I’ve been a bit absent. Been dealing with some writer’s block. Been struggling with mom stuff. I’m exhausted and feel like a hack and have been dealing with anxiety. You know. Millennial shit. Writer shit. Living in what feels like end times shit. In August, however, all that end times shit actually did help me write a new story called “The Walking Hours” and you can actually read it right now in the “Vampires” October issue of THE CROW’S QUILL. Usually I make my moldboard posts before the story releases, but again, I’ve been waterlogged, so I’m coming at ya now with some details on “The Walking Hours”.
“The Walking Hours” Premise
When Frederick Barry returns home from war, he quickly marries his sweetheart, Julia, only to witness new ironic horrors of his wife’s sleepwalking. When a new family moves in next-door, Frederick can’t help but separate himself from his wartime memories, which only triggers his helplessness when Julia suggests they have a baby.
Some TikTok Inspiration
I was going to pass on writing a story for the October issue of The Crow’s Quill. See, its theme was “vampires”. And I dunno, maybe it’s because of Twilight, but vampires are one of my least-favourite mythical creatures. I find them limited. Cliche. Wrought with tropes and I didn’t want to touch any of those tropes. But then editor William Bartlett coaxed me to write one. Not that I felt pressured, but he expressed great faith in my ability to play with the genre.
I told him that I would keep my options open.
Anyway, at the time I was wrestling with what to do next. Return to my neglected novel edits or keep writing shorts? Instead, I downloaded TikTok. Perhaps foolishly, though I am pretty decent at limiting my time there. One of my best discoveries, however, was a series of sleeping videos from celinaspookyboo.
I watched all of them, of course. Sleepwalking is notoriously known for being dangerous, but her videos just the symptom seem fun and humourous. I’m not sure where the connection to vampires came in, but what I loved most were the videos with Celina’s husband in them, when he’s sitting on the couch to prevent her from going outside, but also laughing his ass off. I just saw so much love and a solid grounded relationship in these videos that I couldn’t help but feel warm and fuzzy inside. It made me want to writ a love story, not quite like Twilight, but definitely about the danger of vampires and also maybe…the safety?
A Retro Spin on Vampires
I’ve never really heard of a vampire story set in retro times. Part of what’s been thrilling about writing gothic fiction has been the pressure to set stories in other time periods. I really feel like gothic fiction can fit any time period, so with “The Walking Hours”, I took the post-war boom of the 1950s.
The war was over. Suburbs were built. Nitrogen was used to create fertilizer instead of bombs. Green lawns carpeted the land before every house. The economy hit a peak and. The middle-class thrived. Many soldiers, however, were still plagued with PTSD.
This is one of the things I love about writing historical fiction, is utilizing the dynamics of specific periods to create characters that I otherwise wouldn’t have. “The Walking Hours” is set in a growing suburb full of brightness and life, and it was fun to play that dynamic off the darkness of Frederick’s psyche and the looming truth about Julia’s sleepwalking.
“The Walking Hours” Playlist
In the interest of keeping this story grounded in a retro aesthetic, I wrote it religiously to some vintage tunes from the 40s-60s. Some of these songs are from the Mad Men soundtrack. Others I simply discovered. Honestly, though, listening to this soundtrack in the misery of BC’s dying summer days full of wildfire smoke did help put me in a more upbeat mood. It was truly a miserable summer for me, but writing this story and listening to this soundtrack were about the only things that kept me going.
Want to read “The Walking Hours”?
You can do so right now in the October 2021 “Vampires” issue of THE CROW’S QUILL. The entire issue’s theme is “vampires” so it’s definitely worth checking out if you are, in fact, a fan of vampires, or just gothic fiction in general.