Who would you ask for advice if your new boyfriend suddenly started howling at the full moon? Where does a teenaged vampire turn, when his hunger starts interfering with his love life? How can a reanimated corpse find friends? Where would you complain if you were the victim of a zombie attack in the city park? How does a ghost find out who murdered her? Where do you turn if you’re a demon sick of sending souls to hell?
Letters from the Dark Side is a collection of short epistolary tales in the style of a True Confessions magazine.
Read an excerpt.
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Some background information:
- Letters from the Dark Side is a collection of epistolary fiction and is 4000 words long altogether. All pieces in this collection are digital premieres and have never been published elsewhere.
- The origin of this collection actually lies in my work as a teacher. Our seventh grade English textbooks always contain a segment with letters to the agony aunt of a teen magazine, which is supposed to teach the students to express feelings and discuss problems. After a while, I got very tired of the sibling rivalry, dead dogs and divorcing parents from the official textbook. So I invented Dr. Megan Midnight, supernatural agony aunt, and wrote a couple of short letters from the point of view of teenaged vampires, werewolves and ghosts. The supernatural letters were a big success with kids raised on Twilight and The Vampire Diaries. Several of the letters in this collection are expanded versions of the letters I wrote for that school exercise.
- The original exercise did not include the replies by Dr. Megan Midnight, because the students were supposed to pick a letter and write a reply. When I wrote the replies for the purpose of this collection, I decided that in spite of her romantic name, licensed psychologist Dr. Midnight was nonetheless extremely clueless about what truly ails the young people who write to her.
- The segment “I was attacked by a monster and the police does not care” actually predates the Dr. Megan Midnight letters and was originally written as a piece of humourous standalone flash fiction.
- The detective to whom the letter in the segment “Who killed me?” is addressed was named in honour of British screenwriter Toby Whithouse, creator of the TV show Being Human, which includes a similar plotline.
- For the collection I chose the format of a confession magazine complete with editor’s note. Such magazines were still a newsstand staple, when I was growing up. My Mom read them on occasion and even at the age of ten I quickly figured out that the letters were not real. Because the magazine paid the then princely sum of twenty deutschmarks for every letter printed, I even came up with the brilliant scheme of writing harrowing and entirely fictional letters to the magazine and collecting the money. My brilliant scheme was not all that original – indeed, Mickey Spillane had the same idea some forty years earlier and repeatedly passed himself of as a desperate single mother in the 1930s and 1940s.
- Anybody who grew up in Germany from the late 1960s on will also associate the agony aunt format with the Dr. Sommer column from the teen magazine Bravo, where a team of doctors and psychologists frankly answers questions about love and sex from teen readers. Bravo and Dr. Sommer never did much for me, while I was the target audience – I had to grow up and become a teacher to realize how important that column was for many teenagers from repressive homes.
- There actually is a confession magazine called True Confessions, one of the oldest in the genre even. However, I was not consciously aware of that magazine when I wrote the editor’s note for Letters from the Dark Side.
- The cover is a photo of my own hand holding a pen, digitally altered of course. I don’t really have green skin and black fingernails. The rather ostentatious gold pen was a present. I used it as a prop, because it was the next best thing to an ink quill.