Letters from Elsewhere

I’m delighted… I have much pleasure in…. My guest today is someone I feel I know intimately. That’s because I edited the book he comes from: Purgatory Hotel by Crooked Cat author, Anne-Marie Ormsby. And that’s why I’m having difficulty introducing him – because, between you and me, I’m not sure I really want to meet him.

Ah, here he is! Welcome to the blog, Jackson. Do tell us what disappointed you today.

D,

You came down for breakfast late today, only a few minutes but I noticed.

You wouldn’t look at me. Why?

You wore that Lolita book cover t-shirt that I bought you, and I always feel like you’re communicating with me when you wear it. Or if you are reading a book I gave you, I feel like you must be thinking about me.

You looked tired, like you didn’t sleep all night, had you been crying?

I couldn’t bear it. I just wanted to get up and pull you up into my arms, and make you OK again, like it didn’t matter anymore about anything else. It just mattered that I hold you then, at that moment, that I let you know how much I love you and that everything would be fine and I didn’t care who knew it.

When you left I hoped you would look at me for just a second, just turn your beautiful eyes to me, just long enough so I’d know you’d seen me, just one look is enough to let me know you are still mine.

But you didn’t look at me, you just mumbled a goodbye and walked out.

And I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Like I’d actually lost you, you had finally gone, the spell broken, the dream over.

But it’s me that’s under your spell isn’t it? It’s me who’s trapped, my soul tethered to yours forever.

Some days I feel like you’ve been dragging me around for centuries. Me forever your shadow, ghosting you in silence.

But some nights when you look at me, and you truly see me, it’s like that first moment we saw each other. It’s all new again and I’m more alive than I have ever been, every nerve electric, my heart clattering in my chest, banging out your name.

If only you had looked at me this morning. Just for a second.

It rained all day and I felt like I had lost you.

But I’m always losing you. Every day. Every night.

Please come back to me, please.

 

Jackson

Thank you for that, Jackson. Erm, nice meeting you.

Readers, you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about. But Jackson is not what he seems from this letter. I think he’s very selfish and inconsiderate, but that might just be me.

Purgatory Hotel by Anne-Marie OrmsbyAbout Purgatory Hotel

Dakota Crow has been murdered, her body dumped in a lonely part of the woods, and nobody knows but her and her killer.

Stranded in Purgatory, a rotting hotel on the edge of forever, with no memory of her death, Dakota knows she must have done something bad to be deposited among murderers and rapists. To get to somewhere safer, she must hide from the shadowy stranger stalking her through the corridors of the hotel, and find out how to repent for her sins.

But first she must re-live her life.

Soon she will learn about her double life, a damaging love affair, terrible secrets, and lies that led to her violent death.
Dakota must face her own demons, and make amends for her own crimes before she can solve her murder and move on.

But when she finds out what she did wrong, will she be truly sorry?

You can find Purgatory Hotel on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

About Anne-Marie Ormsby

Anne-Marie OrmsbyOn a warm day in July 1978, a mother was admitted to hospital, awaiting the arrival of her new baby. She was reading Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie and the midwives thought it a gruesome choice for an expectant mother. A story of a long forgotten murder and repressed memories. As it turned out her new baby, Anne-Marie would grow up and find herself drawn to all things macabre, and would one day herself turn out a story of murder and memories lost. Anne Marie grew up on the Essex coast with her parents and six siblings in a house that was full of books and movies and set the scene for her lifelong love of both. She began writing short stories when she was still at primary school after reading the book The October Country by Ray Bradbury. He was and still is her favourite author and the reason she decided at age 9 that she too would be a writer someday. In her teens she continued to write short stories and branched out into poetry, publishing a few in her late teens. In her early twenties she began committing herself to writing a novel and wrote one by the age of 20 that she then put away, fearing it was too weird for publication. She wrote Purgatory Hotel over several years, but again kept it aside after several rejections from publishers. Luckily for her, she found a home for her twisted tale with Crooked Cat Books. Her favourite authors include Ray Bradbury, Jack Kerouac, Stephen King, Denis Lehane and Douglas Coupland. She also takes great inspiration from music and movies, her favourite artists being Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Johnny Cash, Interpol, David Lynch and David Fincher. Anne-Marie moved to London in 2008 where she lives to this day, amidst books and DVDs, with her husband and daughter.

Anne-Marie Ormsby can be found on her websiteFacebook and Twitter.

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I’m delighted to have Anne-Marie Ormsby, author of the newly released Purgatory Hotel, on the blog today. I know this novel well, because I edited it. But before interviewing her, I wanted to be clear on what my religion says about the afterlife. I was a bit confused about this topic and now I realise why: Judaism itself is confused.

