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I wrote this story while thinking about how Wes Porter’s eldritch Changes manifested, and there are some Robert Aickman influences in here. I had read COLD HAND IN MINE and reviewed it, and I think some of that tone and style found its way into this story. I was constantly thinking about the girl in the sword story whose name I can’t remember, but I think of her as She-Who-Lives-To-Be-Penetrated, because that’s quite literally her entire role.
Charlie is almost an answer to that, as someone who is a passive observer of life from behind her camera lens, but also someone who sees a lot more than most people do as a result. This is why she’s so good at her job, and why she’s a good artist, using photography as a medium; it’s also her downfall when she meets a man whose details evade memory, either in person or when captured on film.
The disintegration of the sword-lady in Aickman’s story and the disgust of the male protagonist is the main thing that stuck with me. I wanted to present that kind of disintegration as internal and from Charlie’s perspective, but with that same distanced narration, as if the reader is observing this happening to her, which feels weirder to me than first person in this instance.
I also wanted to present a different reaction to this disintegration: both male characters – Charlie’s gay best friend Hugo, and Wes, who is both her lover and the cause of her disintegration – want to help her, but don’t know how. She becomes abject, but not an object of disgust. Even in her final act of self-disintegration via a self-mutilation attempt, there is some hope of rescue and healing off-page, after the story has concluded. Sword-woman in Aickman’s story does not have that, but I know what happens to Charlie later as she is mentioned in THE CROWS, then appears on-page in THIRTEENTH and THE DAY WE ATE GRANDAD.
A dark, twisted, tragic romance for horror fans – standalone short
When Charlie, an affluent, award-winning photographer, catches sight of a glamorous man at a party and immediately forgets what he looks like, she has to see him again. And again. And again. When he realises the extent of her obsession, is it already too late?
CW: self-mutilation, gore, mental health deterioration
I had to be ready to read this one as it includes characters I already loved (from the novels ‘The Crows’ and ‘Thirteenth’) but I knew it would be dark.
It is some of CM Rosens’ most elegant prose and most devastating writing. I very much recommend but it will break your heart so be prepared.5* Goodreads Review
This was brilliant and despite not usually being a big body horror person, I’m obsessed with the concept here. The piece centers on a photographer who views life through the prism of her camera lens, something which leaves her utterly unequipped to meet with a man whose features cannot be captured. They elude not only her camera but even her memory, blink and they’re gone again.5* Goodreads Review
Overexposure serves as a great introduction (or reintroduction for some if you’ve read The Crows) to characters and relationships that will crop again in Rosens’s new novel, Thirteenth, and I really recommend picking it up beforehand. Do heed the content warnings though, Charlie may be in pursuit of a seemingly harmless shot but that means little here.
The characters feel very developed despite the short space and it’s hard not to root for them. Wes is a bit of a prick but I really felt for him, Charlie is a bit of a mess who I feel for most of all, and I’ve only had Hugo for a couple of sentences but I adore him. He has a sort of Martin Blackwood-esque preciousness about him and must be minded. I’m looking forward to seeing what lies ahead for them.