In my new horror novel, which came out on October 2nd, 2019. under the title Wax Works, a boarding school has gone irretrievably, elementally wrong, even after closing its business doors to the world. When it reopens with a new commercial face, that ‘wrongness’ has plummeted down to a spiritual level, by which I mean the establishment exerts a psychological and physical power over people it wants to control, manipulate and, in some cases, punish.
The boarding school in my novel is named Château Mont Rose. A lot of pride went into this school–so much, that when disgrace followed, the school nursed a vendetta. While many people have great memories of boarding school, the flip side are those who don’t, or those who remember the true prickly reasons why they were sent to one.
Those reasons are often negative. I hate to be a real downer, yet for the purposes of my “horror” novel, I have to insist that many children are sent away for negative reasons starting with the most simple: parents want them gone. How do I know?
I went to to a boarding school.
My brother went to a boarding school.
My mother went to a boarding school.
Some of my best friends at boarding school went to a . . . . you get the idea.
Parents often regret having children and decide to get rid of children, for various reasons. Since the parents may want to see the children again someday, like at Christmas, a boarding school is a good option. Parents may pay a lot of money for this option, or they may take the money for the experience from the child’s trust fund (oh, incredibly lucky child, to have money others can spend on him or her to get him away from the homestead!).
Who pays for the boarding school is practically another subject. Show me a trust fund child now grown adult and struggling economically, and I will show you a person who wishes to God that the money was spent on buying a condominium in southern, northern, even a central part of his or her state, country, canton or district.
I went to Swiss boarding school as a teen. As it happened, I badly wanted to learn French. My brother, Steven, had been sent to a military academy in California, from which the poor soul could only come home on holidays. He was desperately unhappy there. I have to ask him the name of the school, fearful I will get it wrong. When he came back, I went away.
By amazing circumstance, my mother remarried right before either one of us left. Today we both have the uncomfortable feeling that she believed the chances for happiness in her new marriage would be better if we were out of her hair.
She would know, of course. Her parents sent her off to Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, a convent school—the same place that Joan Crawford’s daughter, Christina (author of Mommie Dearest), was sent. I loved my mother to bits, but older people in her life felt she needed straightening out.
No matter how many friends the boarding school child retains from boarding school, the experience leaves an interesting, and often painful, mark.
In Wax Works, the mark is on both the students and the school. (Buildings are not supposed to be alive, but many of us know one that they are. Just like graveyards, buildings absorb the feelings of those interred–and feelings always leak out again in some form. How they leak out in Wax Works is worth investigating.)