Gallery: The House of Ash

RELEASE DATE: Aug. 16, 2023

moodbard for 'House of Ash'
click all images for a closer look

This moodboard contains all of the images that helped me throughout the writing of this gothic horror long novella. The three primary ones that not only inspired the plot and the characters, but also kept me going enthusiastically throughout are the original artwork showcased in the upper-left and lower-right corners as well as the largest one in the middle of the collage.

The two corner images are from Seung Gue Lee. Both are related images, with the top left corner image showing an old woman sitting before a very murky portrait of a man and a young girl. She's dressed in black (perhaps a mourning dress), and the setting is incredibly stark and unforgiving -- very gothic. The lower right corner image shows the same portrait but more close up, and this time it's a young boy standing before the portrait. He's very pale with light hair and unnaturally light eyes.

These two images gave me the idea of a cursed and dying bloodline, with the old woman turning into Helena Ash, the young boy inspiring Crispin Ash, and the figures in the portrait, Maximillian Ash and Marianne Ash. The spare and dark setting of both images also gave rise to the idea of a house that was designed to be a maze and a trap, meant to protect not the family from danger, but the outside world from the family.

The central image in the moodboard is by Magdalena Pagowska, who specializes in fantasy art with beautiful, androgynous young men for her subjects (by and large). The image that inspired me is called "Innocence", and it shows a boy holding a lamb and crowned with roses. He has all the trappings of the concept of innocence except for the fact that his hands are bloody (happily the lamb is alive), and just like the young boy in Lee's art, he's also incredibly pale with light hair and light eyes. He looks out at the viewer with an unsettling gaze that feels both dead and yet not. He was my model for Crispin Ash primarily.

The last two corner images are from actual stained glass windows. The lower left image is a detail of St. Benedict, traditionally associated with the prayer of exorcism Vade retro Satana, an invocation that takes on a more physical quality in the book. The upper right corner image is a detail from the Winchester Mystery House and its strange stained glass windows showcasing inexplicably chosen texts from Shakespeare's 'Troilus and Cressida. Text in stained glass windows plays a prominent role in the setting of the book, and the Winchester Mystery House gave me the inspiration for it, in particular the labyrinthine design of the house, which translated into something much more sinister in the novella.


And as for musical inspiration, I listened a lot to Nox Arcana's Shadow of the Raven album, which includes songs inspired by Poe's gothic poetry and stories. "The Raven" in particular is haunting and beautiful and was the track that led the charge, in a manner of speaking.

The House of Ash is a long novella of 50,000 words. It's gothic horror, a gothic romance, vampire fiction, and a historical fantasy. Content warnings involve off-screen incest, rape in history, and murder within the family. The book is available in both print and e-book.