Welcome to my monthly blog post (Oh! Look What I Found!), all about shit I found while researching for some creative project. I do a lot of random digging and searching and connecting to try and flesh out my stories, worlds, and characters. Now, I want to share some of it with you!
The Black Family Hold
I’m currently editing (a lot of stuff!) a novelette about a newly married couple’s honeymoon at the groom’s supposed haunted cabin mansion in the woods. One of the main characters comes from a rich and well-off family with MANY properties, but none as famed, hidden, and haunted as their summer cabin tucked into the woods near their family’s man-made crypto mining mountain and tech facility.
The only way to get to the cabin is by air or hiking for several days through the dense Appalachian forest. And the newlywed couple happens to arrive at the same time as the groom’s estranged family and mysterious sister. The story’s a dark mystery. There are not a lot of speculative elements besides the eerie atmosphere of the home and how the Black family interacts with it and each other. I’ve been thinking a lot recently of Shirley Jackson’s style of horror. Horror without the speculative element where the fright is in the voice, the strange and haunting thoughts of the characters, and ultimately the tragedy they all face.
The cabin may or may not be haunted but it is possessed in a sense. In my research about large remote cabins, I found that they need to be pretty self-sufficient. And a lot of the people who build these homes line them with the latest smart tech and appliances to make living in such a remote and isolated place easier. The house in my story has the ability to do hundreds of things from pre-heating the beds and couches to finding people within the home and cooking meals without human assistance. The house also stores all the memories that ever took place between its wooden and wired walls.
To get a real sense of this behemoth of a place where the story is set, I’ve been digging into the type of people who design these homes, their layouts, and what weird/cool features are common. Tall ceilings are the norm in these homes. A lot of the cabins I looked at or took a video tour of had walls well above 18 feet in height. With big walls, comes big windows. Tons and tons of windows with automatic blinds or the ability to be self-reflective—you can see out, but no one can see in. While the face of my fictional home does have tons of windows, similar to the picture of the home below, it doesn’t have high ceilings or open floorplans like many modern mansion cabins.
The Black Family’s hidden cabin is pretty closed off, choked. Walls go on for far too long and far too close. There are no stairwells, only elevators, and ramps in tight corners. The rooms are all closed off and sectioned by doors or moving walls hidden in plain sight. I want it from the outside to appear large, welcoming, and inviting, but on the inside be the exact opposite. As you move deeper into the home, this play on space and attraction continues. The hallways and in-betweens are suffocating, but the rooms are inviting and warm. They call people to stay awhile. But as you look closer at the items in the rooms, a creeping sense of dread takes over that the house knows you, sees you, and is absolutely indifferent to the horrors that will inevitably take place.
The library of the house in my story acts as a bit of a cocoon for the budding monster lurking in the story. Like everything about the house and family, the library is deceptive. While it appears cozy, all of the books and items collected in the library show how deeply rooted in oppression the family is. You won’t find Stephen King or Lee Child on the wooden shelves, but you will find land deeds, shipping manifests, and bloody bibles smuggled out of countries that no longer exist.
I wanted the appliances and interior to stay classically cabin style while still being high-tech and modern. A lot of the homes I looked at relied heavily on automation, voice control, and amenities that went beyond unnecessary and into the land of absolute useless luxury. All that works perfectly for my fictional family who calls the large cabin home. They each have their ways of working with the house’s technologies.
One of the characters has an augmented reality wing of the house where he spends much of the story, escaping into a game of his past to try and make sense of his present. There are the mother’s garden rooms that seem to be forgotten rooms reclaimed by the mother and her plants and controlled by finicky bots that water the plants and control the climate.
The home and story are still being fleshed out and developed. I may even have to put it in my work-on-later file, depending on if the story needs a little more work than I can commit to this month. We’ll see! Either way, I had a lot of fun watching cabin tours and diving into how the rich think about home, property, and land.
Thanks for swinging by and reading about what I’ve been up to the past couple of weeks. I appreciate it. I’d appreciate it even more if you’d consider subscribing to my blog or checking out some of the books, games, and stories I have available for fans, followers, and readers.
And if you have any pictures of cool or dreamy cabins, I’d love to see them. Just drop a comment below and tell me about them! Or better yet, share a picture.