Book: Night Corridor by Joan Hall Hoveycategories: Book, Gothic, Suspense, Romance, Stalker, Insane, Asylum, Novel, Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Joan Hall Hoveyabout this book: The seeds for my latest suspense novel Night Corridor were planted in my childhood. On Sundays, I accompanied my grandmother to visit an aunt in the New Brunswick Provincal Hospital, later changed to Centracare, once called The Lunatic Asylum. She'd spent much of her life within those walls. They said she was 'melancholy'.
That sprawling, prison-like building with bars on the windows, has long since been torn down, the sights, sounds and smells of the place infiltrated the senses of the 12 year old girl I was, and never left. Recently, a local paper did a story on Night Corridor. They included an old postcard photo of the mental institution taken in 1905, and it looked almost like a pleasant rest home with trees in front. A clever photographer had managed to capture a small piece of the building shot at an attractive angle, not at all how it really looked.
She was always so glad to see us. She wore makeup, and beads and read poetry to me. She seemed like a movie star, but of course I knew better. I didn't really understand why she couldn't come home.
Further research led me to a diary I read written by a woman named Mary Heustis Pengilly, in 1885.
But while Night Corridor was inspired by my aunt, and influenced by Mrs. Pengilly, it is not about them. Fiction can be drawn from life, but it is filtered through the writer's imagination. Your characters are not you. They are people in their own right with their own hearts and minds. You breathe life into them by infusing them with your own emotions, based on your life experiences. In this way you are connected to them.
I don't try to force those connections, but I do invite them, long before I begin the novel. Something that I can grasp in my writer's imagination and make something of. A kind of alchemy, turning lead into gold. At least that's the intention. I'm not aware that I'm working out childhood issues, but I'm sure they play a part. Once I begin to relive that memory, complete with sensory details – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, I invite the character into that world. It helps that I can remember with more vividness my childhood, then I can tell you what happened last Tuesday. This method may not work for every writer, but it works for me
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