Dealing in Dark Dreams: CS Kane
Shattered is the debut novella from Belfast born dark fiction author C.S. Kane. Here she talks about how the book came to be and how the specialist US horror publisher DarkFuse decided to accept it…
“I have been attracted to the darker side life since I was a child. Being from a large Irish family I heard stories of ghosts, malevolent creatures and, of course, cautionary tales characterised by blood-drenched descriptions of what happens if you make the wrong decisions in life. I was also a keen reader enjoying in particular the works of Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe. As soon as I could write I started to jot down little stories and write poems for my own amusement. This was the basis for the inspiration behind Shattered.
The novella originated as a germ of idea about how a skeptical, modern-day girl would cope if she started to see visions and hear voices. What would she do? What would she think was happening? Visitation or breakdown? We see the trope of “the madwoman” occur time after time through literary history. Fictional characters such as Mrs Rochester in Jane Eyre, and of course the formidable Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, to name a couple, undoubtedly left their mark on the psyche of contemporary readers. I was interested to explore how far ambiguity could impact that particular theme. That was when I fell upon Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. It calls for the reader to examine how thy would react if they saw or thought they saw similar visions. I found this approach fascinating. I decided to write an old fashioned haunted house tale with a modern voice and within an altogether current context thus simultaneously opening up fresh possibilities and setting strict, challenging stylistic constraints for myself.
I suppose it is fair to say the the daily drudge of life got in the way of my passion. Work, studies, the horrendous mortgage and the regular mundane duties of modern life kept me busy. However, I did manage to squeeze in writing during those golden moments of free time. Then, a sudden life threatening event changed everything. I had a spontaneous brain hemorrhage.
Boom! I went down like a sack of spuds as they say.
After a period of time in the hospital, a shaky return home and the unfortunate loss of my job I was left having to decide where to go and what to do next. The monotony of staying home and daytime TV fueled my desire to do something – anything. So, I pulled my tatty old manuscript out the folder it had been placed into years before and re-read it. It needed work. It needed to be finished. I rewrote parts, which was difficult as since the brain injury I have a tendency to leave the ends of words or write the wrong word without realising (especially if I am working quickly). It took time but luckily time was all I had.
Once it was done I had to decide what to do with it. I went online and started to look up who published books in the same genre. I started to reach out to the community by posting reviews about all things horror that I liked and felt good about discussing on various websites and my blog. In the end I saw a Tweet from US publisher DarkFuse calling for novella submissions. I had been following the guys for a while and knew that they had some amazing authors on in their line-up. Guys like William Meikle, Greg Gifune and Alan Ryker to name but a few. I bit the bullet and sent it to the novella editor without really thinking anything would come of it. I was ecstatic when a few months later I got the email from editor Dave Thomas telling me he wanted to work with me on the manuscript.
The real editing process had begun. I was enthusiastic to see the notes that the editor provided for me. I am and always will be keen to be better. Especially, in the creative field there is always room to improve, ways to develop. I am very much aware that I am only starting out and my advice to anyone reading this and contemplating making the leap is to listen to guidance from those that have experience. Seek out knowledge, study and try hone the craft. I am first to say that it is difficult, no question, but when you love to something you have to commit to it. There is always an element of fear but that signifies that the work is cared about.
With the editing and rewriting finished I awaited the artwork with anticipation. I was excited when the stark image came through. Zach McCain makes striking covers. It all started to feel like it was real and then the contract came through. That was a milestone. I don’t think I quite believed it was actually going to happen until the contract was signed. There was a definite sense of relief and achievement. It turned out that finding the time, becoming dedicated to completing the manuscript, editing it and finding the courage to present to someone, although difficult, was completely worth it.”
For aspiring genre writers, particularly horror writers, Kane offers this advice, “My best piece of advice is to do something fresh. There are fashions, trends and tropes that you see exploding. Zombie fiction for example has really been booming and, of course, the vampires. You can use traditional tropes (my debut is a haunted house story – how many times has that been done?) but if you do I think you have to put a twist on it. A compelling turn, a crisp style. Put your own stamp on it.
My second tip is to read. Read within your genre, read about writing, read up on potential publishers. Research is your friend.
And finally, I’d say reach out. Make contacts. Writing is a lonely thing to do. Sure, if you are like me the voices in your head keep you company as you type but ultimately there is a real community out there. Clubs, arts groups and the internet are all ways to ensure you are connected.”
C.S. Kane is a purveyor of suspense horror literature. Kane lives in Northern Ireland in a village just outside Belfast. She resides with her husband and their loyal minion, Dexter. After suffering an unexplained and seriously severe brain bleed at the age of twenty-four, Kane subsequently fell out of employment. The shocking experience proved to be a great motivator. Writing has been a constant in Kane’s life and other interests include living life to the full, watching old movies, eating good food and sipping the odd tipple.
About the Book:
Stacey’s fiancé Liam has just landed a new job in the city, and the young couple is forced to move into a low-budget flat in a seedy neighborhood. It’s not the the dream house they imagined, but it’s well within their price range and a short distance from Stacey’s graduate school.
Soon after they move in, however, Stacey begins to experience terrible nightmares, vivid hallucinations, cold spells, and frequent panic attacks. As she spirals deeper and deeper into what appears to be a physical and mental breakdown, putting her university career and relationship in jeopardy, she befriends the reclusive old woman next door who tells her chilling stories of the house’s former occupants.
Is Stacey going mad or is the dark history of the house something that can’t and won’t be be ignored?
Follow C.S. Kane via the website: www.cskane.com
You can purchase Shattered via Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1gd1hO3