Being a horror writer is not nearly as easy as it sounds.
Sure it appears glamorous, body farms, cemeteries, morgues – how am I not living the dream? Things that bother other people aren’t even a blip on my radar. Zombie Apocalypse, vampires, or pickles simply don’t make my blood run cold. Gore and guts is really my bread and butter – metaphorically speaking of course.
Except I do have a kryptonite, a vulnerable ventilation shaft, a Clarice Starling, that renders me a helpless mewling mess. Actually two, but I trust that this is just between you and me, and you’ll never tell another living soul … right?
Normally I would illustrate my point with a lovely illustration or a link to an article, but not this time. No sir. I hate these things.
I don’t even want to talk about it anymore
This one here – I love ghosts. I do. They’re the reason I wanted to be a writer because I wanted to evoke that sense of dread and foreboding I feel when I read a really good ghost story or watch a very creepy movie, the chill and ice that trickle down your spine to your fingertips making them numb and clumsy. The pressure in your chest increasing and you shiver as you curl into a ball in your seat. You can feel it now right – that cold lick at your neck? Go ahead and shake it off. Maybe it’s just the AC.
I hate them in the sense that they utterly terrify me.
I don’t look into mirrors when the lights are low for fear I might catch my fetch staring back. Playing Bloody Mary is a sucker’s game for kids too stupid to appreciate that a crazy mother’s love for her dead child is stronger than their desire to win Truth or Dare. I can honestly tell you that I do not whistle past graveyards at night. I will go out of my way about half a mile (not easy considering where I live) and barring that, never ever glance towards the fenceline. Every town has a Resurrection Mary, and I’d like to avoid Royal Oak’s version even at the cost of time and gas.
Anyone who’s been paying attention knows I love the 1984 Spielberg flick POLTERGEIST. I’ve watched that flick more times than I can count (because, really – who keeps track of that sort of thing) and I still get chills watching the manifestations in Robbie and Carol Anne’s bedroom or the souls descending the staircase. THIR13EN GHOSTS while silly and incomplete, still makes me ponder the manifestations of the Black Zodiac, and The Angry Princess with her dry open slashes and whispered apologies still makes me giggle in a way not altogether steady. Unexplained noises in my home, drafts of air in still rooms, the shadow in the corner of my eye that lingers only long enough for me to know it’s there but never long enough. I’m a junkie in need of a poke but terrified of the high.
Seriously – if you’re not keeping up with @marblehornets on Twitter or following Jay’s YouTube feed I think you’re missing out on something especially creepy by way of the Internet-born and wholly organic Slender Man. When I’m outside for my evening smoke, I deliberately make it a point to not stare too hard at the treelines, not look with too fine an eye at photos and the tall thin man in the black suit just peeking behind a tree.
I love THE RING (both, thank you) with Sadako’s broken crawl and Samara’s vengeful resignation “and I’m sorry, but it won’t stop.” I love the idea that you can’t just give it what it wants and it goes away. I hate the idea that ghosts are perpetual.
It occurs to me that these are movie ghosts, so how about some literary chills – Craddock McDermott of Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box was a menacing wraith who’s scribbled out eyes and monotonous drone proved he was more dangerous dead than alive. The essence in the “Red Room” of HG Wells, while never seen, made the confines of the mind as terrifying as the presence that insisted the candles be put out.
I have never finished the PS2 game Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. The combination of the Dual Shock Controller and Sae is just a little too much for my heart, and I love that game so much I hate it. Chapter Seven, I say with much regret, will never be finished.
I have not written a ghost story, whether from respect of the form, or the simple fear that I’d rather not invoke something I can’t banish. This is a lie. I have started two, but they remain unfinished because I don’t think I can end them.
They’re ghost stories. They don’t have ends.
So these are the things that scare me, the living and the not, the patient predator and the eternal existence. I am comfortable with my fears and we live together in my head with the uneasy truce of wary combatants gearing up for the next assault. Spiders in the day, ghosts at night.
A wonder I get anything done.