Drowning in the Sea of Deceit

Free to read on my website at the moment is a short story called Drowned, part of the Exodus Sequence.  It’ll be the last story in the collection when it is published next year on 25th February – (click the link to pre-order:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00Q6ZW7X6)

This is possibly the only story I’ve ever written with an origin that remains a mystery.  In other words, I have no idea where it came from.  I wrote it nearly twenty years ago at a time of intense crisis in my life (harrowing divorce, lack of identity, zero independence…) and while I can understand the erotic shades, the rest quite bewilders me.  I’ve never read anything about the sea or sailing or boats or ancient sailing boats, nor watched movies of this sort, nor been interested in the sea in this way.  When reshaping this to fit the Exodus Sequence, I had to check the ocean-going facts – and found them correct.  How did I know this stuff?  There was no internet when I wrote this and I’ve never been one for intense research.  How did I know about the compass?  And the other ship terms?

Nor have I ever written in this style, not before or since.  It’s quite unlike me, though it’s drama does seem to lend itself to the type of story (supernatural fantasy).  Someone who read it at the time commented that it was very Lovecraftian – and I had NO idea what he meant.  I hadn’t heard of H.P. Lovecraft and was amazed, years later, once I’d read a great deal of Lovecraft (and had forgotten my short story) to find, upon rereading, that it was indeed Lovecraftian (not half as good, though a lot sexier).

Another aspect that I’ve not used again is writing in the second person.  It’s actually written in the first person, narrated by the captain of the ship, but he directs his narration to a woman, a possible lover, and refers to her constantly throughout as “you.”  There are no names mentioned in the story at all.  While I’ve seen a lot of second person narration (it seems to be popular in the type of fan-fic my teenage daughter reads on-line), I’ve not seen first person-second person narrative.

The story is also decidedly odd.  Yes, well – blush – nearly everything I write is odd, but even I think this is very strange indeed.  I wrote this with full confidence, with no notes, apparently no forward planning, yet I knew exactly where it was going, exactly what the ending would be, exactly how it would twist and turn.  But did I understand what I was writing?  Because I’m not sure I get it now.

It feels as if I didn’t write this at all, though I have distinct memories of the first draft appearing in longhand.  I don’t believe in automatic writing and don’t think this is that.  It feels as if my own memory has unfolded here but one not of this life.

You can’t get odder than that.

CLICK HERE to read it on my website.

It’s original title, by the way, was The Sea of Deceit, but in keeping with the past tense verb titles for my Exodus stories, it turned into Drowned.



About susannahjbell

I am a writer of science fiction and other strange and surreal works. I mostly write novels and the occasional novelette. My published works include A Doorway into Ultra, the Fleet Quintet and the Exodus Sequence. I live in London in an attic flat but really want to live in a tree. I wanted to be an astrophysicist but would settle for an alien abduction. I write because I don’t know what to read.
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