Mark Rogers, when he wrote the Zorachus saga (Nightmare of God, and Zorachus), gave me a proof before it was published. I read this thing, which was well written, but contained phrases like "consumed wallets of meat" and acts of underaged depravity as well as extreme carnivorous and open cannibalism that I was actually shocked this was being considered by Baer or Ace for mainstream publication. The story is about how the hero goes to destroy evil, and ends up being corrupted and a leader on the highest level by the very people he swore vengeance against. One of my favorite lines was about the main temple run by the evil guys, something along the lines of, "The spire of the tower rose from the city like a sword trust into the sky as to disembowel the heavens." I thought of that when Oral Roberts locked himself in his prayer tower, and held himself hostage for $10 million. But Mark told me that people asked him the same thing I did, "Are you sleeping okay at night?" I think some people still consider him kind of creepy, although his recent artwork certainly isn't helping matters, either.
One of my complaints about my own writing is how my characters just bump along with the story like driftwood, and don't really interact with the story except in frustration at the events they cannot control. This is okay with comedy, but I once wondered how some of my main characters could be easily manipulated if they were real people. This led to the Tony Bumper story, but also would be the concept behind my horror.
Some of my horror never saw the light of day. It was written and saved to the hard drive, and contained some of my most fluid writing, but the text was so graphic and horrible, I wouldn't dare show it to anyone, and I have deleted most of it because I like to anger my wife. I had one story that was deliciously vengeful, about a small girl who goes psycho, but I deleted it because I told myself it was overdone (e.g., Firestarter), but secretly, I was very disturbed she flash-dehydrated her victims, shattered them, and then scattered the dusty remains into her next victim's food (as part of a concentrated evil theory she was working on). She met her end in a nasty way I don't feel comfortable saying I invented, but let's just say it involved more blood than the Beatrix Kiddo fight scene at the House of Blue Leaves in Kill Bill, Volume 1.
It's true, I have seen more disturbing horror in films ("From Beyond") and real life (9/11), but when it's original, and you use logic to find craft ways to fuck someone up, that's pure uncut psycho, baby. On of the aspects I have found, being a fledging horror writer and nothing more, is that horror often comes from using reason to overcome morality. True, real-life horror are full of examples of man's inhumanity against man, especially in history, when one uses an ideal to promote death as an "acceptable risk" (war, assassination, and so on). When I think of death, especially of a human being, I think that no matter who you kill, you'll be terminating someone's collected memories, and a unique identity. I mean, I know you have to defend yourself, but sometimes people make some awful huge leaps in reason to "defend themselves" against someone like Anwar Sadat, or in the case of 9/11, some random office workers. Does Bin Laden's version of the Koran have highlighted passages that say "if you want to make a strong point, kill a bunch of random people you have never met, because if they are somehow loosely connected to your perceived enemy, it's fine." It wouldn't to me. That's why 9/11 was true horror, in my opinion, and beyond my rational suspension of belief. All my horror characters have had anger as a motivation, without the need for rational thought. The girl who killed did not see the people she killed as humans; she saw them as a substance that once fed to itself, would start a self-replicating chain of power, until the abstract concepts of the dead eating the dead eating the dead would culminate to some ultimate self-gain. Of course, I hated her, so I had her killed off by flaws in her reasoning. A moral ending, if there ever was one.
But what if she won? Michael Moorcock has this sort of Norse-like concept in his Elric saga. And I was going to use this as my model for my NaNoWriMo horror piece, where the tragic protagonist becomes the anti-hero who wins his ultimate gain in the end. And this disturbed me. A lot. I don't know if I could pull it off as well as Moorcock did, and I distinctly recall thinking at the end of the Elric saga, "Well, there you go. Moron. What do you think the sword's ultimate goal was?" It seemed natural it would kill everyone and turn on its owner: it's the Norse way. Ragnorok and all. But I fear I won't be able to pull that off as successfully, and part of me fears the, "Why the hell did you kill off the main character?" Because I want the moral of the story to be, "Don't be manipulated, stupid!" But is that a good thing to tell the reader, who just spent valuable time from their life reading the book?
When I think what a horror reader wants, I am stymied. I really don't know because I stopped reading horror in 1992. I remember the precise moment. I was halfway through a loaned copy of Steven King's, "The Dead Zone," when I read a passage so horrible, so psychologically terrifying, that I put down the book, and I haven't touched another horror story since. I tried. A few years ago, I tried to read some collection of Cthulhu short stories I bought from some vendor at Evecon, and I couldn't bear to finish even one story. What did I read in "The Dead Zone?" I don't know, my memory blanked it out. All I remember was the main character was asked to think about three objects at the same time, like a ball, a lamp post, and a boat (or something), and he couldn't because of the brain damage. That was it. I know I read much more past that, but my brain saw something that would cause a fear loop and erased the worm that threatened to destroy my brain from the beginning, and so that's all I recall. Ever since then my tolerance to any horror has been fairly low. I can't even watch "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." While watching "Queen of the Damned," I nearly fainted, especially at the bar scene. Even "Hellboy" scared me, and that was cheesy! (I still enjoyed the movie, tho). I am more a victim to suspense that gore, but I fear that my subliminal avoidance to suspense, which the other 99% of the horror market considers that and essential element to any decent horror.
But I don't just want to write cheesy comedies either. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love writing the Punk walrus Saga, although I see my writing wishing to fly higher than poor old Punk and Julie can provide. The Tony Bumper story, which really should be speaking more to me, is stalled due to sheer lack of time. That's one of the main reasons I am going to try NaNoWriMo: It's a practice in dedication.
I don't know, the survey showed a slight win to write horror, but are you guys ready for it?
It's funny, I don't fear the writing to be bad, I fear showing that side or my writing more than anything else.