Have you enjoyed BBC One's supernatural drama The Living and The Dead as much as I have? Then you might enjoy reading my second novel, The Book of Thoth...
The Living and The Dead is a terrific take on something I have been banging on about for a while now: The Eeriness of the English countryside (my main inspiration these days) and the "Occulture" defined in the same article by academic and nature writer Robert Macfarlane. I love the story and the aesthetics of the programme, the way it uses the landscape and turns it into a living, breathing, haunting and haunted entity. And of course, there is the music... If you wander around my blog and my website, you will see that as a writer, I get as much inspiration from music as I do from my surroundings... After all, my third novel, the Dorset-based The Right Place, is inspired by a PJ Harvey song...
And the soundtrack of the programme, provided by Bristol based duo The Insects, is simply superb - the title song is a satisfactorily creepy Folk Noir version of traditional song A Lyke Wake Dirge, and they also secured the services of one Elizabeth Fraser who covers She Moved Through The Fair...
Their version of The Reaper's Ghost is fantastic too!
If you are interested, THIS INTERVIEW with The Insects about their work for the programme is really informative and detailed.
Here's the beautiful She Moved Through the Fair, featured in episode 1.
A few hours after watching the last episode of the programme, it came to me: there really are quite a few similarities between The Living and The Dead and The Book of Thoth...
MR James? Thomas Hardy? Yes, both have had a big influence on the series and of course, are a big influence on yours truly.
MR James's writing in particular (together with Wilkie Collins's) was what I had in mind when I started work on The Book of Thoth, a Gothic novel set in... a manor house in Somerset, just like The Living...
In both stories, ghosts from the past are conjured up by the house's inhabitants and their guests, all with their own personal demons and psychological struggles.
In both, the imposing dwelling becomes a prison for the protagonists but also a portal between two periods - the 21st century present and the past (in the case of my novel, Ancient Egypt, the 16th century and the 1920s).
The Book of Thoth as well has a car speeding down the driveway of the manor house with some rather fantastical consequences!
And both stories are haunted by ancient beliefs and traditions that reach beyond human comprehension and threaten people's sanity.
In an exciting development, the last scene of The Living and The Dead features a séance which looks like it is set in the 20s or 30s... In my book, a Roaring Twenties socialite turned amateur spiritualist leads an eventful séance during which she comes into contact with some unwelcome forces...
I am a very visual writer, and for both my published novels, I have every single scene etched into my brain and have a very clear idea of what each and every one character is supposed to look like.
I have been very impressed indeed with the actors in The Living and The Dead, all of whom have very unique features. I have to admit that all of them were unknown to me. Colin Morgan would make a very good Adam (but he would have to drop the beard!); the bewitching Charlotte Spencer has Maeve's perkiness and the striking Fiona O'Shaughnessy would play Lady Sophia Chronos's neurosis to perfection!
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