Interview with blogger Daryl Wor of The Pit of Ultimate Dark Shadows
Previously a vision-therapist and a high-school teacher for a special education program with emotionally-disturbed students requiring therapy, problem-solving by example is nothing new to her. The Pit of Ultimate Dark Shadows, as well as a vampiric and erotic marriage novel related to the audio series, has become her full-time “employment” for which, because it’s fanwork, she can only get paid in discussion and commentary. Having discovered many fans of Dark Shadows aren’t always easy going this work has been one more often of stress than enjoyment. She is currently married to, who is known in four podcasts as, “Daryl’s Husband” and their relationship has spanned 22 years. Neither drive which leaves them quite isolated from many loved ones and friends.
A. I’ve always loved the spooky and I looked into Dark Shadows here and there, but being a stickler for continuity I didn’t want to delve into it until I knew I had enough to get the entire gist. In the middle 2000’s we looked into Netflix to see if they had enough. Their collection started about the time Barnabas Collins came into the picture and I knew from research he was Mr. Big Cake for the series. I’m careful with what I imbibe in media due to extreme sensitivity to more modern and over-stimulating material. A 1960s supernatural soap-opera would be just the thing. I also was falling into a numbing depression so many of the painful aspects were only affecting me slightly.
Being a major problem-solver to release myself from many bad relationships, family included, I could identify with what all the characters were going through. With the rush of production time back then I was amazed by how crisp and dynamic all the characters and performers were. There was even humour in many moments which I’d never seen in a soap-opera before. But, as such a show is likely to do, it spirals downward and many tragic things occur for which there is often no cure except being distracted by the next pile up of terrors. The 1795 period with Barnabas and Josette brought out so much longing and desire. I could see why Barnabas Collins became the intense mourner he is for Josette. The rest of what the witch Angelique did to him and his loved ones created someone who would turn very foul from being left to that exposure then lying in a coffin for 170 years.
The crux of my project came when I saw signs that Maggie Evans was the reincarnation of Josette Dupres. I’d thought it might be Victoria Winters but I couldn’t find the evidence for that. Maggie Evans father, Sam Evans, is a down-to-earth philosophical artist and painter who is known for drinking like many a tortured-artist. When the series came back into the 1960s he was cursed to lose his vision and then eventually was killed off. That was the last-straw for me and I combed what Dark Shadows fanfiction I could in order to find a relief-series where he survives. This would put all the components into place as I was naturally seeing that would end up for all the characters to find happiness and work-a-day contentment. During a five-year study of what fanfiction I could find there was no such relief series created for Dark Shadows. So I started taking notes for my own.
A. Other supernatural daytime-dramas have come and gone but Dark Shadows stands out as the highlight after all of these years. However, soap-operas are, or were, created for house-wives but Dark Shadows was on late enough that the younger generation of the 1960’s were running home from school to make sure they didn’t miss it. This was a completely new and different occurrence on what was being presented and what audience was being reached with it. The program lasted from 1966-1971 and lifted story lines from many well known Gothic books like Jane Eyre, Picture of Dorian Gray and Turn of The Screw.
Like Star Trek, the fanbase was strong and fanzines began with stories of further adventures with its characters. The difference being that Star Trek had less episodes, a shorter run and usually maintained character accuracy in its fanwork. Dark Shadows did as well until later on. Many fan work creators of Dark Shadows will state, as if fact, that fan-fiction is tacking on the names of characters and telling any story you want whether or not it conflicts with who the characters are or how they might behave. My theory is this was caused by lack of access to the full run of Dark Shadows which had over 1,200 episodes and much more going on in terms of continuity that linked everything together. Other television programs as beloved didn’t have that complexity. (Continuity flaws abound as well, and that might make a ton of fans throw up their hands and cry, “Anything goes!”)
A. I have a ton of work set on the back-burner. My big one being a series that also incorporates a wealth of supernatural elements, mainly vampires. The plan is still for a three volume work in which the protagonist loses her most beloved and later on finds herself on “The Other Side” to heal from her own damage before returning to the mortal realm and continuing her journey of self-discovery. She encounters ghosts, Banshees, other creatures of spirit and myth as well as old vampire friends. Witchcraft is studied later on to ground her back to Earth. The layers of history and the supernatural were deeply complex which is kind of funny considering Dark Shadows has that same complexity and I hadn’t watched it yet.
I also tried a hand at creating ghost stories or campfire stories in the same light as urban legends, and studied those heavily trying to find the best. I recently found an old story for Bloody Mary I wrote years ago and posted it to fictionpress. https://www.fictionpress.com/s/3250078/1/Bloody-Mary-s-Delight I’d forgotten how good it was as it mentions other great ghost stories in it and also the best method for telling spooky stories in groups. (We used to hold a monthly event called Ghost Story Night in our home to encourage that old tradition with our friends.)
