Tag Archives: Winchester Mystery House

Location, Location, Location

by Lillian Csernica on July 16, 2013

English: The Hill House Inn, Happisburgh 16th ...

English: The Hill House Inn, Happisburgh 16th Century coaching in where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the book “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” in 1903. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My recent trip to the Winchester Mystery House got me to thinking about the importance of setting.  Having been a slush pile reader as well as a reviewer, I’ve read stories where the potential in the setting could have been put to much better use.  I’ve also seen the setting dominate the action to the exclusion of a genuine plot.  Unique locations can add considerable depth and atmosphere to a story, enhancing character and complicating the plot.

Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich   The key setting in this installment of the Stephanie Plum series is the New Jersey pine barrens, complete with the Jersey Devil and a few other quite colorful characters.  The plot twists and the comedy in the story could not happen the same way without being set in this lonely, spooky, and above all muddy location.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey   The highly structured environment of a mental ward provides the critical setting for the clash of wills between Murphy and Big Nurse.

The Sonchai Jitpleecheep series by Jim Burdett   The mysteries Det. Jitpleecheep must solve could only happen in Bangkok, that city of exotic splendor where to foreigners it seems like anything goes.  Bangkok, with its particular style of Buddhism, its pollution and corruption and amazing beauty, is a character in and of itself.

The works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle   Here again we have a city that becomes a character in the stories set inside its alleyways and majestic buildings.  Sir Arthur knew London so well, right down to the very timetables of the trains, that the city comes alive and is by turns both ally and enemy to Sherlock Holmes.

Stories that take place aboard the RMS Titanic.   So much fiction and nonfiction has been written about the many tragedies surrounding the Titanic, its construction, its maiden voyage, and its disastrous end.  Even though we know the ending, the Titanic continues to figure in the minds of storytellers.

The setting of a story can be so much more than just the backdrop, just the furniture on the stage where the characters act out their scenes.  The setting can have its own vitality, temper, gifts, and demands.  Such marvelous dramatic potential cannot be allowed to go to waste.

Leave a comment

Filed under fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Uncategorized, Writing

The Silver Marriage Medal

by Lillian Csernica on July 12, 2013

Busy week here.  Wednesday was my 25th Wedding Anniversary.  It’s staggering to think that much time has passed, more than half of my life.

Chris took the day off work and we spent it doing all kinds of things.  The Winchester Mystery House is every bit as grand and strange as the ads claim.  I don’t think it’s haunted, but I admit I wouldn’t want to go wandering around the place at night.  And I won’t take the basement tour, not even in broad daylight.  Hey, I write horror.  I’d scare myself silly and I know it.

In commemoration of this marital milestone, Chris gave me a sterling silver Celtic knotwork cuff bracelet.  My wedding rings are Celtic knotwork, and on my other ring finger I wear a Celtic knotwork dragon.  The first gift Chris ever gave me was sterling silver Celtic knotwork jewelry.  (Yes, it’s easy for me to accessorize!)

The big surprise was the place where Chris had made our dinner reservations.  He wouldn’t tell me the location, but I did insist on knowing how to dress.  As we pulled up to the parking structure beside the building where the restaurant sits on the top floor, I saw a sign I haven’t seen in twenty-five years.  Chris had brought us to the very fancy restaurant where we went on our first date.  Now that’s style.

I was really impressed.  Chris worked so hard to make the day so special.


Filed under Family, fantasy, Horror, Uncategorized, Writing