The Presence Unseen

Thea Devine today ruminating on fiction and life. I’ve been watching Under the Dome, which has become of particular interest because in some of the promo Stephen King has done for the series, he’s been pictured in the small Maine he says was the model for the small town in under the Dome.

Bridgton, Maine. It’s a really pretty town, with antique homes, antique shops, a book store, a find-everything-here department store. There’s a lake and a movie theater, and what more do you need in summer?

It’s about ten miles down the road from where we’ve summered for an untold number of years.

John just came back from opening up the house. He said it was good to be back in Maine, to see and catch up with our neighbors and friends. And yet — and yet … there is a presence — of friends who’ve left, friends who have died.

And, as John said , the presence not there is still a presence.

I feel it myself. I’m sure I’ve written before that Maine, for me now, is full of ghosts. I love being there, but I resist going because I know I’ll feel the presence of those I love and miss.

I am, as it were, under the dome. There are monsters in the lake, ghosts hovering in the branches. I shudder to go out at night in the deep darkness where there are no lights, where nothing can be seen, only felt and heard.

I imagine a lurking presence — familiar and unknown.

I’m in Stephen King territory now — in real time, in real life — and thus influenced, I dream up mysteries that haunt the woods behind our house, secrets buried for generations in the attics and cellars of abandoned farms that dot the hills, heroines returning to their roots, running from their bad decisions, heroes who are local, hard-bitten and wise.

The question is, do I write those stories in Maine– or as far away as I can get from the presence of the ghosts?

Or will I still be haunted by the presence unseen?

What would you do? How would you feel?

Thea Devine is currently working on her next erotic contemporary romance. She will be attending RWA and speaking at the NJRWA Put Your Heart in a Book Conference in October.

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8 thoughts on “The Presence Unseen”

  1. Well, I would never presume to give you, my Yoda, writing advice! But I can tell you that as a reader I love, love, love those kind of dark gothic stories in the tradition of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, or more recently Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale (which I read and/or listed to on audio three times!). And I would be first in line to buy a book like that by you, set in Maine or anywhere else. But there is something about Maine, isn’t there? That wild, raw beauty and sense of remoteness, even if you’re in one of the cities. There’s just no place like it.

  2. Oh, I love those books too, Susannah! And there is something about Maine … you feel it when you’re there, you think about it when you’re away. You want to stay, it’s hard to leave, and yet you must … and then Maine is in your consciousness until you return.

    It is definitely time for a New England gothic to hit the market …

    thea

    1. Oh yes! I hope that means you’re writing one 🙂 I’d try it myself but I’m not sure I can write deep and dark enough. Maybe someday. I do have a kernel of an idea for one…

  3. Thea, The one place where we spent a week, Bar Harbor, Maine, was a place to love. Surrounded by water and lobster sheds, lurking was both charm and mystery. Like you said, you feel a presence. I can imagine how it is to return to your summers with all the cherished memories. I am still discovering the genre I favor to read. I just finished Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.” Loved it. I seem to enjoy historic fiction and historic romance.
    Looking forward to RWA. See you there, I hope.

    1. Thanks everyone. Gail, I will be at RWA. Susannah, I’m always thinking about writing a gothic. I haven’t read the Thirteenth Tale, but I’m going to look for it now.

      Thea

  4. I feel your pain, Thea. I have ghosts in the possessions that came to me. My mother’s dusting powder is on my dresser. I have a single album of photographs from my parent’s early marriage. My in-laws’ crystal crowds my breakfront. My daughter sleeps in her great-grandfather’s bed.

    And, even with this, I have no desire to write a novel celebrating that time or location. No desire to revisit the haunts of my youth in Georgia or anywhere else. I live here now.

    But I think you would get something out of *starting* a gothic novel in Maine. Why not spend the time channeling the energy you feel? Make notes, plan your attack.

    And leave your end date open ended, so you can cut and run if it’s too intense.

    Good luck!

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