Writing on the Darkside
A lot of people get nervous when I tell them what I write. I imagine anyone who writes scary stories or horror encounters the same reaction. Add to the mix that I’m a Christian, and the eyebrows raise pointedly. The truth is, there’s a broad spectrum across this genre, as well as other genres. Some stories are lighter than others, some impart a morality, others, go deeper into abyss of darkness. I like to focus on the fact that it’s a story and each has its own road it travels. I’m not out to glamorize anything or to invite people to the dark side. It’s no different than any other book, except for where it takes you, and no, I don’t mean straight to hell.
It’s about chilling your reader, giving each goosebumps, showing them a path that perhaps they should rethink. No, I don’t browbeat my readers with the aforementioned place or the road to such. There’s this character, such and such happens to them, and they don’t end up in a good place. They search for a way back to some semblance of normalcy and therein lies the tale. After all, would you really want to live in a world of zombies, monsters, etc. day after day? Writing on the dark side then, is about the journey back from there, or failing that, surviving, and building anew.
I read a novel by Robert McCammon titled Mine early in the pregnancy of my first child. It was about a baby stolen from the hospital and the mother’s search for it. I grieved for the mother at her loss, rooted for her as she sought the kidnapper, and gnawed my fingernails at the terror that followed. You can be sure I spent more than a few tense moments worrying about such a fate happening in my own life. Books do that to you. They become friends. Every time I read one, I want to see the character/s walk/run away from the bad things. Frank Peretti writes excellent novels that deal with morality. I’m still spooked by one of his novels that involved a haunted house with a maze inside and couples who had to face not only each other but their worst fears to survive. Stephen King is a familiar name to all of us. From It to The Stand and all his short stories in-between, he’s a master at his craft. I think it’s because he knows how to be the elusive Vincent Price or Elvira waiting in the wings to take our coat, pull up a chair, and dim the lights for a story.
That’s what an author is: refuge for a weary person run-down from their week at work, health battles, and so on. We invite them in and spin a story worthy of their time. There’s no malaise intended, we just want to tell a good tale. What about you? What do you write? Do you find a stigma attached to its genre? How do you deal/not deal with it?