Although she regularly reads my blog, my wife, Malette, isn’t comfortable with the horror/fantasy genre. She likes other things. One of her favorite writers is Johanna Lindsey. And that’s okay, different strokes for different folks, as they say.
But there are times I’m envious of Leo Tolstoy whose wife, Sofia, was his secretary, proof-reader, and financial manager. And she rewrote his drafts every night and recopied War and Peace seven times before it was finished. (source), I can’t complain. She grants me a lot of latitude. She knows that writing is important to me and she gives me time to pursue it. The problem is the subject matter.
I know there are those who pump out formulaic pulp fiction of the genre du jour, but to me writing is about more than just putting words down on a page. The subject matter is something I am drawn into, not something that is created the way you might write a procedural computer manual, step by step without an emotional component.
Writing can be intensely personal, even if it’s veiled in the actions of a character. Not everyone is comfortable with subjects like rape, murder, torture, and suicide.
Writing can be disturbing, even unnerving. Not everyone is comfortable with graphic violence and sex, even though it is integral to the plot. One review of my first novel, Any Tomorrow: The Calling, focused so much on the violence of serial killer Henry Turner, that it missed mentioning the final pivotal third of the book!
Writing can be challenging, causing us to question what we hold as unquestionable truths, such as our faith in God or lack of it. Fantasy can even make us question our sense of reality by blending the fantastic with the plausible and fiction with physics.
So, do I wish Malette would read my books and partner with me on their development and publication? You bet. I think it would be a great experience for both of us. But I can certainly understand why she doesn’t. No matter how close you are as a couple, sometimes there are roads you must travel alone. The journey of the horror writer requires that I travel that road alone.
And, although she has never mentioned it, there may be a bit of unconscious trepidation that I may need to act out what I describe, you know, to make sure I get it right. After all, if I can describe something like how thirteen year old Henry Turner discovered the pleasure of death, wouldn’t you feel a little nervous?
Henry wanted to feel good. Then something happened. Something terrible and wonderful. Henry acted, initiating a series of events with a quickness he did not realize he was capable of. Señora Amaya, although thin and wiry, was no match for either Henry’s speed or strength. In a moment, Henry pushed down on Señora Amaya’s right leg, increasing pressure on the gas pedal, bringing the sedan to almost sixty miles per hour. Then he simultaneously released her seat belt, reached over her to open her door, and pushed her through it. She didn’t fall out completely, holding onto the inside door handle for her life. The sedan immediately began to slow. Rather than pushing her further out, Henry twisted the steering wheel to bring the driver’s door in line with the oncoming traffic. The delivery van from Fredrico’s Market, Best Meats In Norwalk, swerved to avoid collision, but it was too late. Evidently Señora Amaya realized this also, because a moment before the front of the van ripped the door from the sedan’s frame and cut her in two, she let out a scream filled with such terror that Henry for a moment lost his breath. Henry felt horror, excitement, and arousal. He was conflicted, but in the deepest recesses of his mind there was that voice. It was always there, and perhaps had always been there, just below the white noise that constituted the day to day life of a child. It had been there waiting. And now it spoke reassuringly. Henry had taken his first blood and the voice promised him there would be more.
Henry didn’t think about the wet stickiness in his underpants, all he felt was the hardness. He looked into the driver’s seat, at the remains of Señora Amaya, with a cool consideration. Any other thirteen year old would have screamed his lungs out, but not Henry. He just sat there, looking at what was left of her. The EMTs said he was in shock, the erection just part of it. Happens sometimes, they said. There was an investigation, of course, but no one could believe that Henry, wonderful, smart, loving Henry, could be involved with Señora Amaya’s death. It was all just a terrible accident. (From Any Tomorrow: The Calling)
On the other hand, I also wish I could write something that she could enjoy, say, a good light historical romance. Maybe something with a beautiful Amazon queen named Xentocha who captures hunky conquistadors and makes them her slaves, but in the end finds love with the wealthy, but arrogant Don Diego who sacrifices everything to be with her.
Maybe I should try that. Maybe I should just keep things as they are. What do you think? Trying to write something so far outside my comfort zone would be a real challenge for me. Would you be comfortable taking on a challenge like that?
Now, on an entirely different subject, I’ve mentioned before that eFiction Magazine has a great community of writers and readers, many of whom participate in the writer’s workshop. Last week I submitted another short story, called “Smashing Mailboxes” to the workshop for comments. I do this because I know I can count on the eFiction community to give me support and solid criticism of my writing. Once the story has been edited through the workshop, I’ll submit it for publication.
If you are an indie writer, whether you write short stories or novels, regardless of genre, be sure to check out eFiction Magazine.
Shameless promotion: My novels, Any Tomorrow: The Calling and Any Tomorrow: The Curse, are available from leading eBook distributors such as Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.
If you would like to share your ideas about what I’ve written, feel free to contact me either on the blog or using other social media. Thanks.
© Copyright 2011 by Kevin Fraleigh.