didn’t want a title in Latin after all, because this is a book for all to have a bit of fun with, despite the darkness of it.

To paraphrase Wilde, ‘There is much of myself in it’ – there are people I am a bit like, and those I am definitely NOT and would NOT want to be- and people I have known in many guises – only parts of characters. This is FICTION after all!!

I hope you have a read when it comes out! I wrote it for myself, and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. But naturally, it would be nice to share that experience.

Love, Virginia.

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