Both NIGHT MUSIC and LADY M have protagonists who are having trouble sleeping. They’re both emotionally haunted, and they either suffer from sleeplessness or they’re tormented by nightmares, which lead to hallucinations and/or make them more vulnerable to being literally haunted.
What’s interesting is that I myself slept so well while I was writing both of these books. But earlier in the year, when I was struggling to write a lighthearted romantic comedy, I once literally woke up screaming in the middle of the night! What does this say about me? Perhaps it means that on some level I’m more at peace when I’m exploring the dark side of myself and life and humanity than when I’m trying to manufacture cute-meet and happily-ever-after scenarios that don’t acknowledge the depth and complexity of people and relationships. This is not to say that I don’t love rom coms and making people laugh, but I do have a somewhat newfound respect for darker books and movies and the people who create and read and watch them. As Stephen King says in his book DANSE MACABRE: “We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.”
While researching LADY M, I read quite a bit about psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of the Shadow. According to Jung, the shadow is the dark side of a personality, the aspects of the self that the ego does not accept as a part of itself, and therefore projects an irrational disdain for these qualities in another person. Mary Ready in LADY M is profoundly out of touch with her shadow self. She projects her denied worst qualities onto her professional rival Ava, and projects her perceived best qualities onto the character of Lady Macbeth. But her shadow will not be ignored. Bruce Shackleton says in “Meeting the Shadow at Work”: “we need the shadow, in which we can hide our negative and destructive drives, even our weaknesses and inferior abilities. But the danger arises when we push too much of ourselves away too deeply. If an individual’s work shadow becomes impermeable, inflexible, and dense, it can become destructive and take on a life of its own.”
For Marianne Wood in NIGHT MUSIC, everything that she is afraid of in herself and in her daughter is manifested in paranormal problems. The manor’s elderly English caretaker Helen is to some extent afraid of her underdeveloped psychic powers, but it may be that resistance and lack of development that causes her to have nightmares and headaches.
Maybe if these women read or wrote suspenseful supernatural stories they’d sleep better at night, who knows!
The painting is of actress Sarah Siddons as Lady Macbeth in The Sleepwalking Scene in Macbeth by Henry Pierce Bone (1779-1885).
Thanks for reading. Sleep well.