I took a bit of a hiatus from writing stories for The Crow’s Quill so I could focus on my novel for a bit, but well, the novel hit a bit of a wall during the holidays. I did also find a bit of motivation to write a new piece of short fiction, and it proved to be the distraction I needed. Now, I apologize for posting this moodboard much later than I usually do, but I’ve been busy and exhausted and, much like the protagonist of this story, I need a dang mental health break.
“A Patient, A Guest” Premise
After the death of her troubled husband, an emotionally vulnerable Veronica decides to stay at the nearby asylum-turned-luxury-hotel. While there, she befriends another patron with a few demons of his own.
A Demon Story
So like, being a Christian, writing about demons is weird. Not that I have any real issue with demon stories. I’ve read plenty of hot ones in the past that I quite enjoyed. Originally, I started writing a story where the love interest ended up being a demon and messing with the protagonist. You know, your standard sexy demon story fodder.
My problem is that I get bored writing that kind of story. I like to break formulas a bit. I mean, a guess a part of me feels a bit guilty glorifying demons as sex objects but hey, I can write my way out of that. And so my “demon story” is more about personal demons than literal demons, which was a fun take on the theme in a deeper and more introspective way.
Another Urbex Video Inspires Me
This was a story that I actually tried to write twice already for The Crow’s Quill. Originally, I’d set it in the Banff Springs Hotel. I’ve always wanted to write a cool ghost story about the place, considering that the hotel is notoriously known for its many ghosts. Every time I tried, however, I just couldn’t wrap a story around the lore of the building.
Then I ended up watching another Proper People video, which (much like the video that inspired “Woman of the White Cottage”) entirely inspired a brand new short story. This video was of the Buffalo State Hospital in Buffalo, New York, which was converted into a luxury hotel in 2017.
Sadly, Covid took out the Hotel Henry become in 2020, but the Proper People video at least shows much of the hotel’s interior. I honestly love the idea of utilizing this old building in this manor, and from what I’ve read, the hotel was quite nice and well-reviewed.
I did also gain a bit of inspiration from this post I found on Reddit of a gym that was built in an old asylum in the UK.
Honouring the Past
In my research about Hotel Henry and the Buffalo State Hospital, which was previously called “Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane”, I did also stumble across this article, which addresses the idea of painting over the awful history of a building and turning into a place of luxury and lore. Upon my first reading of the article, I did roll my eyes a bit. It’s so rare for large old buildings to be refurbished and repurposed , and I was grateful to see a building preserved for once instead of simply destroyed to make way for cheap condos.
But, when I read the article a second time, I did appreciate the author’s consideration of the awful history of mental health care in former eras. We all love to glorify the horror of the events that unfolded in these places, and yet often fail to think of the actual people who lived their lives in these walls.
Restoration is one thing, but the erasure of an entire history of pain and dehumanizing treatment in the name of luxury and glamor is another. People are making fun and entertainment out of what was degradation and real pain and suffering for those who were committed at this institution up until the late 1970s. What if people were calling a former concentration camp “spooky” or “gorgeous,” with a tone that indicates titillation? What if they were holding their weddings there? Though of different origins and proportions, the use of asylums to silence and remove human beings from society is still a grave matter, and should be handled with the utmost sensitivity.madintheattic.com – “Hotel Henry and the Line between Restoration and Trivialization“
It’s a really thoughtful article that considers our relationships with places. Some might not agree with the article, but it’s human nature to connect our presence within a space to those who existed there before, and that essentially is what “A Patient, A Guest” is about, is personal demons.
“A Patient, A Guest” Playlist
This was one of my favourite playlists to put together because it required the right balance of music that was both haunting and beautiful. I ended up listening to most of these songs during the holiday season, which was great because I very much dislike Christmas music. I’m quite alright with listening to depressing songs during the holidays, considering that I work retail.
I ended up putting two Exitmusic songs. They’re easily my favourite band to listen to and their music just fits so well with a lot of the themes I write about. Other faves include TR/ST’s “Darling” and Wild Beasts’ “New Life”, which just fit perfectly with the theme of “A Patient, A Guest.”
Read “A Patient, A Guest” in The Crow’s Quill
“A Patient, A Guest” appears in the Demons issue of The Crow’s Quill from Quill and Crow Publishing House, and it’s free to read! Head on over and let me know what you think.