Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Writing A Novel: Oh, The Horror

One of the reasons why I love October is because many horror films and TV shows are aired on TV in honor of Halloween. Tonight's the premier of AMERICAN HORROR STORY's second season and I can't wait!

I've been a fan of horror movies and books for as long as I can remember. I joke that this is because the first movie I ever saw was Jaws (I was just a baby, so don't remember the experience) and the first show I saw was Dracula (I was three and remember it pretty vividly). I still love horror to this day. When I was a kid, I preferred gory movies, the bloodier the better. My dad once rented a movie called "Film Gore," which was clips from movies' bloodiest sections. One scene showed an old lady being attacked; the camera then panned around to the attacker's hand, which slowly opend to reveal the lady's eyeballs. Blech!

These days, I prefer my horror to be psychological and love films like The Sixth Sense and Paranormal Activity. I do not like blood at all. I can't even watch hospital dramas because they're too bloody for me. I'm not exactly sure when the shift happened, but it did.

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise then that I also love horror literature. When I was 10, I won $5 in a bet with my dad while we were on vacation in Egypt (it's a really long story that I'll share another time). I used that money to buy a book called Truly Murderous that was sold in the hotel gift shop. As I got older, I became addicted to Stephen King's novels. My parents weren't thrilled because they thought that I should be reading "classic" books like Little Women. I argued that King's books took just as much talent to write and that they weren't filled with scene after scene of murders. They listened and though I don't think either is a fan, I think that they at least appreciate him as an author.

Knowing my love for horror, some friends have asked why I don't write a ghost or monster story. Um, because it's freaking hard! For one thing, I feel that at this point, most scenarios have been done to death. There are tons of books on haunted houses, ghosts, vampires, etc. I honestly can't think of a new twist on the genre that I could do well. I think that there are authors out there who can, but I'm not one of them.

Also, while I enjoy being entertained by scary literature, I feel most comfortable writing realistic fiction. I spent a good portion of my life interviewing and writing about real people, so non-fiction is where I made my mark. I feel like I can apply that to stories like BAND GEEK that have to do with things like family and friendships. Ghosts just don't fit in very well there.

Getting back to horror books, though, I'll bet it will surprise you to learn which King story is my favorite: It's The Long Walk, which he wrote under the name Richard Bachman. It's about a 400-mile walk in which the losers are killed and the winner goes insane. There are no ghosts or vampires or scary clowns. But it's terrifying! I highly recommend it.

Please read and review my (non-scary) novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

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