Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Perseverance of Hope in the Midst of Horror

So, most - all - my fiction (links to stuff you can buy, links to free stuff) has found its home in the dark, horror/speculative market.  So, I write horror.  My soon to come "experiment" would be "quiet horror", and my current Billy the Kid "thingie" is essentially a gigantic genre mash that's equal parts Weird Western and Horror.  Hiram Grange & The Chosen One is certainly horror.

But I read LOTS of stuff.  Pretty balanced between horror/supernatural suspense/thriller and the stuff I teach, which would probably be called "literary".  So, my reading tastes are pretty varied, and I like LOTS of different kinds of stories.  Anything well written with pretty, pretty words, especially (see: Charles Grant, Ray Bradbury, Ron Malfi, Mary SanGiovanni, Gary Braunbeck, Al Sarranntino...I could go on...)

But, in the end: I'm a sucker for the following: hope.  destiny.  purpose.  sacrifice. meaning.  redemption.

And I think horror is the perfect vehicle for those things. Now, this is well-trod ground, so we won't go over it again, but here it is: horror is a really wide genre.  Plenty of stories for all sorts of tastes.  But as time goes by, I feel myself not only called more and more to refine my prose, but also to write stories whose cores center on the above themes.

Notice the distinct lack of "happy endings" up there.  Because you can't always have that, especially with the short story and novella form.  Those don't necessarily offer the same resolution found in novels, and, let's be honest....

Happy endings, in this world, aren't always possible.

But you know what?

Sometimes, they are. 

Lots of people take Dean Koontz to task over his overwhelmingly spiritual, "good" themes, especially in his later works.  And yeah, a couple of his most recent novels definitely read like he's phoned them in (but you know what? I'm of the humble opinion the man deserves it.) And, yeah, in Dean's world: golden retrievers = Jesus  or angels in disguise.

But you know what, I find myself coming back to his work again and again.

Because, every now and then...I need my golden retriever/Jesus story.  I NEED a hopeful story built on those themes that have come to mean so much to me as a writer.

I'm a firm believer that every story demands its own ending.  I've written several shorts that emphatically DO NOT end happy.  They - and by 'they', I mean the stories themselves - demanded differently.  And the experiment I'm planning may offer haunting resolution, but not something "happy".

But, deep inside, I have this overwhelming desire to write something beautiful, vibrating with those themes...

hope.  destiny.  purpose.  sacrifice. meaning.  redemption. 

I often write dark stuff.  That will probably never change.  But more and more, I'm finding that for ME (again, because this blog will NEVER be about telling others what to do or think or write), there's really only one good reason to write such darkness.

To further contrast the light.  Which is why the below trailer for a new series on FOX has got me really excited.  Because THIS is the type of story I dream of writing someday.  Was writing, in fact, before I got bit by the "Billy the Kid" bug.  Someday, I hope I to finish that story...and I hope you'll all get to read it...