Posts Tagged ‘magick’

ImageThe first draft of horror Magick is now complete. It is 80,000 words long. 

The story centres on Boleskine House, one-time residence of occultist Aleister Crowley. Four friends decide to spend a weekend there for a reunion in advance of a forthcoming wedding. They awake long-dormant horrors as the tensions between themselves spill out into the open, revealing secrets from the history of the house, from their own pasts and from Crowley’s disastrous Abra-Melin ritual.

A horde of possessed pigs run amok, ghostly severed heads appear from nowhere, there are plagues of flies and maggots, the appearance of flame-blackened skulls heralds the echo of an long-ago church-burning, a butcher severs his hand in a macabre accident, a visiting BBC film crew are plagued by insects and call on a priest to perform an exorcism, a goat-headed demon looms from a mist-shrouded hilltop, something monstrous rises to the surface of Loch Ness,the friends flee the house in terror after re-awakening the demons of the ritual and stumble upon an underground secret and a skeletal figure rising from a crypt…

Will any of them survive with bodies, minds and souls intact?

Publishers, please form an orderly queue… 😉

A Change Is As Good As A Rest

Posted: June 17, 2012 in Horror, Novels
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I found that Magick  ran into the buffers after 20,000 words, when the story started to get ahead of itself.

Another idea has popped up: an ancient cauldron, gateway to the Celtic Otherworld, which wreaks havoc on the Welsh coast. Cauldron is getting on for 5,000 words, mainly the “backstory” of the artefact, set around the time of AD60. This involved quite a bit of research of Roman and Celtic history and legend and this part of the novel will be split up and interweaved with the main narrative, with links between past and present.

As well as Cauldron, I’ve knocked up a short story called “Jolly Beating Weather” about two public schoolboys called Boris and David beating a tramp to death during the last term at School, as part of an organised ritual event. That was good fun to write.

Now it’s back to Magick. I started to piece together the intervening chronology of the ritual, which will sit within the main narrative (perhaps with a nudge from Cauldron, doing the same thing for that). This has involved quite a bit of reading, including Crowley’s book on “Magick in Theory and Practice”. The highlight has been discovering the analysis of some nursery rhymes in terms of their ritual meaning! I’ll post these up some other time as they deserve a closer look.

So, as they say, a change is as good as a rest.

This is a bit of an engine-room post for writery types and horror fans.

Fuelled with enthusiasm, at reaching 20,000 words and Night 2 in the House, I knocked out 1,000 words.

However, I hit a brick wall. Not “writers block” (which does not exist, in my opinion, just go and write something else) but one of those holes in the wrong place, in which you need to stop digging.

I’ve jumped forward a night. To cut a long(ish) story short, the nervous friends have decided to share a bedroom on Night 2. They doze off and two of them have erotic dreams, waking to find themselves naked with each other. After recovering from the shock, the trio decide to take turns at staying awake.

However, the shadow of a piglike creature appears outside, legs silhouetted through the gap at the bottom of the door, scraping the floor, grunting, growing bigger, smashing itself against the door. The three friends escape through the window, just as the beast breaks through. They are chased by a hellish hound and witness the spectacle of Leviathan rising from Loch Ness, encountering their decaying lost friend as they ponder escaping through the woods. They creep around the hillside, but see the shape of Baphomet atop the crest of the hill. So they decide to creep back down the hillside, avoiding dog and walking corpse, ending up… err… back at the house they ran away from. I chucked in a cheap plot device about the door hanging open with the pig-demon clearly absent, but it just does not work in my head.

I like it, but it does not work! It is Night 3 stuff. On Night 2, the horrors are still veiled or possible brief hallucinations. They need to stay in the house, and other stuff needs to happen.

