Friday, February 4, 2011

Haunted Heights and Ally Blue

Hi folks! Ally Blue here. Thanks to Jadette for having me as a guest on her blog today :) I’m going to tell y’all a little bit about my latest release, These Haunted Heights from MLR Press, and how I came to write it.

It all started with a poem. “I Found Her Out There,” by Thomas Hardy, one of my favorite poems ever. I copied the whole thing here for you, because you really need to read it to understand where my inspiration for the book came from. Here it is:

I found her out there
On a slope few see,
That falls westwardly
To the salt-edged air,
Where the ocean breaks
On the purple strand,
And the hurricane shakes
The solid land.

I brought her here,
And have laid her to rest
In a noiseless nest
No sea beats near.
She will never be stirred
In her loamy cell
By the waves long heard
And loved so well.

So she does not sleep
By those haunted heights
The Atlantic smites
And the blind gales sweep,
Whence she often would gaze
At Dundagel's far head,
While the dipping blaze
Dyed her face fire-red;

And would sigh at the tale
Of sunk Lyonnesse,
As a wind-tugged tress
Flapped her cheek like a flail;
Or listen at whiles
With a thought-bound brow
To the murmuring miles
She is far from now.

Yet her shade, maybe,
Will creep underground
Till it catch the sound
Of that western sea
As it swells and sobs
Where she once domiciled,
And joy in its throbs
With the heart of a child.
The poem was written for Hardy’s wife, Emma. After her death, he was guilt-ridden because he felt—too late—that he neglected her during her life. I always loved the vivid imagery in this work, and the melancholy, regretful feel of it. So naturally I wanted to turn it into a gay romance. Why, yes, it did turn out chock full of angst, why do you ask?
At first I thought I’d mirror the poem exactly, only with two men. I was going to set it in England and everything. But then the original short story I had planned didn’t get picked for the anthology I’d aimed it at, and I started rethinking things. I figured, wouldn’t it be more interesting to switch things up a little? Or, as it turned out, a lot? I set it on the Oregon coast instead of England, and that was just the first of many changes. After I got through with it, you’d never know the book was inspired by Hardy’s poem at all, if it weren’t for the title. Okay, one of Our Heros does have a boat named Emma. Heh. Parallels to the poem do exist, in a way, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what they are. No spoilers allowed!

The tiny town of Sebastian's Bluff is a photojournalist's dream come true. But Ron Winters doesn't expect the moody, mysterious man next door to get under his skin and stay there.

When Drew LaSalle meets Ron, feelings he thought twenty years gone stir to life again. He wants what he could have with Ron. But does he want it enough to get past his own walls and grasp it?

Secrets, spirits and tragedy converge as Ron peels back the layers of Drew's past and Drew fights both Ron and his own ghosts on the haunted road to happily ever after.

You can read an excerpt from the book on my website:
Thanks, y’all!


Susan said...

Hi Ally! This sounds like yet another fascinating, angst-ridden, awesome book from you LOL. It is cool to know the source of a story, even if the story diverged so widely that there is very little connection left (the boat name is rocking though). The poem disturbs me at a core level, but I'm probably just misunderstanding it, I often don't get what a poem author was trying to express. Which is why I read books with lots and lots and lots of words. It helps those of us who aren't quite with it *g*

Ally Blue said...

Hi Susan, thank you! It really is as angst-fest, LOL. But my guys get their Happy Ever After so it all works out :D

I know what you mean about poetry. I guess that's why we end up discussing and dissecting it endlessly in college classes. Heh. That ends up happening to me a lot, though. I'll have an inspiration from music or literature or something, and the end result will be so far removed from the inspiration as to be unrecognizable, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Poetry is much more likely to bring me to tears than a book - I think it is because of the immediacy of the emotions - a story in a teacup. *is a sap*
Thank you for sharing the inspiration for THH - it is already on my TBB, but this adds a special frisson of anticipation.
Cheers :)

Ally Blue said...

Mistry, I totally agree with that. This is one of those poems that always makes me tear up, and I think you hit the nail on the head as to why :)

Thanks for picking up the book, I hope you enjoy it!