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My inspiration for Broken Mirror #1 Cracked


Tomorrow (Aug 1) is the release day for my short story collection, Broken Mirror and Other Morbid Tales. To celebrate and explain the background to some of the stories, this week I will be posting what inspired me to write some of the tales. Today I will discuss the background to Cracked.


Cracked is set in an abandoned mental hospital. The idea for the story came from a photo shoot for Drac-in-a-Box Gothic Clothing in 2004. I was always on the look out for exciting locations and managed to get permission to use some of the disused buildings at Ladysbridge Asylum from the builder who had purchased the site to create a residential village (I wonder how many ghosts haunt those houses). Decay was the most astonishing thing about the buildings, which had only been empty for a decade. Lawns of moss covered floors like carpets and the smell was pungent.

All but one of the buildings I entered was thoroughly vandalised. In the final one, as in the story, the front doors had been smashed open, but the vandals had barely crossed the threshold. More than any other building this one had a sense of menace in the air. Being brave or foolhardy, and as this was the only site not covered in broken glass, we set up our models changing room and make-up artist in this sinister two storey annex. None of them felt comfortable and had to be escorted from the changing area to wherever we happened to be shooting their next set.


I used an abandoned bathroom with ghostly bathtub and cracked mirror as the setting for a zombie shoot. The wind howled through the broken windows as I set the scene with organic fake blood and disembodied foot – yes I’ve always loved tacky horror. The photographer and model arrived together and the make-up artist has outdone herself. I admit I screamed when Miss Millicent, the model, entered the bathroom. She brought the scene to life. She laughed at my reaction, but was inspired by it to rock that set of photos. And I was inspired to write a ghost story.

Excerpt from Cracked.

Rachel studied Sam. Silhouetted against the reddening sun, he worked the bolts. Beyond him lay the twisting driveway. His excitement infected her.

‘I’ve done it!’ Sam pushed the gate open.

Rachel forced a smile and stepped through the narrow gap, hunched under her rucksack. White knuckles clutched her laptop case.

‘I’ll close it back up.’ He replaced the bolts and shook the wire fence as if to reassure them of their protection from the outside world.

The setting sun highlighted every aspect of him: jeans pulled tight around his perfect buttocks and the narrow waist that curved fluidly between denim and the hem of his t-shirt.

‘This should be fun.’ She blushed and swept her eyes across pock-marked concrete.

Sam stepped towards her. His fingers closed around Rachel’s and he lifted the case from her. Shoulder to shoulder they ambled along the overgrown drive of Ladyswell Asylum.

~*~

It had seemed like a great idea: their own ghost-hunter show broadcast live on Twitter, one hundred and forty characters of terror at a time. Excitement and fear battled inside Rachel from the moment she agreed to join Sam. She’d heard the ghost stories, but it was worth the risk to spend a whole night with the man of her dreams.

Seven o’clock - the shadows lengthened. They agreed to check out each abandoned building in order, to discover the best place to make camp.

The first was a two storey villa. Outside it looked like a disused school. The reinforced windows were subtly done. The hinges of the door had dropped and it stood ajar, wedged into muddy soil. They left their belongings outside to shoulder their way in.

Inside, the gloom made her shudder. Her eyes fought to see a few meters ahead. Fallen rubble covered the floor. Layers of institutional-green paint peeled away from flesh-pink plaster walls. Drops of water echoed through the hall. The smell of fungi overwhelmed them.

Rachel lunged outside, gasping for fresh air. Moments later Sam followed, shaking his head. ‘Too damp.’

The front door of the adjacent single-storey building was closed. The wood creaked but did not budge when Sam pushed against it with his shoulder. Rachel walked around the outside and found a side door moving in the wind.

The mesh and glass panels of the door had been smashed and torn. Spikes of broken wire stabbed the air. Stepping inside, they crunched over broken glass and fist sized chunks of concrete. The rooms were empty, but there was no shelter or clear floor on which to rest.

Building after building was broken and unusable. As the sun dipped lower, they regretted their lack of foresight and wished they’d explored before the big night.

They reached the far corner of the “village” and an imposing two-storey building. A surgical trolley, used by vandals as a battering ram, blocked the entrance. Rachel pulled it clear and stepped inside. Sam followed close behind. The internal doors whispered their welcome as she pushed them open. Then absolute silence.

~*~

Broken Mirror and Other Morbid Tales, by Carmilla Voiez, is on sale from August 1st.

Available in paperback and for Kindle, iTunes, Kobo and more.

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