When it comes to writing a novel there’s little more enjoyable than writing a monster. Here’s the very first draft of one of the monstrous characters from my new novel in progress: The Assumption.
Bear in mind, though, that some monsters are made not born. Some of these nightmare personalities have their own reasons, their own stories. See what you make of Aunt Bernadette.
“I had a dream, last night,
That filled me full of fright:
I dreamt that I was with the Devil, below,
In his great big fiery hall”
At the Devil’s Ball
By Irving Berlin
Aunt Bernadette was sitting in a high-backed, over-stuffed chair and sipping from a tumbler of Powers whiskey. She had a cigarette burning in a thick glass ashtray ready to go. She had another cigarette dying in her mouth. The tobacco stink was enough to break your heart.
This Bernadette Theresa, this aunt, this final relative of mine was wasted away by booze. Her formerly muscular, stout body was now grey like her tight curly hair. She was physically disappearing. She was a a bulbous stomach with thin arms and bones for fingers moving automatically to her books, booze and fags. She was covered by a shabby brown cardigan with patches on the elbows. Her long, flowing skirt was patterned with faded roses, her one remaining foot was bare and white, no blood getting there. Her face was papered with thin skin, chased with the thinly engraved lines of a thinly lived life.
None of this could hide her intense and abiding rage. Nor her intelligence. That hadn’t changed. God knows how given all those stories about dead braincells – maybe her mind existed in the same place as her faith?
She rarely blinked. That hadn’t changed.
“You’re here, good. I am a poor old woman, close to death. I have nothing to leave you in my will. Julianna will get this house because she loves it, and the Royal Navy can’t do anything with it because the bloody Irish won’t let them even though we’re supposed to be allies in this damned war.”
She was imagining a war for the comfort of togetherness it brought her addling mind.
“Julianna will sell the place and so should she, so she must, it has been nothing but a bother to her.
“I will be buried in the church of St Marie Theresa Couderc, the plot is picked out, adjacent to mummy’s. The headstone is decided and ready, all it needs is a date. The inscription is a simple one:
“‘Lord Jesus, you have been the victim of my salvation, I wish to be the victim of your love’
“Those are the holy and wonderful words of St Theresa”.
Her eyes welled up with sanctified, 100 proof tears, which stained her face. She straightened her back, wiped her cheeks with her sleeve and then pointed a quivering finger at me.
“I know that you do not want to believe in the agonising sacrifice of our Lord. I do, however, expect you to at least dress appropriately for my funeral”.
“At your own cost, I have no money. I am a poor pensioner, there is nothing in my will”.
“I will be praying for you”, she seemed to drift off a little but came back with a smile, more relaxed.