This man keeps me going. A true artist.
Here’s an actual free nightmare for you all. I had a crazy one last night. I was a fly on the wall in some kind of horrific torture chamber in which a woman was being forced (somehow) to eat another woman alive. Throughout the dream I was filled with horror but unable to look away or do anything to help the situation. I could do nothing but listen to the terrible screams of those involved, and the crying of the one who was being forced to do the biting. Usually I kind of like having nightmares, gives me a fresh appreciation for my life, you know? But that one sure was nasty.
Recently had my story ‘Screams for Stargirl’ Published in Red Room Press’s Best Hardcore Horror Anthology vol. 5! Happy to be involved in such a quality publication with so many skilled writers. And to actually have something to plug on this website. Get on it, people!
The new book is split into two parts: Thirty five thousand words of the current draft saved in one file, and about sixty thousand more saved in another file. The sixty is, unfortunately, made up of just a bunch of scenes in previous drafts that I cut but couldn’t bear to delete. On the upside, the gears seem at last to be clicking into place and my (almost) daily thirteen hundred words is steaming along nicely. I expect to finish the draft before the end of winter, (August).
But what the hell did I do wrong? Why so many failed drafts, so many discarded words? Here’s what I think I did wrong:
- Started the damn thing too early. I’ve noticed that all my best stories had a moment before starting where the idea lit some fire inside me and made me think ‘Yes, that’s it.’ But I’m so keen to write new ideas I sometimes forget to mull them over. It’s like being so eager to drink a scotch that you only let it age a couple of years before opening it. Rookie error…
- I had too many protagonists in the beginning. The more you add, the more the readers focus becomes diluted. Which is okay if you’re doing an epic fantasy like game of thrones and have millions of words to devote to all the different plotlines, but not if you’re trying to do a three hundred page horror novel.
- I didn’t have a clear enough idea of the nature of the monster. It’s a lesson I’ve learned before: the reader shouldn’t see everything behind the veil – but if the author doesn’t either there’s apt to be confusion.
Saw that Josh Malerman of Bird Box Fame put out a novel chapter by chapter online (Carpenter’s Farm). I tried to do that once and it didn’t work, because as I soon realised, only after I finish am I able to edit the thing into some semblance of coherence. Characters do things in the early stages, when I’m trying to figure out who they are, that turn out not to be consistent. I start subplots and end up deleting them when I get to the end and see they were superfluous.
Mr Malerman, however, seems to have done pretty well, which is impressive. I can’t figure out how he’s doing it unless he had the whole thing completed beforehand and is just posting up one chapter at a time, but apparently he did it all ‘live’. I believe him, but damn…
Pat Rothfuss’s Kingkiller chronicles left a fantasy void in me which I’ve been successfully filling with the Nevernight series by Jay Kristoff. Would recommend to anyone who enjoys Rothfuss’s (or any fantasy, really) writing.
Update on the current state of my writing for anyone who cares: My short story ‘Screams for Stargirl’ will be coming out in the next few months in Red Room Press’s ‘Best Hardcore Horror of 2019’ Anthology. Still shipping out my first novel ‘Holly and the Nobodies’. Working on my second novel, which has so far caused me to throw out over fifty thousand words and contemplate setting my house on fire and starting a new life in Hawaii. I joke, I joke, but still. You know how it is sometimes. I love writing but also, fuck writing.
Just came across this excellent list by Strange Horizons Magazine of stories they see way too often. It provides a surprising insight into the minds of humans. All kinds of wish fulfilment, political agendas, and then things like: ‘Story consists of recipes for, or descriptions of, killing and eating sentient beings.’ Like, they got that so many times they had to put that in there? Jesus.
Almost halfway through this deliciously creepy book. I think creepiness is my favourite kind of horror, actually. I like it even more than the dread of a book like The Ritual or the awe inspired by Ramsey Campbell or Arthur Machen. Nothing like a good creeper, that’s what I say.
For anyone interested, four excellent horror writers just did an AMA on reddit. Alma Katsu, Christina Henry, Rachel Harrison, Alexis Henderson.
Music for writing:
The Raveonnettes, Lana Del Rey, Kid Cudi, Girl in Red, Billie Eilish, The Lumineers, Tom Waits, Stranger Things Soundtrack, It Follows Soundtrack, IT Soundtrack. I either want to feel haunted or melancholy when writing. I don’t know why, just one of those things. Taste, musical or otherwise, is a mystery to me.
For anyone who hasn’t already seen it: Marianne is in my opinion the best horror show out there. Sometimes I run into something so good that it makes me hate myself. This show is one of those. God Damn it’s good.
Have been reading David Moody’s ‘Hater’ lately, and seeing a lot of interesting parrallels with the whole Pandemic thing. I mean, in his story people go crazy and rip each other to shreds with their bare hands, which is different. But what interests me more than anything with these things is not the nature of the virus itself, but humanity’s response to it. Considering it was written before Coronavirus was a thing, it’s weird how spot on Moody gets it.
Even though I still have to go to work during the Pandemic lockdown (selling alcohol is, of course, an essential service in Australia), I’ve been spending most of my time writing in the dungeon. The new book is coming on well (40,000 words). But while I’m not writing I am playing the new Doom Eternal, which, if you haven’t played it, is honest to God the best game I’ve ever played.
I’ve loved Doom since my Mom stopped me playing it at the age of nine due to the Columbine shootings. I remember waking my Dad up at five in the morning to help me install Doom 2 on the computer because I couldn’t wait until sunrise.
Something about the atmosphere – the music, the over the top blood and guts, the adrenaline rush of slaughter, the ominous sense of being stalked and hunted by ungodly demons… I could never get enough, and would always go back to revisit those old games all through high school and beyond.
Doom Three was a good game, but in my mind it was a separate entity. It was a horror game, and a good one, but it wasn’t DOOM. It wasn’t the game in love with. Doom Eternal, I gotta say, satisfied my nine year old self – the one who sulked for hours after being forbidden from my daily demon killing sessions – in more ways than I’d hoped. The gameplay is smooth, and the designers kept a lot of the old monsters and guns, which I was happy to revisit like old friends. The music was great, the heavy atmosphere was there, as was the insane action and gore of battle.
My hope for the next edition of Doom is that they’ll keep basically everything about the gameplay and just add content. Have levels with a more open design, and just add tons more of them. Kind of like what Final Doom did for Doom 2. No big changes to the game mechanics, just more content. I’d also like them to bring back the music from the original dooms. Not necessarily the exact same tracks, just something in the same vein. That ominous creepy shit really got me going.
Anyway, that’s just two cents from a long time fan.