A Midnight Clear, a modern take on HC Andersen’s Little Match Girl
It’s not my fault! Honest. Deb put me up to it. My publisher and accomplished writer sent me this short Christmas story (which was published in the same anthology as my own a bit over a year ago) to read (in the hopes of a review along the lines of “I trust your judgement and I will kill you if you don’t like it!”) And upon opening it, I noticed that the Little Match Girl was referenced. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have made the connection between this tragic classic and A Midnight Clear. Not that there aren’t parallels, they’re just not that obvious.
A Midnight Clear is a novella, using characters from Deb’s Hiding Behind The Couch (HBTC) series, which by now is a universe consisting of almost 1.4 million words, 7 seasons of episodes, 4 novels, 6 novellas and 5 works in progress. A Midnight Clear is one of those novellas, a story taking place over the Holidays in England, in – as I learned – a parallel universe, or, to be exact, and I’m quoting the author here to make sure not to fuck this up (she’s here to visit me this week, and my life is under Damocles’s sword for the next couple of days):
Here’s the thing. In between writing HBTC #2 and #3, I wrote a short science fiction novel called And The Walls Came Tumbling Down. I say it’s science fiction; it’s posited in superstring theory, so it’s theoretical contemporary fiction. The story is about a young man whose dead-beat existence gets turned upside down by a chance meeting with an anthropologist from another dimension. It needs a good edit, which I’ll get around to doing one of these days, but the indie published edition is still online.In the process of researching for And The Walls…, it dawned on me that potentially, these world we authors ‘create’ are not actually creations at all, but inter-dimensional incursions.Within superstring theory (the 10-dimensional version), the first 4 dimensions are our understanding of space-time; the 5th dimension is a world that is slightly different to ours; the 6th dimension is a plane of worlds that have the same starting point as ours – I’ll leave it there, because it’s the 5th dimension that is relevant here (this page offers a good layperson’s explanation: http://www.universetoday.com/48619/a-universe-of-10-dimensions/).We can’t readily perceive beyond three dimensions – we struggle to comprehend the 4th (time) in anything but linear form, and our limited 3D perception effectively renders the other dimensions invisible (see Carl Sagan’s explanation of Flatland for how this works https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0WjV6MmCyM).As I say, we can’t readily perceive those other dimensions, but there are theoretical models that support the idea that at least some of the experiences purported to be ‘channelling spirit’ may be moments of inter-dimensional perception: surplus gravity (potential evidence for a multiverse), ‘ghost’ sightings and other supernatural occurrences are theorised to be the consequence of an inter-dimensional incursion – a momentary connection between the fifth dimension and ours?Those experiences are not dissimilar to the way in which many authors produce stories. It certainly describes my experience of writing Hiding Behind The Couch. I know the characters like I know people in the world around me. They have distinct personalities, preferences, daily routines. I have no control over the events in their lives.
Did I mention she’s crazy? She says so herself: “…which is surely definitive evidence that I am in fact quite, quite mad.”
Back to the story (which I’m supposed to review): There are limitations to how much you can enjoy a story when you meet people you don’t really get to know. They’re all fleshed out already (like spin-offs on TV; anyone remember Knots Landing?) and the story expects you to already know them. But in this case, although I don’t know either Josh nor George, for the sake of the story, it’s okay. It’s Libby we should worry about, get to know (which I already had, much later, in another book I reviewed, a cross-over between two of Deb’s universes (I wonder which dimension that takes place in?), aka Dallas meets Dynasty, between HBTC and the Checking Him Out series. Confused? Join the club, get in line! Just re-read this latest paragraph and you’ll understand just who complex navigating this all is… 🙂
Allow me to finish with an anecdote related to this story. Two years ago, in January, 2014, Deb and I exchanged our first words on Twitter, when she contacted me about a translation she needed for HBTC.
Have a wonderful hump day and make the best of the rest of your week. I know I will, having my friend and publisher here with me!