ELEMENTS of Me in “Muffy and the Belfry”

Elements LJ sizeBelow, dear reader, please find bonus content for Suzanne’s book: ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction.

This series of posts provides stories-behind-the-stories for each tale in ELEMENTS.

Sitting in the 20th slot in the Table of Contents is: Muffy and the Belfry

I’ve written several stories about ghosts. Probably because I believe in ghosts.

Most writers include ELEMENTS  of themselves in their stories. It’s part of how we speak our truths. How fitting that this story, new to the collection, has so many pieces of the young version of Suzanne.

Christmas Suzanne 1974 miniThe young protagonist in Muffy and the Belfrynbsp; is named “Penny.” (For those of you who think I named her after the character in the television show Big Bang Theory  you’re wrong.) I chose her name because of the ways that Russell-the-bully teases her.

Penny is built of many pieces of me, including…

She anthropomorphises her stuffed animals, as I do to this very day.

Elise and Suzanne Christmas 1974 miniShe lives in an apartment above a store, as I did growing up.Her mom works long hours and comes home hungry and weary, so Penny has dinner on the table for her when she arrives.

She’s afraid of the dark. Like most kids, I was also terrified of the dark, especially if I woke up when my mom and sister were asleep.

And because it’s fun to humiliate ourselves online, here are a couple of photos from Christmas in 1974. My older sister and I are wearing our special holiday outfits that our mother sewed for us.

Fun Fact

The creepy skylight in Muffy and the Belfry  was a real part of my life.

From when I was three until I was about thirteen, we lived in an apartment above a store on Pape Avenue in Toronto. The creepy skylight was in the bathroom.

Many, many times while sitting in that room, I would look up and see …

…four crinkly glass panes shaped like triangles. A big crack zigzags along the one closest to me. The black wood posts holding it together meet at a point and an old piece of rope with a knot at the end hangs down from the center. A bunch of spider webs cling to the knot, and on windy nights, like tonight, it sways back and forth.

Boo Bear miniThat description is from memory. I don’t have any pictures of the skylight, and I haven’t seen it in over thirty years. But I swear it looked just like that description and used to scare the bejeebers out of me at night.

I spent a long time this morning trying to find a picture of a skylight that comes close. I came up empty. Sure, there are photos of skylights online, but none of them looked creepy enough. They were all very pedestrian.

Instead, I give you one of the many stuffed bears from my collection. His name is Boo Bear or Boo for short. Because, hey, he’s blue. He was a gift from a high school friend. To use a stuffed animal term, he’s “well loved” AKA old-and-scruffy, just like Muffy in the story.

Elements LJ sizeELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction is available in Canada and the USA from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

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