Posted in a bit of seriousness, humor & fun, Muse, Reading, writers, Writing and Poetry

Writing on the Darkside


Front cover of Monster
Front cover of Monster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Writing on the Darkside

 

Traci Kenworth

 

 

 

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?

 

Posted in a bit of seriousness, humor & fun, Reading, Writing and Poetry

Why I Write the Scary…


Cover of "Comes the Blind Fury"
Cover of Comes the Blind Fury

Why I Write the Scary…

Traci Kenworth

 

From the time I first picked up Comes the Blind Fury, by John Saul I was hooked. I was babysitting with a friend and the couple had a fabulous library to explore. I didn’t want to read it, it made me shiver inside, but it also kept me coming back for more. Then I, of course, discovered Stephen King, after glimpses of Salem’s Lot on TV, my parents didn’t know I’d snuck down to watch. I figured if he could scare me that bad, his books had to be better. And they were.

My cousins had cable, something my Mom refused to get until the later years and oh, the fright fests we had. The movie, The Hand, is still as memorable as Carrie, Fright Night, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Bodysnatchers, The Stepford saga and on. Where movies left off, books became my pals. Harlan Ellison, Joe R. Lansdale, Robert McCammon, Peter Straub, Tanith Lee, Shirley Jackson were a cold tap on the spine to read.

Now, I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed with the darkside, I hardly watch today’s horror as it’s a bit too graphic for me, plus the nightmares still linger. Zombies. Vampires. Ghosts. Demons. Anti-Christ’s etc. But I still love to read. The funny thing is, when I started to write, I wrote light-hearted stories, funny, and contemporary pieces. They didn’t pull at me and I struggled to figure out why. One day, on a suggestion of a friend, I turned my tale into something chilling. I couldn’t believe the difference it made in my writing.

Instead of fighting myself on the page, I began to type faster; scenes came to me in dreams. I began to seek out the nuts & bolts of the scary side. What I found sharpened my tools and now, when someone says the love the way I grab a reader by the throat with my stories, I laugh with delight. It took a long road to get me here, but I’m glad I took the detours so that I could figure out what was right for me.

Now, maybe horror’s not your thing. Maybe those lighthearted stories are. Good for you. You’ve found your niche. I just happen to like to wade into the nightmares and bring my characters back out (if I can). During this journey of discovery these past years, I’ve found that terror works best for me. I’ve found first person is my chosen narrator. And I’ve found that I like to scare people with my tales. Most important, I’ve come to believe in myself and what I can do through the help of a group of wonderful ladies.

They don’t mind when I go deep, in fact, the encourage me to go deeper and bring the horror to the surface more. Now days, I just smile when someone gives me the compliment that my stories are creepy, because that’s exactly what I’m aiming for. Just like when I first picked up Comes the Blind Fury, I want to touch a reader and show that darkness, though something to fear, can be overcome by the light. Just as Bela Lugosi once spoke of the children of the night, I want to entertain, thrill, and welcome the reader back out of the tale again, wiser, and ready to do battle with their own demons in life.