I also did many audio book performances for librivox.org [Sumiko? Should that go into the bio?] my first and favourite being the spookiest, “At The Sign of The Jack O’Lantern” by Myrtle Reed. https://librivox.org/at-the-sign-of-the-jack-olantern-by-myrtle-reed/
A. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir from the 1960s, as well as The Addams Family, and definitely The Pit of Ultimate Darkness hosts from The Kids In The Hall. Lily Munster comes up quite a bit. Mostly I started the blog because many pen friends wanted other news and I didn’t have any so I felt I couldn’t talk to them about what was happening. I write up all of my struggles, discoveries and what little fun I could have as I build the audio episodes and re-write the marriage novel of what the radio-drama’s goal is gearing up to. Some have told me when they read entries they are fascinated how much I can write about, but the key component comes from maintaining correspondence and letter-writing most of my life. Somewhat similar to what Robert Fulghum writes about but mine is more in themes with what I’m doing and… I do vent.
A. It totally depends on the individual. I like spooky, but I steer towards fun spooky. My Mum introduced me to Roger Corman’s film “The Raven” as I adore Vincent Price and always have, as well as Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff. I watched that often and thought that was how spooky worked. Then I got into horror and I was entertained for a while but it usually left me feeling sour. Others adore horror from the thrill, but what I often see is people watching horror films or bad horror films for something to heckle and enjoy in that light.
It’s a hard question to answer. Some love the gothic culture for the romance of darkness and moonlight, others for the fun of dressing up, other for the music or it’s a combination of everything, including horror. Goth culture has so many facets which is likely the reasons it’s difficult to pin-down to something simple.
A. The knowledge that what will usually happen when the links are shared on facebook is that I will get nothing but a like-click from people and that’s it. *laughing sadly* Some people like-click out of habit so you don’t even know if they downloaded and listened or not. More technical challenges are whatever I’ve been ruminating that I feel is important to say either about an upcoming episode or what I’m seeing in people’s online behavior or fandom behavior, some of which is good. I’ll type up a monologue of ideas that are striking me and I will leave that alone for a while so that when I do the podcast I’m speaking with more of a conversational tone rather than droning out a reading, and I will also vary from that monologue quite a bit. Then I have to see what music or effects to add, do the noise cleaning and what not, blending in everything. Cutting out “ums” and “y’knows” is one of the worst procedures.
Radio drama episodes in audio for the show are incredibly more difficult to do. I have to act out all the parts of so many characters from so many shows as hiring anyone is out of the question. (Though I have been jovially urged to call Jon Astin. My Gomez Addams impression needs work.) Then alter how everyone sounds depending on who they are and what my voice couldn’t do. Adding sound effects and music in the correct areas and hope they give the listeners the idea of what’s going on because I’m not always happy with the sound effects I’m left with for certain actions. Picking the length of silence between lines and scenes is also difficult.
A. If you’re looking for communication with your audience? Don’t expect any. Podcasting as a hobby is much safer than doing it as a passion or calling. Device technology has made more people into takers rather than talkers. If you have solid friendships of people who are interested in your work and will write commentary for it that is the best way to go. Everyone needs support but we’ve gotten into this every-man-for-himself idea which neither enriches us or the work. You might believe what you are communicating is clear but if the listener isn’t paying attention you’ll get some very confusing responses.
A. Don’t post every single day. Wait until you have something good and solid to relate. For writers in general? Listen to your Muse. Keep blank books and save everything. People have different things that work for them. Some people prefer a schedule that is closer to school or work, some are better when the inspiration or information hits them. Find what is best for you.
If you have someone who comes in and comments rudely do your best to explain where you are at as gently as possible, and don’t be too alarmed if you have a random person writing random things in your comment boxes. Some people flutter around online, see a comment box and just start getting strange. The comment doesn’t need to be posted if it has nothing to do with you or your content.
A. I realized that because people are using device technology and can’t download the show or write commentary about it for me, but want the friendships I’m looking for, I have The Pit of Ultimate Dark Shadows care-package plan. I want conversation on the episodes to boost me to keep going, but I also want to bring back correspondence so we can be pen pals as well. I have CDs to send and questions to answer for fun. The online world is very distracting and alienating. We need to look at it more in tandem with the other forms of communication. Many of our elders bemoan the loss of the ways they grew up with, but there are a ton of people out there, many young adults and college students, who love what is now called snail-mail. Anyone wondering how I got into the gothic community? It was pen pals.
And I’d enjoy discussion on the librivox books I made. I still love almost all of my work there but never hear a great deal about it. I even shot for a Joan Bennett impression for a character in Spyri’s book “Veronica” as I was building demos for The Pit of Ultimate Dark Shadows and Joan Bennett plays Elizabeth Stoddard on Dark Shadows.