(photo credit: Shandi-lee Cox)
I’ve never been tagged in a blog hop before, but I thought this sounded like a great topic for a post so I am happy to have been tagged by Mike Revell. Mike is an extremely talented writer. I had the pleasure of working with him in Jack Ketchum’s Talking Scars class, where I was first introduced to his excellent work via the assignments in the class. Most recently, Mike has signed on with Quercus in a two book deal. His debut novel will be released in Spring 2015.
All right, here are three things I don’t write.
I’ll admit, narrowing down things I don’t write makes me feel a little bad. Why don’t I write them? Maybe, sometime soon, I’ll go ahead and prove myself wrong.
When I first began to take myself seriously as a writer, I drafted a few traditional fantasy stories, complete with their own worlds, politics and magic systems. I never brought any of these to completion, and I’d wager the main reason was lack of drive. My heart wasn’t in it, and before long I accepted that it just wasn’t what I wanted to write. It was my first experience of loving to read a genre, but simply not wanting to write in it.
Again, something I tried and just couldn’t get to work. I’ve read some amazing stories written in second-person, among them an absolutely outstanding story by Jay Lake called The Cancer Catechism, which I have mentioned before on this blog. For me, that story works so well because it could not be told in any other way and remain as crushing a read as it is. Maybe one day I’ll have a story to tell that might work in second-person POV, but as far as I’m concerned, if I can tell it in first or third, then that is how it belongs.
Almost didn’t include this one because I feel a little embarrassed about it. Truth is, poetry intimidates me. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. I’m not very familiar with poetry and not nearly as well read in it as I am in short stories or novels. It’s an alien world to me, and one I hope to explore more with time. The most recent poetry I read would be Joe R. Lansdale’s poems in his newest collection, Bleeding Shadows. I enjoyed them. His notes about them were helpful to see his process, though I don’t feel any closer to truly understanding where poetry will fit in with my current writing. It’s something I hope to change.
So, as a challenge to myself, I plan to write a traditional fantasy story, a second-person POV story, and a series of poems. We’ll see how they go!
Three Things I Do Write
I began submitting my work in 2012. 2013 saw my first seven published stories, and all seven of them are horror in some fashion. I have written, and submitted, stories that are science fiction and fantasy and even one detective story, and while there are a number of great reasons why these have never found homes, the one I latch onto is that my heart simply wasn’t in them. I enjoyed writing them, but there is nothing like sitting down to a project that I know is going to be dark and hopefully a little frightening. I write horror because the stories that stick with me the longest, that burn images in my mind that I’ll never forget and that sneak up on me at times I least expect, have always been horror. That final scene in Joe R. Lansdale’s masterpiece, Night They Missed The Horror Show, disturbs me still, even years after first reading it. More recently, the entirety of the events at Mr. Dark’s Carnival in Glen Hirshberg’s story of the same name had me curled into a ball as I read them. Terror in fiction moves me in a way that no other genre can; those last two words in Richard Matheson’s story, Dress of White Silk, the sense of dread that seems to hover over every sentence in the works of Robert Aickman, that search for hope in a hopeless situation at the climax of The Autopsy by Michael Shea. The list could go on forever.
This one was a bit of a revelation for me last year. Love is a powerful emotion, and one that drives most–if not all–stories in some way. In many of my own stories, it’s a character’s love for a person, an idea, an activity, something, that drives them to do the things they do. And even if those things aren’t particularly wholesome (Compassion, During and After the Fall), or if they are the product of loss and devotion (Dusty’s Pint), it’s love that brought all the events of the story together. When a story of mine isn’t working, or isn’t hitting the right note, I find it’s usually because I’ve left some important detail of the character out, some piece that needs to be added, and nine times out of ten, that piece is love. I may love horror, I may love to be creeped out, but give me a cheesy romance any day and I’ll take it.
Vampires. Zombies. Ghosts. Weird, unclassifiable things. While not all of my stories have an actual monster in them, of the beastly or supernatural form, you can bet that there’s a monster to be found somewhere, and if it’s not some creature calling out for attention, then it’s likely the twisted narrator who is taking you through the story. I’m a big fan of telling the story through the lens of the monster, getting into their head as best I can. And while monsters you can see are all very great, the ones you can’t (or maybe didn’t realize you did) are even better. For a great example of this I point once more to Joe R. Lansdale and his story On a Dark October, which can be found in the collection Bumper Crop. There are a lot of monsters in that story, that’s for sure. In fact, that entire collection is filled with excellent monster stories: Shaggy House, Chompers, The Dump. All original, all bizarre, and all worth your time.
Rhonda Parrish is a writer and editor extraordinaire. Most recently, her work has appeared Mythic Delirium, edited by Mike Allen. Two recent anthologies she has edited are Fae and Metastasis. Check out her blog and list of publications.
Milo James Fowler is the incredibly prolific author whose work includes the Captain Quasar series of short stories. Recently, his story Soulless in His Sight, originally published in Shimmer magazine, was picked up for reprint in Wastelands 2, edited by John Joseph Adams. His first Captain Quasar novel is coming soon at Every Day Novels. Check out his blog as well as his gargantuan list of publications.