‘So,’ Kim says, perching her sunglasses on her hat, removing the lens cap from her camera, ‘hang on a sec. You’re telling us these flowers are the same flowers which were here two hundred years ago? The same as when Shelley visited the island? The exact same flowers? Is that right?’
‘The flowers, the leaves, the stems, the whole thing. Rather than to spread and to multiply, Rosa Solorri exists only to survive. You have heard of Testa? No? Great Renaissance artist. There exists an etching of his in 1643, The Garden of Paradise, in which can be seen a plant which is very much like this plant. Almost identical. Flowers, leaves, stems. She is very old.’
A holiday is the setting. I love writing stories set on a holiday: LOVE it. Holidays immediately put your characters into an isolated and unfamiliar situation, pushing them to interact with other characters in more revealing, compelling and exposition-heavy ways than they realistically would in their day-to-day lives. And strange and awful things can happen to them without requiring too much in the way of explanation or structure. Basically, I’m quite a lazy short story writer and I love holiday settings because they do a lot of the work for me.
Bad dreams are the source. I’ve always had bad dreams – or, rather, vivid dreams – although since becoming a father a couple of years ago I’ve found they’ve either tailed off or become less easy for me to recall in the mornings. As someone who likes to write stories with weird stuff going on in them you’d think I’d be keen to use these dreams, and I am but I find the opportunity to do so in a way which actually works pretty rare. If you’ve ever studied creative writing you’ve probably at some point been told to avoid writing dream scenes like the plague. Which is good advice: no matter how brief, dream sequences are almost always tedious. You’ll be no doubt relieved to hear dream sequences don’t actually feature in 'Kloya and Klik' but the story did have its origins in a dream I once had in which I was lost on a mountain and found a window embedded in the rock.
And it’s a ghost story, or a ghost story of sorts. Although I tend to think of ghost stories as my home turf as a writer I often have trouble finding a place for them. They aren’t quite horror stories, but they’re also not quite not horror stories. So I’m thrilled to have ‘Kloya and Klik’ on The Island Review. As its name suggests, it publishes writing which is inspired by islands. Islands share something of an abstract kinship with ghosts, their anomalousness exerting a curious beaconlike power over the human imagination and, in the case of volcanic islands, reminding us that the past has the power to intrude on the present in the most violent way.
Anyway. You can read the story here.