Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Fall - Bethany Griffin Guest Post

There is nothing better in the lead up to Halloween than reading a deliciously creepy story. The Fall by Bethany Griffin is filled with chills, intense atmosphere and will send shivers down your spine. I have Bethany stopping by today with a guest post on how she created the mood of this chilling read.

You'll also want to be sure to enter the amazing giveaway below. Totally jealous of whoever wins this one!

First, here is a little info about this novel....


Author: Bethany Griffin

Pub. Date: October 7, 2014

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Pages: 432

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads

Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

Bethany gives some amazing insight into capturing the atmosphere of this novel in her guest post below...

The atmosphere and mood seems to be a huge part of this story. Discuss how you created the particular tone/atmosphere for this novel.

This is an interesting question, and one that sort of makes me question my writing process, because I’m not sure if I can separate creating atmosphere completely from all the other parts of writing, and in this book it permeates everything, in some ways the atmosphere is the story since it’s so connected to setting, plot, and characters!

To begin with I read Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher several times. I made a list of words from Poe’s story that I wanted to use in mine as well as some descriptions like the blasted white trees and the eye-like windows that I wanted to be sure to include. Once I started I didn’t go back to Poe’s story, and I’m not sure I remembered I had the list. I do remember that at one point I realized I’d used darkness/blackness too many times and ended up having to go to a thesaurus where I found the word tenebrous, which appears once, I think.

The first scene was the first thing I wrote. If I couldn’t pull that one off, I knew I couldn’t pull off the book. It had to be awful and claustrophobic, but the reader also had to have the sense that this wasn’t a completely new or unexpected happening for Madeline—waking up in a coffin, no, but waking up from a trance was something she was very used to...so she’s weirdly calm until she realizes where she is.

My first draft process is to quickwrite, either on paper or on my computer, and then to layer in details, take out unnecessary words and repetitive details, layer in more, take out more, layer in more, and so on, Some of the atmosphere comes from the first draft, I have a picture in my head I want to create, some of it comes from that layering process as I try to make the picture that’s in my head clearer/understandable to readers.

To create the atmosphere in the Fall I called upon every nightmare I’d ever had. I had a lot of nightmares as a child, and still have them occasionally. In my early 20’s I had a reoccurring dream that involved being unable to move. I tried to work the horror of that into the story as best I could, as well as other terrors of childhood.

Poe’s story has a heavy sense of gloom, and in my own way I hope I created a mirroring heaviness and gloom, a feeling of being watched, a feeling of history which makes Madeline’s efforts to escape both frighteningly futile as well as wonderfully brave.

A large part of the tone was a sense that the house was watching all the time. Some weird things from my childhood—my family was Pentecostal, and I had a lot of confusion with religion--there was definitely a sense in childhood of not being alone, of being watched, and a feeling that the watcher was all-powerful but not entirely kindly. I was the only girl in my family, and because of this was gifted with a large and not all-together-uncreepy collection of expensive china dolls. They were lovely during the day, but at night they watched me. I made bargains with them if they let me live through the night.

If I’m being honest, I woke up a few times in adulthood with horrible nightmares, realizing those creepy creepy dolls were in storage in my attic. I moved them to the garage, and eventually got rid of them, but the sense of malevolence I felt from them remains, as well as that sense of helplessness, of making bargains with something you don’t understand.

At the same time the setting for the house was every dark and fascinatingly dismal place I’ve ever visited, with bits of beauty shining through. I love urban decay, and the house was most certainly decaying around Madeline.

Whether atmosphere, or simply plot- I’m fascinated by characters who are trapped, and Madeline was undeniably trapped by the house and her relationship with it.

I feel like once I start a story, I find the atmosphere in the same way I find the main character’s voice? Sometimes you write scenes where you lose the voice, or the atmosphere, particularly if you are adding in a new scene, or have taken a break for awhile, but when you lose that thread, it’s really obvious, and really just means you have to immerse yourself in the story to find it again.

A huge thank you to Bethany for writing up such a fantastic post, and the ladies at Rockstar Book Tours for including me.

Bethany Griffin is a high school English teacher who prides herself on attracting creative misfits to elective classes like Young Adult Literature, Creative Writing, and Speculative Literature. She is the author of HANDCUFFS, MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, DANCE OF THE RED DEATH, GLITTER AND DOOM, and THE FALL. She lives with her family in Kentucky.


Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour. Here are the rest of the stops for this week. You can view the whole tour schedule on Rockstar Book Tours website.

9/29/2014- Bookish - Interview
9/30/2014- A Glass of Wine - Guest Post
10/1/2014- Stories & Sweeties - Review
10/2/2014- Novel Novice - Review
10/3/2014- Burning Impossibly Bright - Interview

Be sure to enter the giveaway below to win these amazing prizes! That scarf is amazing! The necklace, and of course those amazing bookmarks!

The contest is USA only and you can enter by using the Rafflecopter below.

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  1. LOVE her!! She's so talented and her Poe retellings are hugely original :)

    She's right about her tone and mood - and all her settings are completely real in terms of how a reader can visualize details to set the mood!!

    thank you so very much :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Great review. This sounds promising. Hopefully there will be a sequel.
    I like this site :: Ipe Decking information


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