I was not in a happy place.
A short carriage journey had taken me from the relative security of Holbrook Towers and down the valley into the village of Nether Stinkhole below. Recently I had become more isolated, preferring to stay within the tall walls of The Castle of Despair; playing in the lab, frolicking through the dungeons, or just firing crossbow bolts at the villagers below. I had begun to hate any journey further than the drawbridge, I was becoming a recluse.
Initially this didn't bother me, I reveled in my insecurity, felt happy within my misery, and had began to see the outside world as a place of danger and threat. A place where I was not in control.
As the weeks progressed however, a twinge of madness began to hit me. Perhaps it was not good for one's sanity to isolate oneself so, where the only contact I had with anything near human was my butler Manson, and those that lived in the cells deep below the castle.
I needed to force myself to get out a bit more, to socialise perhaps, to meet new people and to try new things. Not for the love of my common man, but more to prevent myself from drowning within my own mind.
(and of course, where were my next victims to come from? I could not rely on Manson to bring in the quality of quarry that I desired).
And so I had come to the library. It was a godforsaken place, full of smiling happy people, exchanging pleasantries, being content. I felt sick to my stomach, a feeling made worse by the quality of the coffee.
I sat in the far corner, a book sat on my lap - the first one which had come to hand as I walked in. Occasionally people said hello to me. I suppressed the urge to physically assault them and smiled back, quivering with nausea, burning with raw bile surging upwards from my gut. This place was not for me. I had had enough and got up to leave. Better to leave these places of happiness to normal people.
It was as I left that I saw a hand-written sign on the notice board.
ARE YOU A WRITER?
DO YOU FANCY BEING INTERVIEWED?
COME UP TO HOLBROOK TOWERS
THE LORD OF THE CASTLE WILL BE PLEASED TO SEE YOU.
"The Bastards!" I exclaimed. "So that's why I've been plagued by novelists. I suppose they think this is some kind of joke."
I tore it down immediately and, turning to the library staff to say farewell, and making sure to sign out and borrow the copy of 'Needlework for Beginners', which I had been holding, I stormed out and went back to my castle.
That night, as I sat growling into my hearth, there was a knock at the door. This was the final straw.
Manson the butler was incapacitated, due to the terrible beating I had delivered to him on my return from the library, and so I answered the door myself.
Who’s that rat-a-tatting on my door at this time of night? What brings you to Holbrook Towers? Are you another one of those lost and wandering writers that seem to pitch up here on a regular basis? Did you see the advert in the Library?
I was lured here by a will o’ the wisp, who promised he’d ask me interesting questions. They’d better be good or I’m off.
Come on then, tell me all about your books then. Be be quick and short though, I'm not as young as I used to be. Tell me in perhaps 31 words.
‘Rapture and what comes after’ (Gumbo Press) small, perfectly formed flash fiction on love & its (not alway happy) aftermath. ‘Echo Hall’ a novel 13 years in the making (more here).
(Round of applause please, that’s EXACTLY 31 if you put the link on ‘here’, and it only took a couple of attempts
I hear you're a twin, is it true what they say about telepathy, mutual emotional feeling and erm… secret plans for world domination?
Yup there are two of us and yup we’re very alike. (see pic) Hmm telepathy...Does arriving at a meeting point in similar dresses count? Or ringing family members within minutes of each other and having the same conversation? The mutual emotional feeling thing is definitely true. Twins either fight or are intensely close, and I’m glad to say we’re in the latter category. As for world domination, hell, yeah. Julia and I are both writers, so bring it on. (You can throw in our sisters - Lucy, a translator, and Joanna, a poet - for good measure).
I bestow on you the power of invention. Take yourself off to your potting shed at the end of the garden for a couple of years. What fantastical invention, set to change the world, would you appear with?
How about a machine that eradicates the effects of the Daily Mail? As an added bonus it also reverses Brexit and educates voters as to why that was unwise, so they don’t do it again.
Which book would you like to rewrite and improve?
Oh my, that’s a bit arrogant... Could I be so arrogant?
How about Mein Kampf? That’s a book that shouldn’t have ever been published. How about I rewrite it, transforming it from a bastion of bigotry to a treatise on tolerance?
Can you name one point in history that you would like to change and what do you think would be the effect on our lives today, if any?
The Liberal Democrats choosing to go into the coalition with the Tories in 2010. Without them, David Cameron would have had a minority government and found it harder to implement austerity, welfare cuts, the NHS Bill etc. In that timeline, the Tories lose the 2015 election, there is no EU referendum and Theresa May would be signing on, rather than signing Article 50. And everything in the garden would be very lovely indeed.
In your opinion, what will be the next stage of human evolution?
I’m an optimistic soul, so despite the doom and gloom of the times in which we live, I’m going to go with kindness. Future humans will look on our current age and shake their heads in puzzlement that we could be so stupid and selfish.
If you could pull one literary character out of a book to have tea with, who would it be and what would you talk to them about?
Ooh, these are good questions, glad I followed that will o’ the wisp. Elizabeth Bennett, I think. She’d be fun wouldn’t she? What would we talk about? Human folly I expect. I’d love to hear her take down of Nigel Farage, for instance. I expect she’d be warm, witty and wise
Which novel are you most glad you read and why? How many times have you read it?
Even though I don’t read much fantasy fiction, it’s got to be ‘The Lord of the Rings’. It’s such an epic novel, and always holds me in from the opening line to the last. I love the way Tolkien revisits and enlarges on the world of The Hobbit. There is humour, bravery, selfishness, doubt, despair, hope and a group of people striving to do right against massive odds. Apart from the awesome Eowyn, there aren’t enough women, but I forgive Tolkien because everything else is so brilliant. I love it so much, I’ve read it about thirty times and I am always bereft when I reach the end.
I wish to find you on the world wide interweb, where are you? Do you blog? Tweet? Insta?
I’m on the internet way too much...I blog at A Room of My Own https://virginiamoffattwriter.wordpress.com/ and you can always find me pontificating on twitter @aroomofmyown1 and Facebook Virginia Moffatt.
I sat and looked at her awhile, and was surprised to find that I had a smile on my face. Perhaps being visited by wandering authors was not such a cruelty after all? I decided to let her leave with her life.
As she left, trotting over the drawbridge, I decided that I would be a fool if I didn't pledge my support for her book. You should too.
If you have enjoyed reading this blog interview, please feel free to explore my interviews with other Unbound authors.
If you would like to pay a visit to The Castle of Despair for your very own author interview then please drop me a line at email@example.com
I would also be incredibly grateful if you would consider giving my own attempt at literary glory a look. Pop over to my Unbound page www.unbound.co.uk/books/domini-mortum