Monday, June 23, 2014

How To Deal With The Monster Under The Bed

“How can you write a love story and then turn around and write about blood and guts?” a reader recently asked me. “Do you like to be scared?” 
I don’t write horror because I like to be scared. Maybe the answer is that if I’m going to be scared, I’d rather scare myself than have someone else do it. Or, maybe I’m trying to work out some issues buried deep within my subconscious. Or, maybe I just enjoy the adrenaline rush from a good scare. 
All I know is that true horror has nothing to do with blood and guts. True horror hits you where you live, in the subconscious. It’s the reason why you’ll avoid going down in the basement when you’re alone, because you know there is SOMETHING waiting at the bottom of the stairs. Why you won’t look under the bed in the middle of the night because you know there will be a pair of big red eyes staring back at you. Why the closet door HAS to be shut when you go to sleep.
Horror stories have their uses, believe it or not. They can make you feel better about the lousy job you have or that miserable creep who cut you off in traffic today. They make the everyday hassles of life just a little easier to bear. After all, going down in the pit of darkness for a period of time will make you face the light of day with a little more gratitude.
And when the horror is written down, it’s contained and under control. Writing horror lets me face the shadows and the monsters under the bed, to cage them in my words. 

And that’s the best way to deal with monsters.

Friday, June 13, 2014

What To Write Next?

I am in between books right now, and I'm trying to figure out what to write next. I could write another installment of my "Rose of Skibbereen" series, because the last one ended in the mid-1970s, and there are certainly more stories to be told about the descendants of Rose Sullivan McCarthy. I have this perverse character trait, though, that gives me a fear of being stereotyped. I know a lot of writers would keep mining the vein they started, which in my case would be the saga of Rose and her family.
However, the rambunctious imp in me wants to do something different. "How about a horror story?" the imp says. "Or, maybe a one-act play? Now, that would be fun!" Those are the conversations I hear in my head every day when I'm between books. I can't go too long without writing something, so I'll have to choose a project soon. We'll see if the imp convinces me to do what he wants. Anyone want to make a request? I'll consider most requests, unless it involves writing a massive historical novel that would take years to research and write, because, well, I just don't want to be holed up at my writing desk that long. 
Actually, I've got a notebook with some ideas jotted down, and a few of them involve the horror genre. I haven't thought about scary stories in a while, but for some reason the idea of writing a good old-fashioned, hide-under-the-covers yarn strikes me as a worthy project. We'll see what transpires in the next few weeks.