Today’s Issue 050 author interview features demonic photography, the Victorian era, and Lisa Farrell’s “Crowd Demons.”
LSQ: The narrative voice in this story is excellent! What is your advice for writers who struggle with capturing a strong voice?
Lisa: Thank you! For me, it’s trial and error. My notebook is full of snippets of stories begun in one voice or another. Sometimes they just don’t feel right, but other times the voice flows and – if I’m lucky – I end up drafting a story, or the beginning of one. When I started playing with ideas for “Crowd Demons,” I found the voice and character of the narrator before I figured out the story I wanted to write. So, I guess my advice would be to try lots of voices, and when one clicks run with it…
LSQ: Do you believe in “spirit photography”? Please tell us where the inspiration for this story came from.
Lisa: I was reading about Victorians and the history of photography, and the aspect that interested me most was spirit photography, but then I stumbled across modern accounts of strange faces appearing in photographs. As a species we’re always looking for faces, so if a photograph is blurry, or there are a lot of lights, or crowds of people in the background out of focus, we might see a face in the chaos. While it’s a natural phenomenon, if you see a face leering over your shoulder in a picture it’s still creepy! So I wanted to write about a photographer who kept finding unexpected faces in his photographs, and the story grew from there.
As for whether I believe in spirit photography, I honestly believe anything is possible!
LSQ: Our hapless photographer falls into the clutches of the demonologists in the end, which I half suspected would happen. Did you always have this ending in mind? When and how did you decide on our narrator’s fate?
Lisa: I’m a pantser, not a plotter, and often struggle with endings. I had a vague idea I was going to finish with the narrator developing a photograph of himself and seeing a demonic face behind him, but that was all. In the first draft I deliberately left the ending ambiguous, but I’ve a few people I share my stories with before I send them out and no one liked it so open-ended! They wanted to know what happened to the narrator, so I had to make my mind up and seal his fate. More or less.
LSQ: Are there any other projects you’re currently working on? If so, could you tell us a bit about them?
Lisa: The reason I was reading about Victorians in the first place is because I’m working on a novel set in Victorian London. It’s a ghost story, though not about a photographer! Of course, I’m struggling to settle on an ending…