There’s an interesting thing that happens when people find out you’re an author. They are intrigued, caught off guard, pleasantly surprised to find out that the person they were so casually chatting with writes about things, creates worlds, makes up stuff. They want to know more; their curiosity is piqued and they are tickled pink. They go in, asking questions in rapid succession without waiting for an answer, so excited they are by the occupation of the company they are currently keeping. Their smile is infectious and the author they have peppered with questions and comments usually smiles back.
One of the questions they usually ask is, “Where do you get your stories from?”, and that is not a short answer for many of us. Another great one is, “You’re not gonna write about this, are you?” They ask this knowing full well that they want said author to do exactly that – would actually love nothing more than to be part of an upcoming project. They usually get around to asking what kind of books that author writes after they have either regaled the hostage with stories about their uncle’s ex-wife’s cousin who wrote for his high school newspaper once or leaned in to whisper conspiratorially that they had a book or two in them as well. They may have even started telling said author about their book idea. They often have a preconceived notion about what that author writes, though the precise weight of the variables that form the assumption–race, gender, where they bumped into each other… if it was in music section of a big box store, the genre of the CD in the author’s hand might decide it, etc.– is elusive. But sometimes they’re right. They applaud themselves for guessing correctly; their smiles widen and they list off sci-fi and fantasy titles–often movies–to show that they are in the know. They wriggle their eyebrows at the romance author about steamy scenes in a popular series and quote lines from a famous TV show about a captain and his crew. But when the answer is none of those, not science fiction or fantasy, not romance or that nebulous “drama” category that no one can ever seem to define on the fly… when the answer is horror, the conversation changes. The smile disappears as they try to reconcile the woman wearing a brightly colored sundress pumping gas into her cheery convertible. They don’t even try to hide the confusion dawning on their faces when they realize that said horror author is serious, that they live and breathe their craft, and that they absolutely love every second of it. They ask, almost before realizing that their mind intends to do it, how someone like them could write about such dark and scary things. And then, when the smile begins to spread across said horror author’s face instead of their own, they war with themselves about taking a step back in retreat.
At least, that’s what happens to me.
I’ll be talking about why I like to write horror and other horror topics at Writing in the Dark. Come by and say hi, add your voice, and let’s talk shop!