I’m very happy to have Virginia King back on my blog! Virginia’s been on a guest blog blitz (see above for the other blogs she’s been on this week!) and I can’t wait to share her new writing with you guys.
I first featured Virginia and her writing on my blog back in July of 2015 and am ecstatic to have her back with her new story! You can read the Indie Showcase she was featured in here.
Someone is trying to kill you.
When Selkie Moon flees Sydney to start over in Hawaii, it’s to live life on her own terms. But Life has other plans.
Though she tries to dismiss the warning as just another nightmare, it soon becomes apparent that someone, or something, is stalking her. Attacked by frightening visions and mysterious compulsions, she must piece together the fragmented clues before time runs out.
Virginia King effortlessly blends funky creativity and deep spirituality – with a dash of Celtic folklore – to craft a story of one woman’s fight for truth, and her discovery that the lies we tell ourselves are the most dangerous of all.
Only her subconscious knows.
When we last left Selkie Moon, she was running towards the source of her deepest primal fear: the sea. Now she finds herself naked on the beach, stunned that she has no memory of the past two weeks.
Recovering at a friend’s house, Selkie wakes up to discover a bizarre collection of items scattered across the floor. Items she apparently gathered in her sleep. Finding the ho’ohihi – the interconnectedness – between them will carry her around the globe, from Honolulu to Sydney to Paris. A dark fairy tale journey filled with fear and despair, laughter and hope, The Second Path has Selkie searching for her place in the world, in her relationships, and in herself.
Searching for home.
Creeping up on Horror
by Virginia King
The title of this post suggests that we creep up on horror in the books we read, not the other way around. Why?
As the writer of a psychological mystery series – and most recently a haunted house story that needed a chill factor – I’ve considered the things that generate suspense, even horror, in the reader.
People Create Horror
Stephen King is a good place to start. He’s very clear about how he does it. He puts his characters into a predicament, then it’s their job to deal with it and work themselves free. He doesn’t map out a scary plot; he doesn’t write spooky prose. He sets the scene, then watches what his characters do and writes it down. They often do things he never expected and for a suspense novelist this shows a great quality – the ability to be surprised.
In Misery, King says that the character Paul Sheldrake turned out to be much more resourceful than he ever imagined, while Annie Wilkes showed a complexity that surprised him, going to unspeakable lengths to keep her favourite author captive.
It’s a relief to know that it’s the characters who create suspense, not clever plotting. My stories write themselves so I just need to keep choosing challenging predicaments from the ideas that pop into my mind, then give my characters space to respond.
Evil is Boring
A counsellor I knew dropped this bombshell, and it’s backed up by M. Scott Peck in People of the Lie. Evil is boring. The most violent and gory crime books confirm it. In a bestselling crime series, the author escalated the depravity in each book until she overstepped the mark from ‘horror’ to ‘meh’. It became so dull I stopped reading halfway through and never read her again.
The Girl in a Swing
My favourite book of psychological suspense The Girl in a Swing by Richard Adams (of Watership Down fame) confirms that it’s the characters who create the mounting horror. The main character Alan has fallen for the stunning and enigmatic Karin, but the reader senses right from the start that she’s got some scary baggage from her past. The clues reveal chilling glimpses of her dark secret until the shocking conclusion is revealed.
What Frightens You?
In writing this post I’ve reflected on the things that have caused me nightmares. They’re all deeply embedded in the vulnerability of being human. As a child I had nightmares for years after seeing a dramatized movie of Beauty and the Beast. It had been a double feature with Jack the Giant Killer, but all that murder and mayhem and gore didn’t horrify me. It was the image of the man cursed to morph into a monster that haunted my dreams. Then The Fly had the same effect on me as an adult. The theme is identical – the loss of humanity and control – as the man becomes trapped in the body of a hybrid being. And a shocking ten-second scene in O Lucky Man! had the same effect for the same reason. Horror. Nightmares. Humanity abominated.
Books can be even more frightening than movies if the writing allows the reader’s imagination to creep up on the horror and doesn’t drown them in boring gore.
What frightens you? Here’s what the Maine Crime Writers wrote on Friday 13th about what scares them: http://mainecrimewriters.com/group-post/its-friday-the-13th-and-were-asking-what-scares-you
A FREE Ghost Story – Laying Ghosts
My modern haunted house story arises from a weekend house party when eight people are thrown together and something shocking happens. I love playing with themes from folktales (from my Beauty and the Beast experience?) and I had some ideas from a Russian folktale and a murder ballad from the 1700s. But like Stephen King, I wanted to be surprised. I threw the characters into a predicament and let each respond according to their personality, revealing hidden things about themselves that escalate the suspense. Readers tell me it’s got a great chill factor. You can download your free copy of Laying Ghosts here: http://www.selkiemoon.com/#popup
Giveaway of The First Lie
You could be one of ten lucky winners who will choose either a signed paperback or an audio book of the psychological mystery/thriller The First Lie plus a $15 Amazon gift code. One grand prize winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift code.
Enter here: http://www.selkiemoon.com/win-a-signed-copy/
About the Author
When a voice wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you to write a mystery series what’s a writer to do? That’s how Virginia King came to create Selkie Moon, after a massage from a strange woman with gifted hands was followed by this nocturnal message. Virginia sat down at the keyboard until Selkie Moon turned up. All she had to do was jump, the first sentence said. Soon Virginia was hooked, exploring far-flung places full of secrets where Selkie delves into psychological clues tangled up in the local mythology.
Before Selkie Moon invaded her life, Virginia had been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days she lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with her husband, where she disappears each day into Selkie Moon’s latest mystery. Bliss.