A Collection of Curiosities

I’ve heard a few times that it’s unwise to look at a writer’s search history. It gives the uninitiated the impression that you are either deranged, morbid, or psychotic. While this may very well be a possibility in certain cases, I can assure you that I purge that cache regularly. Try and catch me, coppers. Moo hoo ha ha.

In the process of my internet wanderings, I tend to come across an assortment of things that usually birth some vicious plot bunnies. I usually save them for later — they end up on my Pinterest, loaded into my references folder in Scrivener, or worse, I begin collecting them to share with the general public.

Such is the case today, as Faith McKay launches a new project at The Midnight Society, #SpookyAllYear, I’m totes happy to chime in with my particular breed of weird.

Thus I present to you, a collection of curiosities — being the first in a series of curated oddities:

The Vampire Panic: Highgate Cemetery

There are a few reasons I’m in love with Highgate Cemetery: partially because Bram Stoker used it for inspiration for the grave of Lucy Westenra in Dracula, and partially because Neil Gaiman used it as the setting for The Graveyard Book, but also because I’ve visited twice and its so enchanting that it’s hard not to fall in love.

You can see my walk-through of the Circle of Lebanon on YouTube from last autumn. It’s a central location in Wake the Dead — the heart of the story finds its way beneath the shadow of the cedar at the cemetery’s centre.

“Highgate is one of the great Victorian cemeteries, crammed with examples of incredible funerary architecture. It is home to the remains of everyone from philosopher Karl Marx to science fiction author Douglas Adams.

However in the late 1960s it also became the home of a ‘King Vampire of the Undead’, at least in the pages of the British Press and the minds of English teenagers. Through the perfect storm of teenage high jinks, yellow journalism, and local dueling occultists, the cemetery became home to a vampire panic that would result in corpses being disinterred, staked through the heart, beheaded, and set on fire.”

Link: The Vampire Panic: Highgate Cemetery at Atlas Obscura


Ten Things I Learned About Writing from Stephen King

I’m absolutely one of the many denizens who claims that if you’re writing fiction, you should probably read a bunch — but especially a little manual from the master himself: On Writing from Stephen King is an addition to the bookshelf that deserves the occasional revisit.

Stephen King

This guy at The Guardian is giving you ten salient bits for free, though, and that’s hard to shake a stick at: Ten things I learned about writing from Stephen King.


On The BabadookIt Follows, and the new age of unbeatable horror

I’m not sure I’ve expressed my sheer unadulterated love of It Follows yet, so let me be clear: it’s a damned stellar horror film. For the record I also enjoyed The Babadook and Unfriended — the latter largely for the format in which the film is shot: through a collection of screens on a girl’s computer.

The AV Club talks a bit about why the former are so awesome.


Also, I really wanted to use this picture in my blog again: did anyone buy the collector’s edition book? I really feel like contributing to that Kickstarter would’ve been a good idea when I had the chance.

Oh well.

Link: On The BabadookIt Follows, and the new age of unbeatable horror at AV Club


The Bone Church

This is another one of those “I’ve gotten to the point where I’m desensitized to this stuff on a surface level because I’ve looked at too many bones and visited too many crypts in my travels and it rarely phases me anymore.” There was this one time in Dublin where I crept underground to visit St. Michan’s mummies, and that was unsettling for about five minutes, but as I said, it takes a bit to really weird me out.

I tend to write characters who don’t shy away from the dark stuff either — an aspirational characterization for me would probably be a bit more squeamish. That’s the natural response, right?

You probably should be at least a little wigged out by forty thousand bones crammed into one tiny church and treated like decorative ornaments.

“Any lapsed Catholic will remember this line, as its part of the tradition of Ash Wednesday celebration. It has its roots in “memento mori”, the Latin theory of death that was of great importance to medieval Christianity. Monks surrounded themselves with the bones of the dead, reminding them that life was fleeting and they would be with god soon. Churches were be stacked with femurs and monasteries overflowed with skulls. What was philosophical was also aesthetic. The arrangement of human remains into fantastical forms became an art form. Nowhere truer than in Sedlec ossuary, also known as ‘The Bone Church’.”

Link: The Bone Church at Atlas Obscura


That concludes the first (and hopefully not last) instalment of A Collection of Curiosities. I hope to make this a monthly thing — various links documenting my bizarre interests, weird finds, strange pop culture references, etc.

On that note, I leave you with the knowledge that I will be eating apple pie and reading Dawn Kurtagich’s The Dead House (which so far, has been brilliant — brilliant to the point where I might actually have to write a review about it at some point, and I never write book reviews.)

Happy travels, fellow wanderers of the night. 🙂


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Let the Bonfires BurnA Collection of Curiosities: Victorian Edition
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