What’s in the Attic?

I’ve been living in apartments for too long. I have to reach back to my childhood for images of an attic. Attics are landscapes rich with potential for monsters — and monstrous revelations. I’ve always imagined discovering a secret diary in an old trunk.

A diary? Yes, but not the musings of a teenaged girl from an era before computers when some girls kept little pink books secured with locks any determined 10-year-old sibling could pick. The diary of my imagination is the journal of a mad scientist’s investigations into the unknown or a monster’s day-to-day log of his human-sized dinners. Think Mr. Hyde meets Dr. Frankenstein with a dash of Hannibal Lecter.

Now THAT would be a diary worth stumbling upon in an attic.

It’s also a classic form for a novel — epistolary novels comprised of diary entries, letters and similar documents— were very popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Both Mary Shelley in her original Frankenstein novel and Bram Stoker’s Dracula employ this form.

I’m working on the final draft of my second Candy’s Monster — Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet — and it’s a contemporary epistolary novel. So maybe that’s why I’m so obsessed with the idea of stumbling upon a mysterious journal and delving into the personal confessions of a monster.

Maybe I should start haunting flea markets, looking for trunks that might hold an abandoned journal? It’s not like there’s anything hidden in my apartment.

Or is there?

Maybe I should start tapping the kitchen cabinets, looking for a false wall and a secret compartment? Perhaps city life is not devoid of ‘attic-like’ treasures?


  1. lol – I built my house from the ground up so I /know/ there are no treasures in the attic…quite apart from the fact that you can’t have attics in houses with cathedral ceilings. In my childhood home though…now that was a different story.

    The house was a Federation Edwardian and had been badly vandalised before my parents bought it. Once we started renovating we found all sorts of treasures, from beautiful hearth tiles to brass doorplates and handles. The most exciting treasure though came to light when we had to get a window frame repaired. Hidden behind the old frame were scraps of paper. Most were just odd bits of old newspapers but one was an invoice addressed to the original owner of the house and it was addressed to ‘Awaba House’. This was exciting because, although we knew that the original estate had been subdivided long ago we did not know how large the estate had been. Sleuthing like mad we realised that a small side street called Awaba Street must have been part of the original estate. That lead us to discovering that the weatherboard house on the corner there had once been the stable!

    Nothing monstrous in our discoveries but, like you, that memory has stuck with me and probably explains my love of garage sales [car boot sales?] and flea markets. If you discover anything interesting please share 😀

    And hurry up with the ‘summer sublet’! I’m dying to see how you weave Dracula into modern apartment living 😀

    • Candy

      I LOVE your story of discovery in your childhood home! Can you imagine a little monster story set in the Awaba House? I can.

      As for the next monster — the silly monster (it’s a comedy) is on track to be published soon. I’m aiming for June because the story takes place in July. If yo’ve never been to New York, July is NOT the best time to visit. It’s usually hot and sticky with periodic bouts of rain. It’s not the time for a subletting an apartment. But, if you must, an apartment in the East Village would give you the best of old, and new, New York.

      I grew up in a house that was built in the 1930’s and the original owners were the people who sold it to my parents. They didn’t leave much behind — and nothing that would start a good ghost story — but the house itself was full of odd, old fashioned architectural details that fed my already vivid imagination. My room had a slanted ceiling and a little window that opened with a hand crank, overlooking a bed of Iris bulbs. Inevitably, hornets would build a next in the awning over that window. The other window faced the street, but it was shaded with tall pine trees — better than any curtains! It was definitely the kind of room that would set the scene for all kinds of stories.

      I read Daphne Du Maurier in that room and, Jane Austen, the Brontes, Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, too. It was a room that fed the imagination.

  2. I’ve never been to NYC but an online friend [lol another one] lives there and so I’ve seen pics. Love the mix of old and new. It’s good that you still have a place that’s amenable to dreaming 🙂