Following their book review of Tenebrae Manor, Feathered Quill invited me to an interview about the book. Please note that it contains minor spoilers.
FQ: Does the word Tenebrae have a specific meaning?
CLINEN: Tenebrae is a Latin word – literally meaning ‘darkness.’ The word appealed to me for a number of reasons, most obviously the setting of the novel – a house where night is eternal. But Tenebrae also carries religious motives as a Christian service usually celebrated before Good Friday. As Tenebrae Manor deals with the ideals of eternity and salvation versus suffering, I felt it was an appropriate name.
FQ: Was there an actual mansion or structure that provided the inspiration for Tenebrae Manor?
CLINEN: The mansion itself is an assemblance of numerous inspirations. I have always been fascinated with Gothic; as a child I loved anything with ghosts or haunted houses, and today I am fascinated by old architecture. Tenebrae Manor itself drew inspiration from many of my favourite darker stories such as Poe’s The Fall Of The House Of Usher,Lovecraft’s sunken city of R’yleh in the Cthulhu Mythos, as well as Stoker’s Dracula and Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast.
FQ: Tenebrae Manor is full of frightful characters but each seems to have their own similarities to human emotions. Was this something you intended for them to have?
CLINEN: It was my intent for the novel to be a little bit weird. The characters appear monstrous, but their individual personalities bring up the old saying ‘don’t judge someone until you know them.’ All of them are underdogs in their own way, each have their troubles that a reader can relate well with. They were born out of imagination – again I can cite my childhood as the source of inspiration, with Tim Burton’s films and Roald Dahl’s books leaving wonderful impressions in my mind, reminding me that it is okay to be strange as long as you are true to yourself!
FQ: The character of Usher displayed a profound innocence in the dark world he was surrounded by, so what was your purpose for including him in this story?
CLINEN: At a first glance The Usher may seem little more than a minor character, but his actions exemplify some ofTenebrae Manor’s major themes. He is the doorman and main servant of the manor, so simple of mind that he knows nothing more than to do his job and do it without complaint. In a world where other characters are questioning their purpose, Usher knows exactly what he has been called to do. However, like the others, he does go through stages where he believes there may be something else out there for him. His character illustrates a reluctance towards change, even when one’s world has become stagnant.
FQ: Why did you decide to place Libra, a woman, as head of Tenebrae Manor as many times male characters dominate dictating roles?
CLINEN: I don’t know that it has anything to do with gender as such; Libra is just a strong and self-centred character who chased her ambitions – something characters like Bordeaux and Edweena struggle to do. Libra is the illustration of how too much of a good thing can have negative effects. And her name – Libra – embodying balance (or anything but!) shows how putting one’s self before others can lead to ruin, which is a major part of Gothic literature. While Libra may appear villainous, she really is more of an anti-hero, and though many may love to hate her the reader can’t help but relate to her in one way or another.
FQ: There are many small mysteries throughout this story pertaining to Tenebrae and its residents. Was this something you intended for this book, perhaps to add to the mysterious allure of this story?
CLINEN: When diving into the world of Tenebrae Manor I want my readers to feel as though they are in a dream. Dreams are a place where anything is possible and sometimes things make very little sense, yet it remains a place where things are at their most honest and truthful, which can lead to a greater enlightenment. The world-building of mysteries is mostly just adding flavour to my attempt at producing a literary fable; there are some things in Tenebrae Manor that don’t need to be revealed, doing so could very easily disrupt the intrigue. I think it is important not to show all your cards; real life doesn’t give us all the answers, so a book that does the same thing becomes much more relatable.
FQ: The two main human characters of Madlyn and Jethro were very different in their outlook of Tenebrae Manor. Were these two characters in a way representing two sides of human emotion?
CLINEN: Definitely. Although Madlyn was much more of a major character than Jethro. Jethro was your average person, as such he was very much incapable of accepting such a bizarre and frightening world as Tenebrae Manor. Madlyn on the other hand was fragile in temperament. She lived in a world of impossible fantasy, yet still chose to fly off into her romantic daydreams. It is Madlyn’s beautiful innocence that shields her from the horrors that Jethro is unable to handle, creating a strange counterweight where the weaker-minded person has a distinct advantage over a sound mind.
FQ: Not much was said about Jethro at the end of this story, could he possibly come back in a second book about Tenebrae Manor?
CLINEN: Perhaps, though if there is a sequel I doubt he could breakthrough as a major character. Jethro was more of a segway into the main storyline of Tenebrae Manor. He is intentionally an uninteresting character, as such he slips into the background towards the end of the story while the whimsical Bordeaux, Libra, Deadsol, etc. really get their chance to shine. A number of readers have inquired about a sequel to Tenebrae Manor. At present I have no plans to continue it; I feel the story ends in a good spot and anything further added may take away from the impression left by the book on a whole. I am currently working on my next novel, although I have no release date in sight yet. Having said that though, I very much adored the characters of Tenebrae Manor and loved writing about them. So who knows? Maybe one day down the track we’ll hear more about Bordeaux, Libra and Tenebrae Manor! Thank you very much for your time.