Category: Writing Craft

Touching Darkness

Have you ever touched the Darkness, dipped you finger in it, the vibration threatens to swallow you whole, and you pull back, afraid? Has it crept up on you, an autonomous shadow? It follows your every step but you know it is not quite your own, it is so much bigger than you, it is the shadow of all things.

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Have you allowed yourself to be drawn, deep, deep down into the dark well? The stillness you found there surprised you. Not at all what you imagined or feared. But keep your wits about you. Darkness reveals itself in its own time, in its own way. Before you know it you’re fully immersed and there is no way back, no path behind you, only one stretching ahead.

One of my favourite authors who has greatly influenced my work is Brett Easton Ellis. I remember reading an interview with him many years ago, some of the comments he made have always remained with me. He received much  criticism for American Psycho. It is a gruesome, violent, terrifying and marvellous book. In the interview he described his experience writing that book, and how often he lay curled on the
floor weeping, traumatized by his own writing. What he achieved with American Psycho is phenomenal. The author took possession of his character’s mind. He didn’t just write a book about a serial killer, he became a serial killer writing a book. (I wonder how he exorcised Patrick Bateman from his life when he had finished writing, or if he ever did at all?)

Our initial response to such a book might be – what kind of sick fucker writes shit like this? And, bubbling beneath that, the awful suspicion that maybe he enjoyed writing that material. I think the truth is Easton Ellis journeyed deep into the collective underworld and returned with American Psycho. It is a merciless portrayal of the darkness that lurks in the human mind and the extreme deformities that may and do manifest.

There are many kinds of Darkness. There is the Darkness of obsession and craving, which compels and repels you at the same time. There is a Darkness that takes all and gives nothing in return. There is a sublime pulsating Darkness that leads to illumination. There are many more, more Darkness that we can name. We need to choose wisely. Which we allow in. But Darkness is never far away, we don’t have to reach very far.

~

American Psycho cover art work by Marshall Arisen

Horror Sweet Horror

But what is all this fear of and opposition to Oblivion? What is the matter with the soft Darkness, the Dreamless Sleep? – James Thurber

I never intended to become a horror writer but when I put pen to paper chaos ensues.

In the past I have shunned the ‘horror’ tag, preferring the more general “dark fiction” label to describe my work. The word ‘horror’ irked me for a long time. It sat on my shoulder, a drooling little demon. Lately we have become friends. I am stroking its scales, playing with its sharp, hooked tail. Horror has started to grow on me, breeding and festering like an obsession or an infection. Embracing the word and all its connotations is really helping me move forward with my writing and stake new ground.

In the mind of the mainstream public ‘horror’ takes its obvious and more mundane incarnations with slasher violence, gore, and evil supernatural themes, but in the heart of horror writers and their discerning readers, horror is a subtle and delicate craft. We know what it takes to walk an extremely fine line, sanity on one side, madness on the other, in order to bless the page in the name of horror.

Horror is the art of evoking the iciness of dread, terror, sorrow, revulsion and also fiery responses like anger and arousal. It is deeply interwoven with sex and death, both instinct and force of nature. “Horror is an attempt to tame the untameable, to tap into the Great God Pan.” (G.W.Thomas) It is the friction and play of symbolism and taboos.

“Every story is, in its tiny way, a horror story… It’s an existential thing, a tragic thing, and somewhere in every story this dark heart beats. Horror is part of our narrative make-up.” – Chuck Wendig

I don’t write horror because I think the world is a terrible place and I hate people, quite the contrary. I write horror for the sake of the brilliant light it shines upon things. The stark, uncompromising reality it reveals, and the unexpected visions it projects. Poetry of the Adversary. To have fear and pain stretched before me like the corpse of my inner self, hovering above it with a glinting scalpel. The rush of liberation and wonder I experience at that first cut, the gentle pop as words break the surface and the thick slide through resistant layers. Remain here beside me, as I dissect my own neurosis and desires…

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Image: The Nightmare, John Henry Fuseli, 1781

 

 

 

 

 

Make Over

I began this blog in 2013 and I really appreciate the followers and friends I have made along the way. The encouragement and support I’ve received has meant so much to me, it has helped me define my work as an author and shape my goals for the future.
I began writing for Pen of The Damned two years ago and have been hard at work writing material for anthologies.

My focus at the moment is working on a collection of short stories for publication, bringing together my work of the past few years and writing some new material too. It has been surprisingly difficult and challenging, involving lots of editing and some major rewriting, and I am nowhere near reaching my goal just yet! I also have a poetry collection that I want to complete and have been work on a novella too.

This blog began as a platform to post stories and poetry but I don’t use it for that purpose anymore and it has become a little neglected. I think it’s time for a make over and to set a new direction. I’ve deleted a lot of old work and removed work I’m currently editing.
My new vision for this site is to use it to share my thoughts about writing, to explore the ideas that inspire my fiction, and write some book reviews and author interviews.
Watch this space.

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Image: Julio Romero de Torres (1874-1930), Salomé.