I can remember the exact moment this story came to me. I woke up in my parent’s house one morning about five years ago and it was all full and vibrant in my mind, like it had bled through from a particularly vivid dream.
But that’s not really where this story started.
If I had to pick the real moment for that, it would be in the early 1990s (maybe 1990 itself) when BBC2 showed a season of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allen Poe adaptations at nine on a Monday night.
By that point, I’d of course seen the Hammer films numerous times – but I was more familiar with the source material for those. I had read the real DRACULA, the real FRANKENSTEIN, and so knew the massive deviations from the source material they were taking. I understood already that these were practically pastiches.
Poe I was much less familiar with. I’d never really read the stories, never seen any of these adaptations before and I just soaked them up.
I still get a tingle when I think of Vincent Price’s menacing gaze, or Ray Milland’s paranoia, or Barbara Steele being locked in an iron maiden, or Peter Lorre expressing no surprise whatsoever that his host would keep his wife’s corpse in a glass coffin in his hallway.
In my introduction to my first novel, THE WANNABES, I wrote about how much I loved the way the walls changed colour in THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. This is the first time I saw that movie.
There are seven Corman/Poe films in total, and BBC2 actually only showed six in that season. (The thought occurs that I still have never seen THE TOMB OF LIGEIA. I really must rectify that).
I now had a certain image of melodramatic gothic fixed in my mind.
Later, at University, I studied the fin de siècle novels and the images and themes of those were gobbled up and stored in the marble mausoleum I was building in a dark, foggy corner of my mind.
And it’s from that place of darkness and occasionally frighteningly vivid reds, that THE STRANGE FATE OF LORD BRUTON comes from. It was not just conceived that morning. It’s a culmination of those movies I watched, those books I read, a certain kind of gothic melodrama that exists constantly in my head.
If you get chance to read it, I hope you enjoy.