That is the name of my next book. It’s got a touch of the supernatural, but is largely a bleak tale of Urban Horror, and it takes place in the home of Urban Horror, Detroit, Michigan. I’ll be shipping it off to the editor any day now.
After my first two novels contained a touch of sweetness, I have been examining why I enjoy writing dark fiction lately. I already wrote an article on why I think horror writers have some of the finest hearts around, but still, that wasn’t personal as much as universal. When I narrow my scope and look at why I myself do it, things change.
It is not because I am trying to scare others. That is not it. I am happy with any feeling besides boredom and apathy I can create with a story.
Nope, I figured out that I like to write horror because I am the one who is scared. I am just a scared little boy, and writing squeezes that out of me.
My fears have changed, and I am not so much scared of monsters or the sounds in my dark basement. I am not even scared of bizarre families living in drug tunnels such as in On the Lips of Children. My fears are different.
Here’s what scares me:
I am scared of a universe with a God that does not exist. Or a non-caring God. I am scared of randomness of tragedy. Scared of my own feelings and expressing them. Scared of my own limitations, that I am wasting my life, born with whatever talents that are like seeds in the soil ready to grow but never saw sunlight. Scared of my selfishness, that I am a raging, psychopathic narcissist, (because who else but a narcissist would actually write this blog post?) Fear of looking certain people in the eye. Fear they’ll understand me for a second, and that we’ll connect, or fear I’ll never be understood by another living soul, and am already walking in a living coffin. Scared I am doing it wrong. Scared you are mocking me right now. Scared that something I missed long ago made everything I am doing right now irrelevant. Scared I’m waiting for my real life to begin while I live some fake one. Scared that the finest humans of this world are destroyed by the worst ones in mass, unnoticeable genocides. Scared of that mole on my back.
So that’s why I write horror. Because I am the one who is afraid, not that I am trying to scare others.
Makes perfect sense that a coward like me relied on drugging and drinking for so long. But the greatest fears grow the strongest courage, and somehow I found the courage to stay clean and sober, partially by doing other things that create the same kind of buzz. Writing and running to name a few.
The first two novels I wrote had some darkness inside. In The Jade Rabbit there was child abandonment and the ghost of the hanging nun. STRAY was the story of euthanized dogs and heroin addiction, but ultimately these stories were about love, redemption, salvation, and the graceful hand of God in our daily affairs. Part of my fear is that these blissful forces do not really exist, and if they do, it is just happenstance, not amazing grace.
Coincidence is just CHAOS’s way of remaining anonymous.
Before you go calling 911 to have someone come and check on me, I should note that I have an immense capacity for joy. I smile often, have an incredible family, am blessed with many riches, and my favorite song growing up (which still makes me happy) is Disney’s "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." There are plenty of days I can't open my mouth without a song jumping right out of it. I feel the light and happy just as much as the dark, and do believe there is a spirit that flows through all of us, and it is one of beneficence.
Sometimes I go beyond believing to knowing. I run through the streets of my town with so much happy in me it just doesn’t feel fair. (I will never have the dark, brooding visage that looks so cool on author profiles like Jack Ketchum, but instead have more of a Jeff Strand smirk.)