I’m halfway done with my upcoming short horror story collection. Many people ask me why I am writing horror after I just released a book in the literary fiction genre. It’s easy: I’m a firm believer in diversification.
The professional writing game requires versatility. Gone are the days when some bearded tough guy could crank out best-selling lit fic faster than his editor could proofread them. Offbeat works created in the midst of hallucinogen binges no longer bring all the thirsty intellectuals to the coffee shop. Readers have different expectations these days; they have shorter attention spans and crave variety.
I’ll be damned if I pour all these hours into my craft and end up some one-trick pony. Not me, friend. No way. So, horror is my current project. The next project will be the first part of a massive fantasy collection. After that, who knows? There’s no use in keeping anything off the table. People will always want something fresh and undiscovered. They will always want something they can lord over their peers’ heads with an “oh, you HAVE to read it.” What I have to keep in mind is I am not writing anything for today’s readers. My work needs to transcend time. In order to do that, I cannot bog myself down in the present.
So that’s why I spent part of this last weekend creeping around old graveyards in Tennessee. My fiance and I found some neat little spots during our road trip, which is where the two photos below came from.
I believe I can write horror better than the average joe because I understand fear. That being said, I don’t believe walking through an old cemetery in daylight should scare anyone. What is scary, however, is that feeling of existential dread that bubbles up in your subconscious when you look at the engraved dates on a forgotten marker; that bleak realization that, no matter how much literature you read or how many stories you hear, nothing will ever prepare you for what comes next. Hell, we don’t even know if anything does actually come next. Think about it: billions of people have died on this planet yet we do not have a single cohesive account of what lies in the Great Beyond.
Like many writers before me, the primal fear one feels in regard to their own mortality is exactly the fear I want to tap into. Isolation and dread are the reactions I seek from my readers. I want them to realize (for just a brief moment) no matter what they do or how many people pray for them, they will all effectively die alone. Some will go violently, most will go peacefully, but we’re all going to go at some point. How scared we get before life lets us off its roller coaster is up to us… or is it?