Mary Shelley: A Dissection

We began this discussion in a previous post. You can click here to read it.

Doctor Victor Frankenstein, Penny Dreadful

Mary Shelley (Mary Godwin) was born a healthy baby despite fears of her never taking her first breath.

Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was strong woman and a force to be reckoned with. In a time when men were considered “owners” of their wives and children, Wollstonecraft lived a life fighting for the equality of women. What may come as a surprise to some of you is, Wollstonecraft was an author in her own right. She penned the book, A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN.

You may be thinking this is where Mary Shelley learned how to be independent and bold. And your guess would be somewhat right.

Against stifling odds, Mary Shelley was born healthy but ten days later, her mother died from Childbirth Fever. Mary never got to know her mother in the traditional way many children do. She did not grow up alongside of her, feel her touch, or nurtured by this intelligent, radical woman.

In fact, when Mary’s father, William Godwin, who was a also a political philosopher, remarried to Jane Clairmont, her stepmother did not see a reason to educate Mary the way her mother might have.

It is a curious notion if you think about it. Two, well-educated parents and a child left to figure the world out by her own devices. It is almost unfathomable, which makes Mary’s journey all the more inspiring.

While most children were learning to read and write in classrooms or with tutors, or a governess, Mary learned to read and write by tracing the letters on her mother’s headstone. This, no doubt, sounds dark and macabre to some of you. The vision of a little girl sitting on her mother’s grave tracing her name and epitaph could even be considered unhealthy except, if you look closer, you’ll note the words the little girl traced.

“Mary Wollstonecraft … Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”

There, written in stone, was the life lesson her mother would instill in her from the beyond the veil of death. A message so powerful, it influenced young Mary’s entire life.

In Mary’s own words, she described a vision she had when the idea for her novel, FRANKENSTEIN, or a MODERN PROMETHEUS, came to her via the infamous challenge issued by Lord Byron: To write a better ghost story. For days the group entertained themselves by reading scary stories in the villa waiting for storms to pass. Shelley explains how, in the vision, she saw “the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion.”

It’s the kind of answer every avid reader wants to hear but … there is no evidence of such a dream.

Let’s rewind a little and understand the world Mary lived in. Her work was considered unladylike. Whispers about how vile and demented of a woman she must be to write such a thing, piled onto her already scandalous lifestyle. A rebel from birth, Mary fought against every convention pressed upon her. Including marriage.

She met her lover, Percy, while he was a student of her father. At 16, though Percy was married at the time, Mary convinces him they should not only be together but to avoid conflict, run away to Switzerland. To add gasoline to the fire, when they ran off, they also took her sister, Claire.

Living a hedonistic lifestyle of a “rockstar” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Mary suffered, a lot. Of her five pregnancies, only one survived. She kept meticulous diaries, and later in her life spoke out about living under the philosophy of “free love” and how unkind it was to women of the era. Knowing there were rumors of Percy’s affair with her sister, Claire, we can infer the lifestyle wasn’t what Mary bargained for.

Broke, heart broken, object of rumor and scandal, the absence of her mother and the loss of her children all played their parts and influenced her most famous tale.

When I was very young, my step-father who was a huge fan of the original monsters, introduced me to Frankenstein when I was around 4 years old. Later, when he became terminally ill and required a kidney transplant, the two of us sat down and talked about how profound the story of Frankenstein was. A doctor who took body parts from cadavers, injected it with a power source, and was able to bring a man back to life.

Science fiction has a way of taking what we dream and turning it into real life. It is by the imagination human kind progresses. We dare to dream. And the brave ones dare to make them reality.

What are some things you took away from the story of FRANKENSTEIN, or a MODERN PROMETHEUS? Was the creation the monster? Or was the man who created it the villain?

Stay tuned for more about Mary Shelley’s life and her works in the next entry. Until then, I’m dying to hear your thoughts.

An in-depth discussion: Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus, Who was the Real Monster?

This week I’ll delve into Mary Shelley and her love, inspiration, and story of the Modern Prometheus. Who was the real monster? Stay tuned for this discussion and much more.

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Mary Shelley and the nightmare vacation that inspired Frankenstein

Indonesia, Mount Tombora, 1815

There is nothing more frightening than being witness to a natural disaster. We are helpless in the wake of Mother Nature’s wrath. With all the beauty this earth has to offer, seeing its destruction is humbling. We are but a speck of dust in the microcosm of the universe.

