Anne-Marie Ormsby, the author of Purgatory Hotel, is the next author to be featured in the Opening Scene series. Yes, the first scene is supposed to grab readers. Anne-Marie puts it this way: “For me it was important to set the scene, what would it feel like to wake up in a frightening, dangerous place with no memory and no way of knowing how to get to somewhere safe.”
Here, Anne-Marie, a Crooked Cat Books author, shares an excerpt and her inspiration for the opener Purgatory Hotel.
First the excerpt:
“She was about to die and she knew it, as though there was always an awareness that this was how the end felt. In that moment fear left her, and it was like when a gust of wind came and went, the stillness that followed.
Before everything stopped, her life passed before her in a random barrage of images that arrived like photographs slipping past her eyes.”
Now the inspiration:
The story begins at the end of a life, the end of Dakota Crow’s life.
And we begin with the last images that flash through her mind as she is dying – her mother, her father, her sister, and the man she was in love with.
For me, in writing this scene I was trying to think of things that I loved, things I might see in my own last moments, ‘autumn rain falling on the garden,’ was actually a memory of my own. I remember being a teenager and when it would rain I would sit beside the open back door, breathing in the scent of the wet garden and writing poems. I recall the more beautiful things even if they were insignificant to anyone else.
Dying is the loneliest thing we will ever do – no matter what happens we all know we are going to die – but what matters is what we would remember as beautiful about our lives, what memories would make our passing peaceful and happy – what things would we be most grateful for in the end, whose face would see us through that final moment?
Shortly after this she wakes up, the last images she saw in life, the wet forest, switch places with a new environment – a dirty, decaying Victorian Hotel. She finds herself in a lobby, other unfriendly faces peering at her, instantly feeling unwelcome and lost. But she knows she is dead, she just doesn’t know how or why. And for her this will be the greatest test – reliving her forgotten life in order to remember her crimes and her death in order to repent.
I chose to throw the reader in at the deep end – straight into Purgatory because I wanted the reader’s experience to mirror Dakota’s own. She has no memory of what she has done or what this awful new place is – so the reader learns along with her, travels down the rabbit hole and into the darkness with her.
For me it was important to set the scene, what would it feel like to wake up in a frightening, dangerous place with no memory and no way of knowing how to get to somewhere safe. The sad truth for Dakota is that one thing is certain – there’s one thing she can never change. She’s dead and nothing will bring her back to life.
HOW TO GET YOUR COPY:
ANNE-MARIE ORMSBY ON SOCIAL MEDIA