Kyrie McCauley chats how worst case scenarios inspired All the Dead Lie Down

And how this is a love letter to Gothic literature and Gothic romance.

This guest post is written by Kyrie McCauley, author of All the Dead Lie Down. 

All the Dead Lie Down began with a grim little nightmare of a thought, as many stories do.

I was standing on the rocky coast of Maine, shin-deep in the tidepools, wading around small children and an over-eager dog who brought me a clam she had dug up from the mud. It was a small round clam known as a cherrystone, and it fit neatly in the center of my palm. Sometimes we find tiny pearls in the clams we dig there, but this time I wondered, what if there was something else inside? Something unexpected. Something terrible.

The books I want to write often start with a flash of an image in my mind, something strange and curious. A question to be answered. If that image is compelling enough, I can chase it for years, pulling an entire book from it like I’m pulling out teeth. Like I’ve got to get it out, roots and all.

Those images are good at finding me. My mind has been hard-wired for worst-case-scenario for as long as I can remember. My anxiety fills in the unknown future with a hundred awful potentials, and then I work my way slowly through those scenarios, acknowledging how unlikely or unrealistic they are. Like my stories, my mental health is a work in progress, but channeling some of those fears into my characters and stories has always helped. This time I wondered how it would feel if someone with anxiety was dropped into a horror story, and that idea became the foundation for All the Dead Lie Down.

My main character, Marin, doesn’t know she’s in a Gothic novel. She has to navigate her worries and the threats that are steadily growing around her like vines, and most importantly, she has to learn to trust her own intuition in a way that she never has before. It was also important to me to show the strength in Marin. She fears the unknown, but in a crisis, she is capable, quick-thinking, and fearless. It’s easy to be, when you’ve already faced those nightmares internally a thousand times over.

Unfortunately for Marin, there are so many things for her to fear at Lovelace House. This book reads like a love letter to Gothic literature and Gothic romance. I wanted to include my favorite elements and tropes of the genre: creepy children, a sprawling mansion by the sea, decrepit cemeteries, a whirlwind sapphic romance, and of course, a messed-up deer. And yet, at its heart, All the Dead Lie Down is still a story about a young woman finding her place in the world. Even in the midst of terrifying circumstances, Marin is discovering a new home and a first love. She is learning that she belongs, to a place and to people, but even more so, that she belongs to herself, despite her anxiety…and maybe sometimes because of it.

All the Dead Lie Down is available now, and be sure to check out the playlist below for anyone who wants to listen along to the songs that inspired this book or remind me of its characters.

All the Dead Lie Down Playlist:
1. Ivy by Taylor Swift
2. Back To You by Chloe Ament
3. Girls Against God by Florence + The Machine
4. Honey by Halsey
5. Wouldn’t Come Back by Trousdale
6. Me and the Devil by Soap&Skin
7. Sappho by Delian
8. American Teenager by Ethel Cain
9. Without You Without Them by boygenius

All the Dead Lie Down is out now. (Magpie, HarperVoyager UK)

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