It was my writing group’s last meeting of the year, and we went out to lunch; I had set them a task, and had suggested we tried our best to write a Gothic story, or a story with a Gothic twist at least. I don’t usually write for the group, I don’t want to take their time by me reading my stuff, although I always have something to read if the occasion arises. However, today I thought I should join in and began to write a short story… which I find really tricky as I’m used to longer work! I really admire those who can write short stories, who can be so precise and concise and have great setting, believable characters and a good ending.
I have been working so hard on my other writing that I didn’t complete my story, but here are the opening paragraphs:
Who could have predicted, who could have told through casting the runes or casting a horoscope, reading the tea leaves or reading the tarot, who could have foretold the curious and strange events surrounding the end of the Gorman’s Gaston reading group?
Gorman’s Gaston is a small Somerset village, about four hundred yards from the sea and four inches above it; despite the new sea defences, on dark nights, when the tide is high and the wind howls off the Bristol Channel and the rains inundate the Mendip Hills, the Quantocks and the Poldens, and flood down onto the Levels, the people of Gorman, as it is known, fear for their properties and check their insurance policies.
The name of the village is lost in antiquity, the most likely origin is Norman and there were Normans who settled in the area and there are town’s which bear their names such as Bridgwater, the brig or wharf of Walter… but there is a yearning by some incomers for more ancient roots, Arthurian and beyond… Arthurian names were even banded about, Guiron le Courtois, Gornemant, Gaheris… All most unlikely as in past times the site of the village would have been below the sea… and doubly unlikely since these are fictional names created in the thirteenth century
To return to the reading group… Inspired by the name of the village which had a resonance with the Gormenghast trilogy, written by Mervyn Peake in the 1940’s and 50’s, Jeremy Turner had moved to the village on his retirement. His passion was gothic literature, and especially the works of Peake, and within a few months he had started a reading group, a gothic reading group. The group met at first in the local pub, appropriately named The Bloody Judge, and then in Jeremy’s own home, which he had named Otranto, after the Walpole novel.