Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Sign in the Moonlight: The Sign in the Moonlight & My Friend Fishfinger by Daisy Aged 7

Finally, the title story!  Though - a small confession - it wasn't always intended to be.  That honour was originally meant to go to The War of the Rats, as the longest and newest work.  But since our artist Duncan Kay, who had by this point produced interior illustrations for every story in the collection, couldn't get the picture for that particular tale to a point he felt was cover-worthy, we all eventually agreed to go instead with one he'd already produced an absolutely stunning image for.  It turned out to be one of those decisions that felt right as soon as it had been made; now it's almost impossible to imagine how anything else could have gone on the front of this book.

In fact, I'll go further: I don't know that there's a tale in the collection that sums up its spirit quite as perfectly as The Sign in the Moonlight - originally published, by the way, a couple of years back in Nightmare Magazine.  It's absolutely a weird tale, one that might even have creeped out Lovecraft himself, what with his notorious phobia of the cold.  It follows a party of mountaineers that is itself hot on the heels of an expedition which included notorious British occultist Aleister Crowley - a real and documented historical event, by the way - and finds more than it bargained for upon the slopes of Mount Kanchenjunga.  I've said this before, but it was almost creepy how this story came together, and how much my research threw up real life details that fit perfectly, not only with the narrative I was constructing but with each other.

By comparison, My Friend Fishfinger by Daisy Aged 7 is a wee slip of a thing, written with little forethought in one mad splurge: a joke, really, though one that's either rather sad or kind of cruel, depending on how you decide to look at it.  I got one of my nicest ever reviews for this story, which acknowledged just how difficult it is for a grown man to write in the style of a seven year old girl.  Yet the truth is, it wasn't that difficult at all.  I don't often talk about characters finding their own voices and all that nonsense, but Daisy certainly did, and she went on to more or less write her own story, which required next to no editing and which I'm still entirely happy with nigh on a decade later.  I guess it's just a shame that she couldn't have come up with a happier ending for herself!

Here's an extract from The Sign in the Moonlight:
You will have heard, no doubt, of the Bergenssen expedition—if only from the manner of its loss. For a short while, that tragedy was deemed significant and remarkable enough to adorn the covers of every major newspaper in the civilised world.
At the time, I was in no position to follow such matters. However, in subsequent months I’ve tracked down many journals from that period. As I write, I can look up at the wall to see a cover of the New York Times I’ve pinned there, dated nineteenth of May 1908, bearing the headline, “Horror in the Himalayas: Bergenssen five reported lost in avalanche.”
In a sense, I suppose, it’s a spirit of morbidity that draws me back to those days upon the mountain and their awful finale, which I failed to witness only by the purest chance. Equally, there’s a macabre humour in the thought that to almost all the world I am dead, my body shattered and frozen in the depths of some crevasse. But what draws me most, I think, is the memory of what I saw after I left Bergenssen and the others—that knowledge which is mine uniquely. It’s without disrespect to the Times that I say they know nothing, nothing whatsoever, of the horror of Mount Kangchenjunga. Likely, there is no one else alive who does.

No comments:

Post a Comment