Daniel Keats was a little known writer when he was alive. Like many aspiring authors he banged away endlessly at his keyboard each day, hoping to write that one novel that would make him famous. But as the rejection slips piled up even higher than the volume of books he wrote, he fell to a despair.
With his last dwindling funds he self published one book – one special book. He called it his gothic masterpiece, a rambling self indulgent manifesto about the power of creativity and the vacuity of the modern world. Every last drop of his disappointed soul bled into the pages. Once published by a local vanity press, he cajoled a friendly librarian to place a copy on their shelves, and there it would no doubt gather dust from a lack of readership.
He visited for a few weeks, hoping to see it taken out, borrowed by someone, but the book remained unopened. And with that his last hopes died, and he followed soon thereafter, at his own hand.
But much of Daniel had more than figuratively bled into those pages. A year to the day from his death someone did take the book out. The title of the book “Gothic Yearnings’ fit the broad requirements of an academic research piece into gothic literature, and the researcher who took out the work was hardly discerning or well-informed on who was established as a Gothic author, as opposed to anyone who might just have written something with the word ‘gothic’ in the title.
This was all it took, however, for Daniel’s ghost to escape. The first time the book opened the researcher saw something like smoke rising from its pages and decided he was overwrought and over-tired and put it down to his imagination. But those smoky needs surrounded him and he found he couldn’t stop reading the book. Once finished he couldn’t stop extolling its virtues. And then, each time someone read the book at his, or another’s instance, the same spectre rose and captured another soul, entrancing them.
That’s how Daniel Keats’ ‘Gothic Yearnings’ became a bestseller posthumously. It’s how it transfigured the whole genre of gothic literature, and not, I can tell you, for the better. But it is what it is, and gothic sensibilities are now indistinguishable from Daniels’ and all it really shows is the power of the written word.
Or the power of ghosts, depending on how you look at it. I’ll leave the final analysis to you.
Helen M Valentina (c ) 2020