I have a long time friend who is really more of a sister than a friend at this point. We have known each other for the better part of fifteen years. We met over the phone professionally and have gotten along swimmingly ever since. The other day we were talking and she said something that kind of shocked me. “Wow, you’re kind of dark you know that?”
To be clear, I wasn’t offended or bothered by the statement. I was more shocked that she didn’t know this already. Yes, I’m more than a little dark. I have a pretty morbid sense of humor and I tend to see the bad in the world. I see things differently than most people and that allows me to sit at my computer and write about a terrifying monster that rips people in half or a serial killer who kills his victims by draining their blood. My dark side also gives shape to my new characters which include a father going crazy and killing his entire family with an ax. So yeah, I suppose we can call that dark if we put a label on it.
I think there is some genuine confusion out there about horror writers and people who work in the horror genera in general. People reach the misguided conclusion that we are all just one cracker short of a full hors de voir. The reality is far different. I think we’re probably saner than most of you.
Yes, there are probably things in our past which make us more morbid than others, but that doesn’t necessarily make us ready to snap. Many of us were forged in a different kind of fire than the rest of the world that makes us terribly unique. As a matter of fact, you want us thinking about mortality, you need us thinking about mortality! But, make no mistake, horror writers tend to be one of the nicest groups of people you’ll ever meet. If you met me on the street and you didn’t know who I was (*Gasp* How can you not know who I am???) you would probably walk away from that exchange without a clue that I am a horror writer. It’s only when we get into the deeper discussion of the story lines and what motivates me that you start to see the darkness emerge.
I read somewhere that a newspaper reporter was shocked to find that the horror writer he was going to interview turned out to be a little old lady. When he met her she was sitting in a rocking chair, knitting a scarf for one of her grand kids. Upon meeting her he expressed his shock and she said something to the effect of, ‘Not what you expected? Well, my dear, the reason I can sit here and knit because I let my demons out to play.’ What she was referring to were her novels. Now, to be fair, I’m not sure if that account is true. It’s one of those things that I read someplace and I never really fact checked it, but it does make a nice story. I’d be thrilled if anyone could give me the real account of this interview. But, I digress.
Every day I try to let my darkness out little by little. I put it on the page and let it dance before others. It’s not a sign of insanity, but a sign of inner strength for a life forged in adversity and difficult circumstance. It is a badge of courage that I wear because I have survived it all and turned these experiences to work to my advantage.
Moreover, it’s the sign of a well-oiled machine. Yesterday afternoon I practically flung myself back at my keyboard because I had a thought while I was out at a festival with my family. I thought, When they walk into the kill room, they see streaks on the walls where the victims clawed at them to get out. They were all alive while being dissected!
My mom would probably ask, “Who has thoughts like that?”
Well, I do! And, the fact of the matter is, that lots of people have thoughts like that. The difference is that I let those thoughts out to play with the other thoughts in my head and that makes for better writing!
If that makes me dark, then I guess I’ll be dark. I’m alright with that. And ultimately I think you all are too!
Your Humble Servant,