So, it is time to step back from the page, and look at this in different ways. I think I need to reorder the chapters again, using the degrees (1=10 etc) for the present day happenings and working in the historical elements slightly differently. They need a trip to the graveyard to liven up the first bit of the story. I need to re-read Jake Arnott’s “The Devil’s Paintbrush” to renew my sense of Crowley’s character and turn-of-the-century Paris. I need to start working in the four elements of the ritual. Time to put the Night 3 stuff to one side, at least for the moment.

Magick – 20,000 words.

Posted: May 28, 2012 in Horror, Novels
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Plenty is going on at the moment, and I’ve broken the 20,000 mark. That’s getting towards novel territory (50,000 plus, more like 80,000).

The book has been reorganised into eleven chapters. These follow the typical magical order grades, 0=0 , 1=10, 2=9, etc.

0=0: we have the foreshadowing of what is to come, with a death in a Hastings nursing home in 1947, and an unwise student prank in the 1990s.

1=10: In 1745, Redcoats burn down a church… two hundred and fifty years later, four friends travel to the same location, Boleskine, for a reunion weekend, effectively isolated for three nights until the bus service resumes on the Monday. Strange things begin to happen… a costume with a mind of its own, a stag’s head that takes the form of a freshly decapitated pig’s head, and an oven full of skulls and bones.

2=9: In 1899, one Aleister Crowley makes the owner of Boleskine an offer he can’t refuse, helped by a mysterious death and a severed head. In the present, one of the party has had enough of the mysterious manifestations and departs, to meet a gory end on the shores of Loch Ness. He turns up later, knocking at the bedroom window with sodden and sloughing knuckles as his friend cowers in bed with a pillow over his head. Strange dreams follow but, other than that, the three friends have an undisturbed first night.

3=8: In 1961, a conman builds a piggery at Boleskine, as part of a bigger scam aimed at the Board of Trade. It goes horribly wrong. In the present, the three remaining friends take a trip up the mist-shrouded hillside. They come across a herd of goats and flee from a sinister horned figure. Shaken (and one of them bitten) they walk down to the village and have another terrifying encounter when they think they see their friend near Loch Ness. Tensions grow between the friends as they try and make sense of their situation.

4=7: In 1950, a haunted Army officer shoots himself. His spirit remains in the present day, along with the ghosts that drove him to his doom. The three friends decide to spend the second night in the same room for safety and comfort, with only one further night to go until the bus service resumes. Bizarre dreams force two of them from sleep and a strange creatures snuffles at the door, growing to bestial size, breaking through the door in a blast of heat as the three friends clamber out through a window.

5=6: In 1900, the butcher’s boy calls at Boleskine. Diverted from the Ritual of Abramelin,  the Laird of Boleskine (Crowley) scribbles his order on a torn scrap of paper, which also bears the name of Beel’zebub, an insect manifestation of Belial. The butcher reads the order and is distracted by creeping shadows and swarming flies… his cleaver slips as the side of pork twitches on the block and he cuts off his hand, bleeding to death. The present day events are yet to unfold…

Effectively, this is five chapters out of eleven (the butcher section is quite short). The second night of terror is about to begin… then there will be the climactic third night. It’s proving surprisingly easy to weave in horrors at most points of the story. I think the challenge will be balancing the horror element with other aspects of the story, and ensuring an escalation of tension rather than a series of scary events. I know how it ends and I know roughly how the third night unfolds. The events of 1900 also become clearer, with four episodes of Crowley’s invocations (he invoked demons to gain power over them via his guardian angel) and also the disastrous interruption of the ritual.

So, it’s getting there! I reckon 50,000 words for a first rough draft. Then it’s back to the start, to colour in the bits I’ve missed. A field trip to Boleskine will be essential (I’ve only ever seen it from the other side of the loch) but it must be stressed that “normal people” live there now.

