Love and Hawthorne – Dark and Dismal

February 21, 2013 at 1:27 am (dark fantasy, horror, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I started working on my post-apocalyptic crow novel (thanks to all those who sent suggestions – I’ll be announcing my contest winner at month’s end) and the dark and dismal theme reminded me of the stories that first drew me in to reading Hawthorne’s work and becoming a fan. The Scarlet Letter presents the concept of staying resilient in the face of adversity and persecution and becoming a better, stronger person for it, but it certainly is not a light and cheery tale, the protagonist enduring a great deal of suffering for the sake of love. The House of Seven Gables embodies a spirit of vengeance that will not end until love brings a conclusion to the curse. And several of his Twice-Told Tales have a gloomy plot that gives them a horror ambiance. I consider Hawthorne one of my darker classical influences and maybe that’s why I love his stories so much.

What you do find in his books, despite the dreary circumstances, is that the heroic characters in his stories show true perseverance, and there often seems to be an element of hope – a beacon shining somewhere in the darkness. I aim for that aspect as well in most of my darker tales. Despite the difficulties, despite the tragedy, I want to maintain some sense of hope – be it a distant saviour who is striving to reach my heroes if they can just hold on long enough, or a promise that tomorrow will be better if they can just make it through today.

The novel I’m working on now probably has one of the darkest storylines I’ve ever tackled and to make it even more difficult, I’m writing it from a first person perspective, something I’ve never attempted with a novel. It taps into many predicaments that worsen the protagonist’s circumstances. As a result of the devastation of the apocalypse, he faces illness, death from environmental factors, predators, starvation, bullying and a loss of almost everything he has known and understood. An underdog amongst his kind to begin with, he has to adapt to a new and incredibly hostile world and eventually finds himself separated from the only family and security he still has.

But it doesn’t end there, and once the character hits rock bottom without dying, the only direction he can go is up. Add a hearty dose of hope and some new allies after the character has refused to give in, and suddenly the story takes on a whole new spin. We’ll see how it goes once I get there and if I can get everything to come together the way I want it to.

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