Did any of you get a chance to read the anthology, “The End is Nigh. The Apocalypse Triptych,” edited by Hugh Howey and John Joseph Adams? It’s a great read – and the best part? You don’t have to be into that end-of-the-world-kind-of-thing to enjoy it. It’s just good writing. But what blew my mind was Jamie Ford’s story, “This Unkempt World is Falling to Pieces.” Now, I trade witticisms with Jamie on Facebook, so he’s a close, personal friend. He’s the NYT Best Selling author of “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” It’s a beautifully written book and bears no relation to such subject matter as the world going tits up.
I would not expect to find Jamie Ford in this kind of anthology.
But there he was, and keeping true to form, his vision of the world ending is beautiful and lyrical. And that my friends is today’s sermon. “How Doth One Write in Another Genre Whilst not Sounding Like James Patterson doing Iambic Pentameter (sorry James, but I mean, c’mon).
I’ve been given the task of writing a horror story set in an abandoned Russian rocket factory. It’s for the Booktrope imprint, Forsaken. Okay, I volunteered to be part of the project because I’d just huffed Easy-Off out of a Ziploc baggie. Nonetheless, I found myself with the task of writing something creepy/scary/horrifying/not at all funny.
Anyway, what do I know about horror writing? I’m an unabashed Stephen King fan (just as I am an unabashed Rush fan – I own it) and love horror movies, though in truth “The Human Centipede” was less about horror and more about anal fixation as seen through the lens of Germans (a little-known genre).
So I though to myself, if my close friend, Jamie Ford, can write about the cruelty and heartbreak of war AND the end of the world, why can’t I write satirical zombie books AND straight up horror. Now you’re thinking that zombies and vampires and Hindu Sex Aliens (title of my forthcoming book – it’s true) might possibly fall under the subject heading HORROR/FAILURE. But my books are as much about horror as Shaun of the Dead was. There’s gore, but there’s a rollicking good time to be had as well – like the DMV.
I will admit, I wanted to see if I could go there. To see if I could not play it for laughs, but be honestly creepy and taboo and all the other kinds of shit that define a genre that breaks down into a bunch of other specific genres of scary shit. It’s good to stretch ones’ boundaries in anything, right? I started out in advertising as a copywriter, but soon switched over to art direction because the visual medium really spoke to me and art directors made about 10k more. Sure, I might make a little chump change by contributing to the anthology, but money’s not the driving factor.
So two new things: First, I gotta write a horror story. The second new thing out of my comfort zone is that I’m gonna write it in first person. See, when I dig myself in a hole, I usually switch from a shovel to a trencher because poor life choices.
What the hell was so scary about an abandoned Russian rocket factory besides locked restrooms? A young woman recently photographed herself in one of these factories and now Russia is pissed at her. That could be a horror story. I reviewed awful scenarios that might take place in an abandoned Russian rocket factory (a term I never get tired of using), but came up with zilch.
Then my group therapy session brought me the fruit I so desperately needed to choke on.
So I’m in this group therapy thing. It’s a first time for me. I’ve had a relationship to the psychological arts for decades, but this was the first time I’d be doing it in a group setting without being forced to, like they do in the psych ward. The subject matter was what do you fear most? Go ahead, take a moment to mull it over.
Okay, so for me, after careful consideration (colostomy bag, Mississippi, Congress) I came up with losing my children. Not that they die, but are taken from me. Scary shit. Just writing about it makes me spit three times over my shoulder (Jewish). Was there a way to integrate that fear into an abandoned Russian rocket factory®?
Ah hells yes.
Wanna know how?
Buy the anthology. Larry out
All rights, grammatical and logic errors, ®LarryCo, 2015