Lynn Love is a writer introduced to me by Alyson Faye and I am so glad she did. Lynn leads us into the Inferno at the dreaded point of Limbo, a place I think we might all feel familiar with at the moment. Her story Limbo, is the first story in the First Circle.
Infernal Clock: What was the inspiration behind your story?
When I saw the theme of Limbo, this ex-Catholic schoolgirl’s mind instantly went to the Magdalene Houses, laundries run by the Catholic Church and other bodies that housed unmarried mothers and their children. The women were used as cheap labour, often verbally and physically abused and many of their children were taken from them and forcibly adopted.
There was a strong pull in my mind between the old Catholic belief of Limbo (a place where the souls of unbaptised babies went after death) and the laundries, especially those such as the convent run by the Sisters of our Lady of Charity in Dublin where 155 bodies were found in a mass grave.
When I was doing my research, I read that some women weren’t made aware they could ever leave the convents, so they just stayed. I began to imagine what the life of one of these women might be like, someone who had lived her whole life in Limbo – first in one such institution, then as a live-in carer. I imagined the dialogue, the bond, between the woman and those neglected children buried in a mass grave and the story grew from there.
Infernal Clock: What is your idea of hell on earth?
On a serious note – my son being badly injured or seriously ill. I can’t imagine a more effective torture for Satan to devise for me.
On a not so serious note – being forced to watch the ultra-cheap, ultra-cheesy, sickeningly sentimental Christmas films that fill the Channel Five schedule in December whilst Baby Shark is played at ear melting volume. (Almost tempted to put a link to Baby Shark here but thought better of it – Steph)
Infernal Clock: The Inferno was created on old ideas of sin. If you had to label the nine levels how, what would you call them? Would you keep it at 9? Increase or decrease?
I’d dispense with the lot because the only factor that should determine whether someone’s condemned to Hell or not, is what harm they did in life. If you did more harm than good, an eternity of cheesy Christmas films and Baby Shark should be yours.
Infernal Clock: They say the Devil has all the good tunes. What song would you recommend as an accompaniment to your story?
As an old Goth, I recommend a Siouxsie and the Banshees song from the album Peepshow – Rawhead and Bloody Bones. The music is discordant and very unsettling and the lyrics talk about unpunished misdeeds, a sense that something sinister lurks at the bottom of ponds and wells, in chimneys, waiting, if not to right wrongs, then just to do very bad things to you.
Also Andrew Bird and Matt Berninger’s version of A Lyke Wake Dirge, describing the soul’s journey to Purgatory. Fitting for this story, but I’d listen to it when reading anything unsettling – it’s hypnotic.
Infernal Clock: If you were able to visit the Inferno, what level would you want to go to and who would you want to see there?
A couple of candidates for me – Galileo Galilei, a heretic according to the Catholic Church of the 17th century. I’d love to listen to the man explain how he had the courage to promote the Copernican model of the Solar System, of the Earth orbiting the Sun, even though he must have known the Inquisition would try him for it. I might not understand what he was saying, but I’d still be in awe.
The other is the blues musician Robert Johnson, who (if rumours of his womanising are to be believed) is probably in the Second Circle of Hell, Lust. There are very few recordings of Johnson, so I’d love to hear him play, to see if he was as amazing as reputation would have us believe. Most of all, I’d like to know if the story is true, that he really did sell his soul to the Devil in return for his musical talent.
Infernal Clock: What is the hottest food you’ve ever eaten. Can you share a recipe?
We eat a lot of curry in our house – I mean, a lot – so the hottest would be a tough one to pin down. There’s a sweet potato vindaloo recipe by Meera Sodha which is pretty pokey. It might not be the hottest thing I’ve eaten, but it’s hot, tangy and bloody delicious.
Infernal Clock: Who is your ‘favourite’ villain in history or fiction?
Ooh, so many! The Anchorites from David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks and Slade House are pretty repellent. They’re sort of soul vampires, gaining eternal life from the murder of others. Neil Gaiman’s created some outstanding villains – The Man Jack from The Graveyard Book, Croup and Vandemar in Neverwhere. As for an historical villain, there’s nothing ‘favourite’ about her, but the serial killing baby farmer Amelia Dyer is an interesting person. I wonder how she was emotionally detached enough to murder an estimated 400 children placed in her care. She’s at once fascinating and repulsive.
Infernal Clock: What is your long-term ambition for your writing?
I’m not naive enough to think I could write full-time, but to earn a reasonable amount of my income from writing would be brilliant. My debut Urban Fantasy novel is being read by agents now and I’m taking my mind off that terrifying thought by writing my next novel, a supernatural thriller set during the early 1970s.
Infernal Clock: Top-tip for other writers.
I have two. Write a lot. I mean, a real lot, more than you imagine is necessary to be good. But also, develop your writers’ gut by sending your work to trusted readers for feedback. Read that feedback, digest it, even if it’s not glowing. Over time your gut will tell you what advice to follow to improve your work and what to ignore. In the end it’s your story and only you know what it should be.
Lynn Love is a Bristol based writer whose serials and short stories have been published in various magazines in the UK and in online outlets including Writing Magazine, The Horror Tree and The People’s Friend. She was a guest blogger for Mslexia and was mentored by author Ruth Ware (In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10) through the WoMentoring Project.
Her debut Contemporary Fantasy novel is out to agents and she’s currently writing a Supernatural Mystery set in a rundown coastal town in the early 1970s.
Twitters at: @Lynn800XLove.
Latest publication and links.
She blogs at Word Shamble https://lynnmlovewords.wordpress.com/