Many people say they read fiction for pleasure and escapism, as well as the thrill of facing their fears from the safety of a comfortable armchair. The horror, thriller, and suspense genres have always been immensely popular with readers.
But what about the authors who delve into the world of their nightmares in order to bring their readers tales that will prickle the hairs on the backs of their necks? What type of person confronts their personal darkness and then invents a story around it?
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley had dealt with death intensely, and often, during her young life. Her own mother died when she was only a few days old, her half-sister and her lover's wife both committed suicide, and she’d already lost three babies by the time she came to write Frankenstein. It seems death was a theme that Mary mulled over, even though she may have been a normal, and happy, young woman in many other ways.
During a holiday, Mary, her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, and their friend Lord Byron, were reading aloud from a book of horror stories. They decided to write their own horror stories for fun, but Mary was unable to come up with anything that satisfied her and put it off.
After the coaxing and teasing of her friends, and much discussion of scientific theories of the period, Mary had a daydream one day that turned all her thoughts on the meaning of life, death, birth, and creation into a story about a man who creates a monstrous living being out of a corpse. Frankenstein was published in 1818.
Mary Shelley lived in a time when women were not encouraged to study, let alone write books of their own. So to be the author of what would become one of the most well known horror novels of all time is a remarkable and unusual achievement. To do so at the age of nineteen is truly amazing.
Elsa Neal is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow more of her writing insights at her Fictional Life BlogVisit her website to download a list of the Top Ten Mistakes Writers Make. Stay a while and browse through her resources for writers.