Julianne Snow is the author of The Plight of Phaylen Ponsford in Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity. We asked Julianne what the inspiration behind her story was, and this is what she shared with us –
The Inspiration Behind The Plight of Phaylen Ponsford
When I read the open call for the mythological horror anthology that Sirens Call Publications was going to be putting out, I knew that I had to write something for it. I have always been entranced by myths, legends and folklore; the tales I’ve read have held my attention for many years – perhaps it’s my love of fantasy. Whatever it was, I am thankful for it. While history was never one of my favourite subjects, there was something about classical history and literature that broke down those walls for me. So all I needed was an idea…
I toyed with a few – one of which I wrote almost to its climax before realizing that it was too overt with respect to the sexuality that was an integral part of the story. In the interest of adhering to the guidelines, I switched gears and attacked the challenge from a different point of view.
Sirens Call Publications was calling for monsters; they wanted tales where horror and mythology collided. I could deliver that but with a twist.
The Plight of Phaylen Ponsford is a story of mythology and horror but not one of mythological horror, in its purest of meanings. It contains a monster but not one that you would recognize.
You see, Phaylen is the monster – or at least that’s what she believes herself to be. Tragically and physically scarred, she has spent her life collecting the horrified glances of bystanders and transforming them into truths inside her head. What she sees in the mirror has only reinforced this conclusion and, subsequently, her pain. It has caused her to become somewhat of a recluse and to forfeit most of her dreams.
That is not entirely the truth however, as Phaylen chooses act out her childhood fantasy of being an archaeologist like Indiana Jones, albeit in a clandestine manner; travelling to foreign places and committing what would most certainly be considered illegal activities. On one of those trips, she unearths a treasure beyond anything that she has ever encountered.
This is where the mythology comes into play, for what she finds is a necklace wrought of gold, shaped of two serpents and encrusted with jewels. A necklace with a sordid past whose foundation lay in a curse. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what price are you willing to pay for beauty?
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:
The Plight of Phaylen Ponsford is the story of a young woman horrifically scarred by fire who finds a trinket that gives her what she secretly covets – but at what cost? Here is a longer look at Julianne’s contribution to Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity –
Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.
The sound of her trowel scraping across the earth was a rhythmic catharsis that flowed up Phaylen Ponsford’s arm and radiated throughout the rest of her body.
Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.
Each thin layer of dirt removed had the potential to reveal a relic of a lost time; perhaps a treasure of incalculable value. Phaylen had wanted to be an archaeologist for as long as she could remember. The desire stemmed from the continual playback of a childhood favourite that still held her spellbound; good old Indy never let her down. With all of the bad things that had befallen Phaylen, Indy always remained a constant source of inspiration. Even after the fire.
It happened when Phaylen was nine. An electrical short in one of the wires connecting her favourite pink lamp with the frilly nightshade to the wall. It could have picked any point in its life to short out, but instead it chose a moment when a young Phaylen was sleeping next to it. Within that instant her life changed – in the worst possible way.
Gone were her frilly pink lamp, her bed that had once been covered in a pink and purple polka dotted bedspread, and all her toys. In their stead was just pain; both physical and emotional.
Phaylen had always been a heavy sleeper; a trait that her alcoholic mother had once considered a Godsend. In the wake of the devastation and the mounting medical bills, she began to consider it a curse.
It wasn’t long before she considered Phaylen cursed as well.
It was her mother’s constant and very vocal opinion that she would amount to nothing. Especially given the fact that the majority of her young body was covered in the rippled and pocked design that the fire had left in its wake.
Some said that it might have been better if Phaylen had just died that night. Easier on the poor girl . Certainly easier on her mother. Death, however, wasn’t in the cards for either of them. Instead, Phaylen faced a long road to recovery and her mother faced a mountain of medical bills that she knew she’d never be able to pay. One might think that the lamp company would have helped to pay for the damage that it had wrought, but the simple fact of the matter was they had gone out of business two years prior to the unfortunate incident. It had been something to do with the recall of that same lamp bankrupting the entire business – a recall that didn’t make its way into the consciousness of Phaylen’s mother. A recall that would have saved her skin. It was a memory that depressed and troubled her mother when she sobered up and one that ultimately kept her firmly entrenched at the bottom of a bottle.
The funny thing was that Phaylen drew on the strength that she remembered from her favourite film – even when faced with the most daunting of odds, Indy always persevered. As a result, she pushed herself to learn how to walk through the pain of the tight reddened and ruined flesh that now covered her legs, to get back to school as soon as she was cleared to go, and to stare down the cruel stares and comments that she endured each and every day of her life after that fateful night.
Interested in finding out more about Julianne? Visit her on her blog.