Start all the Clocks

I’ve been thinking about what Robert Louis Stevenson story I should release on my Soundcloud site this August, as part of my Virtual Fringe, for some time. I think now I’ve decided on Markheim, a tale he wrote for the Christmas 1884 edition of the Pall Mall Gazette, but which was too short word length wise for it, and eventually appeared in the 1885 Unwin’s Christmas Annual (even RLS had to scratch about for markets, dear fellow scribblers!)

Other candidates for this year’s story included The Tale of Tod Lapraik, which was in Scots, but to me is not that strong a story – more two stories jammed together. Olalla intrigues me, partly because of its Spanish setting, but partly also because it’s a vampire story that prefigures Dracula (though not the first, of course: Mary Shelley and Sheridan Le Fanu got there before him). However, it’s quite long. The Bodysnatcher would be another obvious choice – on the plus side, RLS knew his Burke and Hare, and I really like the opening scene with the old drunk and the famous doctor; on the minus side, it’s perhaps too well known.

So Markheim it is then: a fine psychological study which owes a lot to Crime and Punishment – although RLS slips in a supernatural element for good measure. Thanks to Russell Gray for the suggestion.

I’ve started collecting sound effects for it: the opening scene contains a lot of clocks. So if I come round your house and show an unnatural interest in how your clock ticks, now you know why…

I also plan to release at the same time a version of Hyde’s Last Words, one of my own bits of RLS-related work.


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