Oh I wrote a rambling, first draft, ode to my ‘villain’. I did, I did. I got into how women are portrayed in horror films and scary books. Which in fact does color House on Clark Boulevard’s Nancy.
I’ll try again and try to keep my viciously messy thoughts viciously focused on viciously vicious Mr. Blue. All those sibilants! Oh and a bit more about Nancy! Go #TeamNancy!
I wrote HOCB after a pretty awful summer. Just take my word for it. I just sat at my battered ancient PC and wrote. No outline, no idea where this one was going. Just that rather pedestrian title and not much more than a need to drown out the real world.
I let the words form into somewhat coherent sentences, paragraphs and entire pages as they wished. A young wife and mother, in the seventies, dealing with ghosts. I didn’t try to burn the world down with my prose. [God forbid.] I just wrote. If you’re a writer, you get that. Sometimes you just write.
You’re not trying to make a point or come up with themes or miffed about the economic realities of eighteen year olds…you’re just writing. The same as when you’re just breathing, it’s just breathing.
Nancy, a’course, is based somewhat [like, totally] on my own mother. Who would no more have run about screaming in headless chicken fashion over a ghost than not make gravy from a roast. I borrowed that pragmatic, can-do, actual pioneer spirit– my great-grandmother traveled to the West in an actual covered wagon…and gave it to my heroine/main character Nancy.
However…I became infected with the notion that Nancy needs a Loki. I had another rant in my first draft of Mr. Blue’s Blues about how villains are more charismatic and fully fleshed characters than heroes, hence the Loki reference.
After all, she can’t spend X amount of pages vacuuming, cooking turkeys–there are two holidays at the end of the American year– Turkey Day and Presents!– and trying to get her youngest to use the toilet like daddy does, all while sort of ignoring the little and large ghosties bothering her and trying to get her attention. [I’d totally read a novel like that, but I am a unique snowflake!]
So, Mr. Blue crept into my narrative.
That name just strolled from my artistic shadows and took an opening bow. Mr. Blue. Who was he and why was Nancy more concerned about this cat than the tea party little girl ghost or the rolling things or the floating eyes? I find that asking myself questions helps stumble the story forward a bit toward some vague end. Yay!
I offered no origin story. There isn’t one. It was not important to the story. Mostly because, gulp. Actual author confession here– I don’t know what it is yet. I have an idea and no, he’s not a ghost or some remnant from some murder or…no. He’s SOMETHING ELSE. But that’s for the third book, now in progress. I just plopped him down into Nancy’s tale as her antagonist. One of them.
Mr. Blue expects our Nance to act a CERTAIN WAY. The expected female hysterics. The running around in her undies and tripping over rocks trope. After all, we’re led to believe all his other seductions have been successful. That he has managed to get other women to–
Nope, you have to read the book to find out what Mr. Blue wants Nancy to do. I’m a PR genius here! I leave out bits of info to tweak your interest! Available September 22!! I will post links!!
Why won’t Nancy straighten up and act like women are supposed to act? Scaredy-cats, easily led, easily seduced into X,Y or Z. Eve and the Apple! It’s right there, in the damn Bible, women are stoooooopid and must be utterly locked up or else they fuck snakes or something. Anyway!
I read where that snake in the Garden of Eden can also stand in for a penis…so Eve was a slut, too. Ouch.
There’s also that major question as to why people in haunted houses won’t leave. Mostly it comes down to financial reasons. The Amityville Horror tale, for instance. That family stayed because they had no money to go elsewhere. People buy some big beautiful house and then whango, it’s full of evil ghosts trying to kill them!
Every. Fricking. Time! American Horror Story exploits this one for fun and profit. That first season, Murder House. Then the AHS/Roanoke one. Dark Water, both versions. The Conjuring. Mama. The Shining. The Legend of Hell House. Beetlejuice. Burnt Offerings. Oh there’s giant lists of haunted house movies, novels and the like.
The moral is– buy ugly small houses, folks. Ghosts don’t live in shacks and low-rent eyesores. A crumbling castle, sure! It’s still a castle! Geez, does nobody pay attention anymore?? [They probably do. I’m not trying to throw shade at where ghosts take up residences. Just being mildly sarcastic on a Sunday afternoon. Okay, ghosts who live in shacks and low-rent eyesores? We good here?]
Nancy has almost no say in where she lives. That’s due to her own conditioning and training by her own mother and society and…!
So Nancy has to stay put and do the best she can with what she has. And she does! Because I find women are highly resourceful, clever, able to juggle twenty thousand things at the same time while juggling forty thousand other things and…yep.
There’s a hidden world of women as I touched on a bit in the novel. The face women show men, and the faces they show each other. That Margaret Atwood quote– men fear women will laugh at them, women fear men will kill them. That rings so fricking true, you just start nodding your head. Yep yep yep. If you’re female, that is. You just nod your head when you read that, you get it at the very level of your guts where it’s always fight or flight. Except for women, it’s hunker down or maybe find yourself dead if you act the wrong way at the wrong time. That careful read the emotional weather of those around you that women get trained to do…even the Wonder Women’s and the Ripley’s and the Sarah Connor’s and those women not fictional or battling monsters in their armor and underwear.
I watched my own grandmother do this. That careful politeness when the men were present, the raunchy giggler when the men were not present. The two faces of Eve. Indeed. Women don’t tell their real stories and the voices of women have been largely silent except for a few odd lady writers who ‘bucked’ the system. We censor our stories, we women. We ‘nice’ them up for the men and for each other. Silence and omissions and going along so the men don’t get upset, so we don’t upset ourselves and admit icky things that are in plain sight but which we politely ignore. Taking out this or that because it’s ‘too much’. Uh huh.
Nancy fights back against Mr. Blue and the ghosts because not doing so goes against her nature.
Mr. Blue expects her to fold like a cheap folding chair. Will she fold? Read the book to find out!
Nancy is also a version of Little Red Riding Hood. She knows not to leave the path. She wants to be that ‘normal good girl’ she has been told she wants to be. That it doesn’t quite gel with her actual character, well. I also think that’s part of her resistance to Mr. Blue‘s attempts to mold her and shape her. She can’t go against what she’s been taught but she can rebel against some ‘other’ outside of the realm of her tiny world. That she can do. With real relish and glee.
Which confounds poor Mr. Blue and makes him a bit blue and determined to get what he wants…nope, gonna have to read the book!