Sunday, 3 July 2011
The Short Stories:
The Chimaera Institute is a collection of seven tales by Sheena Blackhall, published as a limited edition in 2011 by Lochlands, Aberdeenshire, and printed by Thistle Reprographics. The cover is a copy of The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli (1741-1825).
The Nightmare contains significant elements of sleep paralysis and has become almost an icon for the phenomenon.
Most of the seven tales are loosely based on urban myths. Anecdote, rumour, gossip...urban myths can straddle all those categories. Often they are short, like fables and can be told quickly in a paragraph or two. The tales in this book draw from various sources. The Book of Nasty Legends by Paul Smith (Fontana Paperbacks 1984: ISBN 0-00-636856-5) is one source. Another is the late Stanley Robertson, who liked to tell a version of ‘The Bridge’ in the form of a joke. (Of course it has much darker possibilities.) Ghost tales collected from the Aberdeen area mention a servant sacked for the loss of a fiver, wrongly accused of theft who subsequently committed suicide, and this is woven into ‘The Keeper of the Kennels’.