Sunday, 16 February 2014

Inspiration and Ambience

This blog is designed to act as a companion to our main website and will involve a weekly series of themed discussions to supplement our latest short-story call out for tales of mystery, suspense and terror inspired by, and in the style of, 19th century ghost stories. This is the third blog in the series.

The aim of these blogs is to facilitate a flow of ideas between readers and writers. So whether you’re a ghost story aficionado, a prospective author or merely curious, please have a read and share your comments! There will be a new blog posted each week throughout the submission window (1st February – 31st May 2014; further details regarding the terms and conditions for the callout can be located here). You can also follow the discussion or join in via twitter using #talesomst_CBB.

This week our blog is all about inspiration and atmosphere and follows from our post last week where we noted that the story 'Schalken the Painter' by Sheridan Le Fanu was inspired by artwork by the Dutch genre and portrait painter Godfried Schalcken (1643-1706).

Readers: when you sit down to read a spooky tale; do you like to create a moody atmosphere to boost the chill? Do you read by candlelight listening to the sound of the winding howling outside your window? Or are you a more social creature; telling tales to friends and family around a campfire or a fireplace, sharing the anticipation and tension, and savouring the terror in the eyes of your listeners!

Authors: when you’re trying to put your spooky thoughts to paper, do you create an atmosphere to get in the mood?

I find Gregorian chant perfect background music for writing atmospheric passages. Although I also find the broody tones of Beethoven, Bach or Requiem masses similarly satisfying. I definitely prefer writing in a dimly lit room; either lit by a single light at my desk or by candlelight. Flickering shadows can be very inspirational.

I also find location spotting fertile ground for inspiration. Castles, cathedrals and graveyards all prove very helpful when composing a descriptive scene and offer ample opportunity for imaginative meanderings. Lastly, but a personal favourite muse, is an art gallery, especially one that offers late evening viewings.  Perhaps the viewing of historical images helps to bring the past closer? Certainly, I find that artistic imagery proves most helpful when attempting to detail an authentic perspective. And from an inspirational viewpoint, perhaps artwork is most beneficial due to limitations imposed by the perspective rather than clarity; sometimes it's less what is shown, but more what is excluded which compels the imagination. In which case, I find older is often better.

So please share your thoughts with us and tell us what inspires you! We hope you may have found this blog inspirational.

Join us next week when we will be discussing and searching for true ghost stories!

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