Exciting news! I was asked to become a regular contributor for Quill & Crow Publishing House’s new online magazine, The Crow’s Quill. The magazine features upmarket gothic short fiction ranging from 1500-2000 words. Each issue is themed and they are currently looking for stories, so send them some of your work if it’s within your vein! The first issue drops on August 1st and includes my brand new short story, “Little Black Death”.
A Little Synopsis
When the richest man in the village, William Hargrove offers his hand in marriage to a poor village woman who’s just lost her father, she feels she has no other choice but to accept. She moves into his castle and bears his children, but struggles most with loving a man who caused her entire life’s destruction.
What Inspired “Little Black Death”
What I loved most about Resident Evil Village was the setting. I loved the mountainside castle and the village that resided beneath, plus the factory that you could see across the valley. I watched Jacksepticeye’s playthrough of the game shortly after it came out, which was subsequently around the time when I started writing gothic fiction. It also helped me get over the gutting rejection of my novel. The game’s aesthetic really grabbed me and refused to let go.
Then I got the request to write a story for the magazine and I knew I had to set it there.
Other inspiration was Let Love Come Last by Taylor Caldwell, which was the only slightly gothic vintage paperback I could find at my local used bookstore last spring. Published in 1949, it follows a woman, Ursula, who marries William, an arrogant rags-to-riches businessman, who bought out the owner of the city’s lumber mill. Ursula marries William fully realizing that he has no intention of loving her, but in passing his newfound wealth to his children . . . by literally giving them everything they want to the point it works to their detriment. It’s is a long and somewhat dry read compared to today’s fiction offerings, but it was fucking amazing, friends. It cuts pretty deep as it progresses through the years. Seriously, it’s the best family saga book I’ve ever read.
Anyway, this book probably inspired “Little Black Death” more than I’d care to admit. It took me over two months to read this thing. And one can’t spend that long in a book without fully immersing themselves in it. So yes, the husband in “Little Black Death” is also a dude named William who owns a lumber mill. I swear that is where the similarities end, though!
When A Man Ruins A Woman
We all know at this point that I enjoy hating billionaires. Recent months have sent me into a reeling spiral of anger. One might say it’s because of my left-leaning political stance, but fucking Jeff Bezos spent several billion dollars to fly into near-space in a dick rocket after some other English billionaire did and Elon Musk isn’t far behind. All this during a fucking pandemic, when the news is reporting daily catastrophic climate change events. I write this while my province is covered in smoke and ash by the surrounding wildfires after a crazy-ass heat dome literally charred up the land, burned up a small town in 15 minutes and also killed billions of sea creatures.
ANYWAY, because I don’t like to spend too much time depressing myself by standing on my annoying soapbox, I try to spend more time writing about my frustrations in a fictional sense. Because fiction doesn’t argue. Fiction just shows you stuff and forces you to feel things. That’s it.
Speaking of Elon Musk:
I know it’s not right to make fun of people dancing, but look at this embarrassing man. Canadian indie cool-girl musician, Grimes, married this embarrassing man. Like any other hipsters, I fell in love with her music. I also quite enjoy her new stuff, but this article that shares some of the trouble she’s faced in her career since marrying Elon Musk has always stuck with me. And I’m sure that marrying a billionaire has more negative results than just naming your kid a dumbass name. Probably. Right?
I think a lot about Meghan Markle and how her marriage to Prince Harry also affected her negatively, just in a less ridiculous way. Granted, Harry seems like a decent and supportive dude, but he’s also a part of a very private and closed-off elite society. Whether or not you like Meghan, you have to agree that marrying into that shit is going to take its toll on one’s psyche.
My nameless protagonist faces these same traumas as well. In “Little Black Death”, she fully sees that William is not a good man. She detests the life she’s in. She detests her husband and even the children she bears him. And that’s where the true horror lies, is within her choice to accept his hand in marriage. It affects her credibility and the original standing she had with the villagers.
The “Little Black Death” Playlist
This proved a fun little playlist to compile. Often times, when I make them, I grab the songs in my vault of memory and slam them into a group. What I love about Spotify is that they recommend similar songs to add to a playlist. I often listen to the playlists while writing and during my day to better immerse myself in the tone and theme. Then I go through the process of adding or removing songs.
Songs like Bjork’s “Bachelorette” and Austra’s “The Beast” fit in perfectly, but it was Meg Myers’ “Little Black Death” that inspired me so much during the writing that I named the entire story after it.
Because “Little Black Death” also focuses on the theme of protest and uprising, I also added the frighteningly hautning old song, “Bread and Roses” by Judy Collins to the end, which I discovered through this Paste article on working-class protest songs.
Want to read “Little Black Death?”
The very first issue of The Crow’s Quill drops on August 1st, 2021 and is absolutely free! Give it a read and let me know what you think!
It’s almost here! Our brand new literary magazine, The Crow’s Quill, will be here on August 1st for your reading pleasure. The best part is, it’s free! Featuring six gothic stories by six amazing authors. Learn more at https://t.co/A0bBTMVwt0 pic.twitter.com/cQkIuYPHod— Quill & Crow Publishing House (@QuillandCrow) July 27, 2021