Horror has always been my safe space.

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When I think of horror it’s about the times I spent alone as a kid. My father wouldn’t come home for a couple of days. I’d spend that time watching horror movies on HBO or Cinemax or I’d read. But the books weren’t horror, they were military/political thrillers. Later they were dubbed techno-thrillers, but I digress.

Horror was my safe space. I felt safer watching those movies than at any other time. It was in those long nights of being home that I watched Basketcase, Creepshow, Tales From the Crypt, and a myriad of other movies. I watched movies a 13-year-old maybe shouldn’t watch, but it was the ’80’s and us latchkey kids didn’t have many rules. The rules we had were about school, but everything else was open and free to explore. I took advantage of that.

I’m sure the reason I fight with myself over writing horror or thrillers is because of those days and nights alone. When my father was home I read thrillers. When he wasn’t, I watched horror. Horror made me feel safe. It scared me of course, but I knew it was safe. T

he thrillers were about the world ending in a war or some random shooter. But horror wasn’t like that.

When I write horror I consider it a dive into my deepest, darkest memories and how those memories scarred me.

It’s within the construct of a horror story that I feel safe. I’m allowed to explore those bad memories. Those bad events. I’m able to parse those things into a story and allow my mind to explore them in a safe space. It’s this same safe space that I felt growing up watching those movies.

It’s the darkness staring through our eyes. Our memories of tragedy, of abuse, and of learning to deal with it in our own way. My way of dealing with abuse was to shut down. It still is.

When I consider where I came from and what I’ve learned about myself and the fear of things in the night, regardless of what they are, I think of long nights alone in the dark. The flicker of a horror movie on the screen is my solace and when I’m depressed or upset it’s these movies that bring me joy.

A new story comes from these dark places and they bring me joy in the same way those movies do. A new story comes when I’m ready to deal with the past in any shape. It breaks through the barrier I keep around myself. Those stories endear themselves to me. They show me the dark isn’t that bad and that I can work through anything.

My own development as a writer is to put this process through it’s paces. I must feel the story. I must understand that it’s going to get rough for these characters and that through them I can work through whatever trauma I have. I did that with the story, ‘Carnival of Darkness’ in my collection. I dealt with a situation from my childhood I’m still working through.

I must hear the story and the characters in my head and it’s only with horror that this happens.

While writing thrillers it’s the story, but with horror it’s the characters and their feelings.

I come to a story with an idea, but getting to know my characters and their feelings about life, love, and what trauma they’ve dealt with is where I play my cards.

I will let you get back to your regularly scheduled program.

I will be at the same Bat Channel tomorrow.

What truly scares you?

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While I’ve been actively working on this rewrite I’ve thought about fear, judgement, and what really scares people.

When I was a kid I had a recurring dream about my Aunt’s basement. There was a coffin at the bottom and all of this smoke. When I reached the coffin a ghoul would pop up and I’d wake up screaming.

Being stuck in a place, with nowhere to go or worse, being stuck and unable to move are the worst things I can think of. I’ve had night terrors for years and used one of them to write a story in my collection. Most of what happens in one of the stories is completely true.

I find that writing horror allows me to tap into those fears. I use it well enough that my wife has asked if I’m okay while she’s reading drafts.

We’ve talked about what scares her and I’ve used that in stories, because she is the first person to read my stories. I also think about what would have scared me in my teens or twenties and incorporate that.

I’ve read a lot of books over the years and while some of them are very odd, I’m looking at you House of Leaves, the also make me think about different aspects of fear. House of Leaves does that with the Navidson House and Johnny Truant. Spoilers ahead for House of Leaves.

With The Navidson House is the fear of something outside our reality or outside what we understand. With Johnny it’s about a descent into madness.

Both of these sections of the book messed with my head. And thinking about the book in that context, I really enjoyed it.

We find ourselves writing things that scare us, our family members or who we were at one point in our lives. It takes a lot to scare me anymore. I’m very desensitized when it comes to horror, but there are limits for me. I don’t like when kids are hurt. The Girl Next Door did a number on me. It was a difficult book to read. The writing is so good you feel complicit. But I’m running away from the topic.

I’ll talk more about fear on Wednesday.

Comes a time…

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I wrote a lot of blog posts last week while in isolation. I started the rewrite for a story I mentioned in this post and I’m moving forward.

I’d had an issue with a certain part of the story. I thought about that story through the weekend and found some new ground within its borders. I figured out how to make it work while incorporating a story I wrote a few years ago into its borders.

The story itself ran into difficulties while I wrote it and I came to understand there was something missing. A larger story was missing and the novella will be novel.

I’m making an effort to take it slow with this story, something I talked about on Friday.

I’m also doing something that felt odd until I noticed an improvement while doing it.

