GIVE IT A GO

What genre of books would you say was your favourite?

Who is your favourite author?

Are you a fan of the horror of Stephen King? Does the fantasy of Tolkien tickle your pickle? The crime writings of Patricia Cornwell or James Patterson?

We all have our areas of passion and artists of all kinds are no different but could you imagine a book written for 5 year olds by Clive Barker or HP Lovecraft? What if Tolkien had written about the BDSM scene? Imagine in cinema, a ‘tweeny’ film directed by Quentin Tarantino?

Now I’m not saying that these people wouldn’t be able to do amazing things but they have shown an affinity for a certain part of the literary spectrum and have remained there, happily pumping out tale after tale for us happy readers to devour. But why not try something different?

I like the thought of doing something different.

The thought of testing myself, to see if I can do a thing, is a big driving force in who I am so staying in one area when it comes to my writing isn’t going happen. I have my current fantasy series I’m working on but I also have a YA book in the works as well, which is more science fiction than fantasy. Add to that another book about an alien invasion which will be more akin to The Walking Dead and a short story which has the potential to become a novella dealing in very dark horror, and I’m doing my best to try and keep things moving in different directions when I’m creative.

I like having a bash at new things and the thought of being stuck rigidly in the same place for all time makes me want to look in new locations. I think that it keeps my mind busy in different ways which can only help when I write, regardless of the topic.

Besides, if all I do is work in exactly the same location, and give no thought to doing anything differently, there’s always going to be the risk that I just get stale doing the same thing.

Change is good, well some is anyway.

DIRTY BOY

I’ve discovered a slightly odd problem recently. Setting the tone correctly in the story I’m writing.

How to create the correct age rating on what I’m trying to say.

For me, to set the tone in a childrens book, just don’t swear and avoid talking about willies. By the same token, the reverse is true when setting up an adult story, boobs and a liberal sprinkling of curse words and you’re good to go.

I know that’s more than a little over simplification but what about that grey area between the two?

I’ve been writing to appeal to everyone, spreading the love as far as I can but that means I’m forever playing in the no mans land between sounding like I’m writing a kiddies cartoon or dodgy porn or horror.

Now I recognise that the topic I’m playing with allows me the largest scope to be able to make sure I can appeal to everyone but there still remains the pitfalls of violence described too graphically or with so much fluffiness to make it painful.

So what to do?

I need to try and get the point across without including huge swathes of Clive Barker-esque brutality or repeated examples of ‘gosh darn it’. I need to ensure there is enough meat to the story that any discerning adult will be engaged without delving too deeply into topics and phrases which younger readers either wouldn’t understand or shouldn’t hear.

Those of you out there who’ve been reading what I’ve got to say on here for some time will have read a small collection of my short stories. I didn’t pick those stories specifically for this reason but there seems to be a decent show of my writing for different ages. Forced New Life makes you think but isn’t nasty, The Power of a Book feels to me to be more of a teenage flavoured tale, Make Believe Friend is more adult in its tone but still not totally off limits to younger readers, maybe some though, and True Love is certainly meant only for grown ups.

Trying to ensure that you say the right thing at the right time is vital to making the overall tale as compelling as possible. Using the wrong phrase at a given point can crush the fragile environment you’re making so the appropriate language is a must. The age of the reader is just another consideration.

I’ll just have to avoid loads of talk about characters going to bed to have a ‘special cuddle’.

OH, THE HORROR!

Greetings world.

Halloween has just passed us by and no doubt there have been groups of impressionable small people coming round, dressed as all manner of who knows what, asking for sweeties of some description. It used to be that vampires (fangs dripping blood and not a sparkle in sight), zombies and ghosts were the usual fare but over the last who knows how many years, cowboys and princesses have joined the party, all happily declaring ‘Trick or Treat’ to whoever opens the door.

All harmless fun.

But shouldn’t it be just a little bit based around monsters and demons rather than run of the mill stuff? All in all Halloween is just a good reason for kids to get dressed up and get tanked up with sugar but seeing the influx of different costumes did make me think.

Is horror still scary?

I’m a fan of the genre. I can happily say my favourite book of the genre is The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker and my favourite film is Hellraiser, the adaptation of the book, directed by Clive Barker. They both scared seven shades of pink poop out of me, the book even more than the film. The story was understated yet horrific. There was a strong focus on mood rather than simply on fright or blood for the sake of it and it was beautifully effective for it.

But that’s not all.

Freddy Kruger, Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers and the Deadites chasing Ash ‘Groovy’ Williams. These are nasty people. Leatherface has issues, clearly, and, looking more up to date, the whatever the hell it is in Paranormal Activity isn’t someone who shows the most obvious compassion but they’re all great fun to watch.

This is just a small showing and I will freely admit that Event Horizon is a wonderful horror film within the sci-fi pot and The Descent is just creepy all round. And that film leads me on to a horror writer I read with both intrigue and nerves, H.P. Lovecraft.

That man had a very deep and dark imagination. Sets up tone and mood without the desperate need to have knives everywhere and screams ringing from every corner. Tales of creatures in paintings, of a shape in the caverns (see The Descent), of the all threatening Cthulhu and a dead man kept animate by the bizarre technique he had discovered are shocking tales and leave a lasting flavour just with the hint of detail. If you haven’t read any of his work, hunt it out.

But is horror still scary?

Why was the new Robocop film not the 18 rated version it could have been? Why have the Aliens v Predator films been lower rated than their ‘parents’? Sparkly vampires? Why do we see prequels which explain fully the backstory of the killers? Having these monsters do what they do without knowing why makes it scarier. As soon as we understand someones motivation, received a detailed breakdown of the whys and wheres, we’ve taken one step to working towards some kind of resolution.

Horror needs to be horrible. The creature coming to get you must be scary. It has to make you feel fear. You should feel on edge when you turn the page, what on earth is on the other side? The darkness and what might be in it is the really scary thing.

I don’t know about anyone else but I like a well done horror film and the books I read are in the similar bracket. Nasty stuff going on that makes you nervous. Horror. It is a genre which is so often overlooked because of the subject matter and maybe even a little snobbery.

As Halloween passes by for another year, everyone hunt out a good horror story and revel in the goings on. The monster under the bed should never be forgotten.