My Creative Writing professor last year called my work “edgy“. A good friend at my Crit Group put it more simply – “you write some dark shit.” Even my humor has a blackness to it that may not sit well with everyone’s tastes. My first reaction when I heard this was “What? Me?” even as I plucked out the hearts of my protagonists (no, not literally…at least not yet). But now, yeah, I simply nod and agree.
For those who don’t know me, and maybe those that do, I thought it would be a good idea to give you an idea about the things I write. What exactly are you in store for when you sit down to read a story or a novel written by well, me.
Many times writers write what they read. You read a lot of fantasy, you write fantasy. I don’t particularly find myself doing that. And the truth is, I read everything. It starts in the morning with a cereal box or a copy of The Economist – it really depends on whichever is in reach. Then it’s onto the news – usually science blurbs and international events catch my eye first. I’ve got at least two books going at any given time, currently it’s The Swiss Family Robinson and The Name of the Wind.
As for me, I’m truly a cross-genre fan and any speculative fiction can capture my imagination. What I don’t read a lot of is horror. Apparently though, I write it. I’m not quite sure how that happened.
I do have plenty of other stories out or seeking publication that run the gamut from Weird West to Sword and Sorcery. But I’m not the only one to notice that they all share a certain darkness.
I was a fan of Poe way before I maybe should’ve been (I think I was reading Tell Tale Heart in elementary school – I can probably thank my older sister for that.) But besides that foray into the macabre, childhood was pretty normal. I wasn’t a bleak pessimist, I didn’t wear all black and gnash my teeth, nor did I experience devastating loss or hardship.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some dark stuff through life, career, volunteer work. And it’s a big reason why I’ve always shied away from horror as a genre – it never seemed to come close to reality’s terrors. Often, it’s only a poor caricature of the dark places of the human soul. Bad things happen out there, incredibly terrible things, why make up more?
But maybe doing bad things to fictional characters is my way of acknowledging how damn lucky I’ve been.
I also like to search around my imaginary universe and find the least likely person’s perspective to tell the story from. Perhaps that’s why bad stuff happens to them – They aren’t the typical hero. They aren’t invincible. They can’t control their destiny. In the end, they sometimes lose.
So, I suppose, whatever I write, expect there to be a sharp knife hiding in the grass; a piece of broken glass on the beach. But expect something else – magic. I don’t have a story out yet that doesn’t dip into the magical and surreal even while grappling with real world problems. And I don’t always mean magic as in fire spouting wizards or ladies with pointy hats. Just always keep an eye out for the Other. It’s true, you can expect research and some level of “realism” as well from my stories – I’m a bizarrely practical creative type – but what’s most important when I write is what level of spell or imagined technology is necessary to shatter the mundane.
Enough about me – what do you like to read? Specific genres you like or dislike? I’d love to hear some opinions!