Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Does Geography Affect Writing?

If it’s scary—nerve endings screaming, heart banging against your chest, cross your legs to keep from wetting yourself scary—I want to write about it. I’ve penned stories about ghosts, physical possession, mind control, demons, black magic, psychic powers, and even fairies. And, most of the fodder for the dark places in my mind has originated with stories about the area where I grew up. For instance, a ten minutes’ drive from my home brings me to Salem, MA. No reason to think anything dark or scary ever happened there!

Then there are the stories. I’ve grown up hearing
all kinds of stories about haunted happenings in Salem as well as my own home town, Marblehead. Ideas percolate as I drive through the neighborhoods, where some old house with multiple gables will pique my sense of horror. I can absolutely believe that something unsavory existed or still exists inside. Sometimes, the sight of a creepy house or place will trigger my memory about some old ghost story. And my imagination is off!

Writers like Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft have also been a huge influence on my horror and paranormal writing. Again, both men wrote about the North Shore where I live, so I have no problem believing that the unbelievable here could be real.

I’m a very visual writer. Before I write about a setting, I have to be able to picture it in my mind. The houses in my stories are usually based on actual places or a mixture of places I’ve seen. My choices are endless. But all that is going to change, soon. My
husband and I are moving to Florida! Southeast Florida! We’ve driven around the neighborhoods looking at real estate for sale, and have even found some we love. My dilemma? Have you ever looked at a villa, condo, or home in Florida and gotten chills? Goosebumps? A feeling of being watched? Don’t think so. And I’m not a light-hearted kind of chick. What will happen to my writing?

I went online looking for help. Where were the creepy places in Florida? Swamps! All kinds of creatures live in swamps. I found some stories about a Swamp Skunk, like a smelly Big Foot. That didn’t really get my fingers twitching, although a story with dark humid bogs of muck might work. Or, graveyards. I can always get a few shivers about graveyards. Okay, but wait. There was also something about St Augustine and the most haunted hotel. That sounded promising. Picture an old hotel flanked by trees dripping with moss. Imagine what might happen there in the dark when souls are helplessly asleep. Oooh! Redemption?

Maybe all I have to do is travel a bit and find a new horror channel for my mind. Once I see a few places and connect them with creepy stories, I might be able to come up with ideas. Of course, I know that any place can be a conduit for mind-altering terror. That's always a possibility. And, if that doesn’t work, I guess I
can always go to my heroes Edgar and H.P. I’ll just picture them sloughing through the sand with a beach chair and umbrella. Wherever they land, can horror be far away?

If you know of any places in Florida where I might get inspiration, please let me know. In the meantime, keep writing!