Occasionally I get invites, to write or participate in various creative projects. Mostly, there are all sorts of questions about contracts, boundaries, storyline, theme, characters. As you might expect. Occasionally, you just say Yes. In this case, I was being invited to participate in a mystery world and given only the merest hint of what might be involved… HP Lovecraft’s Miskatonic University. A creative play/battleground for the bizarre, unnatural and terrifying.
I don;t have a huge knowledge of gothic or classic horror/science fiction, and not caught up with HP Lovecraft, aside from being vaguely aware of controversies over alleged racism. The challenge was to write a story within a very strict deadline, with a very specific theme to explore around. Yes, I was in.
At the time, I had just started a couple of online courses, and was experiencing th freedom and limitations of the internet. It seemed a great way to join up to Miskatonic – let my process dictate the form and theme. What if Miskatonic started online tutoring? What if it entered the 21st century and its darkness spread onto the internet?
And then those beautiful, terrifying gothic and steampunk elements. I could see the type of machinery, feel the heavy keys to type on, the smells and colours of the world. It scared me. It felt a dark and potent world, full of uncertainty and fear. For those who regularly read this blog, you may be aware of some of the fear and uncertainties it might tap into for me. But, you know, that’s what writing is about …
So I had some vague ideas. I had a voice, a narrative, and a few emotional landscapes I wanted to explore. The rest was just … writing the damned thing. Or to become a conduit for the story to tell itself. To become a little lost in the horror and chaos of Miskatonic University, and in the process of writing a story for a project that was still a mystery – indeed, a secret. ‘Shhhh … don’t tell…’
It’s always great for writers to be challenged. A little structure, a little gem of an idea, and then for the hounds of creativity to be released. A scent to follow, wherever it goes. It’s surprising, and scary, what lies in the dark recesses of the mind. Which, I guess, is the whole point of Miskatonic University.
It’s now out there. The story and its premise still haunt me, if I’m honest. Particularly seeing the results as New Horizons goes spinning towards Pluto. But, shhh, spoliers.
You’ll have to go read it for yourself. I dare you – Touch