Detective Kammen warned Nora O’Donnell that something bad might happen to him or to her brother. So when Kammen appears to be missing, Nora goes searching for help. And in chapter 28 of Martha’s Children, she find it . . . in the very last person she would expect to offer it!
Martha’s Children is my serialized story of vampires and cops, and sorcerers, too, in 1969 Chicago. If you’re not already reading it, you can start here. A new chapter goes up every Friday.
I rarely have memorable dreams. More typically, I’ll wake up from a dream, recollect that it involved an impossibly shifting and incoherent combination of elements, and quickly forget about it once I’m up and about. I’ve twice been killed in my dreams, once by a co-worker using a pistol, and once in a situation involving a transporter much like the ones in Star Trek. Both times, my mind has retroactively edited the scene such that what was actually killed was a doppelganger. Guess I wasn’t wearing a red shirt.
Which brings me to this morning’s dream. I had recently gotten into an online conversation with a Facebook acquaintance over fetches and doppelgangers, and she recommended I read Henry James’s short story, “The Jolly Corner.” This being the man who wrote The Turn of the Screw, you know it’s going to be a story of subtle psychological horrors hinted at. One can read it as a story about an extraordinary doppelganger. Or . . . one can read it as the story of a haunted house, the actual jolly corner of the title.
Now I’ve wanted to write a haunted house story for a long time. I’ve even got a great ending for one. Of course, the beginning and middle are missing, so the ending is completely worthless, so far. And that’s because I couldn’t think of a new or worthwhile angle for a haunted house story.
And then this morning I woke from a dream. It was a dream about a house, a house which, in the dream, I had grown up in. There were grotesque events involving strangers that could have come out of Twin Peaks. And I was negotiating with the house, bargaining over how much we’d get from each other of what we wanted . . .
No doubt reading “The Jolly Corner” inspired this dream; I don’t usually dream of haunted houses. While memorable, the dream is not a viable story as I remember it. Like many dreams, it contains inexplicable and inconsistent elements. But somewhere in there, I can see the glimmer of an idea, a different angle on the haunted house story. So if, in the course of the next year, you see a haunted house story, or something that might once have been a haunted house story, you’ll know the answer to that age-old question directed at authors, “Where did you get the idea for that story?”