Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Secret of my Distress

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.

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