Some years ago, I chanced upon DARK SHADOWS ALMANAC. Included within its pages was a wonderful essay by Lara Parker detailing her journey writing her first book, Angelique’s Descent
As a long-time fan of the gothic (and charmingly playful) 1960s daytime soap, I was delighted to hear my favorite actress from the show had written a book detailing the life of her infamous character: the romantic and very scorned witch. The woman who would curse Barnabas Collins to eternity as one of the living dead.

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From the moment I began to read I was swept away in Ms. Parker’s warm recollections for the show, and her determination in honing the craft of writing.

“How in the world does an actress end up writing a novel? Actresses are those vain, frivilous creatures who bask in the limelight and would never think of holing up in a dark office for months sruggling to produce a piece of fiction,” she began.

Afte Jim Pierson (director of the official fan conventions) spent much time convincing Harper Collins to consider releasing brand new novels based on the show, Ms Parker was called in to meet with Caitlin Blasdell, an editor from the publishing firm.

“I appreciated the opportunity but I really didn’t believe I’d be able to do it…I was neither foolish enough nor presumptuous enough to assume that I would have the ability to generate hundreds of pages that in any way would resemble the many fascinating, intriguing novels I had read in my life.”

While Lara confessed she would be interested in writing about Angelique’s childhood- all the heartaches she must have suffered to turn her into the woman fans saw on the show, she was surprised by Blandell’s confidence in the endeavor.

The other explained in a hushed tone, ” ‘Please don’t worry, Lara. Just write it the best you can. We have professional writers at Harpers who will take what you do, fix it up, and make it into a real book.’ ”

“My pride was injured, and all I could do was think how much I resented her offer.”

Invigorated by the challenge in front of her, Lara immediately began to study literature, digging deep into the lush language and intricate plots of Daphne du Maurier, the Bronte Sisters, Dickens, Stoker, Poe, as well as many others. “I read Interview with the Vampire and Gone With the Wind, digging beneath the stories to focus on structure and point of view. I was determined to steep myself in the romantic style.”

Thinking upon the character she had played decades ago, “I began to imagine ever more heartbreaking events which would harden Angelique. Her hopes would soar, only to be shattered agaisnt the rocks….Any student of literature will recognize the obvious symbolism I struggled to put into place… Since Angelique was a child of the sea, water was her emotional center….I played with these elements, only because, despite what I said about actresses in the beginning, I was an English minor in college, and these things returned to me.”

The book was ultimately published as Lara Parker wrote it. No need for any ghost writers for that lady!

next post: Angelique’s Decent: Book Review

source for this post: Dark Shadows Almanac
edited by Kathryn Leigh Scott and Jim Pierson

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Comments
  1. D. D. Syrdal says:

    I admire her determination and tenacity. Sounds like she had a good grounding in literature which no doubt helped. I sure miss that show!

  2. Ken says:

    Good for her. Many would have jumped at the offer of help from the publisher.

    Acting is an art itself. It takes a lot of talent and discipline. So in general when I read about actors writing novels I am not altogether too surprised, though still very much impressed and in awe.

    Ken 🙂

  3. heya DD, 🙂

    Yes. In the article she also discusses her love for Shakespeare and that’s why she had the character reading some of his works throughout the novel.

    I miss the show, too. I especially loved when they went back in time, and the parallel storylines. They actually have the whole series out on dvd, but unfortunately we don’t have a multi-regional player.

  4. Hey Ken! 🙂

    I also have a deep respect for the craft of acting. It’s fascinating how they get into the mind, hearts, motive etc of their characters, digging deeper than what’s in the script.

    Some tools they use can definitely be of use for writers, too.

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