Posted: May 17th, 2:03pm
One of the formative novels of my childhood (one of many) was Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake's masterpiece of gothic fantasy (though I believe he didn't really think of it as a fantasy).
Gormenghast cast a shadow over my writing, a shadow made up of twisted towers, ruined halls, dusty carvings, hallucinatory narratives, and redolantly named characters. I read it around the age of fourteen — a similar age to the equally influentual but harder to immitate Dune — and it changed my writing, probably in ways I wasn't even aware of. It certainly wasn't the only source of the strong themes of dilapidation and unexplained mystery that run through my writing, but it was one of them!
Not long after reading Gormenghast I wrote a story as a present for my Grandmother Jessie, I think it was a Birthday present. I called "Tales of the Castle", and it was set in a place that reads a lot like a dream version of Gormenghast. I wrote it longhand, made a booklet out of it, gave it to her, and then forgot all about it.
Twenty-Five years later my Dad found the story in a box of Jessie's belongings that he's had in storage for two decades, and gave it back to me. I had no memory of it, but when I read it through I was amazed at how much it resonated with the writing I've been doing over the last couple of years. It could be part of a series with The Night Alphabet.
I transcribed it, then re-wrote it, and here it is.