I've excerpted the following essay from the page of my website, devoted to 'Oddities & Entities'. Check it out at www.rolandallnach.com
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"Boneview" started with a singular image in my head, that of a young girl at peace in her moonlit bedroom as she was visited by some otherworldly creature. This creepy critter, the ‘Curmudgeon’, as the underlying supernatural aspect of the story, consumed a fair amount of consideration in the crafting of the story. I didn’t want to write a straightforward run-from-the-scary-creature type story. In degrees of varying subtlety the Curmudgeon is the foil of the lead character, Allison, who is for most of the story amused by what she considers her strange ethereal friend. The Curmudgeon has a plan, though – a plan for Allison – and as such, I knew I had to invest it with the same depth of any other character I try to portray. Characters with plans are characters with motivations, and so there needs to be some dimension to their personality, no matter how other-worldly they may be. Without such dimension their actions would hold no gravity, and so leave half the conflict of a story flat.
Once I had the idea of the Curmudgeon set in my head, everything else seemed to fall into place. I wanted the story to have a bit of the Southern Gothic feel, and so came the Florida setting. That also allowed some descriptive space to portray things that not only solidified the sense of place within the story, but added to that eerie feel as well. There is something timeless about southern oaks and their dangling lengths of Spanish moss, which seemed to fit well with the apparent timeless age of the Curmudgeon, and the brightness of the Florida sun serves as a fitting symbolic contrast to the darker aspects brewing in Allison’s life.
Of course, along with the Curmudgeon is that other menace that enters Allison's life, a man known as Sam Culp. Culp's role serves more than one purpose in the story, however, and it is the shift in his role in Allison's life that put him and the Curmudgeon on opposite trajectories. There is a phase where Culp the 'man' seems the greatest danger to Allison, while the Curmudgeon appears as an ally. But this is an exercise of Allison's ignorance, and once she learns the truth, the roles of Culp and the Curmudgeon reverse, though in ways that defy classical interpretations of friend and foe. The idea for the story, and for the greater whole of 'Oddities & Entities', was to weave in the idea that the realities which intersect our common world follow a morality and rational that might escape traditional understanding. By the end of the story, while the realities of Culp and the Curmudgeon have undergone their own twisted evolutions, they may seem more as question marks than absolutes, which is what I wanted. Either character can be judged on their interventions in Allison's life, and for every judgment against, there is yet a redeeming judgment. As Culp tells Allison, there's a different set of rules out there, and they're not for us to understand.
With these little twists and turns in place, I then let the story play out on its own. In terms of the anthology, I always knew "Boneview" would be the opening story. Not only does it help set up much of the following tone of the anthology, but it bridges many of the thoughts and conflicts, and the concurrent theme of a person grappling with an unexpected brush of life against something far beyond common experience. "Boneview" was also responsible for opening the creative paths in me that fostered the rest of the stories in the anthology, so in that regard as well it seemed only proper to give it the opening slot.
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