There is another element, a celebrity element, that I’ve been asked about. The Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page bought the place in the early 70s, apparently restoring it to the way it was in Crowley’s era. Does this feature in the novel? The answer is “no” for a number of reasons: it would unbalance what is a work of horror fiction, and I think this element is largely overblown anyway. Page never really lived there (a friend of his lived there and looked after the place) and his interest in the occult tends to be sensationalised… by comparison, both WB Yeats and Bram Stoker (among other literary names) were active members of the Order of the Golden Dawn, somewhat more than an acknowledged interest, which passes largely without comment.

Incidentally, Yeats’s ritual books are online, thanks to the National Library of Ireland: http://www.nli.ie/yeats/main.html

I think mysticism and the occult was a bit more “innocent” in those days, and it became notorious through Crowley’s lifestyle and enjoyment of notoriety. This led in turn to the Dennis Wheatley black magic novels, the Hammer Horror films and the rock music of bands like Black Sabbath and successors, all in a tradition which stretches back many centuries in art and folklore. People love being scared, and the occult is one of the scariest things.

This has gone on a bit longer than I intended, but the wider issue of the occult in the arts and society is quite interesting.

Magick – 14,000 words

Posted: May 23, 2012 in Horror, Novels
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The novel is now 14,000 words. To celebrate, I’ve designed another image.

In the latest developments, Redcoats burn down a church in 1745, a piggery scam goes wrong in 1961, a haunted Army officer shoots himself in 1950 and Mr Crowley makes a property purchase offer that simply cannot be refused in 1899. The same Mr Crowley attempts to summon his guardian angel a few years afterwards, in a demonic ritual that goes horribly wrong.

Some students burn a Bible in front of a pig’s head in 1992, and this all comes together in the present day, when the same friends gather for a reunion at Boleskine House.

Now, what about the gory bits?

A severed head, thumping to the floor in the middle of the night. A goat’s head, spraying blood as it tries to speak. A Leviathan rising from Loch Ness and a hidden pyramid-city. A man dragged to his watery death by the dead who hide beneath the waters.  An Aga filled with scorched skulls and bones. A ritual mask chokes the person who foolishly tries it on. A hike up a hillside that turns into a fogbound encounter with a herd of goats and a shadowy horned figure looming out of the mist. A man shoots himself in the head with a shotgun and his pet dog picks up one of the morsels. Mercenary Redcoats set fire to a church full of screaming people. Dead knuckles knock on a bedroom window in the middle of the night, leaving streaks of loch-water and sloughing flesh. Pigs run amok in a mad frenzy, chanting gibberish as they savage a policeman and a vet.

I’m trying to make this the most terrifying horror novel ever! Only 20% of the way there, as well… there’s a lot more to come yet, two more nights of terror. I’ll aim for 20,000 words by Monday 28th May, which is getting to the critical mass point of a viable novel-in-progress.

Magick – Chapter Three

Posted: May 19, 2012 in Horror, Novels
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Chapter Three is taking shape very quickly. This is when the true horror becomes apparent.. we’ve been seeing events mainly through the eyes of Matthew, one of the friends, who doubts what he is seeing.

The backstory of Boleskine House is woven into the book from now on, beginning with its purchase in 1899… basically, an offer the owner couldn’t refuse! There are interesting stories surrounding the place, apparently pre-dating the Crowley purchase, dating back to the Jacobite Rebellions of 1715 and 1745 and Highland feuding. Another story involves a butcher losing his fingers, and there is the infamous Floating Head… coincidentally, a member of the Lovat family, the local clan, was the last person executed by beheading in the Tower of London, a place rife with ghostly myth.

I’m inserting a fake newspaper article at the start with the headline “three men missing” to set the context… I’m interested in feedback: is this foreshadowing, adding authenticity, or giving too much away?

I may need a short break from this novel in a week or so. It’s either back to Edgetown, an urban horror novella, or a few short stories… I have one in hand about a ventriloquist’s dummy which goes berserk.  Still very keen on the Japan Hokusai story, plus a literary novel looking at the manipulative nature of modern society, but you have to go with what you have in your mind at the time!