Monday, 23 May 2016

Once Upon A Scream: Gollewon Ellee

Gollewon Ellee. Fairy lights. Mysterious lanterns seen in the woods, luring the unwary to their doom...

Gollewon Ellee is my contribution to the anthology Once Upon A Scream, an anthology of horror-tinged fairy stories and stories about fairies from Horror Press. Gollewon Ellee is set in around 1910 in a remote corner of Essex on Harley’s Mount and features two young girls who follow the titular fairy lights that haunt the hill.

Harley’s Mount and its environs have been the setting for a number of my stories and poems and first came into existence around twenty years ago, although I have refined and expanded upon the detail of the region over time, even releasing a booklet detailing some of its history and folklore. Along with the ghostly Harley himself, the fairy lights are one of the earliest elements of the extensive folk lore I’ve developed for the Mount (although the name only came later), featuring in the as-yet-unpublished novel that was the second piece of fiction set on the Mount and initially written twenty years ago (although substantially rewritten more than once since). Interestingly, following the fairy lights twice plays an important role in the novel.

The fairy lights themselves and their use in both stories derives from folk lore, where such lights were thought to be carried by fairies or to be the souls of the dead, and that to follow them was not a sensible thing to do. There is also a hint of UFOlogy in there, if you know where to look (deriving from the idea that fairies and aliens are different interpretations of the same motif or phenomenon through different cultural lenses).

While horror fiction, especially that of Lovecraft, has had some influence upon my creation of the Mount region, it is folk lore, rural culture and history that have most influenced its creation, along with one novel, The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo, which played a key role in catalysing that novel so long ago and very faint hints of which can be seen in Gollewon Ellee. (The Snow Spider really resonates with me and has had a more overt influence on at least one other of my recently-published stories.)

Finally, it can be said that the fictional Mount was inspired by a very real hill in Essex where my grandparents lived for a time. While not quite as imposing nor as haunted, it was still a fascinating place that gripped my imagination and provided a template in which to set stories that had been brewing for a time beforehand and a place for which I retain fond memories.

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