In my last article, I blogged about the use of the Pathetic Fallacy in fiction, explaining why I like to see it in some circumstances, especially as it can help develop psychological tension in thrillers. In particular, I like storm weather scenes as long as they are done properly. I also like the practice of linking emotions to solid objects… for example, (to borrow a bit of a cliché), “the sky stretched endlessly above her, making her feel more alone than ever.” Certainly, a cliché, but the endless sky does help accentuate the character’s sense of loneliness.
In the latest writing sample from my current working novel in progress, I take the sense of menace as perceived by the central character a stage further and link it to some real event going on around him, adding the storm as the tension mounts. The novel falls somewhere in between the crossover between teen fiction and adult thriller/Young Adult. At this point of the story, Gavin (18), a classical musician on a prestigious summer school piano course, has gone down to the river for the day following complications with a student on the course, Philippa. The previous day, Philippa had expressed a romantic interest in Gavin before springing a nasty surprise on him, and Gavin can’t cope with the humiliation. Note that the village itself has a tragic history, including a unsolved serious crime.
I shivered suddenly and turned round, certain that someone nearby was watching me, but as usual, I didn’t see anyone. I just sensed the person close by but out of reach. Observing me, studying my movements. The sky changed colour, taking on dark overtones, and a blast of wind charged at me. From the corner of my eye, I caught a flicker of movement, the deft movement of a figure hiding behind a clump of trees, but when I glanced sideward, the figure had gone. Perhaps I’d imagined the figure, the movement. Maybe I’d seen a small animal, a stray dog. But then, I heard the soft crunch of footsteps, just like I had last night on the way down to the abandoned factory, and I hurried on through light drizzle to the main lane near the railway station, looking over my shoulders several times. Again, I detected activity: sudden movement, the blue outline of a rain jacket, the unmistakable silver casing of a cheap digital camera, followed by image shooting sounds and a brief flash. Then, nothing. Just rain.
I hurried up the lane, searching for cover as lightning streaked across the sky, followed by downpour. Who the hell was the person? A journalist from some sleazy tabloid? Shards of rain pelted the ground, stinging my face and hands, and the wind worsened, almost blowing me over. I ran to the teashop near the Hiker’s Pub and took shelter in there from the weather, ordering lunch and drinking tea while bursts of thunder sounded over area and the rain went grey and wild.
The thunder grew in volume, causing everywhere to shudder almost. The wind blew at fences and the sky kept darkening until it was nearly black, but no figure in a blue rain jacket; and then the teashop door opened and in walked the two squaddie-lads from last night. When they saw me, they exchanged nods. One grinned, the other scowled, and I heard words to the effect of, ‘Get him later.’
Meanwhile, my debut novel Secrets by Lawrence Estrey is available from Amazon in paperback and e-book.
Check out the reviews for Secrets.
Newspaper article on author.