A lot of my inspiration comes from music and I make soundtracks for my stories to keep the atmosphere authentic. For Earthbound Express, I knew I had to search for the right tone for Dahlia’s world and I found it in The Velvet Underground.
The Other World, It Whispers was heavily influenced by folklore, fairytales and myths. Some of them exist to teach morals, to speak a truth – there is wisdom in these tales. I loved Greek myths when I was a child; I treated these gods and goddesses as old friends. I knew I wanted to feature them somewhere in my work and so the story, Dark Arts and Deities was created.
Forests feature a lot in my stories, namely: Time and Silence, Layla and the Axe, and Morgana’s Shadow. It’s a classic setting for fairy and folk tales, anything can happen in the woods. I love standing in the silence of a thick forest, amongst the trees and the other wondrous (and sometimes unseen) things.
I’m moved by work that has courage. My taste in film, books and art has always leaned towards the taboo. I’m fascinated by the ‘shadow self’ as a study of the psyche and deep heart’s desire; this exploration was my North Star while writing each story.
I have been reading esoteric and occult books. This is a realm I truly know so it naturally appears in everything I create. I cannot write a story that doesn’t hold any spiritual meaning for me. From the time I heard my first supernatural story, I knew I would be one of those people who tell them.
The moon has inspired many stories, poems and songs - goddesses have been rulers of it and mythical creatures have been led by it. And when I look up at the moon and watch her wax and wane, she is having an affect on me too. In my stories, Dark Arts and Deities and Shanty, the power of the moon aids the magic.
I get very inspired by stories about people who go in search of freedom, be that physical, mental or emotional. It’s important that my characters do the same - try to grow, try to be free. This was the theme for each story in the collection.
Paintings do something to me that I can’t always explain. But in the quietness of an art gallery, I pull narratives from canvases. I always take a notebook and a pen with me and look for the right painting. I love Impressionism and Toulouse Lautrec sparks character study, I admire the curiosity he had for what was around him.
Layla and the Axe was inspired by a photo of a girl and a fox.
I have been using photos as writing prompts for years. I get such great character profiles from candid photos and will hunt for old photographs in those overflowing boxes in vintage shops and markets.
Animals make many appearances in the stories of my collection: the characters in Animal Ball, Rowan the fox, and Morgana who shape-shifts into a deer and a hawk. I believe in the symbolism of animals, their connotations are universally understood. The fox is stealth and the hawk is keen and confident, and those are the qualities the characters wish to possess.
From the secrets of the forest, to the magic of the sea, these nine stories tell of what happens when passion, desire, loneliness and imprisonment lead us on a search for freedom and empowerment – no matter what the cost.
A woman makes a deal with gods and goddesses in order to bring a slanderous town down to its knees, a man who has lost everything finds himself in the graveyards of Paris, turning to dark magic to ensure success, an opulent masked ball becomes the stage of spite and revenge, a teenage boy who believes he is in the wrong body calls out to mermaids to enchant him.
With strands of classic fairy and folklore weaved through, the unknown – the silent and dark – is explored. Where spirits, deities and witches lurk, but also where the beauty of life and renewal can be found.