Into the Weird Yonder: Surrealism in Fiction

by | Mar 5, 2012 | Book Marketing Basics, Social Media for Authors

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Guest post by Lea Ryan:

What is surrealism exactly? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as: principles, ideals or practice of producing fantastic or incongruous imagery or effects in art, literature, film or literature.

I took a lot of art classes throughout elementary and high school. My favorite art almost always involved surrealism, the works of Salvador Dali, in particular.

Fantastic imagery never fails to pull my attention, whether it’s a painting, movie or a book. Surrealism is like being pulled into someone else’s dream, especially in the case of reading a novel. The further “out there” the imagery goes, the longer it stays with me.

The painting described in Rose Madder and the in-between  dimensions of Gaiman’s American Gods, the transformation of the world in Koontz’s The Taking and King’s The Mist, the twisting of reality makes for compelling reading, especially when that twist involves a hefty dose of danger.

It’s this love of surrealism that drives me to strive for vivid weirdness in my stories. There’s something freeing about taking a character’s world and morphing it into one of those fantastic places that people don’t experience outside books and movies and dreams.

When I read the original Lair of the White Worm (Bram Stoker), I saw a lot of opportunity to build on the fantastic elements already present in the story. The worm is a reptile that shapeshifts into a woman. Stoker’s mythology, which was derived from legend (much like Dracula), offers a wonderful jump-off point that almost begs for modern interpretation.

Cover of

For my story, I took the already supernatural element that was the worm and a few other bits from Stoker’s book and took the surrealism even further.

My protagonist’s name is Eric. I gave him some chaotic inner workings that eventually become a mental battlefield. He journeys completely into his mind, which he has feared for so long, and encounters several scenes in which his inner demons take on lives of their own. I really tried to paint those scenes as vividly as I could. Most of what occurs in Eric’s head has some root in what he has experienced in the real world, but it’s been altered.

I loved writing him into that place because anything can happen there. Real world rules don’t apply in the surreal landscape that is the mind. That’s where dreams and sometimes nightmares rule.


Lair of the White Wyrm

By Lea Ryan

A modern horror inspired by Bram Stoker’s final novel.

“Sometimes when you run from your problems, they follow you.

Eric Duncan wants nothing more than to be an ordinary, sane guy. He believes he can escape his troubled past by leaving home. However, the voice in his head, that of his dead friend Benjamin, fights him every step of the way.

Eric finds his new home is a place filled with secrets far darker than his own. A monster prowls the grounds, and it wants to keep him close.

He will discover that his inner demons aren’t the only things he should fear. In order to confront the wyrm and survive, he must also face the worst parts of himself.”

About Lea Ryan: Lea Ryan was born and raised in Indiana. She currently lives there with her husband, two kids, two cats and a dog. Her specialty is fiction about the paranormal. She is the author of two fantasy novels – Babylon Dragon and Destined for Darkness, some short stories and a novella titled What the Dead Fear. She also blogs about life, writing, books, and movies at

Lair of the White Syrm is available on



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