While Jewish prayers concentrate on life on Earth, we do pray for the souls of the departed. In modern Hebrew, as well as Hebrew from long ago, Heaven is Gan Eden or Garden of Eden, Hell is Gehinnom. Both names are taken from places on Earth – one that no longer exists and one that still does (and is not a million miles from where I live). Is there a Purgatory? Well, it doesn’t have a specific name, but, as this article explains, the belief is that most souls remain in Hell for up to a year before moving to Gan Eden.

Catholicism, as I understand it, is much more definite about the afterlife, although I don’t think it goes as far as describing Purgatory as an old, Victorian-like hotel, full of cobwebs and dim lights that flicker and often go out altogether, surrounded by an outside you really don’t want to go to. Hence my first question.

Hello, Anne-Marie, and welcome to my blog. Where did your visualization of Purgatory come from? Is it totally made up?

Anne-Marie OrmsbyIt was initially inspired by a song by Nick Cave called ‘God’s Hotel.’ It got me to thinking about what the afterlife would be like if it involved being in a hotel. Then I started thinking about how frightening it would be if it was not heaven, but something darker. I generally find hotels to be a bit creepy, The Shining is the most frightening movie I have ever seen, and I think it affected how I see hotels, but I’ve been in a few Victorian hotels that felt quite sinister.

Are the Earthly places in the novel real or imaginary?

They are totally imaginary and not based on a particular place. The graveyard, church and woods are just an amalgamation of lots of different places I have been.

Is all your writing so dark?

No, I’ve actually written two other stories that would be more at home in the chick-lit genre but I haven’t done anything with them. I think I will always lean towards the darker side of things when writing as I find it more interesting to write about things that some people would rather look away from. But who knows, one day I might attempt to publish a book I wrote about relationships between a group of thirty-something friends/lovers.

Did writing Purgatory Hotel make you depressed, or did it have the opposite effect? Did you need to take breaks from the writing?

Purgatory Hotel by Anne-Marie OrmsbyI wrote Purgatory twelve years ago when I was in a very unhappy place. I was in an abusive relationship and felt very low at times. Writing made me happy, it was an escape to go into this other world, so it was actually therapeutic for me to write. I do think that experience of darker emotions helps in writing characters that way. When I was working on new revisions of the book over the last year, I think my approach was different as I wasn’t in the same place as previously. When I am writing about certain emotions I have to put myself back in that place to access a true response to it, but I don’t stay there.

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I’m glad life is better for you now. Lula, in the novel, suffers from depression and maybe OCD. Do you feel comfortable writing about mental health?

Having had a lot of experience with mental health issues I was quite comfortable writing about it. I had some issues myself when I was younger and I studied psychology and counselling. I’m always interested in interpretations of mental health in books and movies. I think it’s an important subject.

So do I! One problem that often comes up when editing novels is the use of text that may be subject to copyright. How did you get permission to use all the poetry and songs that appear in Purgatory Hotel?

For the Nick Cave lyrics, I wrote to his record company and requested permission to use them. For the poetry I used poems that are copyright free due to their age.

What do you do to relax? Do you like watching horror movies or do you prefer to get away from all that?

To relax I generally watch movies or TV box sets with my husband, he doesn’t really enjoy horror so I save my horror movies for nights in alone or when my best friends come to stay the weekend! But we both enjoy crime dramas and true crime documentaries.

(I’m with your husband, there.)

Other than that I enjoy days out with my husband and daughter and once she has gone to bed I get a chance to do some yoga and read/ research whatever I am working on.

Would your friends and family describe you as a bundle of fun?

I think they’d describe me as a happy, positive person with an eccentric sense of humour – a sense of humour I subject people to as often as possible. I don’t think you have to be a miserable person to write about dark subject matter, but having experience of unhappiness helps when having to recreate it in a story. When I am writing about certain emotions I have to put myself back in that place to access a true response to it, but I don’t stay there.

I’m glad to hear it. What’s next?

I am now starting work on another paranormal fiction novel set in London. It will be a reworking of a novel I wrote when I was in my early twenties. It’s a slow process though – I have a small child now so not as much time and space to write, but I have started making notes and saving ideas. I don’t tend to plot my stories out – I just write and see what happens, but I’m laying the ground work for an overall idea.

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Thank you, Anne-Marie, for your interesting responses and good luck with your future writing.

Find Anne-Marie Ormsby on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Find Purgatory Hotel on Amazon UK and Amazon US.