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Carmilla, a brief history

I can hardly remember my childhood. Snippets here and there, mostly built around photographs I still possess. I wasn’t Carmilla then. I was someone else, but even then, I wrote. One of my proudest moments as a child was reading my story in front of the entire school. Later my writing grew darker and caused concern. I was asked questions to which I didn’t know the answers. The child lived and loved and got her heart broken. In that way everything was perfectly normal. It was life.

Goth found me. I was free to be who I wanted to be. I wrote poetry. Didn’t we all? My pen name, for the odd verses I had published, was Carmilla: in homage to Le Fanu’s vampire. That’s all Carmilla was to me at that time, but she grew.

My life was ordinary. I went to Uni. I got a job. I climbed the career ladder. It seemed, for a while, I was assimilated. Then I met the man who knocked me sideways. Failed marriages behind the pair of us we searched together for that elusive thing we needed. We never found it.

We set up a gothic clothing business, and after some pretty diabolical name choices we called it Drac-in-a-Box. Wanting to leave our pasts behind we became new people with new names and Carmilla Voiez was born.

Carmilla was stronger than me. She was more determined, more fluid, more exciting and more beautiful. She met people I would have been too shy to speak to. She was a mask I wore. The business grew. We had fun. I taught myself to design clothing and cut patterns. I sourced seamstresses and suppliers, artists and allies. Drac-in-a-Box became my world, and I was Carmilla. More people knew me as Carmilla than by any other name. For a niche retailer, Drac-in-a-Box was incredibly successful. Turnover in six figures.

Kids happened. They tend to appear if you aren’t careful. Now I was a mum and a business owner and everyone asked me how I managed to juggle it all. To be honest I had no idea. I just did. And then I didn’t.

Depression had always been present in my life, but post-motherhood my mental health suffered greatly. Everything seemed an effort. I wanted to escape. I did so by returning to writing.

My first completed novel, Starblood, wasn't a best-seller, but it was a cocoon, which gave me confidence to grow and change again. Although I kept the name, I emerged determined to be a writer. I found a new owner for Drac-in-a-Box, and here I am, four novels under my literary belt, and still writing.

I've written two other pieces about my life before Drac-in-a-Box - Heart Shaped Box, and Do You Remember.

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