Monday, June 29, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
One of the most significant questions in my life is: why don’t I write science fiction? Why the hell am I writing horror? (Seriously, this question bothers me more than why are we here?)
As a boy I read nothing but science fiction and pulps for years. Although I have many favorite writers, as a young writer seeking inspiration, I grew attached to Jack Vance. His imagery, turn of phrase, and wry sense of humor appealed to me. His stories are marvels of creating distant places and other times.
If I wore a hat, I would tip it to Mr. Vance. If you haven’t read his work, I encourage you to seek him out. He is not a science fiction writer per se, in fact, his work defies categorization. I read an interview with Mr. Vance once, and he remarked (this is a paraphrase) that “he never saw himself as a genre writer. He just wrote whatever came out.”
When I started to write, it was horror that came out. My friends, my wife, even my cat looked at me askew – what’s wrong with you? they would ask. (Of course, the cat only talks to me after a few glasses of wine.)
Answer: I am distressed.
By nature an introvert, by age, an activist. I grew up in a time when people believed we could change the world. I still believe that, it’s just turned out that it’s a lot harder than protesting in the streets and going to rock concerts.
To change the world, one has to look at it. Not through the illusions that we filter our everyday life with, but the unsanitary sewer that is reality. All of the answers are not on television, neatly wrapped up in an hour. For me, that’s what horror is – an unblinking look at reality.
Reality with all the tasty bits sliced off.
So I figure that horror stories come out of me because I am unhappy with the way the world works and I am trying to make some sense of our journey among the living. Death is not only the next station on this line – it appears to be the only stop once we are on this train.
So why not look reality in the eye?
Commit to reading a horror story every day.
It might just make you a better person.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The idea for "The Guixi Sisters" came to me when I saw a photograph of my niece with two of her orphanage sisters. In the picture one of the girls had this particularly mischievous look on her face, and that's where my story began: three girls and ensuing mischief. Little did I know it would become much more to me than that.
As I began writing, I realized that my inspiration went much deeper than the picture. It was the love I had for my niece that became the driving force. Had she never been adopted, this story never would have come to be. But she was, and it opened up a whole new world for me as I was not just a passive observer.
I watched as my sister and her family jumped through all the hoops to bring their baby girl home. I counted the days, watched the clock. I was there. Three months before leaving for China, my sister got the first bit of information on her baby girl, including her Chinese name and two pictures. She sent them to me immediately. There she was, a pudgy blockheaded baby girl with wrinkly ankles, now my sister's daughter, now with a name. Now my niece. I couldn't wait for her to come home.
I helped my sister get ready for the trip to China. Sorting through all the paperwork, going through the checklist of medical supplies so she would be prepared for any of the common possibilities that inflict orphanage babies, running down the gifts she needed to get, the money and which denominations, the red envelopes. The list of cultural cues and etiquette seemed endless, yet were important because at a moment's notice they could be denied their baby girl.
I will never forget the night she was brought home. Sitting in my sister's house in the big chair with my back to the window, every time a car drove by I'd twist around to see if it was them. I waited with the rest of my family, now my niece's family. It was an amazing, joyful evening. When she arrived, she was a tiny little thing, nothing like her picture.
Not long after her arrival I started taking days with her. About once a month I would take her wherever, it didn't really matter, just so I could spend time with her. Our days would usually include a visit to Dark Delicacies because to me imagination sparks horror and horror sparks imagination, so I wanted to introduce her to this dark but fairly benign world. I also wanted to be sure that books were a big part of her life. I would always buy her a memento of some type. As much as she loved sucking on the devil ducks' horns, I stuck to the cute little fuzzy teddybear bats, things like that. She was my little something.
And so she grew and my love for her did as well, and then one day I found myself in the middle of this supernatural tale about Chinese orphanages and orphanage sisters that was moving in a dark direction, and I became concerned. My main character was not my niece, yet she was inspired by her. The whole story was. The information I used as material for my story was that which came from my experience of her as an adopted baby and often stemmed from questions my niece asked and things she said as she realized her parents were not biological, her name came differently from others, and that she was Chinese while the rest of her family was not. I couldn't stop my story now, but how do I continue it without exposing or exploiting my little love? I posed this question to some of my fellow Midnight Walk contributors and was encouraged to continue, for as the story grows, my character would eventually shed the skin of my niece and become her own individual.
So I kept writing. I looked closely at anything that came directly from my experiences with her and asked myself, "Is this something that is unique to my niece or is it something any child, adopted or not, from China or elsewhere, would ask or do or encounter?" If I only worked with events that were fairly universal I could avoid undesired exposure. And so I worked in this way, within these parameters and was able to finish the story.
Although the fate of the three girls in my story twists into a dark tale, I know deep in my heart that my story changes nothing about my niece except for maybe bringing us a little closer.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Left to right: Lisa Majewski, George Willis, Jason M. Light, Joey O'Bryan, R. B. Payne, Lisa Morton, Richard Grove, Mike McCarty, Jodi Kaplan Lester, Kelly Dunn, and Del Howison (taken at Dark Delicacies on June 14, 2009)
Thursday, June 11, 2009
And speaking of Stoker Weekend: If you can't make the Sunday signing, many of the contributors will be in attendance tonight at the Stoker Weekend mass signing at Dark Delicacies. We will have copies of the book available, and you can also get books signed by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, F. Paul Wilson, Gary Braunbeck, Deborah LeBlanc, Heather Graham, John Skipp, John R. Little, and several dozen more fine authors!
Monday, June 8, 2009
(1) Midnight Walk - Lisa Morton (ed) -- Dark House
(2) A Nameless Witch - A. Lee Martinez -- Tor
(3) Blood Red - Heather Graham -- Mira
(4) Gun Work - David J. Schow -- Hard Case
(5) Coraline - Neil Gaiman - Harper Entertainment
(6) Breathers - S. G. Browne -- Broadway
(7) Cover - Jack Ketchum -- Leisure
(8) Bloody Good - Georgia Evans -- Kensington
(9) Dark Delicacies - Howison/Gelb (eds) -- Ace
(10) Dark Delicacies II: Fear - Howison/Gelb (eds) -- Ace
Congratulations to the entire contributors roster for MIDNIGHT WALK!
Friday, June 5, 2009
Within the pages of Midnight Walk my story, "The Mysterious Name," awaits you. This particular tale features a few of my favorite places: Victorian houses, antique stores, and vintage churches.
In such locales I find the kind of beauty that inspires me: the beauty of the rare, the ideal, the forgotten standard. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, I have always loved to "cool my hands in the grey twilight of Gothic things." And in turn, these things fire my passion for themes weaving the past with the present.
Thus, the contemporary events of "The Mysterious Name" transpire in a setting reminding us of the past. And the question emerges: Where is our collective soul, and is it in a place we would like it to be?
On June 14th at 2 p.m., you can come see my Midnight Walk colleagues and me at another one of my favorite places: the Dark Delicacies bookstore in Burbank, California. If you have never been to Dark Delicacies, I encourage you to come in and experience it for yourself.
The store has a nice atmosphere, with background music and themed decorations. There are books and magazines galore, of course, but there are also DVDs, soundtracks, collectibles, greeting cards, and some super-cool Halloween goodies! I think there's a little something for everyone. It's the perfect place for a Midnight Walk—or an afternoon book signing. I'll look forward to seeing you there.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your own favorite places … wherever they are.