This last weekend I was in Las Vegas, getting to know and experience the culture of Horror writers. Not horror fandom, that I know all to well. But instead the creative methods and disciplines of those who purvey and portray that which goes bump in the night.
Why, you might ask? You’re a science fiction guy, you proclaim. You make video games, get back in your box!
Alas, I cannot. My fiction has been described as dark far too often, and some of my closest friends do not want to read my words on a regular basis. I have been known to say “I don’t write happy,” and it’s true that even the more uplifting of my short fiction has a serious edge to it.
Horror was the original category of storytelling. It’s one of the reasons I believe we evolved language in the first place, to express concepts besides basic hierarchical needs. It’s all well and good to relate the size and appearance of the bear, but to get across why you should be afraid of it takes art and imagination.
(You should, by the way. Because though most bears are pleasant, simple denizens of the wild places, they in no way recognize homo sapiens sapiens as a dominant omnivore. In fact, the only animal that instinctively hunts humans is a bear. The most efficient non-dinosaur predator of prehistory was a bear, and I’m still not positive that one’s not going to eat me as I walk to the bus.)
But I digress (seriously, BEARS). The markets I’m submitting to like my prose, but can’t really find a place for it among their standard offerings. Broadening my portfolio can only help get the words out, and in truth I’m relieved to find more monsters in spirit roaming the halls of conventions. Mind you, I’ll never stop writing about superheroes and spaceships, but now I can relax and let the darkness flow.
There are several such stories germinating in the festering madness of my mind right now. Tales so stark and uncompromising they threaten to chase away the two books I should be finishing when I sit down not to write. I’m afraid of one, and amused by the other. As I prep for next month’s big fiction gathering, I feel I’ll have a lot more to talk about than before last weekend.
Of course, imagine how much more productive a trip it would be if I could just finish the damn books.
Time to make video games. I’m fairly sure there are no bears in my office today.
They mostly come out at night. Mostly.