We are getting down to the home stretch. I have 1 more review, 1 more multiple book giveaway, and still a few surprises coming.
Today, I turn things over to another up-and-coming author Lee F. Jordan who offered this personal account of why he has devoted his writing career to horror. I really like how he gets at one of the main appeals of the genre...that although it is outrageous, a part inside all of us fans knows it might turn out to be true.
Tomorrow, at some point, I will have a review of Jordan's newest novel, Coronation up on the blog.
In the meantime, you can visit Lee F. Jordan's homepage at http://leefjordan.com/
Why write horror?
Why write anything else?
Lee F. Jordan
Every now and then, I am asked to submit a piece for a magazine or online blog, and although I wish it was because my name was instantly recognizable among the horror denizens, the simple fact is that perhaps it is the oddity that horror writers must possess that gets me these invitations. Contrary to most of the emails I tend to get, I do not live beneath a decrepit mausoleum with constant irrational thoughts bombarding my wakeful state.
It isn’t a case of what to write so much as what not to write. If the script is already laid out, then the ending is also predictable. For example, if I tried to pen a romance story, the formula would be relatively simple: boy meets girl; both dislike each other intensely until they discover a common thread; boy then pursues girl like a lap dog; girl spurns the attempts until a romantic moment ensues; etcetera; etcetera; ad nauseam. But all the readers know well in advance that the two will get together in the end. Happy endings are what the world thrives on.
But then there is the horror author (or the freshman horror author as I tend to refer to myself). The ending is unknown, the path undecided and the predictability out the window.
Happy endings are never assured.
I have always heard that an author, to be successful, should write about a subject that is familiar. Perhaps something that happened in a previous life, or was intense enough to spur a long-standing memory. In that one simple axiom, lies the problem for those of us devoted to writing horror. If this kind of stuff actually happened, then we probably wouldn’t want to write about it for fear of being declared legally insane and locked up.
The dilemma of what to write begins before the keyboard is even opened for some of us. However in reality, I wouldn’t want the kinds of things I write about to happen to my worst enemy, let alone myself. Others, perhaps the ones who do live under mausoleums or have several ex-wives, would probably disagree with me.
Interesting conundrum, actually.
Would my horror be more terrifying, the blood darker, the gore gorier, the eviscerations more insatiable, if I had experienced them myself? If Lizzie Borden still carried an axe, would she be a good horror writer?
This subject, the darkness that lies inside men and women, is like an untapped ore vein to me; one that lies richly below the surface and is just waiting to be harvested like a winter crop. It has always been clear to me; to write anything else would be frivolous. Not that I dislike other subjects, as I am a voracious reader of everything I can get my hands on from mysteries to non-fiction, but I love the dark.
There is a richness there, in the dark, that does not exist anywhere else. Where else, for example, can the headless walk among us, the dead rise with purpose, and the vampires harvest so succinctly? When I get to bend the rules of physics, break the Ten Commandments, bleed the poor and feed the greedy, and then come out the other side unscathed, all in the space of a few thousand words; that is when my juices get to flow.
Horror has no rules, as I see it. And for that reason alone, I cannot fathom writing anything else. (Boy may end up with girl at the end of the story, but there is no guarantee that the girl will have all of her parts attached in the correct places.)
Not to mention, it could be true.
If there was zero chance of horror being true, if this were the only universe, if there wasn’t the question of whether evil really exists and to what extent, then the act of writing horror would lose its luster to me. The very fact that the lights turned down low, the tree scraping on the window pane, the sound of damp footsteps outside the door, and the possibility of monsters in the closet only enhances the obvious: we just aren’t sure about a lot of things in this world… or in other worlds.
So when my laptop opens, and my fingers start to draw something that I hope will cause the reader to question the elements surrounding our very existence, then I know I have written something that perhaps will be remembered.
There is a song by the rock group Delain I listen to entitled “We Are The Others” that is a catchy tune about non-conformity. Every time I hear the song, I think of the boundaries that exist in daily life and the manacles that we impose on ourselves. And then I smile because I realize that writing horror gives me the rare privilege of breaking those chains.
Not to mention, it could be true.