When I was wee lad (well, thirty-something), I had this idea I would be the next great horror writer. I did all things horror: wrote short stories, worked on novels, edited a horror magazine, read works by other horror authors, attempted to buy my way into horror conventions, collected horror action figures (they’re not dolls!), etc. I was pretty good at getting involved in the horror scene. I even accepted the massive egos of some well-known horror writers out there.
However, while doing all the above, I found something in my writing: it’s not all horror. Now, this revelation might not be cause for alarm. After all, if a piece of work is fantasy or speculative fiction, there’s no reason to go crying about things to your mom, is there? You can still write.
I didn’t think this way, of course. I didn’t go crying to my mom (of course…that would be…silly), but I did find myself in a bit of a depression. I was supposed to be the next Stephen King, the next Clive Barker, the next (insert your favorite obnoxious and ego-rific horror author here). I was going to write and write until my fingers bled and when they bled I was going to wear bandages and write more until I had written the penultimate horror novel that was sure to be the first bestseller to win the Pulitzer prize.
What happened, however, was the complete opposite: I stopped writing altogether. I left one novel in the middle and thought I would never look back.
I spent a few years ruminating about my failure and then a good solid year evaluating what went wrong. I was sure I was meant to write horror. After all, my first story I ever wrote when I was 7 years old was horror. But if that was the case, how come all the story lines I could come up with were not horror-ific? I supposed I could just stick in a big green monster to eat people, but that wouldn’t make sense. It was odd. How could I go on?
It wasn’t until I accepted I wasn’t a horror writer but a fiction writer that my life made a drastic 180° turn. That was me: a fiction writer, living outside of one genre and willing to read anything and write anything.
Except romance. But I digress.
Since that revelation (if you could call it that…I mean, there weren’t any singing angels or anything), I’ve written a lot. I’ve also published a lot. The first novel to come out was that one novel I abandoned years ago. I asked myself what horror was and decided it wasn’t about big green monsters eating people (although that’s cool), rather it was about making the reader uncomfortable. CASTLES: A FICTIONAL MEMOIR OF A GIRL WITH SCISSORS (you should really click on that link and buy it) is just that: a novel intended to make the reader squirm while debating exactly what the main character’s motivation for her actions were. Is she mad or is there some paranormal type activity going on?
CASTLES (click! buy! please?) is actually the only horror novel I have ever written. I don’t actually call it horror, though; to me, it’s literary horror or just plain literary.
The first novel I wrote (which is still being reworked into an epic style and due for release…when I feel comfortable with it) is not horror. I had one reader comment that the novel actually falls into the magical realism category. Magical realism was not something I had considered in my “horror writing” days. The collection REGARDING DEAD THINGS ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD contains several stories that might be considered horror and several more that would fall into the fantasy or surrealist or magical realist categories.
My last project, SKETCHES FROM A SPANISH MUSTANG, is comprised of 7 separate character sketches set in and revolving around a fictional casino in the town of Cripple Creek, Colorado. None of those sketches are horror. Rather, they’re spread across a broad spectrum of genres, from that oddly familiar magical realism to domestic (or family drama) to thriller.
My work-in-progress, currently titled DRIVING THE SPIKE, is actually a political thriller/family drama. It’s not even remotely related to horror. But, of course, I can’t stray away from the magical realism.
Unless I add in a big green monster to eat people.
And then I wouldn’t like it.
Neither would you.
I guess what I’m trying to say here in this blog entry is two-fold: a) sticking to one genre is great for some people, but it wasn’t until I looked outside through the window that I really started to write; and b) I wrote another blog entry.