Happy Friday, Dear Readers!
I’m finally back to writing after not looking at my book for a month and a half. Now I know why I needed the break.
My book scares the crap out of me.
I’m on the edge of my seat as I write, the nerves in my body so tight you could play a tune on them. It doesn’t help that I don’t know what’s going to happen any more than my characters do. I don’t control what happens in my books so much as I create people who show me what’s going to happen.
There’s a reason movies like Ruby Sparks and The Dark Half resonate with writers. Can I imagine going down to the kitchen and bumping into one of the people I’ve made? Yes, I can. And believe me, some of them I really wouldn’t want to run into.
With each novel, my writing has gotten darker. The first two books are psychological suspense, the third a paranormal mystery, and the work in progress has crossed the line into outright horror. (But I’d like to think it’s horror with depth.)
Why is my writing so dark when I’m basically an optimistic, happy person? It started out as a means to an end. I had a creative writing teacher who loathed what he called “Disney” endings. Well, the easiest way to never have a Disney ending is to write horror. In horror stories, good doesn’t necessarily triumph at the end. Scary stories are at their best when they leave you with that lingering feeling that no one is really safe.
Even though I started writing this way for a reason, I’ve always been drawn to scary stories. When I was a kid, there was something forbidden about them. I’ll never forget discovering that cache of Stephen King books under the stairs and feeling like I wasn’t “supposed” to read them. (In truth, my mom never policed what I read, which I’m grateful for.) I gave myself nightmares reading books about ghosts and monsters and alien abductions. If you can scare someone, you’re tapping into a deep primal response that won’t soon be forgotten. And what writer doesn’t want to evoke some kind of emotional response?
Writing dark isn’t easy, because if you’ve done a good job, you’re going to make people uncomfortable. Therefore, the writer will also be uncomfortable during the process.
More than anything, I write the kind of books I would love to read. Haunted cars, houses, lamps–sure, they have shock value, but nothing scares me more than the darkness in people. I want to know what makes people tick, how they end up the way they are.
I’d take a haunted car over a person with no conscience any day. Guess what scares me more?
What I am going to show you on Friday, October 18th is very dark. It is graphic. Some people will find it makes them uncomfortable.
But none of the darkness is gratuitous. It is there for a reason, and if I tampered with it to make people more comfortable, it would lose a lot of its strength. It would lose its truth.
So if you have nightmares, please don’t blame the writer.