When deciding to write the novella that I am currently working on the place I started was thinking about sisters. I have a brother who is 4 years older than me so the idea of having a sibling the same sex as me and especially if she was the same age or similar, well it’s pretty foreign to me, and yet very interesting. I have never really had a strong bond with anyone, and a relationship (non-romantic) where you would die for one another and where to be apart drives you insane seemed to fit into this ‘sisters’ mold pretty well, and I wanted to explore that kind of relationship.
After this idea came what kind of story I wanted to tell. I am a great fan of gruesome, graphic, twisted psychological thrillers/crime/detective novels (the writer Mo Hayder is my favourite) so I came up with this idea of a murder and that murder being one of the sisters I would create. Then came the idea of the sister that was left over being accused, and in this I thought a very interesting character could be made. And so came Alice Knight.
In my head I wanted Alice to be mature beyond her years because of books she had read, the independence her and her sister experienced and yet a certain kind of disconcerting childlike manner about her, a kind that would be too young for her as she is in the present parts of the story (13). Slowly but surely during the inception of this Novella I realized I wanted to jump back and forth and into the future. The linear structure of time in a story didn’t seem to fit the one I wanted to tell so I came up with the idea of instead of chapters, there would be more like entries, where the date would be at the top of the page as a kind of marker for the reader to show where in the story (what time) we were and also to split it up.
The character of Lyssa was much more crafted and thought about, she came to me less naturally then Alice did, I wanted her to be cruel, and twisted and harsh and yet likable, mainly because we were seeing her through Alice’s eyes, we never really get to see things from her point of view.
In terms of the relationship between the two girls I took inspiration first and foremost from a early 2000’s B-movie, a horror movie at that, called Ginger Snaps. In this movie there are 2 sisters, Ginger and Brigitte and their relationship was what gave me incentive to have this whole dominant/submissive thing going on between Alice and Lyssa.
Brigitte and Ginger Fitzgerald played by Emily Perkins and Katherine Isabelle respectively. There’s a line from this film that I remembered when first writing my novella: ‘Out by 16 or dead on the scene, but together forever.’ When watching this film I kinda thought, what would they have been like when they were little and so the parts from Alice and Lyssa’s childhood were written firstly with Brigitte and Ginger in mind.
Another more recent inspiration I have taken for Alice and Lyssa’s dysfunctional and dangerously dependent relationship was BBC’s adaption of Diane Setterfield’s debut novel ‘The Thirteenth Tale’. In this very Gothic story there are a pair of twins who form their own completely secluded and secret world, they even create their own language, this alone has given me an extra insight into how I am going to from now on, write the passages about Alice and Lyssa’s childhood.
The twins in BBC’s adaption of ‘The Thirteenth Tale’.
Dr Graham Pellman is a character plucked from my imagination with nothing I have read/watched recently giving that much input onto how I have written him, the only thing really was, when handling his appearance the idea of having near black eyes came from watching Evan Peters in American Horror Story (bit fangirly but oh well).
Other random facts about it:
Lyssa is the name of a Godess/spirit from Greek mythology of rage/mad rage.
I still haven’t got a title so any help from anyone who has read it would be appreciated.
Even though I may have started out wanting this to be a story about a murder, to me, it has actually become much more about relationships, especially Alice and Lyssa’s.
I already know how its going to end (its just the bits until then I’m still making my mind up about).
There are some parts of it that are to be set in the future when Alice is around 16/17.