“Light thickens, and the crow/ Makes wing to th’ rooky wood.” – Macbeth, Act III, Scene 2
Shakespeare, there, using the image of a crow going to a rookery, an unnatural event that suggests something is seriously wrong with the world.
Rooks, crows, ravens and their many related species are generally seen as unlucky, harbingers of doom. They have dramatically black plumage, and are also very clever, so by old-time human logic they must be evil.
When I started thinking about a new series of books for Scare Street the name Rookwood sprang to mind. At first, I thought it might be a place of pagan worship, frequented by witches casting spells, leaping around ‘sky clad’ and so forth. This kind of thing does go in England today, though I never get invited to that sort of party.
But I decided my new storyline should have a more modern, less quaint feel.
Then I thought of the old-time asylum, a place where evil could (and often did) flourish behind closed doors and high walls. It occurred to me that Rookwood might be a good name for such an institution. ‘In space, no-one can hear you scream’ – but what about those places on earth, where nobody gives a damn how loudly you scream?
Then I needed to populate the story, beginning with a monstrous, mad scientist whose name is derived from a very real, very murderous British doctor of the Victorian era. Once I had Miles Rugeley Palmer and his program of amoral experiments, everything else followed naturally. Or rather, unnaturally.
I hope you enjoy your first visit to Rookwood as much as I did.
See you in the shadows,