I wrote my first horror story in 1974 when I was nine years old. Though not the earliest inspiration of my penchant for horror (that came much earlier in life), while staying with my older cousins one summer, I watched the original 1968 black and white version of Night of the Living Dead. It scared me – AND grossed me out! Afterwards, I was excited to make up my own story using these newly discovered horrible monsters. I folded several pieces of binder paper in half, stapled the middle, and with red felt pen in hand, began writing my first book – Terror Island. At about ten pages, cover to cover, it was as lurid a zombie tale as any ambitious and imaginative nine year old boy could hope to write.
Though no one expects a nine year old to write with the quality, continuity and vigor of Stephen King and the like, I have to say – it was terrible! The plot was thin and the characters, even thinner! There were no explanations for plot holes or gaffs, and the main point was to get to the horror – zombies eat people – people scream and die horribly. What happened in the story, is where all the juice went. Though everyone died at the end, I sure had fun along the way, barely getting to know each of the characters before putting them through all that carnage! But hey – whatd’ya want from a nine year old?!?
Good, bad or otherwise, it was my first attempt to write a book. Back then, there was no internet, no blogging, and mom wouldn’t let me play with the typewriter. Self-publishing amounted to little more than what I had already done by folding in half and stapling that binder paper! Unintentionally and ironically, I sealed the bloody fate of my characters with a red felt pen, and never looked back. From there, I continued to write, both in school and at home and enjoyed tapping into my imagination, creating characters, plots, and settings, and then finding fun and twisted ways to dispose of them.
Then came the 1980’s. As a teenager, I was in a band, and spent a lot of time writing music, lyrics and poetry, though, I did continue to write both horror and what I now call dark fiction. At that time, the world was rife with horror! I was not only reading famous horror authors of the time such as King, McCammon, Koontz and the like, but also, who I believe are the undisputed masters of horror, Karl Edward Wagner, Joseph Payne Brennan, Hugh B. Cave and many others. I found in their work, a strong calling to an era long gone, and for me, not forgotten. The old masters of horror, the many amazing authors of Weird Tales, the pulp fiction magazine from 1920’s and 30’s (for the most part), H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Algernon Blackwood, just to name a few.
Though I have been writing dark fiction and horror since I was very young, I have never published any of my work. It wasn’t until recently (in the middle part of middle age), that I decided to take this craft more seriously, and do just that. I have developed a love for intertwining profundity and horror with ordinary life situations in ways that are intended to settle deep in the mind of the reader, truly moving them, and scaring or disturbing them from within. At times, of course, there will be a proper dose of visceral horror or carnage sprinkled on top for all to see, but my goal is to scare or disturb readers, not just gross them out.
I hope this internal cocktail of deep fear and tension mixed with the love of, or hope for the characters, keeps readers turning the pages to the oft horrific end. After all, they are horror stories.
As I like to say: “Terror is being chased, horror is being caught”™