50. EMusings blog: ‘The Possessions of Dr Forrest has a hold on me…’

Another really pleasing response to Doctor Forrest from the blogosphere, namely at eMusing which is the web home of Emma Keens. Though June was a busy month in the publishing calendar Forrest was clearly brought out at just the right moment for Emma, since she writes of having been engaged in ‘a bit of a one-woman gothic horror revival for a few months now.’ Her write-up is full of informed and spot-on observations in relation to the gothic classics that influenced this book, and she expresses an admirably finessing sense of the genre’s more intricate details, to wit:

‘The story… certainly contains all the familiar ingredients of good gothic horror. A sense of the supernatural mixes with the corporeal, good intentions bristle with forbidden desire. Ghostly apparitions and half-recalled memories are portents of both good and evil. Buildings and nature (and even people) are imposing, alluring and yet tinged with the slightest hint of decay.’

On a stylistic level Emma also makes her criticisms deftly, and I must hold up my hands on the counts of ‘using five words when [I] could have used one’ and the copious ‘references to foreign language texts.’ I was also really intrigued by her comment that ‘[i]t would have been wonderful to have ended the third party narration perhaps a bit earlier, so that Dr Forrest’s confessions could be the first telling of some of the events that ended the story.’ I did consider this option in the writing, albeit not for long, or long enough? It had a clear appeal, most particularly as I tried to envisage matters from the reader’s POV. But… I just couldn’t see a way by that means to sustain the sort of tension and unfolding I had in mind. And so I went for that tried and trusted trick of introducing Forrest’s voice right up at the front of the novel – the Enigmatic Italicised Prologue – and then reserving him entirely for the back-end of proceedings.
At any rate it’s great to have one’s thoughts provoked in this way by a reader’s response, and it’s what I love in general about the sort of unchained ‘musings’, notes and queries that a really good book-blogger can offer – truly an educational opportunity for the author. Of course, I fully concede, this is all contingent on said blogger having a basically positive view of one’s book… And since Emma signs off by testifying that ‘the book had me gripped right until the last page’ and that she’s looking forward to the movie version, I’m obviously very happy in that regard – but grateful to her in any case for having taken the time to write up the book at length and invite other online readers to discuss.


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