#HauntsandHellions: The Inspiration Behind “Californio Fog.”

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The Inspiration Behind “Californio Fog.”

By B.F. Vega

As Americans, we tend to dwell in the derelict castles of England or the haunted forests of Germany when we want to tell spooky stories. However, California has been inhabited for over 10,000 years. Some of the cultures encountered by the Spanish had been unchanged for much longer than any castle has stood. Our forests are brimming with cryptids and myths. Our deserts are haunted with vindictive spirits and capricious gods. Our lakes and rivers are as hungry and as dangerous as any siren/selkie laden pond, and our entire lives are lived in the blankets of dense daily fog.

Early California is a little studied time that even we, whose families have been here for generations, know virtually nothing about. It was a time of mass genocide, slavery, starvation and revolutions. What then do you write about that is scarier than real life? I knew that the story had to be a foggy coastal ranchero. For the early rancheros, it would have been a common occurrence for there to be shipwrecks and bodies being washed up at the foot of their cliff-side haciendas. Enter the Draugr.

Draugr are sort of a catch-all for “used to be human monster” in Norse mythology. The name actually just means “Burrow Dweller” and refers to anything buried that has risen. I knew that our Californio heroine needed an even more foreign European foil and a Norwegian sailor was the perfect way to add that. In a way, the characters in this story are indicative of California herself. She is a feisty land that both lovers and foes come to. Some are heroes, some are monsters, both are necessary to tell her story.

B.F. VegaB.F. Vega is a writer, poet, and theatrical artist living and working in California’s Bay Area.  Her poetry has been published in The Literary Nest, Sage Cigarettes, Walled Women, and Blood & Bourbon among others. Her first book of poetry, A Saga for the Unrequited, will be published in August of 2021 by Fae Corp Publishing. She is still amazed when people refer to her as a writer, every time.

Chilling Chat: Haunts & Hellions – B.F. Vega

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B.F. Vega is a writer, poet, and theatrical artist living and working in California’s Bay Area.  Her poetry has been published in The Literary Nest, Sage Cigarettes, Walled Women, and Blood & Bourbon among others. Her first book of poetry, AB.F. Vega Saga for the Unrequited, will be published in August of 2021 by Fae Corp Publishing. She is still amazed when people refer to her as a writer, every time.

Her story, “Californio Fog,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.

NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?

B.F.V: That is quite the rabbit hole. It probably started with “The Egypt Game” by Zilpha Keatley Snyder which I read in the third grade. It sparked my love of Egyptology, which led eventually to Conan Doyle and H. Rider Haggard, and that of course led to Victorian and Edwardian literature as a whole which got me to Poe, Stoker, Gilman and Shelley.

NTK: How do you define “romance”?

B.F.V: I read this question to my ex and he laughed for a good five minutes. I like stories of two equally strong-willed people finding each other. Romance as a literary term gets a bad rap, because everyone automatically thinks Harlequins (which if that’s your thing cool), but as a historian, I actually have to remind myself that it doesn’t refer to a specific period of art history. When I hear romance I immediately want to find a building with flying buttresses so I can read a Rossetti poem while drinking an aperitif and listening to Chopin.

NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?

B.F.V: The Last Man by Mary Shelley hands down.

NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?

B.F.V: Bram Stokers Dracula was foundational for me when it came to how you can reinterpret classic horror and make it relevant to the present time. Plus the costuming, my god, the costuming is gorgeous.

However, I think Guermillo De Toro’s early works are often overlooked as either magical realism or supernatural horror, but all of them have strong gothic and romantic era elements to them. He really has an eye for the beauty of the strange and macabre. If you enjoyed Pans Labyrinth I highly recommend The Devils Backbone.

NTK: Are your characters based on real people?

B.F.V: I’m pretty sure that I’m not allowed to answer this. They are not based on any singular historical figure no, although the historical figures named in the story are real people.

NTK: Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

B.F.V: It really depends. Sometimes I know how a story will end before I know anything else about it. When that happens then I generally do an outline to make sure it gets there. Also, if I am working on longer pieces like novellas or full books I will outline to remind myself of the plot. For short stories, I tend to start with a general idea of characters and setting, when that happens I free-write.

NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?

B.F.V: Again it really depends. Some characters absolutely do whatever the hell they want regardless of what I think they should be doing. Other characters I have to poke with a sharp stick to get them to move at all. Oddly, I usually have one of each type of character in my longer works.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

B.F.V: Considering I have both a Canadian and an American Arch-nemesis, I probably shouldn’t answer this.   In terms of horror though, isolation is the thing that gets to me more so than jump scares or slashers or anything else. It’s the fog in The Others or the ocean in Jaws and Ghost Ship. It’s the lack of contact with the outside world in Night of the Living Dead. What is terrifying to me, and I think a lot of people, is that place where you are utterly reliant on yourself and nobody can save you.

NTK: What is your favorite romance?

B.F.V: Thornyhold by Mary Stewart followed closely by Jane Eyre.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

B.F.V: Ugh, I have to pick?! Well, I choose Bram Stoker because he and I share a birthday so I feel an affinity to him.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books, short stories, or works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

B.F.V: My story, “Jezebels and Harlots,” about cousins fighting a Bokor in Kentucky, was just released as part of the Good Southern Witches anthology by Clear Blue Press. I have numerous shorts and drabbles in both the Drabbles of Dread series and the Dark Holidays series by Macabre Ladies Publishing including my favorite drabble I have written which is “Mallard Lake.” It’s about a ghost in San Francisco that haunts that other lake in Golden Gate Park. Not horror, but my chapbook, A Saga for the Unrequited, is being released by Fae Corp Press at the end of August 2021 and, as you can guess, is heavily influenced by my early love of Poe and Christina Rossetti.

Addicts, to keep up with her lunacy, follow her author page on Facebook or on Instagram.