For those who may be wondering...
The Back Story
If you're wondering why I chose Horror as the genre I wanted to write in, the short answer is, I didn't.
Horror chose me.
I can still remember cracking up at the antics of Zacherly, the "Cool Ghoul", who hosted Shock Theater long ago...had to be the late '50's, with me being maybe three or four at the time. I was glued to the tube, my first introduction to Karloff's Frankenstein, Lugosi's Dracula, and Chaney Jr.'s Wolf Man, along with a collection of other old films in glorious black and white...
Well, as long as I had the rabbit ears positioned just so.
Then, with the magic of books, the world opened up, from classics like Stoker's "Dracula" to the well worn copies of the EC Comics that had been banned before my time. Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, and of course, Famous Monsters of Filmland.
The silver screen had no shortage of good content for my mind to swallow and process...Hitchcock's "Psycho", "Village of the Damned", "The Day of the Triffids", and so on. Those led to the explosion of Technicolor on screen with the Hammer Horror imports, generally starring the great Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
(Of course, I'd discovered girls by then, and the plunging necklines in those Hammer films were welcome too)
As much as I enjoyed all that, I was unprepared for that day in 1976...I'd been accustomed to looking over the paperbacks in the Newsstand in the lobby of the building I worked in, but when I wandered in that day, one cover caught my eye right away.
It was jet black, top to bottom, and embossed with a face. Upon closer inspection, there was one drop of color on the black surface.
The color was red, it was a drop of blood on the lip of the embossed face. The book was the first paperback printing of Stephen King's "Salem's Lot", and it opened a whole new world of horror to me.
The town was so familiar, as were the people in it. They shopped where I did, paid the same to gas up as I did, hell they even drank the same beer as I did!
Relatable. That was the magic, the thing that Stephen King does so well. He gives life to the places and people, which draws the reader in because we give a damn about them. When the bad things happen, and we KNOW they will, we care. That taught me the power of the written word, and how much a well crafted tale could give to its readers.
Life tends to keep us occupied, but finally...north of 60, but finally, I decided to put pen to paper.
I hope you enjoy some of the ink that pen has left on that paper...
What I do
- It starts off with a simple idea, an observation, nothing big at all. Everyday stuff, really. Scanning the meats on sale at the grocery store, for example.
- Then comes the moment. The "What If?" moment where imagination takes that simple seed and waters it, tends it, and in the best case, stands back and lets it grow as it wishes. What if that Ground Chuck is actually the ground remains of someone named Charles?
- The story generally drives itself, leaving me to hang on and try to reach up and steer now and then. The best of them twist like a roller coaster, and they know just when to slow into the station and discharge the passengers.
Words of Wisdom
"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut."
"The future ain't what it used to be."
Popeye the Sailor Man
"I yam what I yam!"
Maybe a little?
Of the courses I've taken since I began this journey, my favorites were the two that Phil Athans taught at Writers Digest University. I enjoyed them both, and Phil is very good about clarifying the process. Reading one of his latest books now, the man practices what he preaches!
There are helpful books for the fledgling author too. Stephen King's "On Writing" has been a great inspiration, and the new one I just started, "Your First Novel", has a lot of promise too. King's quote about the two things one has to do if one wants to be a writer are to read a lot and write a lot is gold. The work does improve as you go.