I see places in my head but can’t get them down as well with my eyes open. It’s only when I close them that I see the story better, so I’m doing that.

When I sat down to write this morning the words came darker, more evocative of what I want for the story. They’re better words and I’m sure my patience with the story is helping a lot with that. Patience isn’t always my strong suit. I’m always in a hurry to get to the next story, but I’m going to slow down. Take it in smaller steps to finish this one.

The incorporation of this short story into the larger frame of the novella adds more to the story and while it makes it darker it also changes one of the aspects of the story I didn’t like as I mentioned above.

There are many aspects of this story I love. The main character and what he’s dealing with are the biggest as I can relate to some of it.

We find ourselves in our stories often. Sometimes it’s little things, this is a bigger one for me.

I’m hoping to submit it later this year. I have four other projects out on submission and I hope to hear something about them soon. I’ll let you know when I do, but for now I’ll keep working on this one. If you’re curious, here is the playlist on Spotify for this one.

Happy writing.

Finding the right music is the first thing.

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I’m working on two projects, one of them a collection for later this year, the other is a story that had initially been with this collection, but it wanted to be longer. The latter I’ll be turning into a novel or novella. I haven’t written anything over 36k in a while and It’s frustrating the hell out of me.

My process starts like this, idea, create a writing playlist, start writing. This is how I’ve always done it, but I think outlining is where I need to go, and I’ve touched on this numerous times. But as the works I’ve outlined are still out for consideration and others are not, I’m going to lean hard into that.

The idea for the collection came from interaction on Twitter. I wrote a list of 30 story ideas with the theme I selected for the stories. I wrote or used stories I’d already written that fit with the theme of the collection as well.

I used Spotify to create the playlist for the collection and am working on creating one for the novel. It won’t be the creepy music I have for the collection, but more along the lines of music the works for the story. I know it’s weird, but that’s how my brain works.

Now that I have the music or most of the music I need to create the story, I think it will move fast. If you like the playlist, look at the others I have, some of them have quite a few listeners.

But I digress.

I know what I’m doing better than I did a year ago and I owe that to a lot of people, but mainly that I am a better writer than I was a year ago.

Have a good day and I’ll see you on this blog Friday. I have a review site that I’m working on. It’s about horror reviews. Mostly books, but I’m doing movies and sometimes I’ll do a video game.

My Heart Is A Chainsaw

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Let’s start with basics, I love slashers, and there are few decent slashers in literature, at least that I’ve found.

I know the format for writing book reviews, but I can’t do it that way.

Here‘s a link to what you’re supposed to do when you review a book.

Let’s get into this.

I started this book after receiving it in my NightWorms horror book box, but I got sidetracked by writing projects, researching Norse Paganism, and reading other things. The Norse paganism is something for me personally, and if you look at my recent reads, you’ll see I’ve dived into that pretty heavily, but let’s get back to this review.

The book’s opening is classic for a slasher, much like the opening for Friday the 13th. It begins before everything goes crazy, and we see two people doing things that will get you killed in a slasher. What it also does is add some mystery to what’s happening and foreshadow things to come later, which Stephen is brilliant at doing.

After the opening, we move to Jade, who is now one of my favorite characters. I can’t wait for my wife to read this book. She’s going to love this character.

Jade is a character that we know a little about, but the discovery process is terrific as the first chapter moves along. The glimpses into her world, one that, as a guy and white, I can’t relate to, but wearing those tags, makes me feel terrible.

I know people who lived on reservations when I lived in Mesquite, NV, and I understand the way our government and society treat Indigenous people. I’ve had discussions about this with friends.

As we move along, Jade is deep into a belief that something is going to happen in her little town. To me, it appeared like she had mental issues caused by something, but I won’t get into that. Her refuge for her trauma is horror. It has been mine since I was a kid, and it’s one of the reasons I enjoyed the book so much.

The number of movies the author talks about is crazy. I had to go find a list of them. This list is a spoiler of coming attractions in the book, so be wary of looking at the list if you want to go in blind.

As the story progresses, more elements of slashers come into play. Jade believes that a girl is a final girl for whatever the killer’s purpose is. There are loads of red herrings throughout, but the sheer evil of some of them made me pause and wonder numerous times, but it all came around to the finality in proper slasher form.

The date of 4th of July is classic and is pulled from one of the best slashers, Jaws.

Now, as the finality goes on, other things come into play, and while I want to spoil it, I won’t.

This is a book that I enjoyed so much, and Stephen is one of my favorite authors.

I know this wasn’t a perfect review, but I want to leave some important things out. It’s best to experience this book for yourself, and I don’t want to be the one to screw it up.

On another note, I’ll be doing more of this in the future. If there is a book you’d like to me review, let me know.