Sunday, 31 January 2016

How to kill a mermaid and more horror stories from Galway

A Galway mermaid

It’s been a while since I posted up a blog, but I have an excuse – the horror writing workshops have taken off in strange and peculiars ways. As well as preparing for and then facilitating each workshop I have myself begun writing a new story. In hindsight this was inevitable. I had intended to only do the tutoring, but each Thursday night I have been surrounded by weird and dark tales sputtering and birthing into existence around me, all dripping with gore and snapping their sharp teeth (I’m referring to the stories here, not the writers…) So I too put pen to paper and began writing a draft horror story: ‘Looking south across the bay, The Devil could see the hills there were still visible. The clouds though were heavy and dark above them, with tendrils of blackness reaching down to the peaks and valleys.’

As well as preparation work and engaging with Lucifer I’m also busy responding to enquiries about the group. Galway is a small place, and word has spread (like blood or brain splatter) that weird things are going on in the Crane Bar. The upshot of all this was that I was invited along to the NUI Galway Writers' Society Conference to talk about the Horror Workshops.

Saturday’s conference in NUI Galway was filled with all manner of fab talks and workshops on everything that would interest a budding writer.  The organisers had kindly put aside thirty-five minutes for me to explain what the hell was going on in the Crane Bar. Instead of talking I decided to try and adapt one of the horror writing exercises into the short time frame. The exercise was the one where a simple daily object is used to evoke a darker story

I briefly explained the function of heightened texture in scary stories and then asked the seventeen students to split up into three group. When this was done I asked the students to close their eyes and picture an object they come across in their daily life. Then with eyes still closed they had to examine the object using all the senses – taste, hearing, touch, feeling as well as sight. Eyes opened again, I asked them to take a moment to write down as vivid a description as possible. After this the students in each of the three groups read out what they had written. Then other members of the group asked questions to try and bring out a bigger sense of the object and to try and see if it would lend itself to a dark tale.

The results were great fun: chewing gum changed to chewing human meat and sinew; a beautiful tree became a rage-filled spirit of nature. One student began describing a cushion to her group. After discussing its shape and what it felt like against the skin the question was asked what it could be used for. Another student suggested a mercy killing, to which another responded that it could be used to kill a sick mermaid. The woman who had described the cushion thought this would work: ‘I could find it out of the water, it could be suffocating because it can’t breathe air’.

At this point I stepped in. The ideas were wonderful but something was still missing. ‘Imagine,’ I said, ‘that you are walking along and you see a car hit a sparrow. The sparrow is dying and it is in terrible pain. Only you can put it out of its misery. Imagine what it would feel like trying to kill that sparrow.’ The students grimaced in horror and disgust. ‘Okay – just imagine how much bigger that feeling would be if you were trying to kill a mermaid.’

At the end of the exercise I explained that yes, the Horror Writing Group in the Crane Bar was open to new members and no, people need not pay for the sessions they have missed. If people want to join, please give me a call or drop me an email before coming along. Price is 15 euro per session.

This Thursday we will be looking at when The Other intrudes into our world. A great example of this intrusion is this clip from An American Werewolf in London…

For more on mermaids check out this great article: LUSTY LADIES: MERMAIDS IN THE MEDIEVALIRISH CHURCH

People interested in joining the Horror Writing Group might want to check out these previous blogs about the workshops:

Also, I’ve posted up a few blogs about horror stories which you might find interesting:
Awesome Tales of Horror (parts one &two)

For more on my work as a writer and storyteller see rabfultonstories
Fans of dark tales, may want to check out my online blog novel Marcus Marcus & the Hurting Heart which was commissioned by the Múscailt Arts Festival or my Galway supernatural story Transformation

See you all thursday!

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