Thomas James Brown is the author of It Lives In Us, found within the pages of Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity. We wanted to know what inspired Thomas to write the story, so we asked him. Read on to see what he told us –
It Lives In Us: The Inspiration
My inspiration for ‘It Lives In Us’ stems from a literary diet of Machen and Nietzsche. Between them, these two writers celebrate the natural, the supernatural and the unfettered wild, both in people and the world around them. These ideologies fascinated me as they struck a chord with my own observation of people as slaves to their instincts. These appetites take many forms – lust, hunger, greed and savagery – but are united by their base roots and society’s efforts to suppress them. Naturally I had to write about them, or else be driven mad!
The key to appreciating the story is understanding that this hunger lies in all of us. We all experience a touch of the animal about us at one point or another, and some more openly than others. It might be the instinct to chase when someone nearby is running. It might be that racing of the heart, when seeing someone attractive, or the knife-gut-wrench of envy when they are coupled with someone else. It might be as simple and recognisable as the stirrings of hunger, when the sizzling smell of hot fat fills your nostrils. The point is that even as society seeks to suppress these urges beneath propriety and politics and social constructs, they are natural and normal and dizzyingly beautiful to embrace. Who can argue with the simple pleasure of sitting down after a long day and biting into that first mouthful of delicious dinner? What might happen if this hunger, or one much like it, was suppressed – not for a lifetime, but for generations upon generations of bloodlines? I pictured a caged hound, bone-thin, jowls dripping as it snapped and howled and pressed against the bars of its prison.
And so, the parameters of ‘It Lives In Us’ were set: a typically English village, possessing of propriety and heritage but hiding a savage secret in the hurried hearts of its inhabitants.
The story uses tension and atmosphere to complement its themes. Similarly, characterisation was important. I needed my readers to connect – not just with my Dionysian themes of hunger and wildness, but the ‘actors’ I had set to portray them. I wanted them to feel for the Collins family and the inescapability of their situation.
A final word – the forest setting was important to me. I am a firm advocate of the Romanticists’ views of the natural world as truth-bearing. There is a transcendence to be found when walking beneath trees that cannot be found anywhere else. It has a way of putting the world and oneself into perspective. And, of course, ‘where light falls on the trees, there is always darkness beneath’. . .
Explore the twelve tales of horror and intrigue in Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity and ask yourself, what would you consider a fair price to pay for life immortal… or the chance of life at all?
Would a young woman pass up a shiny bauble if she believed it to be nothing more than a harmless trinket? What transpires once a year in a peaceful and remote village that no one will ever speak of? What better way for a broken man to honor a crippled existence than with a memorial of blood and vengeance? How could a disfigured woman ever dream of chancing across an object that would restore her beauty – and at what cost?
Follow the twists and turns of each writer as they delve into the legends of days gone by, as well as the consequences that are wrought when myths and monstrosities collide with our world.
Contributing Authors include:
Thomas James Brown, Nina D’Arcangela, K. Trap Jones, Amber Keller, Lisamarie Lamb, Edward Lorn, Alexa Muir, Kate Monroe, Joseph A. Pinto, J. Marie Ravenshaw, Julianne Snow, and Jonathan Templar
Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity is available in print and digital forms from these fine retailers:
It Lives In Us is an engaging tale of the beautiful community of Lynnwood and how for one night each year, something evil comes to town. Here is a longer look at Thomas’ contribution to Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity.
A black frost spread across Lynnwood, icing the tarmac with a lustrous sheen. Street lights were visible; pools of orange in the ice, but they were few and shone dully into the night. The village was dark and still, but it would not remain still for long. Something stirred inside the residents of Lynnwood, something hungry, and on this night it would not be quietened.
The village was an old one, dating back to the fourteenth century, when settlers flocked to the New Forest from Britain’s towns. The Black Death alone claimed thousands of souls. Starvation and society damned more. And so people died. Those who did not die fled the cities, their tails between their legs, as rank and lean as the very rats that had sickened them.
A number of settlements sprang into being within the Forest, their inhabitants drawn by its bounty, if not the imagined safety of its trees. The soil was poor, as forest soil so often is, but a living could be scratched from the wildlife. Pigeon was abundant; but then the forest settlers ate for nourishment, not taste. There is little people will not do, nor eat, when it means the difference between life and death. The Forest did not disappoint them with its offerings. These settlers proved most resourceful when it came to finding food. Even in the winter months, when darkness dragged and bodies froze, there was meat to be found, if they would only eat it. Lynnwood grew from a legacy of hunger.
But it was not the haven they had envisaged. Such a place could not have existed, did not exist. How could it, except between the pages of the Good Book – or any book, for that matter? No; the winters were long, the nights dark and, whilst there was some shelter from the plague beneath the boughs of the trees, there was no outrunning sin. This was Lynnwood’s real legacy.
In those respects, little had changed. For three hundred and sixty four days of the year, Lynnwood was a pleasant enough place in which to live. Hemmed in by the ancient oaks, there was a very real sense of community, as tangible as the roots that wound their way beneath the moist forest mulch. The trees were not restricted to oaks, but beech too, and yew and holly; any naturalist’s dream. Together they kept the village their own, tucked away behind branch and thistle and trunk. There was but a single bus that went as far as Lyndhurst, which left and returned once each day, and one long, vermicular road. Those were the only ways in and out of the village. Traffic was unheard of. In the hottest months, the dead of summer, the locals would spill out from the pub into the middle of the high street, to drink and talk and celebrate the sun with local ales. Nobody worried about collisions or disruption. There was no need. It was simply the way of things.
If you’d like to know more about Thomas, you can out more him and where to find his books here.