Guest Blogger: Carole Johnstone
First of all I'd like to say a big thank you to Andrew for inviting me to guest on his blog today, and for giving my novella Frenzy such a glowing review on Sunday's post!
When I was thinking about what to write today I was reminded of a question I was asked recently about why the ocean is so often used as a medium for dark fiction. I answered the question badly. This is what I wanted to say.
From a personal point of view, I've always had a fairly healthy terror of the sea, but I know I'm not alone in that. We have long been obsessed by what we imagine lurks in the deep. Novels like Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Conan Doyle's The Maracot Deep, celebrate lost worlds and civilisations - and discoveries that always come at a price.
We recognise that we can't ever know what alien creatures exist too far beyond our reach or knowledge, and so create legends and monsters that we are better able to understand. To control. Classic tales like Moby Dick, Megalodon, and H.G. Wells', The Sea Raiders, describe a sense of awe usurped; a human need to conquer that is arrogance as much as obsession. But there are a great many more stories - most notably true accounts - that speak of neither wonder nor vanity. Novels like Adrift or Staring Into the Abyss, which describe only our own powerlessness when set against the might of the sea.
As Andrew quite rightly realised, I wanted to convey all of these opinions through the development of Frenzy's characters. All are very different; all exhibit differing responses to their predicament: awe, respect, fear, arrogance, anger and obsession. And these reactions are not static. They change as the story changes - as people always change.
Ultimately there are two stories within Frenzy. On the surface, there are the physical and mental battles to survive an indifferent host and its monsters - lurking among which is a far greater horror. And under the surface, there is the hidden spectre of what the ocean represents. Our own demons, our own fears. An insurmountable sense of what it is to be alone and a recognition of our own insignificance.
Principally I wanted Frenzy to frighten, of course I did. But it was also very much my intention to affect, to move. I wanted anyone picking it up to be invested, excited, saddened, even amused. Because so little in this world is truly black or white.
And that is what the ocean has always been for me. A monster of its own that redeems as often as it takes. A monster that forces introspection, and reminds us that for all our achievements there is still much that we can't ever know or control.
The sea is the last great unknown on this Earth. It is fear and it is wonder. And it is not a place that you are ever likely to bump into me!
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity; and it was not meant that we should voyage far."
The Call of the Cthulhu; H.P. Lovecraft
Frenzy is available from Amazon.com, and electronically from http://www.eternalpress.ca/frenzy.html
Find out more about Carole Johnstone at: http://www.carolejohnstone.com