In 1815, the eruption of Mount Tombora was a prime example of how the ripples of an event of this magnitude can carry its effect far and wide. While the world sat, relaxed and blissful, in the comfort of their homes, across the ocean lives were being ripped apart by a disaster of monstrous proportion.

Within hours of the first day, 100,000 souls lost their lives. Within in weeks, the darkness and fog encapsulated the world until temperatures dropped. Crops could not grow. And without crops, people everywhere starved.

Mary Shelley was a young woman seeking respite from the aftermath of atrocities such as political revolts, famine, and the cholera pandemic. When she arrived in Switzerland, instead of the quaint, picturesque beauty it is known for she watched from the window as the gods caused havoc in the skies. Thunder and lightning replaced the cheerful bird songs, and heavy, grey clouds drowned out the sunshine.

To make matters worse, young Mary was traveling with her four-month-old, her lover Percy, and her pregnant step-sister, Claire …the bun in Claire’s oven, by the way, was the love child of a well known poet by the name of Lord Byron.

On the heels of Perez Hilton style gossip and debt, Lord Byron made an attempt to escape Europe to avoid shame and wagging fingers. Meanwhile, the obsessed Claire convinces Mary and Percy to move their vacation from Switzerland to Geneva, Italy. The unsuspecting couple, who faced their own scandal when they eloped, agreed, only to find out it was a ruse. Claire plotted the change of plans to bump into her heart’s desire.

Villa Diodati, near Geneva, where literary character Frankenstein was created in 1816. (Credit: DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Things seemed to work out-or so they thought-when Byron and Percy became friends. No doubt, the two men had much in common. They were also fond of one another’s work. The travelers decided to slip away into a shared mansion, accompanied by Byron’s guest (and personal doctor) John Polidori.

After many days spent locked in-doors due to the vile weather, tensions began to grow in the spacious home whose walls seemed to grow smaller with each day. Byron was in a constant state of hiding from Claire’s advances. Unrequited love seemed to be a contagious bug when Byron’s doctor began exhibiting similar symptoms. His obsession with Mary had her playing the game of hide-and-seek alongside Byron.

It seems the only way to cope was to tell scary stories and poems by candlelight. Mary was content to listen in on the exhilarating tales until it was suggested by Lord Byron they each tell their own, original story and try to outdo the ones they had read.

Polidori wrote The Vampyr (What is it with doctors writing about blood sucking? Read the interview with Dacre Stoker in the Fall edition of House of Stitched where he discusses Bram learning about blood-letting from a famous family member.) This novel went on to be published in 1819.

Every morning, the group would convene over breakfast and ask who had come up with an idea for their story. It seemed everyone but Mary was inspired. When a sleepless night of wild storms kept her awake, Shelley had a vision of a phantom-like man being brought to life by some type of powerful engine. Using the backdrop of their stay in the villa, she began to pen the story of Frankenstein’s monster.

Stay tuned for the next part of “Mary Shelley and the nightmare vacation that inspired Frankenstein”

Release Day Fun: Fall Edition 2021 (AUG 1)

It’s a HOUSE party!

On our day of release, we want to surprise all of you with a chance to win a mystery “Bag O’Swag”!

What’s in it?

You don’t get to know! But I can tell you there will be books, stickers, postcards, and lots of other things for one lucky winner.

I want it!

All you have to do is follow these rules:

  1. Join the mailing list! If you’re name is on our mailing list, you are automatically entered.
  2. Pre-Order! All members of the mailing list will receive an invitation to pre-order the print version of the magazine. If you purchase the pre-order, you will gain another entry.
  3. Patreon! If you are a member of Patreon, you will gain another entry depending on your Tier Level. (Example: Tier 1= 1 entry, Tier 2=2 entries, and so on)
  4. Buy a copy for a friend! If you pre-order a printed version for a friend, you earn an entry for you and them!
  5. Order a printed copy on release day (Aug 1) and gain an entry.

Winner, please allow up to two weeks post-release for us to gather all the things into the box and ship. Some swag may be coming from far away places! When we ship out the prize, you will be given a tracking number so you can follow when your stuff will arrive.

Blog Tour, Blog Swap with Selah Janel

Selah was kind enough to host our Editor-In-Chief, Lisa Vasquez on her site. Please visit and take a browse!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22890862-the-unsaintly

Please help support our Kickstarter

Hey guys!

