Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I'm a person who is prone to obsessions. I have a monogamous spirit; I commit to things, even if they're just ideas. If I stew on something long enough, if it haunts my thoughts to a certain degree, I put it on scrap paper. And it goes into The Box. I have a box in the top of my closet, full of very rough drafts, half-started stories, orphaned chapters, truly forceful characters with no novel in which to exist. There's stuff from high school in there, maybe even before, because I can't bring myself to throw away ideas that stayed with me for that length of time. The deeper I get into my publishing career, the more I use The Box as a cadaver, harvesting it for useful parts. That's a bad analogy; it's more like finding places for the misfits who didn't belong in their own stories.
Hamilton House is one of those misfits. I have written that house into countless intended books, and finally, in Fearless, had a real place to put it. It's the embodiment of one of my small obsessions: abandoned historical houses.
I've only ever lived in houses built in the 80s, and the 80s were a dark time for home design. Houses built in that decade have no character; they don't have that solid, timeless bone structure; the color choices were trendy and vulnerable to aging. 80s houses aren't haunted; 80s houses don't have echoes.
There's something fascinating about the idea that, in some of these old creaky houses, these empty shells left to rot and ruin, you could put your hand against the bleached scraps of wallpaper and be touching a place someone else touched over a hundred years ago. That gets me. I love history; I love how small and unimportant it makes me feel.
That's one of the reasons I love writing so much: it gives me an outlet for obsession-expression that real life will never afford me.