Lovecraft and Lightning Bugs: Thursday’s Children

Welcome to the Thursday’s Children Blog Hop, where writers come together to share whatever inspires them throughout their writing journey. I’d like to thank our lovely hosts, Rhiann and Kristina, for inviting me to participate. Make sure to check out the other bloggers via this Link List: We’d love for you to join us!

I love my new WIP. You know, the steampunk-alternate history-dark fantasy I’ve been gushing about in my posts? Well, trying to transfer the Gothic darkness from my head onto paper has been difficult. I know I can do it—re-reading some of my other writings proves it.

So why the difficulty now?

Going over what I’d drafted, that was the question I kept asking myself. Why didn’t I have all the creepy feels? What was missing? The words were there, but the mood was lacking. It had a “full color” tone when it should have been “sepia”. And that’s when I knew I hadn’t truly immersed myself in the darkness. I hadn’t gone to that place I fear, I’d merely played along the edges of it. In order to bring my story to life, I needed to invite the shadows into my house, eat with them, dream with them, breathe in their essence.

So I drove to Barnes & Noble and brought home a collection of stories by H.P. Lovecraft.

One of the stories, The Rats in the Walls, seemed familiar. I knew it, somehow, from my childhood. I was almost ten, my sister five, and my cousin, whom we were visiting, six. It was early summer, and in Arkansas that meant sweltering—which meant baths were taken in the plastic kiddie pool outside before the sun set. We loved it. Afterward, we caught lightning bugs. We were given a huge mason jar and someone cut slits in the lid. We caught about thirty and it made for a fabulous nightlight.

Bedtime arrived and the three of us piled on my cousin’s bed and put the jar up by the headboard. And then I told a story. I called it The Green Rat, and it scared them so bad I thought they’d never go to sleep. I realize now, that story had been my first—and only—fan-fiction. But we lived in The Bible Belt, I was raised Southern Baptist, so how my nine-year-old self knew Lovecraft is a complete mystery. I called and asked my mom and she was just as shocked as I was. Regardless, both my sister and cousin remember bits of my story, and now I can tell them where the inspiration came from.

And if you’re wondering about the lightning bugs, they escaped in the night; to the bed, our hair, the walls, the carpet…

Is there a book, or author, you immerse yourself in to set the mood for your own stories?


26 Responses to “Lovecraft and Lightning Bugs: Thursday’s Children

  • That was great! I remember I had a babysitter (a teenage boy) who intro’d me to Poe. Not exactly designed to make me fall asleep quickly-I don’t know WHAT he was thinking. Hope you’ve got sepia seeping into your steampunk now 🙂

    • LOL!! Boys. *sigh* Poe is great. I still have trouble falling asleep after reading him 🙂

  • I love your childhood story! I like to read anything YA with a paranormal or supernatural feel, to get me in the mood. For writing. In the mood for writing. haha!

  • That’s quite creepy about the rat story (stories) – although I love that yours was so wrapped up in lightning bugs and childhood innocence. I hope you find the right tone for your story!

    • Rats ARE creepy. Unless they’re from NIMH, lol. Thank you! 🙂

  • I just finished reading my first steampunk novel, The Iron Throne by Caitlin Kittredge. Her town was called Lovecraft. I’m going to have to read these stories now.

    • Oh, yay! That’s on my TBR list. I hope you liked it 🙂

  • Wow, what an awesome memory and story. I think rats and escaped lightning bugs are scary-cool.

    • Thank you! I have TONS of childhood memories, but this one is probably my favorite 🙂

  • Hmm… mood is the hardest thing to translate into writing for me too.

    What is it that gives a place a certain feel? Is it the sights? Sounds? Smells? The people that inhabit it; or don’t inhabit it?

    I’m thinking that there are tons of little signifiers that can help you build a mood… and it’s simply a matter of inspiring yourself to “see” which ones will work the hardest for you.

    As for me — music sets the mood!

    • Music can definitely set the mood. I don’t know what I’d do without Pandora, lol 🙂

  • I love this post! Mostly because the very beginning part about darkness reminded me of the speech Bane gave Batman in the Dark Knight Rises. But my dad used to tell us terrifying stories. He’d make them up off the top of his head and scare us so bad we didn’t want to sleep. Once he told us that if we didn’t take care of our stuffed animals they would come to life and eat us (scary for me because all my animals were bears!). I guess that’s where I get the story telling gene from…

    • LOL! That’s terrible! And obviously very funny. I don’t remember Bane’s speech so I’ll have to watch it again. Thanks! 🙂

  • Ah-ha! Scroll down a bit and surpise! I can comment, lol. I love this post…the fireflies, the story-telling, summer time…all goooood. Well, probably not when you’re picking fireflies from your hair, but…

    I’m definitely inspired by other writing/books. Most recently The Book Thief. I’m not sure I’ll ever read another book as amazing EVER.

    • You’re HEEEERE!! Lol 🙂 Yeah, bug guts in your hair is icky. I haven’t read The Book Thief yet, but it’s on my TBR list. Glad to know it’s über amazing:)

  • Hi Kate. That is quite spooky. I don’t always immerse myself in certain books to set the mood for my writing. But I have read quite widely and sometimes I find my characters are speaking in similar ways to characters in novels I’ve read. I guess for me it’s a sort of osmosis.

  • Your WIP sounds so awesome 🙂 I can’t wait to read it (yes, I say this every week, and I’ll keep saying it until I have it in my hands 🙂 ) Just today I actually re-read some of Dracula by Bram Stoker, because I wanted to be reminded of how I could make a scene creepy with just fog and nighttime. Great post Kate!

    • Awww! Soon, I promise!! I love the book Dracula–and the Gary Oldman movie. What a perfect choice 🙂

  • I really, really, really want to read your WIP. Just sayin’.

    Also I adore the idea of full color vs. sepia. Perfect description.

    • Aww, thanks! And I’m glad you want to read it because I’ll need betas when I’m done with the draft, lol!! <3

  • Lovely! You captured the scene so well – fireflies in a jar on the bed, a southern night. That would inspire me, too!

  • I love the idea of sepia vs. color. Full disclosure: I think my mind is sepia, just in general…