I posted the link to our Kickstarter yesterday. I’m wondering if we can get some help with support. Many of us are experiencing the financial recovery that came from the pandemic so that’s not what I need. The support I’m looking for is a follow + passing the link on so people who are interested in donating money to startups will see it (and see how you love us 🥰.)

If you can click the link, just add your support with as little as $1, or simply share it on your social media.

Please also share it with friends and ask them to do the same. The more shares we get, the more likely someone will take notice. If Khloe can be a billionaire, I can get this magazine a solid start. Us little businesses need a lot of help.

Thank you so much. You guys are amazing 🤩

Cover Reveal for House of Stitched Fall Issue (Coming in Aug)

May be an image of one or more people and text that says 'HOUSE OF STITCHED THE MAGAZINE FORTHE DENIZENSODARKNESS DARKNESS AUG 2021 ISSUE NO FEATURING DACRE STOKER ROB PRIOR BRIAN KEENE DANIELLE LANG MAXWELL IAN GOLD JONATHAN JANZ JAMES A MOORE DESIREE BYARS STITCHED SMILE: PUBLICATIONS'
Does it get any more badass than this?

Never say “good enough” — Lisa Vasquez

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed being in the publishing industry, it’s how a deadline will wear people down. As an author, you’ve been with this piece of work day in, and day out. Not only did it take you countless hours to write, now you’ve gone through the process of editing. But before that, […]

Never say “good enough” — Lisa Vasquez

Official House of Stitched theme music

Thanks to DJ YUFVNG for this awesome intro music!

https://soundcloud.app.goo.gl/RNSGdmeTMutVDsxYA

Let’s Make a Film: Introduction

I have always been fascinated by horror films, this started back when I was a young boy watching the black & white classics. These are the films that influenced me in my writing, and the cause of me having to see an educational psychologist when I was just twelve years old.

My favourite film growing up – and still up there on my list

The problem came because I wasn’t really interested in writing anything other than horror, so when I was writing essays in my small British school, I would take any subject, and turn the 500 required words into an interesting story, at least they were interesting to me. The teachers decided that I was somehow disturbed, and they probably felt they were witnessing the birth of a serial killer.

The good news is that I never became a serial killer, but I did become the next best thing – a filmmaker and author.

I haven’t had the opportunity to make too many films, as we were running mini horror film festivals, but at the end of 2019, I decided that I would write a book and make a film at the same time. We gathered a group of people together to make this, all of whom had never had any involvement in film at all, as it’s always much more fun that way.

Then Covid-19 struck and we were unable to make it.

I held back from writing the book as I wanted it to be done at the same time as the film, but during our time staying idle, a few of us decided that it would also be fun to make a horror audio drama at the same time as the film and book, and we’ve now added an online comic to the mix.

So we’re making a movie.

No.

We’re going to be making a tv show, with nobody experienced (other than us having some knowledge and a camera operator who has experience primarily in the music industry). We do have an actress who played one of the witches in Doctor Who, which is good. We do not, however, have any budget. In Hollywood they say not having a budget is only having a few hundred thousand dollars. We do not have any budget, £0.

How are we going to do it then?

It’s simple, if you want something to happen, you make it happen. We have the actors, we have a location (provided free of charge by the owners) and we have a script, or will have soon. We just have to get out there and make it look good.

So what do you need to do to make a film or series? Maybe you want to make one.

There are certain things that you’ll need, and the first two in this list are the most important, the foundations on which everything else can be built.

A Script

Having a good script is paramount. Without this, it doesn’t matter how good everything else is. You need a good story to tell and a good way to tell it.

Actors

Our actors may not have the experience, but they come across well on camera. You need this for your viewers to lose themselves in what they are watching.

Location

You need a believable location. We are lucky enough to be working with a local hotel & restaurant, who are allowing us to work around them. This is the second oldest building in our town (Bridgwater, Somerset, England), after the church that was built next to it. It has plenty of history, as it was where Judge Jeffries, the hanging judge, stayed while he was residing over the bloody assizes, as where we live is in the district of Sedgemoor, which anybody who has studied British history will know about.

Judge Jeffries

Cameras

While this may seem obvious, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on cameras. In fact, many phone cameras are as good as those you spend a lot of money on.

Obviously there is much more to it than that, but that’s a good start.

How will things go on this project? Who knows, but it’s going to be fun finding out.

Get involved, ask me questions and I’ll answer what I can.