As you know, I’m on a break. My BFF, the incredibly talented, bestselling, award-winning writer (too much? nope–she’s all that and more), J.T. Ellison, is here today to tell you the secrets behind her brand new, terrifying story, THE ENDARKENING. Enjoy! –LB
The Endarkening of an Artist
Many years ago, I had a terrible, awful, wake-up-screaming nightmare. It was so vivid, so visceral, I felt like I’d tapped into something truly evil, and I mean that in the most supernatural sense.
Granted, at the time I was writing some pretty heavy books, examining the darkest themes of humanity, so perhaps I was more open to the horror that await us in the dark.
I did the only thing I could. In an attempt to rid me of the dream, I wrote the nightmare down, pretty much without embellishment, and published it online as a flash fiction piece.
It didn’t work. The dream continued to haunt me. So I wrote a coda to the story, and still that didn’t work. I lost sleep. My work was suffering. (When I say this was a terrible nightmare, I’m not kidding.)
And then I met an oracle at a conference. I was telling the story about this dream affecting my work as part of a presentation I was giving. She suggested I start sleeping with a citrine under my pillow. She promised it would help—and told me to close myself off before I went to sleep so the nightmares wouldn’t intrude anymore.
Her advice worked (as did a shift away from the darkest material.) Sleep became my friend again, and my writing got back to normal.
But I couldn’t stop with the supernatural ideas. There was some piece of me that was still processing what I’d imagined in the darkness.
Happily, my dear friend Laura stepped in and helped me find a way to channel these dark urges. First, she featured the nightmare story (Chimera) in SURREAL SOUTH ’09. And then she asked me to write her a castle ghost story for SURREAL SOUTH ’11, which I did. Gray Lady, Lady Gray is the story of an ancient Scottish demon desperate for a corporeal body, preferably that of a bride on her wedding night.
What Laura did for me was as important, if not more, than the oracle’s influence. She helped me find a voice for the darkness, and a home to share with others. That is the hallmark of a good friend, my dears. Someone who doesn’t run screaming from your darkness, but embraces it, encourages it—and of course, peddles it to others, mwuahahaha!
Since then, I’ve used my short fiction as a way to explore the darkness in these spaces in my head. I publish them pretty regularly, and I’ve just written another one of these dark tales. It’s called The Endarkening, and was inspired by a BBC presentation featuring Scottish writer extraordinaire Ian Rankin touring an art installation in Edinburgh at the Dovecot. Called The Scottish Endarkenment it featured horrifying, moving, exquisite, and terrible art that explored the “edges of reason” in Scottish art history.
Every painting I saw inspired a different surreal story. One in particular leapt off the canvas and straight into my mind, and I came to the idea of a painting as a serial killer. A level of seduction far beyond anything I’d ever dreamed, or nightmared, before.
The Endarkening is the result of that inspiration—part horror, part lust, part an examination of the dark side of creation and art. How possessed, or cursed, we artists can achieve great heights, and how love can lead us astray.
I hope it freaks you out, and makes you think! You can find The Endarkening here.
(Thank you to the divine Laura for having me on today! And for always celebrating my darkness.)